Navigating the joys of GPX routes in Garmin Basecamp

I’ve previously written about my planning workflow when creating routes. My preference is to start in MyRoute-app before exporting to GPX. The GPX files are then opened in Garmin Basecamp and recalculated. This uses the latest map data on the Navigator VI which is also loaded on the computer.

You can use a plugin to go direct to the satnav from MyRoute-app. In the past, this has introduced some anomalies that I have yet to get to the bottom of. In fact, I don’t intend to spend the time and effort in doing that. The errors appeared on day trips and I reverted to old-fashioned navigation using road signs.

If these errors had appeared on an actual multi-day tour on unfamiliar roads, perhaps in another country, this would be a problem. This happened on my first tour of the Alps, which is why I spent so much time refining the process. With many trips under my belt, it’s a tried and trusted method.

Garmin Basecamp tends to be a much disliked application. But for me its a useful tool. It may appear a lengthy process but I have just experienced a situation that reminds me of why it is necessary.

Transferring the planned route

The route in MyRoute-app
The route in MyRoute-app

With less than two weeks to go until I head to Ireland to ride the upper part of the Wild Atlantic Way and the coast of Northern Ireland, I needed to finalise the route. This was a case of chopping my whole route into daily segments. I’m a Gold subscriber to MyRoute-app so I get a few extra tools.

One of these is Split where I can very easily break the route down to separate day routes. I can then open each day and use the Expand function. I then add a specified number of waypoints along the route should it be needed. This is to aid the final recalculation in making sure the route goes where I want it, not where the satnav thinks might be a faster path.

Recalculating in Garmin Basecamp

Now we get to the reason for this post and why it’s important to process and check your routes. I exported the first day out of MyRoute-app as a GPX 1.1 and opened it in Garmin Basecamp. It was the simplest of days. I leave home and go to the ferry. The ferry takes me to Dublin and I then ride to a local hotel.

The waypoints shown in Garmin Basecamp

The most complex element of the route was the addition of two further waypoints. I added a Starbucks to meet up with travelling companion one and a MacDonald’s to collect travelling companion two. I am fully aware of the cliche of GS Adventures rolling up to Starbucks and McDonald’s but there we have it. Three BMW R1250GS Adventures capable of tackling untold terrain stocking up on coffee and chicken nuggies.

Weeding out the anomalies

When opened in Basecamp and calculated it was obvious that something was seriously wrong. A huge leg of the route took me from Wales, up to the North East of England before heading for Dublin. I didn’t sign up for that mileage!

Garmin Basecamp route error
Manchester to Dublin via Scotch Corner

If the route had not been passed to Basecamp and verified on screen then the same calculation would have happened in the satnav. It would have gone unnoticed until I would have been given the instruction to turn around and head for Scotch Corner.

Another benefit of exporting a GPX Route/Track is that I can see the originally intended calculation on the map and shown in grey. It’s an easy way to see that the recalculation hasn’t perhaps taken me where I wanted to go. The Garmin is a bugger for taking me off a main road and for no particular reason putting me on a scruffy single track only to put me back on the original road a mile later. Another reason why I always zoom in on the route before the final transfer.

The solution

Getting back to my main problem, why is Basecamp taking me so far away from where I need to be without any waypoint in that direction? I have seen similar behaviour when I’ve dropped a pin on the wrong side of a dual carriageway but that usually results in a localised spaghetti route, not a 450-mile round trip.

Zooming in on the waypoints, of which there was only a handful as previously stated. I couldn’t see any problem or reason why this wouldn’t be a simple A to B route with a couple of stops. Whatever was happening though seemed to be happening near the ferry. It didn’t make any sense as after the detour the route happily went across water to Dublin, however in curiosity I popped a waypoint in the Irish Sea.

Additional waypoint in Garmin Basecamp
Adding a waypoint in the Irish Sea

Bingo! The detour disappeared and I had the route I was expecting. Why it did it I will probably never know but the moral of the story is to check your route and then check it again. That’s the secret to happy travels.

Error corrected and now Garmin Basecamp correctly calculates the route
That’s better!

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