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Practicing and racing with GPS

Cody Webb bike

This article refers to the use of Garmin Etrex 20/20x/30/30x as this is the most common GPS used on the Extreme racing scene, but the principals work for all other Garmin devices, with minor changes.

General recommendations and GPS setup:

If you can, run 2 GPS’s at the same time. Beside of having a backup device in case of failure, you can set each one with different zoom level. That will allow you to negotiate slow / tight trails and open / fast trail without touching anything = safer and faster ride.

As a rule of thumb, set one unit to 200-300’ and the other to 500-800’ zoom level.

Always start your race with a fresh set of batteries. We found that Energizer Lithium batteries work very well and hold a complete riding day without any issue even with full backlight on.

Enter Setup -> display and set the backlight timeout to stay on.

Set your backlight according to the riding conditions (by pressing momentarily the power button).

  • For sunny day – full power backlight

  • For trees and shady rides – half power backlight

  • For night ride – Low power backlight

Practicing routes:

If you don’t have unknown prק-recorded track that you never rode before, the best method is to ask a friend to record a track for you. If riding your dirt bike isn't possible for that training, Cycling works as well, even in the cities.

Recording a track:

  • Make sure your device is in auto record mode (it’s that way on factory default). Setup -> Tracks -> Record mode -> Auto

  • Clear all current memory just before start moving in the beginning of the track. Setup -> Reset -> Delete all waypoints + Clear Current track

  • Mark track Start point by holding few seconds the ENTER button.

  • When done recording a track, save it with a name. Track manager -> Current track ->Save track

Record on-trail and off-trail sections. Most races will follow a marked trail most of the times, but sometimes will go off-trail, and you better understand how it’s look like.

Navigating a track:

  • Navigating a track:

  • Sometimes (e.g. King of the Motos) you will need to navigate to a waypoint (track start) without a route. Do that by pressing Where to? -> Waypoint -> Select the waypoint you want to go. The GPS will change into map mode and a straight line will show you the direction to the waypoint.

  • To navigate a track press Where To? -> Tracks -> select the track you want to navigate

  • Always select Stop navigation if asked before loading new route or waypoint. If you won’t do that, you will see many waypoints and tracks at the same time which can be very confusing.

Extra tips:

  • GPS have built in inaccuracy which depend on signal strength and triangulation conditions. When the unit is at open sky, accuracy will be as good as 10’ but when in deep canyons or under thick trees, it can be as bad as 100’. Always use your head and understand GPS accuracy limitation. If you have 2 devices look at both in marginal conditions.

  • Know how to mark a way point! (long press on the enter button) – you might cross injured riders and that waypoint can give perfect reference to rescue forces.

  • Carry extra set of batteries. Just in case.

Last but not least - Make sure you have a good and sturdy mount!

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