If your group or shop as a regular ride you would like to share, one of the best resources we’ve found is RideWithGPS.com. With this site you can create a ride map with little effort, share it, upload it to your Garmin bicycle computer and print maps for your group.
Go to RideWithGPS and sign up for a free basic account. There are paid accounts with more options but you can always upgrade later. Once you’re logged in, click on the PLAN link from the main menu. If you’re familiar with Google maps, then it should be easy for you to navigate around this interface.
Draw Your Route
Zoom into the area of the map where you would like to have your ride start and click the map to place a pin where you want the ride to start. Click another spot on the map and a route will automatically be created between the two points. Keep adding points until your entire ride route is complete.
While you are creating your map you can choose how your route is optimized. You can switch modes at anytime while you are drawing your map. DRIVING only uses roads where cars can travel. It observes one-way streets preventing you from routing your ride the wrong way. CYCLING uses both roads and known bike paths with a preference for bike paths, roads with bike lanes and city designated bike routes. WALKING uses all of the above plus sidewalks. If you want to override any of these methods, you can always select the DRAW LINES option. This is helpful when a bike path or road exists, but hasn’t been added to Google Maps yet. If your map is routed down a road you would like to avoid, you can always either click UNDO, or click and drag the part of your route vector to another road.
Save Your Map and Make it Public
When you’re done, be sure to save your map and give it a name. If you want to be able to share the map with anyone else you must select the public setting for the map.
Once the map is saved you can view it to make sure it is correct. The map will display statistics such as length of route and total elevation. The map will also create a turn-by-turn list on the right as it’s drawn. Once you’ve saved the map (you will be directed to view your map) you’ll leave the map editor and go to the map view mode. In the Map View mode you can see links to share your route, the route metrics and export options. You can also print and export maps and turn sheets as well. Paid subscribers have even more options. To share the route, simply copy the URL from the address bar and paste it into an email, text message or on Facebook. Pasting a link on Facebook even includes a thumbnail view of the route in your status or message.
Put Your Route on Your Garmin Bike Computer
If you own a Garmin cycling computer, you can even download the route so you can follow it in real time as you’re riding. High-end Garmin computers (Edge models 705, 800, 810 and Touring) will display your route on top of a map of area roads. Lower models will still display your route without the street maps. Your screen will show a breadcrumb trail you can follow so you can see when you need to turn and when you’re off course.
To add your route to your computer, go to the EXPORT tab on the map view page. Consult your manual, or the Garmin website, to see what file format works best for your model. Usually TCX courses works best on any Garmin Edge computer made in the last 5 years. If your Garmin is not an Edge model or is older than 5 years, then you should try GPX. For current Garmin Edge models simply download the TCX file directly to the folder on your Garmin called New Files. Then disconnect your Garmin from your PC and turn it on. Load the course from the Garmin menu and select GO to load the route. Press START to start the computer and you’re ready to ride. Transferring files to older Garmin models is different for each model, but usually any route created on RideWithGPS can be downloaded into almost any model of Garmin handheld computers.