Adventure Cycling Association Forum

Bicycle Travel => GPS & Digital Data Discussion => Topic started by: alasdair on March 06, 2012, 01:33:06 am

Title: Combining routes
Post by: alasdair on March 06, 2012, 01:33:06 am
I have a question about combining the ACA gpx routes into a larger route for me to follow on my bike. Using MapSource, I have pulled all the gpx route files corresponding to the 11 map sections I plan to cycle (TransAm 4-12, Lewis & Clark 6-7, westbound) into a single route, including spurs and alternates where I think I might ride them, omitting them where I am sure I will not. That gave me a total of 69 ACA gpx routes folded into one big route and with a total of 1,754 waypoints. I transferred the routes, waypoints and relevant City Navigator map areas from my PC to my Garmin Oregon 450 internal memory (no need for an SD card). It surprised me a little that I was able to do this since I have read that on a continental crossing, capacity constraints make it necessary to reload the GPS receiver at least once en route. Anyway, so much the better. But when I go into Route Planner on the device I find that the 69 routes are shown individually. I had hoped they would have been fused into one. I am new to GPS and can't test how this works on the ground since I am in Australia, far from all ACA routes. My question is this: once I am physically in the USA, on the route, will I need to work out which of these 69 routes is relevant to my present location and select that one or will the Oregon somehow seamlessly display the route as a continuous line stretching from coast to coast, so that each day I just turn it on and it points me in the direction I should go? Is there something else I should be doing to manipulate the routes pre-departure? The ACA's GPS User Guide assumes that I will want to edit the waypoints. I'm not sure what changes I should be making or, indeed, how to make them. Grateful for any help to a beginner.
Title: Re: Combining routes
Post by: FredHiltz on March 06, 2012, 02:55:47 pm
Hi Alasdair. Putting all the GPS routes into one file does not combine them, as you found out. MapSource does have a way, though. Open a route on the Routes tab in the left pane. Select all the waypoints in the route and copy them to the clipboard. Open a new route that will become the combined route and paste the waypoints after any that are already there. This is fast if you keep two instances of MapSource open.

That said, the Oregon 450 does limit the number of waypoints in a route. I think the wording is "up to 250 stops and turns." Does that include turns created by the auto-routing function? I do not know.

Depending on how much work you want to do at home on the computer, you can choose to ride with the routes as they come from ACA or you can do as much editing as you like. I prefer to change the waypoint name to the name of the road I will turn onto, so the screen shows both the road name and the distance to go. I rarely change the names of intermediate waypoints. Double click a waypoint in MapSource to open a dialog where you can change its name.

I then set up routes that overlap, so I can switch from one to the other anywhere in a stretch of ten or twenty miles while keeping continuous navigation. Some people like to set up a route for one day's riding, in order to see time and distance to go.

Others will choose to do more or less customization. Read the sticky "Using..." thread at the top of this group and the User Guide that it mentions. They will give you the tools you need.

Title: Re: Combining routes
Post by: alasdair on March 07, 2012, 01:50:02 am
Thanks, Fred. I appreciate the speed and helpfulness of your responses. I'm afraid I'm not very competent at this sort of thing, however, and I'm a complete beginner with GPS, so I need to ask for some further support, if you don't mind. I tried to carry out the steps you outlined in your first paragraph and ran into difficulty. First, I opened in MapSource the gpx file corresponding to TransAm section 12. It contains 8 routes and 403 waypoints. I selected all the 403 waypoints and copied them, via the clipboard, to a new MapSource window and repeated the procedure twice more, adding the waypoints from TransAm sections 11 and 10 to my new window. This gave me a file with 1,169 waypoints - but no routes. I had expected that in this way I would have obtained a single route covering the three map sections. I concluded that I had misunderstood your directions and that this was not what you meant. I started again. This time, when I opened the gpx file for TransAm section 12, I double clicked on the last of the 8 routes listed (which will be the first one I ride). This opened a Route Properties window which listed a number of Via Points. I couldn't see how to proceed from here, so again I stopped. Could I trouble you, please, to spell out in more detail exactly what I should be doing to combine the route files? I have read the sticky and the User Guide, as well as quite a few threads on this sub-forum, but it's not getting through to my non-technical brain.
Title: Re: Combining routes
Post by: FredHiltz on March 07, 2012, 08:29:51 am
The MapSource user interface is clunky, to be polite. It does function well after you get used to it.

You were almost there. When you copied and pasted the waypoints, you transferred them as an unordered collection of waypoints. You need to use the Route Properties window, which presents the waypoints in sequence as a route. Here's how, in more detail than you probably need. It is faster to do than to read:

1. Start two instances of MapSource and arrange their windows so you can see both at once. In one, which I will call Left, we will open the routes as ACA publishes them. In the other, which I will call Right, we will build combined routes. Since you are riding westbound, we will start with the easternmost routes.

2. Open TA12v007.gpx in Left. File > Open.

3. Open a new Mapsource file in Right. File > New.

4. Optional. Do this if you want to combine the points of interest (POI) waypoints as well as the route waypoints.

In Left, click any waypoint in the Waypoints tab in the left pane. Ctrl+A selects them all. Ctrl+C copies them to the clipboard.

