Helping out: Charity Cycle ride from Norwich to Liverpool in memory of the Hillsborough victims

I was contacted by a rider looking to plan a long distance charity ride in memory of the 96 victims of the  Hillsborough disaster. With his permission I’m posting up parts of his email, along with my answers. Hopefully they’ll be useful to others as well. And if you’re thinking of planning something similar then please get in touch. Work and cycling mean I may not be able to give you a perfect route, but hopefully I can help you through the technicalities or offer some suggestions on roads

So on to the email:

> Im pretty new to cycling, having started properly in October last
> year.
>
> On April 13th, 14th and 15th, I’ll be riding from my home near Norwich
> to Liverpool, via Sheffield to raise money for Hillsborough
> charities.
>
http://www.rideforthe96.co.uk/about-the-ride-for-the-96/
>

Sounds like a good ride for a good cause. I’d offer to meet you for the section across lincolnshire and nottinghamshire but I’m booked in for a 300km Audax in wales that weekend.

> Up until now Ive been using an Edge 500, but today I’ve just ordered
> an Edge 800.
>
> So all the mapping stuff is foreign to me (I’ve not even used courses
> on my Edge 500 due to some bugs).
>

It’s a bit of an aquired taste, it’s taken me a while to get used to.

> I’d like to ask your advice on a few things if you don’t mind?
>
> 1. Do I need to shell out for maps, or can I get by with OSM?

You should be able to. I tend to us OSM for almost all of my routes. The problem is that they’re only as good as someone else has made them. When I’ve encountered patchy areas I’ve had to decide whether I can get by with a little note, or would be better off with the Garmin maps I got in the bundle.

> 2. What do I need to do to get OSM set up (I have some spare micro SD
> cards)?

I use the pregenerated OSM img files from http://talkytoaster.info/ukmaps.htm which also has instructions to install them. It makes some of the later steps faster if you install them on your local machine as well as onto the micro SD card, that way when you’re playing with the route you don’t need the edge plugged in, and you’re not slowed down by the USB connection either.

> 3. What is the best software / website to plan my route and then
> transfer to the Edge 800?
> 4. What is the best process to do so?

Going to do both of these together as they fit together:

For a long route I find that Google Maps set to walking mode is the easiest way to get a basic route. For instance your basic route looks like this: http://g.co/maps/y66f2
I’d then look at the route at a large scale an pull it off of obviously main roads (this depends on how happy you are on big main roads, I’ve cycled bits of the A1, but don’t really like doing it for long stretches. The street view is good for this as it gives you an idea of whether the roads a Dual Carrigeway and if it’s got a cycle lane or wide shoulders. So with yours I’d be avoiding the A17 across lincolnshire as it’s not pleasant in car let alone on a bike – http://g.co/maps/mwrjg

Also I’d check how much city/town cycling there is. Going through a big centre can be stressful and slow, so I’d rather skirt round.
Then I go through at a higher magnification checking what the smaller roads are like. Google has started routing down some fairly marginal trails recently and a bit of street viewing can prevent a trip up a mud track in the dark.(http://Bikehike.co.uk can also be good for this as it shows the OS map of the section of google map you’re looking at, so it’s easy to spot footpaths and bridleways.
I’d then use one of the online tools to convert a google map route to a GPX track. I prefer Google Maps Cuesheet – http://winthefight.org/cuegle/
While that tool gives you the option to send a route straight to your Garmin, with OSM that might not be the best option as any slight differences in the map will confuse the routing on the device. The way I prefer is to take the GPX file and import it into Garmin Basecamp.

In Basecamp make sure you’ve selected the right map, and then right click your track and select Create Route. If it asks you how many points to use, try about 100. Then comes the fun of finding the oddities, this is a post explaining how I do it – http://napalmgram.co.uk/wordpress/index.php/2011/04/12/converting-gps-tracks-gpx-to-routes-for-garmin-edge/.

Eventually you end up with a nice route which you can then send to your Garmin

Its sounds a lot of work, but it’s a couple of hours and it saves a lot of time when you’re actually on the road

> 5. Anything else I should be aware of?
>

Make sure the bike fits you well.
Practice with the GPS and routing a lot before you rely on it. There are a lot quirks, so get it wrong when you’re not relying on it.
Keep eating and drinking well throughout the days.
Take it steady. If you’ve got the HR strap for the Edge it comes in handy as you can make sure you’re not pushing yourself too much. I find that about 65-70% of max HR is a level of effort I can keep up for a long time.
Get a rechargable battery pack to keep the Edge running for long days (the battery normally only lasts ~10 hours, I’ve got one of these – Tecknet 5000mAh USB rechargeable pack
Enjoy it

Cheers
Stuart

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