We’ve been recommending the Garmin Edge series GPS for mountain bikers for about 6 months now and we’re still loving it. The Edge gets great reception on the trail, it has a simple interface, and it’s fairly rugged.
Until recently, though, we had never tried loading a GPS route downloaded from the internet – and it turns out to be a pain in the ass if you don’t know what you’re doing. Fortunately we’re here to help.
All of the GPS data on singletracks is now available for your Garmin Edge GPS (both the 205 and 305) with one click. Find the trail you want by clicking the “Trail Maps” link at the top of any page and choosing your state from the pull-down menu midway down the page. For this example we’re using the Blodgett trail data (Colorado) which is available free of charge.
On the GPS data and trail map page click the “Garmin Training Center File” link above the map (shown here)
Now fire up your copy of the Garmin Edge Training Center software (free with your Garmin Edge GPS). This tutorial covers the Windows version; stay tuned for a Mac tutorial on the same process.
From the menu choose File -> Import History… and select the file you just downloaded (in this case it’s called “Blodgett.tcx”).
The trail will be added with today’s date and should be at the top of your history list on the left. Select the trail in the left navigation area (you may need to expand the current week to see the trail) and right click on it. Choose “Create Course from Activity.”
Now, switch over to course view by clicking the “Courses” button just below the menu bar. On the left you should see a new course called “New Course 1” and any previously saved courses you may have. Right click on the new course and choose “Edit Course.” Create a name for your course (I called mine “Blodgett”) and click “Ok” to save.
You should see a basic map and elevation profile of the trail in the preview window that will roughly match what you saw on singletracks. Ignore the speed and time data for your track – this is completely arbitrary for all trails you download from singletracks.
Now you’re finally ready to send the trail to your GPS. Make sure your GPS is connected to your computer and with the course selected, choose File -> Send to Device. This may take a few seconds depending on the length and detail of the trail you’ve selected.
After you hear your GPS beep it is safe to disconnect. Once disconnected, turn your Edge on to make sure the trail has been loaded. You can find your saved courses at any time (no GPS signal needed) by navigating to the Main Menu and choosing “Training,” then “Courses.” Select your course (in this example, labeled “Blodgett”) from the list and you can see several options:
- Do Course
- Edit Course
- Delete Course
“Do Course” allows you to navigate the course just as it was submitted to singletracks. This gives you some good information like distance to course, navigation stats, and more. This will also help you stay on track but don’t worry about trying to keep up with the pace – remember it’s arbitrary! To stop following the course return to the Main Menu and select “Training,” “Stop Course.”
“Edit Course” lets you edit the name of your course, though I don’t recommended it. Instead, do this on your computer before you send it to your GPS – it’s much faster!
“Map” shows you an overall map of your course. Zoom in and out using the arrow controls on your Edge GPS.
“Profile” gives you the elevation profile for the trail. Zoom in and out to get a good view using the arrow controls.
“Delete Course” is self explanatory. While this deletes the course from your GPS it DOES NOT delete it from your Garmin Training Center computer software.
With a few simple steps you can download GPS trail data from the internet and send it to your Garmin Edge GPS device, giving you piece of mind and relevant data when riding an unfamiliar trail.