Transfer RidewithGPS Routes to a Garmin Edge Using Your Smartphone

In addition to downloading the RidewithGPS files directly to his smartphone, (see RidewithGPS Maps Offline on Your Smart Phone) my friend and fellow coast to coast rider, Bruce, also exports the Garmin files directly to the external storage on his phone. This can be done from the RidewithGPS website using a web browser and the site’s export function. It should be noted however, that this can’t be done from the RidewithGPS app. It can only be done from the smartphone web browser. With the RidewithGPS route files on your smartphone they then can be sent to Garmin devices without using a computer.

To do this you need a dongle that allows a direct connection between the smartphone and the Garmin device. In my case, for example, I have a Samsung Galaxy S8+ smart phone with a USB-C port and a Garmin Edge 1030 with a micro-USB port. Therefore, I need a male USB-C to male micro-USB cable to attach my smartphone to the Garmin. A USB Type-C to Micro-B 2.0 Cable can be found on Amazon and elsewhere.

Once the two devices are attached, my smartphone sees my Garmin as an external storage device and I simply copy the file to my Garmin device using the path Garmin > NewFiles on the micro SD card in my Garmin device as illustrated below.

Samsung Galaxy S8+ smart phone to Garmin 1030 dongle

Hopefully, RidewithGPS will add the ability to export Garmin files directly to the smartphone external storage in their next app update.

Ken Whittaker

RidewithGPS Maps Offline on Your Smartphone

I just finished the one-week Pedal Across Wisconsin Northwoods bicycle tour. Many organized tours like Pedal Across Wisconsin make their routes available to participants on

While I don’t use my smartphone for navigation, I do enjoy viewing the route on my smartphone beforehand. However, this can be a problem when reliable internet or cellular service isn’t available in remote areas like the Northwoods. In these cases, I find that it pays to download the files directly to my smartphone so that they are available offline, as illustrated below.

RidewithGPS Screenshot on My Smartphone

However, this can’t be done with a RidewithGPS free account. You must have a Basic account or higher to download the maps to your smartphone.

Ken Whittaker

Custom Garmin Edge Map Panels – Part 5: Send Custom Map Panel to Garmin Edge

Garmin Edge Screen Shot of Custom Map

To send the newly created Custom Map to a Garmin Edge it must be saved to the device. To do this, right click the custom map in the Places section on sidebar on the left-hand of Google Earth, then select Save Place As and save the file in the KMZ format.

Now move or copy the KMZ file to your Garmin handheld device in the /Garmin/CustomMaps/ directory. Alternately, the file can be saved to a microSD card, in a /Garmin/CustomMaps/ directory. Once the Custom Map is saved to the device, it will appear on your Garmin Edge by default.

While I have searched my Garmin Edge manual, I can’t find the instructions on how to create a Custom Map. However, while not specific to the Edge the following can be used as a guide:

Creating Garmin Custom Maps in Five Easy Steps

Creating and Loading Custom Maps to an Outdoor Garmin Device.

Transfer Paper or Electronic Maps to Your Device

Ken Whittaker

Custom Garmin Edge Map Panels – Part 4: Add Overlay to Google Earth

Use the add tab then select Image Overlay in Google Earth to add the JPG overlay. In the dialog box add the name of the overlay, provide the path for the JPG overlay and adjust the transparency of the overlay.

It can be a bit tricky positioning the overlay in Google Earth. However, with the route displayed in Google Earth from part 3: Add Route to Google Earth, it is a simple task to match up the route with Google Earth and the overlay by using the green marks to adjust the corner, edges, center and rotation. It may also be necessary to adjust the transparency (in the New Image Overlay dialog) to a level that allows adequate viewing of the JPG and imagery beneath.

Once you are satisfied with the alignment of the source material, select “OK” on the New Image Overlay dialog box.

Ken Whittaker

Custom Garmin Edge Map Panels – Part 3: Add Route to Google Earth

To help georeference the overlay to Google Earth in Part 4: Add the Overlay to Google Earth. This step will help to precisely position the overlay on Google Earth. Fortunately, the route is available on RidewithGPS in the Google Earth .kml file format. Use the Export tab and click Google Earth (.kml). Now with the route in red on Google Earth, it will be easy to position the overlay to Google Earth.

Ken Whittaker

Custom Garmin Edge Map Panels – Part 2: Save Map as JPG

To use a custom map on a compatible Garmin Edge the map must be in a JPG format. In my example, I’m using the Sea Gull Century map offered to the public at

Unfortunately, like many online maps this map is in a PDF format and must be converted into a JPG. This can be done with several Adobe products such as Adobe Photoshop Elements or Adobe Acrobat Standard DC. However, if you don’t have software that can convert a PDF file, you can use GIMP a free software package at or other suitable software.

In most cases, the conversion is as simple as opening the PDF file and then saving it as JPG file.

