Up Florida riding Tandems Freewheelers Touring Who are we? Rideeasy Randonneur Equipment Scout Scout Config

Scout - The GPS Navigation tool



Since spring of April 2003 I use a GPS on all my bike rides. I do get frequent questions about the GPS I use, which software is needed and how it works. I will try to answer some of the questions here.


What is a GPS:

GPS stands for Global Positioning system. A GPS is a receiver of radio signals to locate your current position anywhere on the planet. I usually receive an accuracy between 6 and 20 ft (2 to 6 mtr), depending on obstructions to the sky. With heavy tree cover or in big cities with tall buildings the accuracy could be less. The newest generation of GPS receivers does have color displays, uploadable maps and autorouting capabilities.

You will find more information here: GPS Information


GPS on a bicycle:

As mentioned I do not ride without it. I always have my electronic map in front of me, see with which speed I am moving and in which direction. I do see the road I am riding on and all roads that are coming up. In most cases I have the route preprogrammed and with this the GPS will give me turn by turn directions during the ride. In addition it has valuable information where the next Convenient Store, Food Place or Park is. It keeps track with a log of where I was riding. If wanted it can show an altitude profile. I have been riding long distance rides (Brevets) in places I have never been during day and night. With the route preloaded I never did get lost.


Which hardware and software do I use:

I will provide you with you with a link of the store I bought from. Of course, there are lot's of other places where you can buy from. These links are just based on my personal experience and are usually on the lower side of the price scale.

Hardware - GPS Receiver:

Since March 2004 I do use a

                 Garmin GPSMap 60cs

It has an excellent in bright sunlight as well at night readable display. It has autorouting capabilities with turn by turn direction. Last but not least it has an amazing battery life. With two rechargeable batteries I average 20 hours runtime. With 2 AA lithium cells I had continues run time of more than 40 hours.

A review of the the 60c (without sensor) is found here: Garmin GPSMap 60c review. The difference between the 60c and 60cs is that the 60cs has Sensor for barometric altitude, pressure and an electronic compass. If you don't need them the 60c could be fine for you instead of the 60cs. Without sensors the 60c also has the longer battery run time.

A possible source to buy could be: GPSNow at http://www.gpsnow.com/gmmap60cs.htm. At the bottom of page you see all accessories that they have for the 60cs.

Now they also have the

        Garmin GPSMap 76c and 76cs

The difference of the unit is, it is a little larger than the 60 series, has twice the memory, floats on water and has a more current basemap.


        GARMIN MapSource City Select North America

This software provides auto routable maps with detailed street information for all of the U.S. and the southern part of Canada.

I personally bought this from amazon.com.

As of July 2004, the current version is v6 and was not available yet at Amazon, but at GPSNow: http://www.gpsnow.com/gmmscsna.htm

Approx. three quarters of the state of Florida does fit into the 60cs with Autorouting information. So some preplanning has to be done in which general area you will be riding/driving. These maps have to be loaded via the USB Interface to the 60cs.

Bicycle mount:

Instead of the OEM bike mount I prefer the

                 RAM mount

for less vibration, even so it is larger in size. In addition it can be easily adjusted in any angle. RAM provides different mounts e.g. a suction mount for the car that I use also.

You can get a look on how it looks like at: RAM Mount Garmin 60c/cs. It also will fit oversized handlebars like on my bike.

A view on how the mount looks on my Roadbike or Mountainbike.

Alternative RAM mounts for standard size handlebars:

This one has less flexibility:

Car mount:

Once more I use a RAM mount in my car:

gps-carmount-02.jpg (150801 bytes)  
RAM mount with suction cap. The other pieces are the same than I use on my bicycle. This is one of the great advantages that they are interchangeable.  

The following is a low budget mount that is convenient for a rental car during travel. I found this item through ebay.

gps-carmount-03.jpg (95998 bytes) gps-carmount-04.jpg (510064 bytes)

External Antenna:

For car riding or hiking I prefer using an external antenna. Instead of the OEM antenna I use a EBay non-OEM product.

I had good experiences with the

                 Amplified GPS MCX / OSX antenna

from GPSgeek at GPSgeek Antennas.

Sorry, if you now have more decisions to make, more money to spent. Have fun ...



Don't get me wrong: A GPS is not replacing some planning, thinking, understanding of maps and most important verifying information you see. It works well in most cases, but not in all cases!

But, the current model is a great toy for a big guy. GPS brought me through my Brevet series in 2003 and 2004. I used GPS during PBP (Paris - Brest - Paris). Besides using it as a navigation system it provides a lot of other information e.g. speed, total distance, estimated time of arrival. distance to destination, sunrise and sunset date. During night rides it catches my attention and helps me staying awake. Knowing where I am and where I am going gives me a secure feeling. Using it recently in Toronto, Canada with car navigation made finding places very easy. I love my GPS.



I will show some screen prints on how I use my GPS on the bike. I will use one of the Florida Freewheeler club rides as an example. The ride used is the "Lake Mills ride". Honestly these show not all capabilities. There are Games, Geocaching, Calendar, Calculator, Stop Watch, Hunting and Fishing information. I just want to show those things I use frequently or every once a while.

We are on our way back and still have 7.5 Miles to go to the finish. We are heading south on Snow Hill Rd.

Zoomed out to see more area (1.2 Mile range). We see our turns coming up. 6 more Miles and at the current speed we have a Estimated Arrival at Destination of 9:09.

This is the view with the next three turns coming up. You can scroll down and review all upcoming turns until you reach the finish.

Made the turn and now moving from Snow Queen Dr to Enderby Ct. Zoomed in to see more street detail.

Two acoustic beeps and this pop up window is coming up approx. 500 ft before each turn. It shows you in detail in driving direction what roads you have and which turns you need to take.

Back to normal view: Changed the setup to show the direction in which I am riding instead of pointing towards to north.

This is the information view. Out of a selection of approx. 30 fields that are the 8 fields I usually show on my rides. The time is always accurate Satellite time.

Again a look at the next turns. Only 2.8 more Miles to arrive at LMP (Lake Mills Park).

The next view gives me the compass view and shows me that I am currently heading south. Here I also see the distance and time to the next turn.

This is the view I only use rarely, but some people like the Highway view that illustrates the next turns as 3D.

Barometric pressure, the altitude profile, quite a flat ride ...

This picture from our Georgia 400k Brevet may gives a better impression how a altitude profile could look :-))

Another interesting view. We are on a decreasing moon. Information on Sunrise and sunset. Interesting information for a Brevet on how much daylight can be calculated.

I use the Alarm clock on longer Brevets where I we get a few hours of sleep in between.

The satellite page in demo mode. It shows how good the satellite reception is and the current accuracy.

After the ride we experience regularly that we are hungry. Now we are getting into the fun part.

These are the food places we have nearby.

We don't just want any food. We are up for a some Steak after an easy ride :-)

Longhorn Steakhouse at 7.4 Miles direct line away.

Telephone and address to see if they are open and make a reservation. Hit "Map" to see location at the map or hit "Go To" to get automatically routed to it with the GPS.



This is how the last part of the Lake Mills ride looks like on the map program at the PC. Garmin's MapSource is what I use to generate the routes at the PC. It took 5 mouse clicks to create this final stretch of the route.

Lake Mills Ride



This example shows how a track (captured during riding off road at the Orlando Wetlands Park) looks like within MapSource after transfer from the GPS to the PC.




Here are screen prints of the Scout Configuration.



Up Florida riding Tandems Freewheelers Touring Who are we? Rideeasy Randonneur Equipment Scout Scout Config


top Last updated by Ridehard -     13 Dec 2004