Digital Data for Devices FAQs

What is Digital Data?

Adventure Cycling offerings GPS data in the format of GPX tracks. The tracks are navigational paths, following our Adventure Cycling Routes, that will display as a line on your device. When GPS is turned on, an indicator will show your location in relation to that line. This data may be used on a GPS device, smartphone, or tablet. Use it with the paper maps of the Adventure Cycling Route Network to improve your navigation, both on and off the route.

How do I open ZIP files?

Refer to detailed instructions depending on the device: Windows, Mac, iPhone (and other iOS devices), and Android.

How do I view the digital data?

The data is in a standard GPX format compatible with most devices (after you expand ZIP file). There are several options to view the data depending on the device as follows:

  • GPS devices with detailed instructions to use digital data on specific devices such as Garmin Edge series and Garmin eTrex.
  • Mobile devices with detailed instructions to use digital data on iPhone and Android.
  • Computers (for view only, not for navigation) use a web site such as GPX2KML.com:
    • Choose digital data file to view.
    • Select Convert button.
    • Select View link to view the data on a map.

Can I just use these digital products and not get a paper map?

You could. However we suggest that this data is best viewed as a supplemental source of information. There are still many benefits of using a paper map as illustrated in this clever video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZCp-JSVSNZM

  • High reliability: no batteries to charge, waterproof, available without a phone or internet connection
  • More visible in the sunlight
  • Conversation piece with locals, especially useful when asking for help

Can I use newer digital data files with an older paper map version?

Due to mid-cycle updates, there will be instances when the data is newer than the print map currently being sold. While in general we advocate using the newest print maps, using older print maps with newer digital data will be adequate as long as there hasn’t been a major reroute. In most cases updates have far more service changes than reroutes. Reroutes are often minor adjustments that you could easily discern. When routes differ, we recommend you defer to the newer version of the two sources. (The last four digits in the digital file name indicate the date of the paper map it is keyed to.)

This Digital Data seems like a lot of work. Don't you have an app?

We do! Currently we offer five route-specific apps: Bicycle Route 66, Chicago to New York City, Pacific Coast, Southern Tier and TransAmerica Trail. Watch for updates to the app scene in early 2018.

How do I choose - Digital Data for Devices or Adventure Cycling App?

This is a tough question and the answer will be dependent on a number of variables. We've created a chart to help you make this choice.

I have a Garmin XXX, can I use it?

There are several models on the market. We have not tested them all, but discuss several that we are familiar with on our GPS Device pages.

Will the elevation profile show me every hill I will be climbing?

The short answer, no. Elevation data is a lot more fickle than one imagines. Our elevation data, as with all such data we know about, should be used as an overview tool to plan for major climbs and descents. It does not show every hill you will encounter.

I see two tracks on my screen and don’t know which one to follow.  What do I do?

This can happen when the device “Navigates” the track, and the basemap on the device is different than the ones used to create the data. If you find the navigated track confusing, turn off the Navigation or Turn Guidance. For more information, see details on specific devices that we have tested on the right hand side of our GPS Devices page.

Why is the mileage for the track different than that on the map?

Two different methods were used to derive the total mileages for paper and track products. All methods of deriving mileage are subject to small error. Over hundreds of miles, this small error can become visible when comparing two different methods – as is seen here. The mileage difference should be small, less than 5 miles over 400 miles of routing.

If there are ferries on the route, the ferry distances are included in the track, but not on the map, so the mileage differences will be greater.

Can I get the device to tell me when to turn?

In some cases, yes, but there are often more issues created by this than are solved. The easiest way to use the tracks is to simply follow the line on your screen and have it set up to notify you if you go off route.  For more information, see details on specific devices that we have tested on the right hand side of our GPS Devices page.

What services are included in the service points?

The service points feature the same services that are on the physical maps.  The benefits of this include:  1 – These services show all known food, camping, lodging, and bike shop options that are directly on route in between towns, and show a representation of these types of services in towns (based on proximity to route or recommendations by cyclists); 2- Many GPS units only accept 200 waypoints at a time, so by showing only the points most convenient to the route or recommended by cyclists, you do not have to do as much editing of points to get the number below 200.

If you would like to see a more comprehensive list of services, many apps are available with this information for mobile devices, and most maps on GPS devices, including Open Street Maps and City Navigator, also have a function to search for services.  See your owner’s manual for further instructions.

I don’t see all of the service points I put on my device.  What happened?

Many GPS units have a limit for how many waypoints it can take at one time. Check the limit for your device.   For more information, see details on specific devices that we have tested on the right hand side of our GPS Devices page.

What are the problems with using service points on Garmin Edge devices?

These devices are made for competing, connecting via social media, and navigating new routes in a particular area.  They are very difficult to use with imported waypoints (including services), as this is not a focus of the device.  There is a complicated way to use up to 200 services at a time on most of these devices (excluding the Edge 1000).  This would be difficult for the average user, however, and requires a computer (ideally loaded with GPX software) every time you need to upload new services (e.g. after you have reached your 200 point limit and want to load the next 200 points.)

  • To let Garmin know about features you would like to see on their devices, contact Garmin: http://www.garmin.com/us/support/
  •  If you are an advanced user, comfortable with how your device works and want more information on how to do use services on Edge devices (excluding the Edge 1000), contact us at cartography@adventurecycling.org

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