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__—— October 2012:  Using Coordinates in a GPS
I have discovered how to use Latitude / Longitude Coordinates in my GPS to plan multi-waypoint routes!  This may not sound like much of a breakthrough but it has saved me an enormous amount of time.  I plan and consequently also lead quite a few club rides ( click pic to enlarge ).
I like to use seldom-used back roads, so that everyone gets a different view of the countryside than they may be used to seeing, but it’s very easy to get lost when navigating them... you don’t see road-signs saying ‘Turn off here for a little-known detour’ so it is very easy to miss route junctions.
I have previously very laboriously saved individual waypoint ‘addresses’, usually by stopping at chosen points on a ‘Recce Run’ and capturing them on my SatNav ( ...can’t use the abbreviation ‘GPS’, because that also stands for Gear Position Sensor on a motorcycle gearbox! ), then later assembling all the saved locations, plus others obtained in more conventional ways, into a string of waypoints... it usually took several days to build a multi-waypoint route.  It’s something I have always accepted as an essential preparatory stage, because when leading a convoy of 20 or so vehicles you really have a responsibilty to never get lost – you get everyone else lost, too, and risk creating a huge traffic-jam!  That’s why I so enjoy going on club rides where somebody else is leading!  Let them have all those headaches, all that preparatory work...
However, I recently discovered that I can sit comfortably at home and use Google Maps on the route, and simply zoom in close and right-click wherever I think is a strategic place for a waypoint... select ‘What’s Here?’ ( click pic, right to enlarge ) and the exact coordinates for that precise point appears.  In a matter of minutes I can assemble a dozen or so waypoints for a complex route, then just enter them, one at a time, into my GPS and... hey presto!  A ready-made multi-waypoint ‘Planned Trip’.  How good is that!?
I used this system on a recent Maxitag Run, and all 8 waypoint coordinates were accurate down to the correct side of the road – and all obtained in less than half an hour.  With the GPS audio in my helmet headset ( I rarely even look at the GPS screen – I just listen to the audio prompts ), the ride went off perfectly and many participants later posted compliments on the organisation.  They had been impressed with how smoothly the complicated route had been navigated.  I was very impressed, too... not with the smoothness, but with how bloody easy it had all been!  This system, combined with 2-way radio between Leader and Sweep riders, well-rehearsed ‘Corner Marker’ drop-offs, and good convoy etiquette, makes for enjoyable, trouble-free social outings... even for the poor mug at the front!  Needless to say, this has now become my standard method of planning routes!
PS:  This method works for me because my Navman SatNav accepts coordinates in Decimal Degrees format, which is how Google Maps presents them ( example: 12.345678° ).  Other GPS makes, however, require that coordinates be entered in the more traditional Degrees, Minutes, Seconds format ( that same example: 12° 20’ 44.4402” ) – my Navman does that, too, but you have to dredge down in a menu to select it.  Online conversion sites are available, though... so if your GPS accepts only °/’/” coordinates it just adds one extra step for each coordinate ( Google: coordinates conversion ) and makes getting the coordinates a little slower.

PPS:  Since moving from Brisbane to Maleny in 2010, then later closing the Maxitag forum and associating almost exclusively with Spyder owners, I have not led any convoy rides...  that’s now a long-abandoned task.  Also, when my SatNav suffered an audio overload a couple of years ago, I stopped using it completely!  My new semi-rural lifestyle rarely requires any complex navigation.
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