John o'Groats, Scotland

Using online route planning tools

There's lots of tools available to help with your LEJOG or JOGLE route planning & navigation but I primarily used three: Strava, Google, and my Garmin Edge 1000 GPS device. They're all pretty simple to use - this page is here to help get you started and show you how to use them.

Jump to topic:


Planning a route in Strava

Strava make it pretty easy to plan routes; you mark the start & end points and Strava does the rest. You can tell it to generate a route with the least hills if you prefer, and you can also see which roads and paths are most popular amongst other cyclists from Strava's vast collection of rides uploaded by cyclists over the years.

Whilst I used Strava and have shown the basics of using it here, there are other route planning tools available as well such as www.ridewithgps.com and offline (paid for) software like MemoryMap.

Signing up to Strava

1. Go to Strava.com and follow the onscreen instructions to create an account (or just log straight in if you already have one!).

Menu option for seeing your Strava routes

2. Once you're logged in click on "Dashboard" to get a drop down menu, and then select "My Routes".

Option for creating a new route in Strava

3. This screen is where you'll eventually see any routes you create. To create a new one just select the "Create New Route" button.

New route creation screen in Strava

4. The route creation screen will start with a blank map - make sure the "Ride" option is selected on the top menu (not "Run").

Creating your route in Strava

5. Drag the map to locate it and click on your start point & then end point, and Strava will create a route for you. Simple! You can also view the route's elevation profile by clicking "Elevation Off" in the bottom right of the screen.

Minimising climbing in Strava

6. You can ask Strava to create a route with the minimum amount of climbing if you want (although the route might get a little longer) by selecting the "Min Elevation" slider at the top (it's enabled when it's red).

Tweaking your Strava route

7. You can also manually tweak the route by clicking on the route and dragging it to a point you want to go past (the same as it works for routing in Google maps). Strava will then automatically calculate the new route.

Strava routing options

8. There's also several options you have too, for example changing the base map, the units, or viewing a heatmap of popular routes (this can be useful for identifying good routes). Access these options by clicking the cog icon at the left of the screen.

Save your Strava route button

9. After you're happy with your route you can save it by clicking the "Save" button at the top right of the screen. It's a good idea to save it regularly too, even before you're finished, in case Strava decides to throw a bug and lose the route (as happened with me occasionally when clicking Undo).

Save dialog screen in Strava

10. After clicking the Save button a dialog box will appear. Enter a name for your route and optionally a description too. If you want this route private (ie to not appear in your activity feed to friends) then check the "Private" box before hitting save.


Exporting routes from Strava

Once you've created your LEJOG routes in Strava you'll probably want to export them, especially for importing into your GPS device. There are two common formats available, GPX and CTX.

  • GPX - This is a common open format understood by GPS units from many different manufacturers. When used on your Garmin (if it's one with mapping installed) you get detailed turn by turn instructions with streetnames.
  • TCX - This format has been developed by Garmin and can include additional data such as heart rate and cadence (although obviously at this stage all you have is a route!). The turn instructions are more basic than with the GPX format.

There's lots of forums online debating which is better; personally I opted for GPX and found it worked well on my Garmin Edge 1000, providing clear instructions at each turn. Whichever format you opt for, the instructions for exporting Strava routes and importing them to your Garmin device are the same for both GPX and TCX.

To export the route, simply open the route in Strava, select "Export", choose your device from the drop down menu and then select your chosen file type. The file will then download.

Strava routes page

1. Go to the Routes page (follow Steps 1 & 2 above) and select the route you wish to export.

Export route button in Strava

2. Click on the "Export" button; this will bring up the Export dialog screen.

Select the device format for your Strava route export

3. Select your device type (which currently just seems to be limited to Garmins) and download the route file.


Importing routes to Google Maps

Loading routes into Google Maps is useful for being able to review where you're going - especially by using the aerial view to check that what you think is a road isn't actually an impassable dirt track. Strava can also use aerial photos as the base map but I found it slower than using Google Maps.

The other great thing about Google Maps is that it's easy to share your route with others, for example letting your loved ones know where you're cycling in case of an accident.

It's easy and straight forward to use:

Google Maps login page

1. Go to www.google.co.uk/mymaps and login with your Google account. If you don't have one you'll be able to create one here.

Add a new map

2. You'll find yourself on the main MyMaps page - here all your maps will be listed when you've created them. For now click on the "+Create A New Map" button.

Select to import a new map

3. In the dialog box on the left, click on "Import new map".

Drag a map file to upload

4. A new "Choose a file to import" box will appear on screen.

Drag a map file to upload

5. You can either import files by clicking the "Select" button, or simply dragging and dropping the .gpx file you wish to upload.

Your map will load and display

6. Your route will import and be shown on screen after a few seconds, being represented by a blue line.

Change base map button

7. To change the base map, click on the "Base Map" label.

Change base map options

8. Several options will be shown, select the "Satellite" one.

Change base map

9. The base map will now change to an aerial satellite view.

Zooming into Google MyMaps

10. You can now zoom in on your route and drag it around the screen, checking the full length of your route for any unexpected problems.

Adding layers in Google MyMaps

11. You can add extra layers too, up to 10 on one map, for example to show your different days at once. Click the "Add Layer" icon to do this.

Naming your Google map

12. Give your map a name (click where it says "Untitled Map"), and then access the sharing options to send a URL link to your loved ones.


Importing routes to Garmin Edge devices

Importing GPX or TCX route files to a Garmin Edge device is as easy as 1, 2, 3....

Garmin Edge connected to a PC

A Garmin Edge 1000 connected to a laptop

  1. Connect your Garmin Edge to a laptop via a USB cable.
  2. Garmin Edge connected to a PC

    A Garmin Edge 1000 connected to a laptop

  3. Transferring files to the Garmin Edge

    The File Explorer window where you copy route files to

  4. Open File Explorer in Windows, and after a few seconds you'll see a new drive appear called "Garmin Edge xxx" (where xxx is the model number of your Garmin). Navigate to the folder called "New Files" (it's in the "Garmin" folder) and copy the route files into here. Close the file explorer window and disconnect your Garmin.
  5. Transferring files to the Garmin Edge

    The File Explorer window where you copy route files to

  6. Opening the imported route on the Garmin Edge

    The course menus on the Garmin Edge 1000 - select the one you want to load and click "Ride"

  7. After being disconnected your Garmin will reboot itself and bring up the normal menus (when connected to a PC it just shows a non-responsive screen). Going into the Courses option will list all the routes saved on the device including those that you've just transferred - select the one you want and hit "Ride". You're good to go!
  8. Opening the imported route on the Garmin Edge

    The course menus on the Garmin Edge 1000 - select the one you want to load and click "Ride"

If you own a different brand of cycle GPS, such as Mio, CatEye or Bryton, you'll need to check their instruction manuals (or search online) for how to important route files to them.


Join the discussion!

What tools do you use? Have you got any tips to pass on to others? Let us know here!