102 mile route with turn by turn directions
If your like most people who have a Garmin Forerunner 920, Fenix 3 or Edge bike computer you know that as you complete your workout you have a nice map of everywhere you’ve been. This also works in reverse if you plan your run/bike in Garmin Connect and save it as a route.

What you may have also realized is that when you do this you get the same breadcrumb map that is shown in the image to the left but the only notification you get from your GPS unit is to let you know if your on or off course. Basically if your not familiar with where your riding or running you have to show this screen or one that has a little arrow that points in the direction your are suppose to be going. This may work ok on a run but not so well on a bike where your hands are one of the primary means of control. No one has been able to figure out why Garmin isn’t supporting the full capability on Connect. Rumor has it if you have Base Camp with maps purchased it can load the waypoints in and then give promps off of that. I don’t think it goes as far as telling you its a left turn.

A few months back I joined a topic for this subject in the Garmin forums. At the last check there is over 53 pages and your more than welcome to read all of it here Can-the-F3-direct-you-on-a-course

Or…… Continue reading this much shorter summary of what you need to know.

To keep things simple the basic steps are

  1. Create a course in something that will let you export the proper format
  2. Convert the file using the 3rd party developed tool (Edge unit can load native format *.TCX. The FR920 technically will also read the *.TCX file but struggles to convert the file with the low power processor the watch uses and Fenix 3 need to convert the file to *.FIT)
  3. Copy the File into the “New Files” folder when your unit is plugged into your computer (Note: if you have a MAC the file is hidden and you will need to look up how to make if visible. On the PC it is also hidden however your folder options can be changed to view all hidden files)
  4. Unplug your unit and go

There is a minimum course length of more than a mile

Here is the step by step

Step 1

Use and sign up for a free account. Link it to your Garmin Connect account (This lets you copy rides you already did over to map-able routs)

Once you create a route it will make what is called a Cue Sheet off to the left. I recommend that you take these and make them only say left and street name. If you imported a ride you will need to manually create the Cue Sheet. You have have it say just about whatever you want it 2-3 words. Left of Main or Water Stop as well as selecting the symbol that will be displayed.

Now how do you get this to your GPS watch. In the screen shot below you will see on the left I have selected the export tab at the top. Once you have done that you click the TCX Course link and save that zip file to your computer someplace easy to locate.


That’s it for step 1. Easy right. There are other site you can use to make your route and they should work as long as you can export the .TCX file.

Step 2

This is where page 17 of the Garmin Fenix 3 forum is important (PSST.. short cut link below) MCBAGGER has considerable knowledge and programming skill for these watches and has made his own tool and was awesome enough to share it with the world. What it does is take the .TCX file and converts it to a .FIT file. You can also adjust the speed etc… associated with the file to allow for repeat sections of the course where you turn left 4 times at the same intersection and on the 5th lap you turn right. (basically time stamps the route based on your estimated speed) MCBAGGER Tool Link


Set your pace or speed first (not necessary because it has defaults) then Convert file where you will select the .TCX file and it will save the matching .FIT file almost instantly to the same directory location as the original.

Step 3

Connect your Unit to your computer and copy the .FIT file to the “New Files” folder

On the Garmin Edge 520 and up you only need to copy the .TCX file. The bike computers are able to read the file as it was originally downloaded.

When you unplug your unit it will say loading and then you will have your course under the navigation menu.

Just to note for the first time you want to load the map with plenty of time if your route is say 100 miles. It can take a good 30 seconds to a min to load. Other than that once it’s loaded select the activity and start.

It will notify you about 200 ft from the turn unless you have the premium account with ride with GPS and have it place the notifications before the turns.

One last note on the Garmin Edge units. If one person has a map loaded for navigation it can also wireless transfer that route to your buddies who also use an Edge 520 or higher so you can all use the same route directions if you get separated.

Please stop by the Garmin Forum linked above and thank MCBAGGER for his tool.

Did this work for you?