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Topics - SFGary

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I know the Garmin line best, but perhaps someone will add suggestions about DeLorme and Magellan.

The eTrex Legend HCx sounds like a good fit to me. Equipped with the City Navigator map set, it will take you through the 50 states and most of Canada. Buy the maps on DVD, not the preloaded SD card, and put them on the Mac for your trip planning and reloading the receiver with maps, routes, and waypoints. City Navigator does not include elevation data. The ACA maps show contour lines at large intervals, and their GPS waypoints include elevations in mountainous terrain. You could buy the Topo US 100K map set for full elevation coverage.

Having the Mac eliminates the need for huge map storage or waypoint storage in the GPSR. You will probably load maps every few weeks of riding. Other features of more expensive models: magnetic compass and barometric altimeter. The Legend shows your direction as soon as you start moving, but not when stopped. Its GPS altitude is less accurate than barometric, about +- 50 feet vs. +- 20 feet. Both are fine for cycling.

Use the free RoadTrip software to manage the maps, load them, take your daily tracks and waypoints, and plan routes.

Accessories you are likely to want: handlebar mount, 4 rechargeable AA batteries and an AC charger, MicroSD card (probably 2GB size), and card reader for the Mac if it does not have a slot. If you get a camera that uses AA batteries, it can share the charger and probably the card reader.

This unit does distance and speed, but not cadence nor heart rate. (The Edge series does, but it is not suited for touring, being specialized for training.) No temperature, either, but a keychain thermometer does as well.

I still use a bike computer beside the GPSR, mainly for cadence and as backup for distance. GPS eliminates the mental subtraction exercises that we all did when estimating the next turn.

GPS takes some practice to use well. Plan to spend an hour in an easy chair with receiver and owner's manual, then take it on local rides to see how it does on routes you know. A few hundred miles will give you a good idea of what it can and cannot do.

Finally, be sure to have paper maps and a keychain compass along. Electronics gets lost and broken too often to not have a backup. I think of the GPSR as an adjunct to the ACA maps. It is a good navigator, but lacks the cycling knowledge built into those maps.


Fred, thank you, you stopped me from an expensive mistake, I almost bought the Edge 800.  Are the Electronic Compass and the Barometric altitude features on the eTrex Vista HCx worth the extra $50? Also I bought all the maps I need for my ride, does the GPS date from ACA cost more?

For that matter why not the eTrex20/30. They seem to have a higher res screens with all the same features except for "Outdoor GPS" games and I can't see myself doing that...


Hi All

A new older, member here and am probably asking an impossible question but: I am planning an SF to Washington DC ride for a cause starting early April. I am a bit on the, OK a lot on the heavier side (don't ask) and am not sure I can do major climbs like in the Sierras and the Rockies (have driven in both areas in Fall/Winter so it worries me) because of the extra weight, average knees and a hip injury from an old rowing accident.

I would also like to avoid or minimize Desert riding if possible. The cold, fog and the rain don't bother me. To compensate for these limitations I am willing to do extra mileage. I just ordered the Transam from Pueblo to Yorktown maps from ACA but with all the accumulated knowledge and experience in this impressive forum I thought I would also ask here if I can get from SF to Pueblo by avoiding the mountain ranges and the desert. Part B of the question is that can I do it without any camping? i.e. staying overnight in motels all the way? I am reading through Suzanne Stack's blog who is doing the same type of a ride,, but she and her husband started from Astoria, OR...

Any help would be greatly appreciated or I foresee a lot of pushing a loaded bike uphill. Thanks in advance


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