GPS Touring – Way-points & Maps

Back in March of 2012 I wrote a lengthy article for this Blog about the methods I use to plan a tour on my motorcycle. That article did not contain any pictures of the documents I prepare during that process, so this article hopefully will elaborate on the details of those two documents that I prepare for each tour, as they have evolved from those early designs.

My tank bag has a clear vinyl envelope attached to the top with a slide closure, the envelope measuring about 6” x 12” attached to the top of the tank bag (with snap buttons) that I place each of the Way-point lists and associated (Google) trip maps into for a given tour. On my TomTom GPS way-points are called favorites, so favorites and way-points are used interchangeably in the remainder of this document. The picture below shows the top page of several pages that contain the details of each set of way-points for my next tour (to California).


The top half of the page is a printout of a spreadsheet containing the details for each of the towns I will travel to/thru (favorites) on the first leg of my next tour. The bottom half is a printout of the Google map with the route highlighted that resulted from my planning the trip for the favorites listed above that map. Using the Google trip planning software provides an easy visual way of determining the mileage between favorites and the highway number of the highway of exit of each of the favorites. The map is not for navigation but simply to give a visual verification of the direction out of each favorite that can be checked against a magnetic compass mounted on the dash of my Spyder.

The top half is a printout of a spreadsheet containing several columns. Each is defined / described below:

Fuel – The Fuel column contains the cumulative mileage through one or more favorites to that favorite in which I must refuel based on the number of miles that the small fuel tank of my Spyder will safely travel. The total mileage at each fueling city is displayed. I do have a two and a half gallon emergency supply of gasoline in a modified gas container that is stored in the front trunk of the Spyder… hopefully no front end collisions for me!

Sheet Number – The second column heading is the numeral of each page of a multi-page set of sheets containing favorites. This trip has eight sheets! The lower case alphabetic characters in this column beside each favorite (city) name is used in conjunction with the page number to cause the list of favorites entered into the GPS to appear in the same sequence as they appear on the spreadsheet. Without this re-sequencing technique the city names would be alphabetic throughout the total trip for all pages of favorites making it difficult to find a favorite (city) name as each favorite on the route is approached. For example, Buena Vista is named “1b-Buena” so it will sort above Poncha Springs which has the prefix “1c-Poncha”. As the trip progresses the favorites already used are deleted so the next favorites to be selected are normally on the first page of the sorted favorites list.

City – City name of each favorite selected for entry into the GPS. Note that before arriving at a particular city the name of the next city on the route is entered into the GPS by selecting that favorite. This avoids being taken to the ‘city center’ which is the street address for each favorite entered into the GPS. This will cause the GPS to select the best route through or around the upcoming city to the next city on the route. The entry of the next favorite early enough as you approach a city is critical to take advantage of any circumferential routes around a particular city. (Please do not make the mistake of selecting the next favorite while moving in traffic!)

Routes – The highway or road numbers of the roads out of a particular city are listed, with multiple road numbers indicating changes in roads between the favorites. This column is used for cross-checking and validation of the route selected by the GPS.

Miles – The number of miles between each favorite / city is recorded in this column based on that data provided by the Google mapping software. The cumulative miles is used to determine when the refueling stops are required.

The picture below is a closeup of the top half of the first page containing the spread-sheet described above. Note that at the bottom of the Miles column is the total miles number for that set of favorites.


The picture below is a somewhat blurred Google map showing the individual favorites and the routes into and out of those favorites / cities. The use of several individual favorites to cause the tour to use the highways / roads desired for the tour rather than a single start and finish for each day establishes complete and total control over the specific highways taken and also individual cities along the desired routes. Letting the GPS use ‘City Centre’ eliminates the necessity of choosing some fictitious street name and street number that was required during the process of setting up favorites of previous GPS models.



About justanoldguy

Retired Computer Programmer. Born and Raised in Missouri. Graduated from Missouri School of Mines in 1964. Retired in 2003. Moved to Colorado in 2010. Enjoying good health and 'front range'. Touring frequently on Can-Am Spyder motorcycle. Skiing during the Winter months at Monarch Mountain Ski Area (for free!).
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