In Right, click anywhere in the waypoints tab in the left pane. Ctrl+V pastes the waypoints there.

5. In Right, start a new route. Ctrl+R. A Route Properties windows opens.

6. In Left, double-click on the last route in the Routes tab.

7. Its Route Properties window opens. Ctrl+A selects all the waypoints (via points) in the route. Ctrl+C copies them to the clipboard.

8. In Right, click on the top-most waypoint, if any. Ctrl+V pastes the copied waypoints above the one you just clicked.

9. In left, close the Route Properties window.

10. If you wish to combine more routes, on the Routes tab, double-click the next route to be combined and go to Step 7. Otherwise, go to Step 11.

11. In Right, uncheck Autoname. Enter a new name for the combine route. Click OK.

12. If you wish to make more combined routes, go to Step 5. Otherwise, go to Step 13.

13. Save the file containing combined routes. File > Save As. Navigate to the folder where you wish to save it. Enter a file name. From the drop list in Save as Type: select GPS eXchange Format (*.gpx). Click Save.

Title: Re: Combining routes
Post by: alasdair on March 07, 2012, 07:36:12 pm
Sigh of relief! Thanks so much, Fred. That's exactly what I wanted and not at all in excessive detail. Even with every step spelled out so fully it took me three goes before I was able to combine the routes from three map sections into a single route without error. I'll now experiment further to see how large a route can be and still transfer successfully to my Oregon 450. Following your instructions carefully, I should be able to merge all the gpx files for my trip across the continent into a manageable number of routes. I'm sure an explanation at the level of detail you have provided will prove useful to other non-experts who are struggling with GPS. Thank you very much indeed.
Title: Re: Combining routes
Post by: alasdair on March 08, 2012, 01:23:01 am
Hi Fred, just a follow-up question on what you said about editing waypoints. You suggested changing the waypoint name. I notice that it's also possible to change the comment associated with each waypoint. I wonder what the pros and cons are of changing the name versus changing the comment? It seems you can set your preferences for either to be displayed. I wonder whether changing the name might disorder the sequence of waypoints since the name is originally chosen so as to be in sequence with those preceding and following it along the route. Is that a mistaken concern on my part?
Title: Re: Combining routes
Post by: FredHiltz on March 08, 2012, 05:59:09 am
Change either one. It will not change the sequence of waypoints on the route, once the route is made. And, of course, you can change any route "by hand," adding, removing, and rearranging waypoints without regard to their names.

My GPSR shows the name of the next waypoint and the distance to it as I ride along. To see the comment, I have to go to the waypoint detail screen. So I prefer to use meaningful waypoint names. But it's your choice.

Title: Re: Combining routes
Post by: alasdair on March 08, 2012, 05:41:51 pm
Many thanks for that clarification, Fred.
Title: Re: Combining routes
Post by: alasdair on March 28, 2012, 08:53:45 pm
Here's an update for anyone who may be trying to replicate what I've been doing. I found that three map sections combined into a single route was too large for my Oregon 450, so I went back to creating one route for each map section except in the case of TransAm sections 7 and 8, which were able to share a route. This is because they are mainly in Kansas and contain fewer twists and turns. Thus for the 11 map sections I plan to cycle through to get from Yorktown to Astoria (TransAm sections 4-12, Lewis & Clark sections 6-7) I have made up ten routes by joining together the ACA gpx files. I have done some editing to rename the route waypoints, although I think I could have done that better by adopting shorter names. I have successfully transferred all ten routes and the relevant parts of the City Navigator map to my Oregon 450's internal memory. I have not used an SD card. I think the GPS receiver now has all it needs for the entire transcontinental journey. It should not be necessary to clear out the memory part way and substitute the second half of the itinerary. But I'm still a novice with GPS and I may have done something wrong that will frustrate my hopes for easy GPS-assisted way-finding.
Title: Re: Combining routes
Post by: FredHiltz on March 28, 2012, 09:22:31 pm
Impressive! This may be the first GPSR to accept an entire TA without resort to a lot of manual work as Mike described here ( Is there also room for the points of interest waypoints: campgrounds, restaurants, museums, etc.?

Title: Re: Combining routes
Post by: alasdair on March 28, 2012, 11:41:11 pm
Yes, I included all the points of interest waypoints from the ACA files; and I forgot to say that I added short overlap sections between the routes, typically half a dozen or so route waypoints from the preceding and following map sections. That means I will have to change from one GPS route to the next within a short distance on the road, but I will be prepared for the changeover because it will occur at the same place as the map section changes.
Title: Re: Combining routes
Post by: FredHiltz on March 29, 2012, 06:12:02 am
Hurrah for the Oregon 450! We have been waiting for years to see a GPSR with enough storage to do this. And congratulations to you for getting it done.

