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Beginners Guide To Planning Long Rides (with a GPS)

This is NOT a sponsored post. However, this post contains affiliate links and I receive a commission if you visit a link and buy something on my recommendation. Purchasing via an affiliate link doesn’t cost you any extra, and I only recommend products and services I trust. All opinions are my own. For more details see my disclosure and privacy policies.

If you’ve been bitten by the cycling bug and have decided that you’re gonna stick to two wheels for the foreseeable future then maybe it’s time to invest in a GPS. I purchased the Garmin Edge 820 just a couple of weeks before we left for Paris; back in 2017 with a RRP of £329 (currently available for just over half that price!) it was a tough decision to make. But here are the reasons I made the plunge…

The Reasons I bought a Garmin Edge 820

garmin edge 820 for planning long rides
  • I didn’t want to have to rely on others knowing the route for rides and me just following
  • Following routes on your phone is not the one when you have to stop every so often to check you’re on the right track. I actually purchased my Quadlock bike mount for this very reason; I wanted to at least be able to use Apple maps on short commuter type rides where I needed a little direction. It meant that my phone was visible without me having to hold it
  • I wanted to not have to stress if a road was closed and I needed a different route
  • I could get 30% off using my Vitality insurance discount (before I cancelled the policy)
  • Last but not least I figured if I decided I didn’t need it after Paris I could sell it on and probably not lose any money
garmin edge 820

So I bought it. And I think I made the right decision. It instantly gave me the freedom to be able to plan long rides myself and follow the routes with ease. It’s also meant I’ve been able to go out riding on my own close to home, or further afield, when I in fact don’t know the roads all that well.

How to plan long rides using the Garmin Edge 820

Option 1. Let the Garmin choose for me

My first solo ride (other than commuting) was just a couple of weeks after my 820 arrived. After popping along to the cycle show for RideLondon and spending some time chatting to one of the Garmin specialists who showed me this feature I had to try it…
I basically went outside of my front door, choose the Course Creator option (under Navigation > Courses), decided on a distance of around 25km in a loop (so I start and end in the same place, namely home) and then let the Garmin do its stuff… it came up with 3 different route options ranging between 21 and 26km and somehow I opted for the 26km route. I figured if I was gonna go out I might as well make it worth my while…

I still have a little learning and some playing around to do with the Garmin but it gives you voice directions as well as audible beeps to signal turns etc. The screen is a 2.3-inch high-resolution touch display and moves along with your directions so you never need to manually move the screen to follow the directions. You can save the route once it’s uploaded to Strava or it can be saved directly on your device.

Option 2. Using Strava and Garmin

If you have a strava friend that has a route they love they can share it with you and then you can save it as one of your own routes. Once you do this, you’re able to edit it if you need to (maybe to start in a slightly different location). You then download the gpx file from strava and pop it onto the 820 like you would a USB stick in the “New Files” folder.

Once you sync the 820 the route will be available under “Saved Routes” ready for you to follow. This is how I prepared our daily routes for Paris; using strava to plot routes from hotel to hotel each day and then to the Eiffel Tower on our final day. I always get a little panicky about deviating off the planned route when in this mode on the 820 but so far it’s been pretty good at getting me back onto the route if I make a wrong turn or if we can’t access a certain road.

Follow Me on Strava:

Option 3. Allow Strava to create a route

If you wanna get a bit creative you can devise your own route in Strava. Most times, I find this a bit tedious but if you’ve got some time to play it’s a great option. You simply open ‘My Routes‘ from the dashboard menu and hit the orange ‘Create New Route‘ button.

Choose a starting point and then you can just click on spots which will be joined to your starting point to make a route. It keeps you up to date on the distance as you are creating your route. I’ve been using this option most recently to create routes for my Liv x Breeze ladies rides. It helps me to create a route to / from a specific cafe or taking in a specific landmark… like Mott Street.

Once you’ve saved your route, you can follow the instructions above to download the gpx file and add to your device.

Garmin Edge 830 – The Newest Release

This post sat in my drafts for so long, that Garmin came and created a newer model… the Garmin Edge 830 which is currently retailing for around £349.99 (as of August 2019).


Wiggle Discounts: (New Customers Only) Save £5 Off £30 Spend Use Code: NEWGB or Save £10 Off £50 Spend Use Code: NEWGB5


Garmin Edge 830 vs 820

So this new Edge 830 model, has a ever so slightly bigger screen (2.6’’), better battery life (up to 20 hours), some updated hardware which I personally won’t go into plus a few new features.

One new feature which I spotted are hydration and nutrition alerts. I can imagine these would come in useful especially for longer rides or endurance events to help keep you on track.

Other Resources For Planning Routes To Ride

Finishing off and publishing this post was a great refresher for me and inspiration to create some new routes for my Essex rides. I’ve got a few ready and waiting to be tested already which have mostly been created using the Strava route creation tool.

In terms of the technology side of things, I’ve heard soooo many people raving about the Wahoo Element GPS cycling computer, I’m hoping that the opportunity to test it out will arise soon!

So, how do you plan your long rides?! And what tech are you currently using and love?!

Elle

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This is NOT a sponsored post. However, this post contains affiliate links and I receive a commission if you visit a link and buy something on my recommendation. Purchasing via an affiliate link doesn’t cost you any extra, and I only recommend products and services I trust. All opinions are my own. For more details see my disclosure and privacy policies.

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