Cycling by GPS alone may sound like a daunting task when you’re in a race but it is actually a lot easier than you think. It is also a great way to plan and ride routes that you can create yourself, or better yet, ride the routes that other cyclists have planned.

Although not all Garmin bike computers can do so, if yours has mapping functionality, you’ll be able to load custom tracks and cycle a custom route that you load on your device – this list includes the Edge 520, Edge 810, and Edge 1000. The former has a really nifty Strava Segments feature built in that’ll allow you to make use of Strava routes too.

Loading a custom route to your Garmin is pretty straight forward. If you have never done so before, simply follow these steps. Alternatively, you can contact your closest NavWorld branch where one of the technicians will be able to assist you.

A note for race day
If you’ll be using your GPS bike computer on race day, it is very important to always switch on your device at least 30 minutes before the start of the race so that it can position itself correctly. Usually these races take place far away from your last ride which means your GPS will take longer to find the new position of the satellites overhead. Once signal has been acquired you can turn off your device as it will be ready for the start of the race.

How to load a custom route on your Garmin GPS bike computer

The custom route file that you need to load to your device will be in the form of a .gpx file. Usually the race organiser will share this with all entrants, or you can create one yourself using Garmin Basecamp. Check out the Bielie Mielie MTB Challenge taking place on the 12th of March – there are also .gpx files for you to download if you’d like to test these steps.

If you have a Edge 810 or Edge 1000, you’ll be loading your .gpx route file to the device’s memory card. The new Garmin Edge 520 does not have expandable memory so you’ll need to copy the files directly to the device’s internal storage.

Step 1
Download the .gpx file(s) from the event organiser’s website and connect your device to your computer. We’ll show you how to create your own in a later article. With your Garmin connected to your computer, browse to the device’s storage folder and click on the folder named Garmin.
Step1_loading mapsStep 2
Browse to the .gpx file(s) you downloaded and copy the file(s) to the NewFiles folder on your Garmin device.Step2_copy maps

Step 3
Once the file(s) have been copied, disconnect and restart your device. When your Garmin boots up, it will search the NewFiles folder and convert the .gpx file(s) to a course and store the data in the Courses folder. To access your newly loaded course, follow step 4.

Step 4
Once your device has restarted, go to your device menu and then select Courses under the Training menu.


Step 5
In the Courses menu option you will see the routes that you loaded. Select the one you’ll be riding.


Step 6
Once you Garmin has loaded the course, you’ll be presented with a summary screen of your ride and you’ll be able to see details of the ride on a map.

Step 7
If you have the Garmin Edge 810 or Edge 1000, ensure that you enable turn-by-turn navigation in the settings menu. This feature is not available on the Garmin Edge 520.

You can also create your own routes to share with fellow riders, check back here soon for a detailed tutorial on how to do so. If you are still battling with customer maps on your device, get in contact with us, our team of experts are standing by to help you.

About The Author

Staff Writer
NavWorld Online

The staff writer posts news, stories and updates from a secret bunker somewhere in South Africa. His last known location was in the heart of the Karoo but rumour has it he has moved north. Stay tuned for updates on his whereabouts...

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One Response

  1. Erwin

    Cheers mate, this was doing my head in. Cannot believe you can’t do this via the garmin connect app.


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