Garmin Edge Explore 820

I thought perhaps I would jot a few notes on the various gear I’ve brought with me. I’m nothing if not a gadget junkie and especially if they have maps and GPS.

I can’t recall how long ago I bought this bike computer but it was a long time ago. The Garmin 820 is now a bit dated but there are newer models that are very similar. And what I’ll describe below can no doubt be done with them as well.

There are two capabilities I have taken advantage of on this trip that I hope others use as well but they require some setup. The first is LiveTrack and the second is Courses.

I won’t try to repeat everything that Garmin explains just as well here, but in a nutshell, the LiveTrack feature allows you to share a real-time view of your location on a map during a ride, so friends and family can follow along. You (the rider) must install the Garmin Connect app on your phone first and then pair the phone (via Bluetooth) to the bike computer. You pair once and then on a ride you just start the LiveTrack using the mobile phone app. An email is sent to the people you have setup using the app and they get an email with a link to a map they can watch.

Using a ‘Course’ essentially allows me to watch my bike computer to see where I should turn next on a pre-loaded route of my or someone else’s creation. If you google around you will find there are a variety of ways to set this up.

This is the way I like to do it:

I first choose an area I want to ride and then go to https://www.gmap-pedometer.com/. This is a simple map site that has been around for years. Good for walkers/runners/bicyclists to sketch out a route and show you the distance. I won’t explain how to do that but it’s pretty easy. Once you have created the route you want using this tool, you can save it using the directions here as a GPX file. And once you have a GPX file you can ‘import’ it to the Garmin Connect website here. Once you’ve imported the course, it can be sent to the Garmin device of your choice via Garmin Express. Express is a desktop/laptop app that syncs data to/from a device like the Garmin Edge 820.

Once you’ve synced your Garmin bike computer, the course is there to find by name. (So don’t forget to name it when you import the GPX.)

When I’m ready to ride, I start the bike computer and select the course. The bike computer display shows me the turns that are coming up so that I can simply follow the course as I cycle. If you get off track, the computer beeps and let’s you know. Granted, a paper map or even google maps on your phone is handy too but I find the convenience of the bike computer pretty handy. This does of course depend on GPS working really well so if for any reason that is sketchy … it just doesn’t work. It can reacquire if GPS starts working again. But to avoid the frustration, it never hurts to have a backup map. 😉