At Boat Bike Tours we offer full-service boat and bike tours in 14 countries across Europe.
GPS is a great feature that we offer on many of our tours. Bike touring, or cycling trips, are an increasingly popular holiday format with so many benefits: you can escape the busy city, breathe fresh air, enjoy an adventure with friends and admire the beautiful surroundings.
What is a GPS?
An invaluable tool for bike touring is a GPS (Global Positioning System), which uses satellites to determine your location. GPS was initially used in navigational devices for cars and other vehicles, and is now increasingly used in smart phone apps for bike route mapping. These apps have become fantastic cycling tools because you can use them on your phone, and they simplify the navigation process, making the journey easier and more enjoyable.
8 top tips for using a GPS on a bike tour
So, what do you need to know about using a GPS on your next cycling trip? Here are our top user tips for getting the most out of a GPS on your next biking adventure:
1. Use a trusted GPS app
The first step to bike touring with a GPS is to download a reliable GPS app on your smartphone. At Boat Bike Tours we use the navigation app Ride with GPS (RWGPS) which works with iPhone and Android. RWGPS allows you to map, record and share your route. You can also analyze your journey, the distance and duration, your average speed, the elevation and more.
2. Use a bike phone mount and waterproof cover
Attaching your phone to your handlebars with a secure bike phone mount frees up your eyes and your hands so you can give more attention to the ride. Reliable bike mount brands include Rokform, Biologic Bike, Topeak, Quad Lock and Lezyne. You can choose from hardcase, softcase and waterproof models, and also ones that attach to either the handlebar or stem cap.
3. GPS works in offline mode, so data & Wi-Fi not necessary
Download your RWGPS tour program before setting out. It’s designed to be used offline, so phone reception and wifi are not required. We recommend setting your phone to airplane mode while cycling to avoid distractions and loading data. This also reduces battery usage.
4. Conserve your phone battery
Here are some basic steps to keep power consumption low while touring:
– Start each day with a fully charged phone
– Set your phone to airplane mode when riding
– Avoid unnecessary usage when not cycling
– Keep other apps closed
– Lower screen brightness
– Charge your phone whenever an outlet is available
It’s also an excellent idea to bring a portable power bank.
5. Receive and share journeys
We share the routes for our tours on the RWGPS app. Participants receive an access code via email to download the tour program, which occupies about 30MB on your phone. If you sign up for a RWGPS plan you can also share ride reports and analyze your journey in detail.
6. Understand navigation cues
When you’re riding with RWGPS, it provides navigation instructions via both visual and audio (spoken and beep) alerts. Enable your phone’s text-to-voice function to allow turn-by-turn voice announcements. Other visual alerts such as advance and nearing cue warnings flash on your phone’s lock screen without you needing to touch it. The app also has an off-course warning tone if you take the wrong turn.
7. Handle your device with care
To protect your phone from bumps and drops, remember to grasp it securely when removing it from the bike mount. While cycling never reach for your phone if it’s in your pocket, first pull over safely at the side of the road. And always take your phone with you when you leave your bike for a break.
8. Bring printed maps as backup
Always take a paper map of your route with you. You can take precautions but you never know if your phone will be accidentally broken, lost or stolen.
Get out there and enjoy the ride!
A GPS app is a great tool to help you enjoy cycling at its best. Let the GPS take care of the nitty gritty details so you can enjoy the journey!