Tracks and Service Points (limited) FAQs

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: See detailed instructions to use digital data on specific devices such as Garmin Edge series and Garmin eTrex.
  • Mobile devices: See 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.

What is this new limited product?

Adventure Cycling is now offering GPS data in the format of GPX tracks. These limited tracks are low resolution 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.

The limited version of the tracks are not intended for precise navigation. Their resolution is too low to allow for exact match of roads. Instead, they are intended to confirm the general direction & adherence to the intended route. They should also match the intended route at major intersections.

How is it different than what was previously offered?

The route data is in a GPX track format, offers greater compatibility and fewer limitations across multiple devices, and the naming conventions are more user-friendly than the legacy GPS waypoint data.

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

It is not recommended. 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?

During the digital data introduction phase, 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.)

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.

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. 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?

The resolution of these tracks is very low, and the tracks do not follow the curves in the roads. Without those curves, the track will come up with a lower mileage than what is on the paper map. 

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 follow the general direction of the line on your screen, and stay on a particular road until you find a bend in the track line. These bends should be at route changes (e.g. a turn). We also suggest referring to your paper map. For more information on using the digital data, see details on specific devices that we have tested on the right hand side of our GPS Devices page.

Can I view an elevation profile from the tracks (lo res) data? Why does Basecamp crash when I attempt to view an elevation profile for the tracks (lo res) file?

We have run into a bug in Garmin's Basecamp v4.6.2 that causes the application to crash when trying to display elevation profile graphs for several of the low resolution tracks. This bug seems to only affect Windows users, and there is no predictability as to which files cause issues. Some will display a message saying "There is no elevation data to view", while others will just crash the program. There are also a few files that will display a graph but should this be considered unreliable. The tracks have been too simplified at irregular distances to provide an adequate sampling of the elevations along the route, and they will never represent percent gradient of the road. Note that the bug does not appear to affect Basecamp versions prior to v4.6.2. For more information on the Basecamp bug, follow the discussion on the Garmin forums: https://forums.garmin.com/showthread.php?343208-BaseCamp-4-6-2-is-available

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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