Using a GPS

By Rafe (Big Bike Ride Route Planner)

I personally think that these rides are a lot more relaxed and enjoyable if you know where you are going so there’s loads of information below about using a GPS to help you stay on track. Whilst the support team do their very best to ensure the route is easy to follow & sign-posted, a GPS cycle computer or GPS enabled smart phone capable of showing a pre-planned route will quickly confirm if you’re on the right road or not. This takes all the stress out of navigating, allows you to concentrate on the ride and (hopefully) means you don’t get lost and cycle more miles than you needed to.

This page introduces the main types of GPS/phone that you could use and my advice is to give serious thought to seeing if one of them can work for you.

The best solution (in my view) is still a Garmin Edge mounted on the handlebars as it will show the route, give turn-by-turn directions and bleep if you stray off the route. They’re not cheap though there are some good alternatives around now (e.g. the Edge Touring).

The cheapest solution would be to get an app for your existing mobile phone and just having the route on that, in your pocket, would be really useful if you get lost.

Note that some GPS/phones cannot show a map but I don’t think that’s a massively limiting factor as you’re wanting to follow a pre-planned route.

Whatever you decide to do, I recommend you get a good feel for riding with your GPS/Phone before the event (e.g. use it on  a couple of training rides). Creating an account on (same mapping site as I’ve used) is free and it’s very easy to create a basic route.

Any questions, leave a comment at the bottom of the page and I’ll try and help.

Getting the route onto your GPS/Phone

If you expand any of the route maps (click on the  “View full route” link at the top of the embedded map), then look on the right hand side under “Export” you will see options for exporting the route in a format that you can use with a GPS or GPS-enabled mobile phone. There are lots of “how to” guides at the bottom of this section.

Garmin GPS enabled cycle computers

I use a Garmin Edge 1000, before that I used an 800. Both are very impressive pieces of kit and I wouldn’t want to do a long distance ride without one. I have pages with instructions on how I set up the 1000 and 800.

I skipped the Garmin Edge 810 but that’s excellent too.

The Garmin Edge Touring is great, it still has the maps etc. but misses out some of the training features of the more expensive units (but is considerably cheaper as a result).

The Garmin Edge 500 will NOT work as it cannot show a pre-planned route.

The Garmin Edge 200 will show the route, but not a map, and is one of the most cost-effective options.

The slightly older Garmin Edge 605 and 705 units are also very good – see comments section and here for more information from Can be had with/without a map.

The even older Garmin Edge 205 and 305 computers can be picked up pretty cheap (eBay) these days. They are quite basic and can’t show a map, but are still good for this type of ride. Click here for more information from

A Garmin Forerunner 205/305 should also work and you can buy a bike mount for these.

Other GPS

Any GPS capable of showing your current position as well as a pre-planned (GPX) route will work. It does not need to be able to show a map as you’re just following the route.


There’s loads of apps on the App Store that will show you a map, your current position and the route without you needing to have data roaming switched on; Originally I used The Map but I now use Galileo and am really impressed. The recce for the O2e rides is done using Galileo on an iPad and it works really well.

RideWithGPS now have an app which allows for offline maps (no data usage abroad) and also gives turn-by-turn directions. Search for O2E within the app to find and download the routes.


One of the support crew, JT, has used OruxMaps and says it’s excellent. He’s written a guide here.

RideWithGPS now have an app which allows for offline maps (no data usage abroad) and also gives turn-by-turn directions. Search for O2E within the app to find and download the routes.

Other mobile phones

If you have a GPS enabled smartphone then you just need an app that can show your current position as well as pre-planned (GPX) route. Unfortunately I can’t recommend an app, but will happily update this page if someone can.

Battery life

If you intend to use a mobile phone as your navigation aid, you might find battery life is a problem and therefore may want to consider an external battery pack.

The one I use is a 5000mAh PortaPow one from ebay which extends the life of my iPhone by about 4 times. There are other smaller capacity ones on ebay which would do just fine & are cheaper. Maplin etc. also sell similar packs.