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NAVIGATING CYCLING ROUTES WITH A GPX-TRACK

Cycling is a fantastic way to enjoy the outdoors, explore new landscapes, and stay active even while on vacation. In recent years, several new long-distance bike touring and bikepacking routes, as well as shorter local routes and mountain biking trails, have been developed in Finland. These routes offer an excellent way to discover new areas and their most interesting sights and beautiful scenery. However, most of these routes are not marked in the terrain but are digitally guided. What does a digitally guided route mean? In this article, we will explore what a digitally guided route is and how you can use a GPX track for navigating cycling routes, especially if you are new to this technology.


mies selaa karttaa puhelimesta

Photo: Arctic by Cycle I Timo Veijalainen


What is a digitally guided route and what is a GPX track?


A digitally guided route means a route navigated using a GPX track (GPS Exchange Format). A GPX track allows sharing, storing, and navigating route information with GPS devices and applications. A GPX track is a digital file format that contains all the route information needed for navigation, such as waypoints, coordinates, and elevation data. Tracks are especially used for outdoor activities like cycling and hiking, where not all routes are marked with signposts. You can download the GPX track as a file from a route website and save it to a GPS device or application. GPS devices, such as sports watches, bike computers, or phone GPS apps, display the route on a map and provide precise instructions for following the route, making navigation easy even without physical signposts.


Photo: EuroVelo 13 Northern Section I Mikko-Pekka Karlin


How to use a GPX track for navigating cycling routes?


  1. Choose a suitable app or device: The first step is to choose a GPS app or device that supports GPX files and is designed specifically for navigating cycling routes. Popular apps for this purpose include Komoot, Strava, and RidewithGPS.

  2. Download the GPX track: Once you have chosen a suitable app or device, download the GPX track of your desired cycling route to your computer or phone. You can download GPX files from sites like Bikeland.fi, regional route websites, hiking websites, or communities.

  3. Open the GPX track in the app or device: Open your chosen app or device and load the GPX track using the built-in function. Most apps have a feature like "Load Route," "Import GPX Track", or something similar in the menu.

  4. Check the route details: Before setting off, check the route details from the GPX track, such as the length, elevation profile, surface type, and any challenging sections. You can explore the map and examine different parts of the route turn by turn.

  5. Navigation: When you are ready, start navigation in the app or device. Follow the real-time display, which shows your location relative to the GPX track and guides you in the right direction. You will often see the distance and time to the next turn or destination.

  6. Utilize voice guidance or alerts: Many GPS apps have voice guidance or alert notifications to help you navigate. They can notify you of turns, intersections, or other important points in advance.

  7. Track performance data: If needed, you can track performance data such as distance, time, average speed, and elevation changes directly from the app or device.

  8. Safety: Don't focus solely on your device; keep your eyes on the road and your surroundings.

  9. Practice: If you are new to using GPX tracks, practice using the app or device in a familiar area before setting out on a longer bike trip. This way, you can get the hang of it without unnecessary detours.

  10. Ensure battery life: Make sure your device has enough battery for the entire trip. If you are on a long tour, consider bringing a power bank.

  11. Phone connection: Finland has extensive phone networks, but when traveling in nature and rural areas, it's good to ensure that the routes are downloaded for offline use, so you can navigate even without a phone connection. This also helps save your device's battery.


pyöräilijä kivikkoisella polulla auringonlaskussa

Photo: Arctic by Cycle I Timo Veijalainen


Examples of popular GPX-compatible apps and devices:


  • Strava: Excellent for community features. You can share routes and follow your friends.

  • Komoot: Designed specifically for outdoor routes. Good route planning and offline maps.

  • RidewithGPS: Detailed route planning and navigation features.

  • Garmin devices: Garmin bike computers are popular among cyclists.

  • Wahoo: Another popular bike computer offering clear and easy-to-use navigation.



Photo: South by Cycle I Teemu Oksanen


Experience new routes and destinations with a GPX track


Using a GPX track for navigating cycling routes opens doors to new adventures and helps you explore interesting routes and destinations safely. By choosing the right app or device, downloading the GPX track, and learning how to use it, you can be confident that you will stay on the right path and focus on enjoying your ride. In addition to navigation, it's worth checking in advance the services along the route, their opening hours, and water points to ensure you always have enough provisions for your trip. Navigating with a GPX track may seem challenging at first, but it’s worth learning because it allows you to cycle in new locations!


With this additional information, you can get even more out of using GPX tracks for navigating cycling routes. Explore Finland's best bike travel routes through the link below.






Good luck and safe cycling trips!


//Bikeland




The Network of Finnish Cycling Municipalities and the Finnish Cyclists' Federation established the Finnish Center for Cycling Tourism / Bikeland in 2020 with funding from Traficom to develop cycling tourism in Finland. Bikeland's goal is to increase the popularity of bike travel both among Finns and international cyclist, to make Finland a well-known bike travel destination and strengthen the know-how in Finland in the field of cycling tourism.



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