Ken Whittaker

Custom Garmin Edge Map Panels – Part 1: Introduction

Garmin Edge 810

Several years ago, I volunteered to be a beta tester for Adventure Cycling. At the time, Adventure Cycling had converted their Northern Tier route map panels to custom maps and GPX files that could be displayed while navigating the route on my Garmin Edge 810.

I started my test at Bar Harbor, ME riding the Northern Tier westward across Maine. However, I couldn’t resist starting from the top of Cadillac Mountain. Still, I was able to pick up their route a mile or so from the bottom of the mountain and I continued on their route without looking at the paper maps. In my opinion, being able to view their route map panels on my Garmin Edge while navigating turn by turn with the GPX files was a fantastic enhancement to Adventure Cycling already excellent maps.

Evidently, Adventure Cycling didn’t fully agree with my assessment and a few years later I was a beta tester again. This time I tested Route 66 on my phone with their new Bicycle Route Navigator app. While this app was another fantastic enhancement to their already great cycling maps, I prefer to use my GPS for navigation and not my phone.

Fascinated by the first test with the GPS, I began to research how to create custom maps and GPX files that could be displayed while navigating a route on my Garmin Edge (I am now using the Garmin Edge 1030). Surprisingly, I found that it was much easier than I thought. Now I create my own files for the Garmin. Over the next several posts I will demonstrate how it is done using a map for the upcoming Sea Gull Century that I will be riding September 2018.

Ken Whittaker

Incident Detection

A few months ago, I wrote about ROAD iD’s free real-time GPS tracking App that I use to alert my emergency contact if I am stationary for a set period of time. Click here to read that blog. While I love this app and use it on every ride, the drawback is that it is a stationary alert. So, I must stop moving for more than 5 minutes before my emergency contact is notified. Unquestionably, a stationary alert can be a life saver. Especially in those cases where the driver is more concerned about fleeing responsibility than saving a life and leaves their victim laying along the side of the road.

However, in a traumatic injury, there is what is commonly know as the golden hour. This is the period of time when there is the highest likelihood that prompt medical and surgical treatment will prevent death. Needless to say, the sooner the emergency response providers are notified, the better.

This is where my bicycle computer, a Garmin Edge 1030, fills the gap with incident detection. The sensors within the device, along with any other paired sensors such as a speed or cadence sensor, are used to determine if there has been an impact. If an impact is detected, my Garmin will use my mobile phone to send a message within 30 seconds to my emergency contact with my last known location. Now, my bicycle computer is much more than a device used for navigation and to gather useful ride statistics, it can also save my life!

Ken Whittaker

More Maps

While I’m on the subject of maps, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention some of the other great sources of cycling maps.

Adventure Cycling is a full-service site with a mission to inspire people of all ages to travel by bicycle.

Google Maps is where you can get directions for traveling by bike to anyplace and they offer a street level view that can greatly assist people who navigate by landmarks.

East Coast Greenway Alliance is developing a 3,000-mile route for safe cycling and walking throughout the Eastern Seaboard from Canada to Key West.

TrailLink is part of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a nationwide network of trails from former rail lines and connecting corridors to build healthier places for healthier people.

Ride with GPS is a site that makes it easy to map, analyze, record, and share your bike rides.

Local Bicycling Clubs and Shops are places where you can many times find great bicycling maps in the locations you want to ride.


Ken Whittaker


Due to my crash on my first attempt to cycle across America, my wife Colleen strongly encouraged me not to ride alone in 2015. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anyone to ride with me. In addition, I was naturally resistant to the idea of riding with an organized group. I felt that it was too restrictive and contrary to the free-spirited ideals of cycle touring. However, at Colleen’s urging I signed up to ride with Bubba’s Pampered Pedalers on his Coast 2 Coast supported tour.

As a result, I am not able to share the details of the route with you. Bubba, the operator, considers his route proprietary information and does not want to make it public. While it wouldn’t be difficult to determine my exact route by reading my posts, I would not recommend it. Since Bubba provides support to his riders, there aren’t always services available along his route. Seriously, you could find yourself without lodging, food or water on sections of the route. Honestly, there were sections of the route that had nothing to offer a rider but scenery.

However, if you are a free spirit and decide to go it alone, Adventure Cycling Association offers a very similar Southern Tier route from San Diego, CA to St. Augustine, FL in a 7 Map Set (3069.5 mi.). In addition, they offer many other tools, including GPS waypoints for their routes, places to stay (free & paid), and interactive maps with additional layers for route conditions such as USGS Fire Data (Active Perimeters), Flood Warnings, INCI Fire Data, Weather Forecast, Clouds, Google Bicycle, Google Traffic and Amtrak Routes.

Adventure Cycling maps are not only available for cross-country riders. I’ve used their maps for routes that pass nearby my home and for areas that I’ve toured and vacationed at. I have used Adventure Cycling maps many times and found them to be excellent and I highly recommend them.

If you’re riding self-supported don’t leave home without a good set of maps. I recommend joining Adventure Cycling Association and taking their maps with you.

Ken Whittaker

Original post January 19, 2015
Updated April 10, 2018