Generating a gpx route for bike trip 2013

Posted: October 18, 2012 in Cycling
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Planning (at least the first draft of) the exact cycle route is an important part of the overall planning of a long distance cycle trip. Just ‘following your nose’ leads you to main, busy roads. Insider secrets remain secrets.

In the summer of 2013 I intend to cycle from where I live in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, to the North Cape, via the Baltic Countries. I have put together a planned route which is made up of documented biking routes, collected from a range of different sources. I have collected this route in gpx format which can be viewed on my iPhone.

Here, I would like to list the biking route sources, and how to concatenate such routes to the ‘mother plan’ route.

Sources of the cycle route

Netherlands

The Netherlands has a great infrastructure for cycling. There is a dense network of signed bike paths that connect numbered ‘nodes’ throughout the country. Each node is between 1 and 10 km apart, and from each node, there are signposted routes to each of the neighbouring nodes. There is a bike route planning website which calculates suggested routes between any nodes that you specify. I used this to calculate a route from my house to the start of the German section of the R1 bike path which I will follow most of the way to Tallinn in Estonia.

Germany

I generated the route crossing Germany using the cool bike route planner Naviki. Many thanks to Oskar from the Polish cycling forum for his tips for Mecklenburg Vorpommern.

This route replaced my original route following the R1 bike path
– a long distance bike path from Bolougne in France to St. Petersburg in Russia. The German leg of this bike path (along with a huge number of cycle paths across Europe) is available in gpx format on the Lonvia ‘bike overlay’ to the OpenStreetMap open source map project. Simply scroll to the area of interest and click on ‘Routen’ to see a list of the paths displayed on the map. A gpx file can be downloaded for each of these maps.

Poland, Kalingrad, Lithuania

In Poland I will follow the EuroVelo 10 bike path. I found the route for this on bikemap.net. Many thanks to Pawel and the people on the Polish cycling forum for helping me out here.

After following the coast to Gdansk, I will make my way to the R1 cycle route which can be downloaded from the Lonvia bike overlay as described in the German section. The Polish section is not completely covered, though. I used the gpx files which are from Detlef Kaden. This book/CD combination is excellent, giving route information, as well as info on things to see, accommodation, and visa information for the Kalingrad Russian enclave.

Latvia

For Latvia, I used a combination of gpx files from Detlef Kaden (see Poland section), as well as cycling routes from the Lonvia OpenStreetMap overlay (see the German section). See the section below on how the information from these two sources was concatenated.

Estonia

For Estonia, I used routes from the Lonvia OpenStreetMap overlay (see the German section).

Finland

Eurovelo is a planned network of long distance cycle paths crossing from one side of Europe to the other. There are 14 planned routes, which are shown here. The routes are in different levels of completion. For most routes, there is no information available at all. For the Finnish sections, there is detailed information given in the form of google maps. I downloaded these routes and converted them into gpx to add to my overall route. (I describe this conversion below.)

Sweden

The Swedish leg is part of the ‘Cykelspåret längs ostkusten’. The gpx files for this can be downloaded here. These gpx files outline a path up the coast. When the coast is left at the top of the Baltic sea, there as so few roads, I figured that no special attention needs to be paid to look for small cycling roads. I used google maps to create the paths from here up to the Norwegian border. (Converting google maps to gpx is described below.)

Norway

In Norway I will follow the ‘Sun route’ as described in the Lonvia overlay for OpenStreetMap (see German section).

Converting and merging gpx files

When cycling, I use EveryTrail to track my trip, as well as to follow the planned route. EveryTrail uses gpx files.

To create the ‘mother’ route, stored in gpx file format, I concatenated individual gpx files. This concatenation is described here.

Here is an instruction video of how to convert google maps (kml) files to gpx file.

Sometimes I only wanted a piece of the path contained in a gpx file. I did the editing by hand, joining two gpx files at the correct place by matching the latitude and longitude coordinates to find where the paths cross.

Comments
  1. Dina says:

    Dear Matthew,

    that sounds great! I look forward to following you, especially on the sun route! 🙂
    I’ll keep my fingers crossd for you, the bookfayries cross their wings!

    All the best for your trip. We’re really proud of you, you’re our special hero, what do you think about that?? Ha ? 🙂

    Dina, Siri and Selma

  2. Thanks, Dina, Siri and Selma. I am really looking forward to the trip. I shouldn’t be your hero yet.. I haven’t even started the trip! 🙂

    All the best from beautiful Eindhoven!

  3. Ranno says:

    Hi Matthew,

    I will give U more updates on the beaches once U are here. We do have a few 🙂

  4. […] In 2013 I will be cycling from Eindhoven in the Netherlands to the North Cape via the Baltic countries. I have been putting together a planned cycle route from different sources on the internet, generating a gpx file of the route. […]

  5. Thimble says:

    Hi Matthew,
    great trip! All the best for a good experience.
    For further tour planning I just want to point you to the website http://www.biroto.eu . On that site you will find a pool of nearly 500 cycle routes all over Europe (260.000 route km in total), each having a downloadable gps-track, and lots of lodging, sights and infrastructure.
    You can tailor your tour by downlodading tracks from the pool, put tracks or peases of tracks together, just as you wrote above, and upload the result into the website again. This will generate your tour guide with lots of information.
    Udo

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