Sunday, July 18, 2010

Easy way to transfer routes from Google maps to GPS


I have been using RidewithGPS for years now to map my routes and download the .gps files for transfer to my Garmin. Once you make your route simply download the file and copy it to the gpx folder of  your garmin device via USB cable (this is for owners of models that accept user defined routes - most Garmins do not) Now import the route using the Garmin My Data menu.

For complex routes where the .gpx route file this site produces is not detailed enough there is an option to download the route as a track file. You need to then reduce the number of way points from a the breadcrumb type 1000's typical in a track file to a more manageable figure like 100 and convert it to a .gpx route file.

GPS Babel is free software that will do this for you. Simple select your track file and convert it to a route file (the extension remains .gpx) and when converting select limit waypoints to 100. This will create a file with a very detailed set of points for the Garmin to follow so it wont get tempted to short cut you via a highway when you want to ride the mountains. Now transfer this file to your GPS and import it as a user defined route via the My Data menu or the Zumo models will import it automatically for you.

Sorry but I have elected to delete the rest of my original post as it was entirely out of date and thus misleading.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The best motorcycle roads in Japan

Update: I now live in Japan so please go to my home page to read more up to date info about Japan and my rides on some of these roads!

The Japanese BikeJin magazine held a survey of it’s readers to rate their best roads. Scenery as well as road surface/curves were considered so the final ranking reflects the voters opinions on that.
I managed to get a copy of the April issue that had this article and will give a bit more info here with some notes on the scans mainly on some of the roads that are within riding distance from Tokyo.

13. (tie) Zaou Ecoline. This drive winds across Mt. Zao range from the East to the West, and connects Miyagi prefecture and Yamagata prefecture. The drive is closed from the beginning of November to the end of April of the following year for the winter but is bursting with colours of red in autumn.


13. (tie) Mikata Goko Rainbow Line. This scenic mountain road lies in the Fukui Prefecture which is positioned at the southwest part of Hokuriku District.


13. (tie) Tatsudomari Line

13. (tie) Hachimantai Aspite Line

12. Choukai Blue Line is in the Yamagata prefecture and is a fair ride from Tokyo. The Chokai Blue Line rises from sea level to 1150 metres, offering spectacular view of Mount Chokai and the Sea of Japan.


11. Tsunoshima Big Bridge

10. Chirihama Nagisa Driveway

9. Aso Panorama Line – have been up by car – would be great riding, its in Kyushu though. Lots of corners and spectacular views as well as another active volcano to visit at the top, conditions being suitable.


8. Kouya Ryuujin Skyline. The Ryujin-Koya Skyline as also referred to is route 371 that links Koyasan and the Kumano area and is a mountain road famous for beautiful autumn coloured leaves as well as being a popular road for motorcycles.


8. (tie) Shimanami-kaido.

6. Shiretoko Oudan Road.

5. Izu Skyline – many say this is in fact the best motorcycle ride in Japan. I will ride it next time I am there. There are so many mountain roads in Japan but this road is said to be designed as if by a rider such is the surveying. Being close to Tokyo means this probably got more votes simply as more people would know it than any other road so I will decide for myself once I ride it.


4. Shiga Kusatsu Road - I have ridden this mountain (active volcano) also on my last ride and it was fantastic! You can find this road easy by looking on Google maps for the route 292 situated east of Nagano.




3. Yamanami Highway.

2. Venus Line - I rode this last time, my header photo was taken on the upper section of this road where it is numbered route 199. The lower section is route 40 however the road flows in two directions the best section of the road runs north from the junction with 199 however the road back to Suwa is also good. Idea ride is from Suwa ride up 40 then up 199 to the top and back down then onwards north on the rest of route 40 which is superb all the way to Tateshina.


1. Bandai Azuma Skyline



Not been there but its definitely somewhere I want to go given its number one rank. Mt Bandai is situated north of Tokyo in Fukushima prefecture a fair ride away which puts it at odds with also riding Izu and Fuji on my next trip but will see what I can map out.

Read about my riding in Japan here
PS. I am aware older browsers are not displaying the pages here correctly but have decided not to reduce the content of the blog for the minority. Correctly displayed there is a full page backdrop photo then a smoke translucent overlay then a inner blacked out section where the text is in white with yellow hyper links to the outsides of this.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Pant - Boot clamps

I used to ride with Draggin Jeans however switched to pants also with knee armor (and then knee + hip armor) after reading that relatively few riders slide on their bum Vs hitting their hip or knee on the ground when involved in an accident. However knee armor in some pants does tend to make them ride up legs. Also if you ride a cruiser then you may find in winter wanting your pants to sit down more or want your rain suit to sit down as feet forward means wind up the pants.

The BMW City pants I have ride up the legs very bad. No idea why as the armor is adjustable and I have tried it in all positions and comfortable in any position but the legs just want to ride up and sit at the top of my boots. After my last ride to the New England Tablelands with the colder air chaffing my exposed lower legs I decided to try find a solution as the pants are otherwise very comfortable and seem to be perfect fit.


I obtained these clamps/straps very reasonably priced from eBay (look awhile before buying - the prices vary wildly) and tried them out last ride. Happy to say they work perfectly, they did not intrude yet held the pants in place. They are adjustable for length and the clamps held fast all day yet do not a fix in a way to damage your clothes. Living in the tropics I only see myself wearing these on the odd cold days but for a couple of dollars it really makes a difference to my comfort on cool days where I would not don my full winter gear but don't want cold morning air circulating around the tops of my boots thus making my lower legs and feet cold.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

The Cedar Route

Despite being tempted to ride south and stay within the less cold coastal areas I went west after a slow start.

I stayed up later then I was going to watching tv and had a hard time getting going. I also left wearing regular summer socks and without my full winter gloves which I was going to regret by the time I got to Peak Crossing in route to Aratula, so I stopped to take some photos.


After refueling I stopped for a coffee to let the sun warm the air a bit more before riding up Cunningham's Gap. Nice little ride that actually, the curves are flowing and dual lanes means no getting stuck behind cars, reminds me of Burringbah range road except with much better views to your right on the ascent.


I had thought to ride the back roads out of Aratula and also over to Maryvale however turns out the road I was thinking of is not sealed. (I should of checked google street view)  Great looking pub but not much else to the town, might make for a good lunch spot if riding from the other side of Queen Mary Falls.


The Cedar route is on your left after Gladfield. It runs via Freestone, Yangan, Emu Vale, Tannymorel and Killarney. Each intersection is well signposted so navigation is very easy. The road itself is not particularly curvy however there is enough variation and top scenery to look at. I enjoyed riding it.


Previously I always rode to Urbenville from the falls (via Tooloom) and skipped Killarney. Turns out I had not been missing anything, place was a ghost town despite more than a few tourists driving/riding up and down the main street looking for a place for lunch.

We all ended up at the Queen Mary falls cafe.


I had a early light lunch and then ran into a lot of traffic heading up the range. Poor timing on my part as lots of people arriving then to have a bbq at the falls. Would not have been too bad but for the many oversized four wheel drives, yep like you really need one of those to get there... I just took it very slow and that allowed me to spot a great vantage point to capture ‘The Head’ as the spot is called.


I went back via Rathdowney and from Aratula did not refuel until I got to Tamrookum (201km) when I finally hit reserve. Not bad mileage out of the old Harley mill from a 11 litre mains (3l reserve) tank. Makes my carbon foot print even smaller then it already was in comparison to those lumbering four wheel drives.

Lovely day for a ride.


Route (including unsealed bits not ridden) here.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Motorcycle GPS case

Update: My original post was out of date so I have deleted most of it.

This case I have been using now for 4 years. It holds my Garmin 760 GPS and a battery pack that powers it for about 9 hours. It is a fantastic solution for motorcycle travel. Renting a motorcycle you can simply and quickly strap on your navigation, no wiring and be underway in no time. end of day recharge your battery pack and ready to go again. I have used this is rain and it is waterproof no issues. You can operate the GPS through the plastic no problems (but not a phone which is not pressure touch operation) I now have the revised model 4 of this case from same manufacturer and it is even better.

Some of original post below: 


This is a iPhone GPS solution for motorbikes developed by WikiMobi called SoEasyGPS. The system works like this, the case has a waterproof outer that you remove to access the main case itself. This has a waterproof zipper and two compartments inside the top is for your iPhone (GPS) and the lower is for a backup battery which feeds your iPhone thus eliminating the need to source power from the motorcycle.