I hate to admit it but I got lost on my last cycle ride. I wasn’t actually very far from home but I was in an unfamiliar backwater and had to stop no less than three times to make sure I was on the right route! My current navigation system consists of checking on Google maps on my phone which I keep in the back pocket of my cycling jersey. That means that every time I need to look at the route I need to stop, take my gloves off, retrieve the phone and check.
It’s a bit of a pain!
So, determined to make my life better I started to have a look at some of the different ways that I could get use my phone to plan a circular cycling route and also, just for a bit of fun see if I could get turn by turn directions as well.
The obvious solution was to create a circular bike route on Google maps but it took me a long time and quite a bit of research to realise that you could actually do that!
Firstly I looked at Strava and map my Ride and Ride with GPS. I think they all do circular mapping and also possibly with directions as well but you do have to pay for the premium membership of each of these for this to work. I really don’t like opening my wallet unless I really have to so I decided to look elsewhere!
Next stop was to check out some of the more standard car SatNav type apps only to find that they, rather logically, just plan car journeys in straight lines which is what people tend to do on car journeys I think! I’m sure with some you can programme them to do a trip visiting a number of different places making a circle but it seems to be a bit of an effort to make it work.
So, still at a bit of a brick wall I took another look at the wonderful Google maps. Now, I had assumed that you could just do straight line journeys on Google Maps as well because I basically use it for looking at driving routes and traffic but, I was wrong because you can, of course, put it into cycling mode where it allows you to easily plan a circular route. Not only does it plan the route it will give you spoken turn by turn directions as well.
..and the very best bit……you can plan your route on the computer screen and then with one click just send it straight to your phone to start your ride!
You can, of course plan your route in the app on your phone but the big screen is just a bit easier to use.
So, once on your phone, you can either attach your phone to your handlebars. Set the volume up high and have it in a close pocket or………and I think this is the best thing of all use a Bluetooth pair of bone conduction headphones and have the directions as well as maybe music piped into your (not ears!) but cheekbones….cool!
So, how to you create a circular bike route on Google maps?
1.Set Google maps to Bike Mode using the drop down menu.
2.Click the little blue “Directions” arrow.
3.Put your starting and finishing point into the box. You can use a postcode or place name and you might be given a list of suggested options on the dropdown menu.
4. Next, choose another place on your chosen route and put it into the bottom box. Again you might well get some suggested options to click on. This obviously gives you just a linear route from two points. You can now click on the blue “+” button on the left and add more places en route until you have created a circular route back to your starting point.
5. You might find that you need to re click the cycling mode icon to get the “+” icon to stay there. This seems to depend on whether you are doing this on a computer or using the phone app itself. On the phone app you need to find “add stop” to add in en route destinations and this will be on a pull down menu depending on whether you are using Android or iOS. Once you have a circular route you will be given a little graph showing the altitude as well as a distance and time indication for the ride. At this point you can also drag the blue route around to change it if you wish. This is much more easily done on the computer with a mouse rather than the touch screen which tends to keep moving!
6. Finally, if you are on the app already you can just start the directions and off you go! If you are on the computer you will be able to send the directions to your phone. You can SMS them, email them or they will open directly in the app. It’s really simple, rather brilliant and, best of all, completely free!