Title: Re: Combining routes
Post by: alasdair on March 31, 2012, 01:15:08 am
Fred has suggested to me separately that it might help other novices if I were to write a fuller account of what I did with the gpx files as downloaded from the ACA website. I have an elderly PC running Windows XP SP3 and I used Garmin's City Navigator North America NT maps on DVD in conjunction with MapSource 6.16.3, the final version of this software before Garmin switched its development efforts to BaseCamp. The maps came with BaseCamp on the DVD and I downloaded MapSource from the internet. I expect BaseCamp is capable of doing everything that MapSource can and more; I've only looked at it briefly. I used MapSource because that is what seems to be preferred on this forum. I find it prone to frequent crashing and with a cumbersome way of saving one's work.

Unzipping the ACA files and opening them in MapSource shows that each map section (= one paper map) is divided into a number of routes. As reported in my original post on this thread, there were 69 in all for my planned journey, omitting a few variant routings I knew I wasn't interested in. I thought that was too large a number for convenience. After some trial and error, I determined that one route per map section was a workable number. That would give me 11 routes in total which together would cover my entire journey (actually ten routes because I combined two of the map sections). Once on the road, it should be easy enough to scroll through ten routes to find the one I want on any particular day. So, following carefully the step-by-step instructions contained in the second of Fred's posts in this thread, I created new combined routes. For example, gpx file TA12v007, which covers map section 12 of the TransAm route, is made up of eight routes which I consolidated into one.

I also changed the names of the route waypoints, which are initially alphanumeric combinations like J0CAE0, into directions that would be meaningful to me on my bike. I derived these by study of the paper maps and occasional reference to Google Maps or Google Earth. I found a number of places where the GPS routing goes a slightly different way to the paper map. I reported these to the ACA using the online map correction form.

When I'd finished, I opened two instances of MapSource with adjacent routes; for example, I opened consolidated route 12 (from the eight routes in TA12v007) and consolidated route 11 (from the eight routes in TA11v007). I then added new route waypoints to the end of route 12 corresponding to the first half dozen or so in route 11 and new route waypoints to the beginning of route 11 corresponding to the final half dozen or so in route 12 (I'm cycling westwards from route 12 to route 11). The purpose of this was to provide some overlap between the two consolidated routes.

Having done all that, I transferred the completed routes to my Oregon 450 receiver using MapSource. I found it necessary to do this one route at a time. After transferring one route, I disconnected the device from my PC, restarted it and let it load the newly transferred route, then reconnected the device to the computer and transferred the next route. If I tried to do several at once, only the last one would transfer successfully. I had already transferred the relevant parts of the North America maps to the device using MapSource.

I hope this account will be helpful to some. I will try to answer any questions. If anyone wants to see how I make out on the road, I'll be blogging at
Title: Re: Combining routes
Post by: FredHiltz on March 31, 2012, 05:49:10 am
This is great, Alasdair. Thanks from me and from many GPS users to come.

Title: Re: Combining routes
Post by: alasdair on May 23, 2012, 09:35:11 pm
After I'd done all the work described in earlier posts on this thread, it was a disappointment that my six month-old Oregon 450 ceased to work at the end of the first week of my tour. I had found it very useful during those first seven days. On day eight, it wouldn't power on. Garmin Product Support asked me via email to carry out some troubleshooting tests then said I would have to send it in for service. As I don't have proof of purchase with me or a fixed address in America, that will have to wait till I'm back home in Australia in August. I'm now at the end of week two and have found the ACA paper maps adequate to find the way. This was my first GPS and on the basis of this experience I doubt I will buy another. I certainly wouldn't want to be entirely dependent on one. The equation Garmin = Not Reliable has been firmly established in my mind.

For anyone interested, my blog is at
Title: Re: Combining routes
Post by: FredHiltz on May 23, 2012, 11:40:32 pm
Ah, too bad! A loss for you and a lesson for all of us that gadgets do fail. Map and compass are absolutely essential.

Garmin has a good reputation for reliability and customer service. I expect they will make it good for you, but of course too late.

But maybe you should not give up too easily. Garmin sponsors a professional cycling team and is very conscious of their image. I'd contact them ( ( with your tale of woe and see if they would help a visitor to our country by arranging with one of their dealers ( ( to exchange your unit and set of maps when you pass through. I doubt they would insist on proof of purchase, but is there someone at home who could fax a copy or attach a photocopy to an email if necessary?

I suggest this because they once helped me in a similar situation. A 60C fell off my handlebar mount when I hit a big pothole in a dark tunnel at speed. After checking the front wheel and tire, I went back and found the Garmin had been run over. I bought a replacement, called support with my story, and they gave me a new activation code so I could load my maps into the replacement. No questions asked, and they refused my offer to mail the remains of the old unit. All in one phone call!

Other than that, how is the TA ride going?

Title: Re: Combining routes
Post by: alasdair on May 24, 2012, 07:30:00 pm
I tried that approach, Fred, and unfortunately it didn't work. I explained to Garmin that I was one week in to a three month cross-country ride raising money for charity, with all my maps on the GPS, and that the ACA's Bike Bits had referred its 45,000 subscribers to my blog, where they would read what had happened to my GPS and how Garmin had responded. It was a good opportunity for Garmin to get some positive public relations by rushing in and saving the situation. I would have praised them on my blog. Instead they asked for the sales receipt from the original retailer (or copy thereof).

As to how the ride is going, well, you'll have to read my blog to find out....