I am looking forward to this weekend’s long training ride, which will take me on an apx 400km loop from Montreal to Burlington, VT – then back via a more easterly mountain route.

In order to get used to my Oregon 600 I plan to prepare the two route maps I need and follow the course. Kind of helps me get used to the device and familiarize myself with it before Portugal.

However, it’s not as easy as I thought to actually move map to device and here’s why. Firstly, let me say that Garmin Connect is awesome to make maps in. Really easy to mark waypoints, all the bike routes are clearly marked and it’s intuitive and bug free in my experience.

Here comes the snag – I can’t get Garmin’s Connect to actually connect to my gps device. Wtf. When I try to export to my Oregon, I get an annoying pop-up window advising me to go to Garmin Express. OK, so I go there (the web browser version, only my device is not listed. When I go looking for it I get bounced back to Connect very slickly. I have Express on my computer as a downloaded app, but it won’t talk to Connect either. So basically I’m handcuffed by these apps – all of which work great on their own but none of them work well in concert. I call this prima donna design.

So now what? Buy more Garmin maps for a hundred bucks? Naw, that would be too easy. It’s time for a quest. A .gpx quest.

It doesn’t take long for this to feel like a futile solution. Firstly I checked YouTube for “how-to” videos on how to create point-by-point routes.

After about 10 minutes google searching I thought I hit pay dirt when I went to https://mapstogpx.com/ which is awesome for being able to download simple directions into a .gpx file but is not so good unless you have the google map information to drag and drop. Which basically I am trying and failing to do.

How did I create a custom waypoint step by step route using google map? I didn’t because it’s frigging nearly impossible to do. First of all, good luck to find a YouTube video that’s up to date. Most of them are at least a few years old. Second, even if I can glean the concept from the video, the tools they direct me to on google map are so finicky and annoying that it’s a miracle the computer didn’t get thrown out the window.

Why is it so hard to create a simple click to mark a way point and then join the dots accordingly? Small children learn to do this for fun and parents applaud their little clown or balloon shapes.

Every time I try it’s a nightmare of juggling between tapping points and zooming the map and ending up with the route marking all over the country, which at this point might not be a bad idea.

When I do finally figure out how to draw a point to point line (sometime after my metaphysical third scotch) I carefully follow the route clicking each marker. I sit back and look at the route with a certain smugness brewing only to realize to my horror that the route hasn’t saved at all. No, it’s just an empty map with start point empty and end point empty. Wtf.

Back to YouTube – more studying. More searching. I find a half-way decent video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7fD32vC4PM and follow the steps and eureka! I can create and save my map. So far so good, I am cautiously jubilant! Now for the final step – copy the link and paste it into maptogpx.com and we should be good. Haha. Psych! Guess what? My file won’t convert. I don’t know why – it’s invalid – even though the first one I did worked just fine!

Do what now? No, no impulsive online shopping – hold tight! Continue the quest – after more googling I figure out you can download a .kml file of the map from google map and after more googling find a site to do this at: https://mygeodata.cloud which looks impressive and is very intuitive and after less than 30 seconds I have a zip file on my desktop. Nice. I open it and ta-da! Am rewarded with a 1kb file, which clearly has no data on it whatsoever. Grrrr.

So now, I’m a good two hours into this venture, and beginning to crack. What should I do? Buy the detailed Garmin street map and pray it helps make Base Camp useable to the level I want? Or should I print the road names and major turning points and just go old school?

My mind wanders out of frustration and I’m beginning to think about all the Game of Thrones roads and all the good characters who navigated them without more than a word from the mouth from a Lannister or a Crow. I have till bedtime to make a decision. Time to do something else and clear my fragile little mind.

And let me tell you, like a finely crafted fantasy tale, the break worked its magic. I come home an hour later and look dejectedly through all the opened windows and file folders. I fiddle around opening this, hating on that. When all of a sudden I realize there are two .gpx files in the last zip folder, one with its name and size hidden – wow! Slowly I open the pane to reveal a glorious, 168kb file (adroitly labelled: Directions-from-3619-Roosevelt-Hwy-Colchester-VT-05446-USA-to-36-76-Rang-Double-Sainte-Brigide-d-Iberville-QC-J0J-Canada) but more importantly (and euphorically) suffixed .gpx at the end. I weep openly, salty tears of joy and relief. I am not a complete moron after all. I will ride with a purpose, with direction.

Thank you unknown friends on the internet for supplying all these cool new tools. Thank you.

In the spirit of celebration I’m going to go and blow my well-saved cash on a POC helmet priced at my local bike store for team racers – hooray!