Have you ever wondered how to load a route onto your Garmin and use it to navigate? Ride leaders will often post a link to their route, usually on either RideWithGPS or Garmin Connect, so here are the details for how to load a route from these route planners.

Question: How do I load a route onto my Garmin? 

Short Answer: Plug your Garmin into a computer with a USB cable. Visit the route link, then download a route file. Put it into the Garmin/NewFiles folder on your Garmin. When you restart the Garmin, the route will be in ‘Saved Routes’. 

Long Answer: Read on!

You will need to download a file of the route (people often refer to GPX but actually this is an outdated format, TCX or FIT is better for most modern Garmins). To do this, first visit the link which has been provided for the route.

Ride With GPS

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/35518442 (Ride With GPS)

Click the big orange button ‘Send to Device’. Another box will pop up, where you can select the type of device you have, and it will guide you through the steps. Almost all Garmins (except watches) are Garmin Edge models, so if in doubt select that. Plug your Garmin into the computer with a USB cable.

RideWithGPS will then take you step by step to load the route. In short, you need to move the file from the Downloads folder on your computer, into the Garmin/NewFiles folder on your Garmin. If you need more details, it is explained more in the ‘Garmin Connect’ section of this page.

The RWGPS help pages have lots of useful details about the supported models, including Wahoo & Android devices. It is worth checking the details for your device on this link, which also has good suggestions for settings you may want to tweak to make your navigation work best for you – Eg whether you want navigation to use tracks, or stick on roads only: Compatible Devices | Ride With GPS Help

Garmin Connect

https://connect.garmin.com/modern/course/59613583 (Garmin Connect)Garmin Connect example

Once you have downloaded the FIT file, you need to find where it has been saved – most likely your ‘Downloads’ folder. If it shows at the bottom left corner of your browser, you can right click and select ‘show in folder’.  If not, you may need to open the Downloads folder yourself.

“So I’m in Downloads…. and there are hundreds of files!!!!”
Top tip: sort the downloads folder so that the newest files will always be on top. To do this, click the ‘Date Modified’ column so the little arrow points down. You may need to click it twice to achieve this.

Once you see the file you downloaded, right click it and select Copy.

Plug your Garmin into the computer with a USB cable, if you haven’t already. The computer should recognise that you’ve plugged it in, with a ‘beep’ and possibly opening up a File Explorer window. If there is no beep, try another cable. Some cables can only be used for charging, and they won’t work to transfer data.

If a File Explorer window opens, great. If not, open the File Explorer and look on the left hand side for where the computer has picked up the Garmin and click on it, like this:

Now double-click the ‘Garmin’ folder to open it, and then open the ‘NewFiles’ folder. The folder will be empty – don’t worry! You need to go to your ‘Downloads’ folder, copy the file you just downloaded, then paste it into the empty ‘NewFiles’ folder.

Now right click and Paste the downloaded route file into the ‘NewFiles’ folder. If nothing happens, you may need to go back to Downloads and copy it again.

Strava

If you are a Premium Strava member, you can download any other rider’s route and load it to your Garmin in the same way as above. Strava gives a GPX file.

What Next?

Ideally, ‘Eject’ the Garmin from your computer by finding the ‘Safely remove hardware’ icon. On Windows PCs this is in the bottom right corner. If you are not sure how to do this, just wait 1 minute to allow the file copy to complete before you unplug the USB cable from the Garmin.

Your Garmin will then restart, and the new route will be in the ‘saved courses’ section. Remember to the turn off your Garmin, to avoid a flat battery when you are ready to ride!  Individual models vary but in general you just click the route and then ‘Ride’ to start. Other members will always be happy to help with this when you are out on a club ride.