A GPS is a wonderful tool when it’s working properly and you know how to use it.   When it’s not (and you don’t), it can be terribly intimidating and frustrating.  This article was written after seeing the difficulties some riders had when they tried to use GPS files they’d downloaded from the Washington State BMW Rider website.  It wasn’t the website’s fault and it wasn’t the rider’s fault.  Whose fault was it?  Some blame lays at the feet of the GPS itself, the rest lays at the feet of the software programs we use to move that data.

Click this link to download the PDF file:   GPS Tutorial 101 – 072618

This article isn’t going to teach you how to operate your device, how to unravel the mysteries of BaseCamp, or how to create a 4-corners route that stops at every Starbucks.  This article doesn’t go into the new Furkot mapping application. This article helps you understand how to properly load TRACKS and/or ROUTES that someone else created, into your GPS device.

Why would you want to do that?  You would if you’re joining a group of riders who are planning a journey.  You would if you want to be on the same sheet of music so you can ride the same roads or trails.  You would if you’re going to a Rally where a set of pre-planned excursions are laid out in advance, and you want to ride on those same paths.  You would if you read about some epic adventure, and you wanted to follow in the footsteps of those who went before you.

What’s the diff’ between a Track and a Route?  One’s an apple, one’s an orange, and you can’t make either peg fit in a square hole.  

  • A Track is a “breadcrumb” trail that was digitally painted on the earth.  It was created by someone who rode there at one time, or it could be something that was created on a computer.  A Track doesn’t change, it’s permanent.  It shows up on your GPS screen as a solid line.  You can follow it as you ride, but if you stray from that line, your GPS won’t tell you that you’ve gone “off course”.  Tracks are easily transferable from one GPS to another, from one computer to another.  A Track doesn’t speak to your GPS.  It won’t tell you when to turn or how far it is to the next town.  It’s “dumb”, but in a good way.  A Track can easily be converted to a Route, so Tracks are the favored currency when it comes GPS navigation.   We like Tracks because they’re good for off-road riding.

  • A Route is an interactive and dynamic pathway between Starting Point A and Finish Line Z, and it can have multiple stops along the way.  A Route is something that can (and will) change as you ride, which means if you make a wrong turn or take a detour, your GPS will make the necessary corrections and guide you back onto the proper path.  A Route generally gives you step-by-step navigation cues, including how far until the next turn, distance to destination, etc.   A Route isn’t always transferable from one GPS to another UNLESS both devices are using the same software.  A Route is “smart”, but that’s not always a good thing.  A Route can’t always be easily converted to a Track, which makes things difficult.  We use Routes, but we’re wary of them, and we never use them for off-road riding. 

    Click this link to download the PDF file:   GPS Tutorial 101 – 072618