Plotting courses with the Garmin Edge 705

The Garmin Edge 705 is by most accounts a wonderful bit of GPS and cycling kit. I agree. It may have more functions than you can shake a stick at but there is one feature that I think is overlooked, and it’s one that is a glaring omission on the part of Garmin – the ability to plan a route or course on your desktop computer and send it to the device. But you can and it’s fairly easy, so I’ll try and outline the process.

The course feature on the 705 allows you to take data from a previous ride and then “ride it again” where you can follow the road and race against a virtual partner. All good. This method involves creating a .tcx file and copying it over to the 705.

What you’ll need:

  • A Garmin Edge 705 and USB connection
  • Firefox, because I’ve found this the most reliable browser when using…
  • gpsies.com

Planning your route:

gpsies.com is great. There are other sites that have similar functionality, notably BikeRouteToaster, Bikely and MapMyRide. For me, and this process GPSies works great. It supports all the major mapping systems including OpenStreetMap and OpenCycleMap. When in Google Maps mode you can follow roads, so speeding up the whole process.

GPSies also now supports waypoints and crucially these are picked up by the Garmin. I’ve created a short route – with waypoint examples. It’s quite easy to plan a route, and you don’t need me to tell you how to use the site.

Downloading your route:

Downloading a course on GPSies

Now we have a course ready to ride, there are two easy ways to transfer the course data to your Garmin 705. Firstly, there is a big Export to Garmin button. This works with the Garmin Communicator Plugin. I tried this a while back and it wasn’t the most reliable piece of software in the world, so we’ll stick with the more long winded download method, which is handy anyway:

  1. Highlight the Track & Waypoint radio button
  2. Select Garmin Course TCX
  3. Set your pace
  4. Download your TCX file

Now that we have a TCX file in your downloads location, you need to connect your Garmin device – it should appear like any other disk on your Mac or PC. Navigate to the Garmin/Courses folder. All you need to do is copy the file over to here. Done.

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Ride your route:

Courses page

Fire up the Garmin, clip onto your bars, select the course, and don’t forget to press START at the start of your course. You’ll have a purple line to follow on the map view and a load of other data. Since the 2.3 software update you’ll also have a checklist of all the upcoming waypoints so you can pinpoint where the next turn, summit or sprint on the course is.

Gradients coming up

If you want to compare your progress against your Virtual Partner, it’s worth remembering as soon as soon as you hit a slope, they’ll go off into the distance as they stick to the set average speed all the way round. I’m quite sure BikeRouteToaster takes gradients into account in the same way if your course was set against a previous ride on the 705.

That is it. There may be a bit of trial and error involved but stick with it. At the end of the day, just go and ride.

Notes and links: