I’m back home from the earlier solo ride down to Florida this week. We’ll both be going back down again next week, this time for Mom’s memorial service. But, we’ll probably take the car as “nice” clothes travel better in a car.
In the post earlier this week I said that I took a different route this time. I used I-75 from metro Atlanta to I-475 (to go around Macon, GA) and then I-75 again all the way down to Ocala, Florida. Once in Ocala, I took Florida HWY 40 across to Ormond Beach and then took I-95 for a few miles to my destination. The GPS said that this route was 477 miles, took 7 hours and 35 minutes of time in motion and a total of 8 hours and 13 minutes that the GPS was on. The GPS comes on with the motorcycle and turns off 30 seconds after the motorcycle is turned off. This route took me through the Ocala National Forest. I saw bear crossing signs and in a whole section of the forest, the trees all leaned to west from the prevailing winds blowing in from the east coast of Florida. It was definitely more leisurely than the normal interstate highway route. I didn’t hear any banjo music while cutting across Florida. I’ll be adding this ride to the GPS Files page this weekend.
Normally when we go down to Florida, we’ll take I-75 from metro Atlanta to I-475 (to go around Macon, GA) and then back on I-75 until we get to I-10 East where we head for I-295 (to go around Jacksonville, FL) and then take I-95 South to our destination. The trip home merely reverses the route. Yes, this route is all interstate highway but gets us there in a day. According to the GPS the return trip home was 478 miles, took 7 hours and 38 minutes of time in motion and 7 hours and 59 minutes that the GPS was on.
What did I learn about the routes? The route cutting across on FL HWY 40 was actually a mile shorter but sure didn’t look that way on a map. The normal, all interstate highway route took a total of 3 minutes longer as I had run into slow traffic when I got to Atlanta. The route using Ocala FL HWY 40 was 1 hour and 14 minutes longer, probably because of the traffic lights and a few stops in traffic on the morning I left.
I also noticed a few things on this trip or had a few things happen:
- I got hit on the left knee by a chunk of tire when someone in front of me ran over a piece of tire retread in the road. The chunk that hit me was about the size of a golf ball and hit me while I travelling just over 70 mph. While it hit the knee armor , I surely felt it. I cringe at how it would’ve felt if I was wearing riding pants with armor, or even worse, shorts.
- At gas stop at a “Travel Plaza” (they attract all motorists by not using the term Truck Stop) 2 tour busses pulled up one behind the other to unload the high school kids from Iowa on them. But they wanted to be right at the door and blocked about 15 cars of customers from leaving until they were finished. Someone from the Travel Plaza came out and told them they needed to move to the area posted for “Truck, RV and Bus Parking”. So much for professional drivers.
- At 2 gas stops and the Florida Welcome Center I had strangers walk up and start talking about motorcycling and asking questions about The Magic Carpet. You don’t have that happen when travelling by car in your Ford Taurus or Chevy Impala.
- While in southern Georgia near the state line I passed a car that had a laptop propped up on the dashboard and angled so the driver could see it! I had hoped she wasn’t watching a movie. She pulled into the Florida Welcome Center shortly after I did and parked just one space away. Guess what? She was watching a movie while driving at 70 mph.
- On the way home today I was passed by a Harley Davidson Road Glide Ultra in Florida whose rider was wearing a full face helmet, armored riding pants and an hi-vis orange Harley Davidson mesh jacket. He was definitely dressed more like an armadillo than a pirate!
Until next time, Ride Safe.
As I’ve posted before, I don’t like solo trips, I really like having Donna sitting behind me. Last week I thought I was going to make a solo trip to come to Florida to see my Mom in hospice for leukemia. But things took a turn and we both ended up coming down a day early at night. Mom lost her battle with leukemia last Thursday night.
Yesterday I did ride down solo to come help my Dad out with a few things. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made this trip by car or motorcycle. This time though a friend suggested a different route. I came all the way to just about Ocala, FL to take FL Highway 40 east across to Ormond Beach. This route took me past Silver Springs and through the Ocala National Forest. According to MapSource the route was two miles shorter and 12 minutes longer than the regular all interstate way (but I think it was much more than 12 minutes longer). According to the GPS, the trip was 477 miles and took 7 hours and 35 minutes of time moving. The trip was longer with stops. I’ll write a more normal entry when I get back home. I figured I’d try making this entry with the WordPress for Windows Phone app. Read more
We’ve added a new page to the blog! It’s a page that contains some of the rides we’ve taken and they’re in GPS format so that you can download them if you like. You can download them even if you just want a closer look at the route! The files are in GPX (GPS exchange) format to make them compatible with as many GPS units as possible. You find the page by clicking on the tab for “GPS File” in the menu above and to the right or you can just follow this link.
When we bought our GPS, a Garmin Zumo 220, it included Garmin’s mapping software MapSource on a DVD-ROM. Using MapSource you could create routes on your computer and then transfer them to the GPS or the MicroSD card in the GPS. It’s really a handy thing to do and I was used to it because our old GPS, a BMW NAV I (actually a Garmin Street Pilot III) used it also and I was already used to it. Like any software there was a learning curve. When we got the GPS we updated the maps as suggested and both MapSource and the GPS then had the same maps. Garmin has started using software that’s a free download called BaseCamp to replace MapSource which they were phasing out. You see, MapSource was included free only with certain GPS units but you could always buy if from Garmin for a price that they were very proud of. But BaseCamp is a free download and is said to work with any Garmin GPS that you can attach to your computer via a USB cable. I decided to download it and try it out. Again there was a learning curve but using the tutorials on the Garmin web site I learned to use it and like it. Your routes were now in collections or lists (lists were in a collection) and I could never find where they were kept on my computer, unlike the GDB or GPX files that MapSource would create. In fact I was using BaseCamp as my sole mapping software after our installation of the Windows 8 Beta and final release. BaseCamp would use the maps installed on the GPS create routes if the GPS was connected to the computer. If the GPS was not connected to the computer, you’d get a very basic map. A while back, BaseCamp decided that it didn’t want to transfer routes to the MicroSD in the GPS anymore or to the GPS. Garmin’s first attempt at trouble shooting was to blame it on Windows 8. So I re-installed MapSource and the map in the GPS to my computer. They each have their advantages and disadvantages but I sure did miss MapSource!
Advantages of BaseCamp
- It’s free and you can install it on as many computers as you like.
- Because it will use the maps installed on the GPS you can use it on any computer you wish, without having to install the maps to the computer.
- You can see all your “Collections” and “Lists” in one place.
- Easy to transfer routes to GPS (although mine stopped doing that).
- You can set it for different activities such as hiking, motorcycling, driving.
Disadvantages of BaseCamp
- It can be cumbersome to use.
- It tends to show all your lists (routes) unless you delete them or hide them
- It tended to use a business on a corner as a waypoint instead of the intersection.
- To use the same maps as the GPS, the GPS needed to be connected to the computer (although after an installation of the maps for MapSource use that’s no longer required)
Advantages of MapSource
- It’s definitely more polished.
- Will easily save routes as a GPX (GPS exchange for other GPS units) or GDB (Garmin Data Base) to your hard drive or any folder of your choosing.
- Easy to transfer routes & more to your GPS when connected to computer.
- GPS does not need to be connected to computer to create routes using the same maps as in the GPS.
- GPS need only be connected to computer to transfer data back and forth.
Disadvantages of MapSource
- Only included with certain GPS units.
- Is not free if it did not come with your GPS.
- Software and maps take up quite a bit of room on your hard drive.
- Since it’s commercial software you’re only to install it on a single computer.
Below are pictures of both MapSource and BaseCamp showing the same location at the same zoom factor (0.5 mile) and same detail level using the default setting without the GPS attached to the computer.
MapSource without GPS connected to computer.
BaseCamp without GPS connected to computer.
A while back I met a local member of BMWLT.COM who had a repair need and was asking questions on the forum. When we met we did what most motorcyclists do and talked of getting together for a ride sometime.
Today was that day. Donna and I met Mike and Carol and we headed up to northern Georgia for a short ride. The weather and the company was great. We had a cloudless blue sky and temperatures just above 60 degrees. Mother Nature is also in the middle of putting on her annual show of the changing leaves. There was a collage of red, gold, yellow and brown in the trees along the road and in the mountains in the distance. To break up the ride a bit, we stopped for lunch at the Dawsonville Pool Room before heading back for home. Out in the parking lot there was a bloodhound in the back of parked pick up truck and he howled every time a Harley Davidson started up!
Getting ready to head home after lunch.
The name of Mike’s K1200LT is “My Camel”.
The bloodhound that howled at Harley Davidsons!
The only negative to the day was a GPS issue. I mapped out a couple of routes using Garmin’s BaseCamp and sent them to the GPS. When we left, I got the normal on-screen message of “Would you like to navigate to the start of this route?” and punched “Yes”. Of course the GPS wanted us to use the highway but I wanted to go a different way to the beginning of the route. Of course the GPS kept “recalculating” because it wanted us to go a different way. But then, even when we were on the route, it started trying to re-route us! It appeared that it kept wanting us to go back to the start of the route. This is now the second time I’ve had this problem using BaseCamp and have never had this happen when creating routes with MapSource. One thing I’ve noticed is that when you click on an intersection with BaseCamp is that it usually selects a business at the intersection and not the intersection like MapSource does. I tried using BaseCamp but it looks like I’m going back to MapSource.
Well it’s been 2 months since I installed the new GPS, a Garmin Zumo 220 on the motorcycle. I had promised a second review after using it for a while. The bottom line is: I LIKE IT! It’s a vast improvement over the old GPS that had originally come with the motorcycle.
The Zumo has now been used on one week-long vacation on our Blue Ridge Parkway trip where we rode everyday in all kinds of weather and one weekend trip to the Iron Horse Motorcycle Lodge in North Carolina. It’s also been used on a number of shorter rides. When in motorcycle mode the unit is easy to use and understand. I have it set up to use Bluetooth to send audible directions directly into my helmet using our intercom. The only drawback I’ve found is that under certain daytime lighting conditions, the screen can be difficult to see. This however is just the Achilles heel of LCD displays and not the fault of the unit. I found the fuel gauge pretty useless though, warning me way too soon. It could be that the motorcycle has its own fuel gauge, a trip computer that will display “Miles To Empty” and a trip odometer (the original motorcycle fuel gauge). The inclusion of MapSource on DVD really expands this unit. I’ve already taken advantage of the one free update and have updated the software and the GPS map to MapSource 2012. The unit has been cold, hot and wet and has worked great. The included motorcycle mount is robust and only has an occassional vibration to it. It does have a larger and easier to read screen than our BMW Navigator I (Garmin Street Pilot III) did. The lane assist feature is really nice too.
We’ve used it in the car also after changing the mode to “car”. The onscreen buttons are smaller in-car mode since the GPS is not expecting you to be wearing gloves while driving. The one thing I found that it does lack is speed controlled volume where the audible prompts will be louder at higher speeds. This is a feature that even our budget Tom Tom that’s a few years old has. I do like the included car mount better than the one for our old Tom Tom in the car though.
All in all I think it was a great investment and upgrade to the motorcycle.
Our BMW K1200LT was originally delivered with a GPS unit on it. Don’t snicker too loud because in 2002 that was a big deal for a motorcycle. It’s an old Garmin Street Pilot III and Garmin no longer supports it or issues map updates for it. It’s also showing its age and limited abilities. It does get you from point A to point B just fine. But make one wrong turn or a detour and it takes quite a while to recalculate your route.
Today I installed our new Garmin Zumo 220 motorcycle GPS unit. I was actually able to tap right into the wiring for the old GPS so installation was a snap. Garmin ships this unit with everything you need to mount it on a motorcycle. It comes with a motorcycle mount and a wiring harness to tap into the bike’s electrical system. It also comes with a windshield mount for cars and cigarette lighter adapter. If you’ll be mounting it on your handlebars or to your clutch or brake housing clamp, you won’t need anymore parts. If like me you are mounting to a dash, gas tank or shelf you need to buy a RAM mounting ball and that’s it. I was lucky and had one from an aviation GPS unit. The unit also accepts Micro SD cards to store more routes, waypoints and pictures (you can transfer pictures to it). I got our Micro SD card for free because I had recycled 3 of our old cell phones through Verizon Wireless and in return got a gift card for each phone based upon its value. I used 2 of the cards to buy the card and still have a balance on one of them. Thank you Verizon.
The new unit retails for 1/3 of what the old one cost when new way back when! The difference is literally like night & day. Yesterday we tried the unit out in the car while running errands. Today, after I installed it, I went to fill the bike up with gas for a ride tomorrow and had it route me back home so I could try it out through the intercom too.
Advantages of the Zumo 220:
- Boots up and locates satellites much quicker
- Calculates routes much quicker
- Re-calculates routes much quicker
- Glove friendly touch screen
- Has navigation modes for motorcycle, car, bicycle & walking (with different features for each one)
- Easy to mount and install
- Using wireless Bluetooth technology, instructions can be broadcast right into the Bluetooth Scala Rider intercom in the helmets.
- It has the ability to read out streets names as opposed to merely “Turn left in 1 mile.” it’s now “Turn left on Main Street in 1 mile.”
- Mount is more adjustable.
Disadvantages of the Zumo 220:
- There is no special Garmin security screw to secure it in the mount to slow down or prevent theft. (But it is easy to take out of the mount and lock in the motorcycle or put in jacket pocket)
- The method Garmin has you to use to “unlock” the computer based mapping software is a bit confusing.
Our motorcycle originally came with a GPS unit when it was bought new by the previous owner in 2002. I’d hate to see what they charged for a Garmin motorcycle GPS back then! The unit is a labeled as being a “BMW Motorcycle Navigator” but in reality is a Garmin Street Pilot III. Does it still get us from point A to point B? It sure does. It takes a while to acquire the satellites, takes quite a while to calculate a route you give it and takes even longer to recalculate if you head off in a different direction.
Our requirements were pretty simple:
- Be within a budget we set for the unit
- Be made for motorcycle use (not be a car unit that you get parts to make it motorcycle friendly and put a plastic bag on it when it rains)
After searching around we decided on a Garmin Zumo 220. It came with everything we wanted and more. It’s a Garmin motorcycle unit, is waterproof, comes with a motorcycle mounting system, motorcycle wiring, car mount for use in a car, Mapsource software to transfer computer created routes and even has Bluetooth to send directions to the Scala headset. Checking with Garmin and various online retailers all prices were literally within pennies of each other but the shipping amounts varied. So went to Garmin to order. Since you can easily look this up I’m not telling secrets, the GPS retails for $399.99. Garmin had a very reasonable shipping rate too. I looked for a local retailer that sold this unit on the Garmin website and found none. The 2 official online retailers they had for the area were Best Buy and Target. Best Buy was the same price as Garmin. But Target was selling the unit for…..get this…..$499.99! But Target was gracious enough to give you free shipping. With the free shipping it was still $90.00 more than directly from Garmin with the shipping. Not only that, at both Best Buy and Target I would’ve had to pay sales tax because they have stores here.
I’ll let you know how the installation goes and how the new toy works when it gets here.
Tags: accessories, GPS
The GPS in the motorcycle is a “BMW Motorcycles Navigator” also know as the NAV I. Underneath the BMW markings it’s a Garmin Street Pilot III. It was on the motorcycle when it was new in 2002. The maps have been updated but Garmin no longer supports the unit and no longer provides updated maps for it.
While making route on MapQuest I saw the option to send the route to a GPS. I clicked on it and it said it was for Garmin units, needed to install software called Garmin Connect and to attach the GPS to the computer to do continue. I attached the GPS, installed the software and it found a Garmin Street Pilot III successfully. Then I sent two routes to the GPS and got the “file successfully transferred” message. This morning I loaded one of the routes which was a place I already knew how to get to. The problem was that while MapQuest took me on the route I wanted, the route on the GPS was a straight line from Point A to Point B. So it’s back to creating routes on Garmin’s MapSource software.
The moral of the story is that you can’t teach an old GPS new tricks!
Tags: BMW, GPS