Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Navigation Tips I

A Cue Sheet typically forms the basis of your navigation in a Brevet. This is a list of directions/turns you make as you ride the route of your Brevet. You will be provided one for the Great Southern Brevet 2012. An example of a typical Cue Sheet:

Longest Day Ride Cue Sheet

Like your "Brevet Certificate", Cue Sheets have modern alternatives.

Paper maps would be the starting point. Reliable (if not wet) they don't run their batteries down. You can cut/copy/paste sections as needed. If you need a tool to decide which maps to buy/borrow then check out the LINZ website. The map selection tool will tell you which Topo50 or Topo250 map covers your area of interest:

Land Information New Zealand Map Chooser

Topo 250 and Topo50 maps are available on paper (at various retailers, see the website) but also are available as an image file for download to your PC (Mac?) directly from the site. The later makes printing only sections of interest so you don't have to purchase so many maps. They are large files but if you are comfortable working on a PC they can save you money.

A starting point for the Great Southern Brevet would be at least Topo250 Map 26 Alexandra. This covers the majority of the ride. Some areas can be navigated on the cue sheet alone and others are tricky and might need Topo50 type details (more on this later).

An addition (or possibly alternative if you are good at battery management) is a portable/handheld map capable GPS. There are many brands available but the most popular, and well supported, are Garmin. They have a range of models from cycling specific (EDGE 800) to small handhelds (Dakota 20) that mount on your handlebar. They feature full colour map capability and touch sensitive screens for easy selection of options.

Garmin Dakota 20

Topo Maps for GPS units are available and vary in quality and price. Some of the more popular ones are:

All feature detail Topo Maps equivalent to Topo50 series maps (they all use the LINZ data). They range from $150 to $225 for the entire country at Topo50 type resolution. A free alternative is:

The "New Zealand Streets, DOC Tracks and SRTM 10m Contours for Garmin" is a great free alternative. The map is not colour coded (eg. showing vegetation boundaries) like the others but it still features contours and the road network. Also, as a bonus  it has most of the DOC Tracks and they are routable!

You will discover that ALL GPS maps lack certain details but the majority are sufficient and given you are pinpointed by the GPS on the map the detail is pretty good.  It does however take some adjustment getting used to maps on a GPS because of colour/symbol variations. Once you are comfortable they can be handy as you can carry the entire country in a small handheld unit. Not sure what all the Topo50 paper maps would weigh if you tried to carry them ;-)

Like most things, navigating comes down to personal preference and tradeoffs. Technology is wonderful until the batteries run out. Paper is bulky and not so good if it gets wet. Maybe try a combination? And remember if you do try a GPS there is a track of the course ready to load onto your GPS (see earlier post: GPX of GSB2012 Course now available).


  1. Are you providing que sheets as well? Or will we have to make our own?

  2. Cue Sheet is provided, you will not need to make your own. Cheers,