What’s up with the route?
There have been several questions regarding the route. Is the gpx file accurate? Is there really 15,000’ of ascending and descending? Is it really 140 miles? Are all the roads signed at the intersections? Why is some of the GIS date missing from the gpx and kml files? Answers include, yes, no, kinda, sorta, maybe……
The route consist of state and county roads, unimproved roads on federal lands, unimproved roads on state lands, roads on private lands, single track on federal lands, and single track on state lands… You get the idea; The ride encompasses a large variety of terrain, trails, road surfaces and property owners.
There are a lot of variables in there.
Depending on the gps program, maps, milage data, elevation data, his data and a few other things. The route comes in at anywhere between 138-145 miles with somewhere between 13,750’- 15,250’ of climbing and descending. It will be interesting to see what the read is after the ride.
The course is open to the general public, it is not a closed course for the JCPR. This means you could encounter vehicle traffic, four wheelers, motor bikes, pedestrians, other cyclist…. So please be aware.
The website states that this is a ride with no aid stations, mechanical support, no course markings…. You are responsible for your own health, safety, navigation and so on, you need to 100% self reliant. You really need to understand this part and take it seriously.
I have ridden the route in it’s entirety, not all at once but in sections. My best friend was a Flathead National Forest map. You don’t need the ginormous map that covers the entire Flathead National Forest , but the small supplemental map of the Glacier View Ranger District. They generally have a better scale to see detail and descriptive labels, such as road numbers and names. This maps can be found hereFlathead National forest District Map GLACIER VIEW
It’s super important that you are able to route find using only a paper map by its self. The route isn’t overly complicated, you are on maintained dirt roads for the most part. Some have signs, some don’t, and some are hard to read.
A cycling computer is super helpful with milage in conjunction with a map, and cue cards. A. gps unit is a great accessory but not a necessity.
As for a GPS unit, for instance a Garmin Edge 810. You can load the GPX file into your unit, but it will contain minimal data in terms of road names, turn by turn directions, elevation data. The reason for this is that the route travels across a multitude of different land ownerships that may not have any GIS data associated with it. Therefore your GPS unit may be confused because it is not following an “official road”. Another thing to consider would be that the Garmin maps that you can download to your unit are not often the most up to date a current maps. There are other options to upload better map data to your unit, but that’s something you will have to look into.
Personally a great way to go would be to use your phone and download the GIAI GPS application. It’s sorta described as a Harry Potter of sorts magical navigation helper by my wife. She has no experience with Garmin, Strava, or any other gps navigation programs/units. “This is magic, I’ll never get lost again”, famous last words? Not yet.
With Giai GPS loaded on your phone, you simply upload the gpx route file and cue it up. You appear as a arrow on the screen, moving along the chosen route. If you get off route, you can directly see that the arrow has deviated from the intended route and you just need to go back and get back on track. That’s a bit over simplified, but not by much. Worth having a look at the website. Also the map data is based on Open Street Map, which had much better detail.
I’ll provide cue cards that will be finalized a week or so before the ride. It would be a great idea to download, print and carry a set as they will have turn by turn directions with road name/numbers and milage. Milage is taken from GIS information, so may be off by a bit and is intended to be used in determining an approximate location..
As I said, in my personal opinion, a paper map trumps all. If you are unsure of your tech skills, navigation prowess, please carry a map.