GPS

Feb 11, 2012
10
0
0
Yokahama, Japan.
#1
Hi, I have not yet ventured out on to the roads of Japan yet. I travel everywhere by train and have little knowledge of different areas so the roads I consider to be a serious challange. Every time I see a roadie go by I get a little more depressed, and a little fatter. I am looking at the option of purchasing a GPS, probably the Garmin edge 800 to help me plan routes and of course find my way home again, but can not find enough detail from, well anywhere really, regarding the usability of such an item in Japan. I am informed from various quarters that it does work and the maps of Japanese roads work fine. But then, I hear through others it doesn't work so well at all. I do not read Japanese so it must be an English map, and my conversational ability is limited so getting off the bike every other mile to ask directions is not an option. I ride a road bike and tend to stay off trails etc. If it hasn't got a tarmac or a wooden surface, generally speaking, I don't ride on it (but never say never, right?) Though it would be nice to have the Garmin work to its true potential. I have read through the GPS write ups on this site but found them inconclusive and old enough to be no longer valid material. Any information will be greatfully received.
In addition to the above, please, please make it easier to find a group ride on this site. I am in Minatomirai and still haven't worked out how to meet with people in the area-ish, to get a ride at the weekend. My only observation is that people meet somewhere in Tokyo or a train ride away. Maybe a good GPS will assist my finding you. Cheers.
 

joewein

Maximum Pace
Oct 25, 2011
2,443
916
133
Setagaya, Tokyo
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#2
You can always go for a smartphone (Android or iPhone) which lets you navigate and GPS log using a variety of apps, though the maps on Google Maps, even when configured for English, are still a mix of Japanese (kanji) and Romaji. My Kanji are pretty basic, but the Android solution works for me.

About group rides, I would recommend getting a bike bag, which opens up a lot more rides, especially in the mountains further west and signing up for the Half_fast Cycling mailing list to get informed of weekend social rides (Sat/Sun), usually by Friday. I am 10 km from the usual starting point, but that just means I get 20 km more value when I join a ride :) Most rides start in Roppongi, but some then head over towards Futakotamagawa, which is closer to you. It's OK if a ride doesn't officially start close to me, as long as I have the time to start *my*ride here and get there at the official meeting time.

There's quite a few of us along the Tamagawa or western Tokyo / northern Kanagawa. I'm about 30 km from Minatomirai by bike (down Tamagawa, then R1 south). Miura peninsula is not far from you. It's less than 30 km from your area down to Yokosuka. The peninsula is a really great place to ride.
 

theBlob

Bokeh master
Sep 28, 2011
2,865
1,451
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...
#3
The 800 is a waste of money.

THere are plenty of paper based map books that are as useful as they ahve always been.

Get out there and explore! What have you got to lose!:bike::bike::bike:
 

theDude

Maximum Pace
Oct 7, 2011
773
111
63
Tokyo
app.strava.com
#4
Re: Garmin 800, first thing to note is there are 2 versions, a japanese one and english one.

the english one doesn't support japanese maps (there were some threads of some hacking work going on to try to make this work.... not sure if that's happened or not). The reason this would be interesting is because the english one is about 1/2 the price of a japanese one.


Since English is required for you, that will work. But when you buy one, it won't have any maps of Japan. You can buy this, too. I got the UUD (Up Up Down) map, which you can find online, download and install. For all of Japan, it won't fit, so you'll need a memory card, but for around here it should fit. This will allow it to perform some level of routing.


Routing: It's not great if you're used to 'normal' garmin devices. I've not been terribly excited about it, I tend to use it in conjunction with having to stop with a smartphone (iPhone for me) and figure out where I am and where I'm going. It also depletes battery faster to do the routing, same as using an iPhone.


Worst case, make sure you carry a rinko, ride around, if you get lost just look for a train station, they are everywhere, you'll get home eventually.... ;)
 
Feb 11, 2012
10
0
0
Yokahama, Japan.
#5
The 800 is a waste of money.

THere are plenty of paper based map books that are as useful as they ahve always been.

Get out there and explore! What have you got to lose!:bike::bike::bike:
What have I got to lose? .......Myself!!!
It's not so much the getting lost, it's the finding my way home that becomes a problem :(
 

joewein

Maximum Pace
Oct 25, 2011
2,443
916
133
Setagaya, Tokyo
joewein.net
#6
One problem with paper maps is they don't tell you where you are. Some people find that easier to cope with ("there's that railway line and that looks like the river, I must be here...") than others.

They're also bulky. It's very easy to take a quick peek at the traffic light on my Android on the handle bar holder to see how far I still have to go until the next turn. No folding or unfolding, nothing bulky to put away in a back pack.

We used to drive everywhere in the car with a couple of the Mapple range of map books, one for Tokyo/Yokohama, one for Kanto and one for all of Japan, at different scales. My wife absolutely hated it. It was the number one reason she wanted a newer car for - integrated navigation.
 

theDude

Maximum Pace
Oct 7, 2011
773
111
63
Tokyo
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#7
We used to drive everywhere in the car with a couple of the Mapple range of map books, one for Tokyo/Yokohama, one Kanto and one for all of Japan, at different scales. My wife absolutely hated it. It was the number one reason she wanted a newer car for - integrated navigation.

wow, you went for a newer car instead of just getting a Garmin Nuvi?

I gotta try that one out..... :)
 

theDude

Maximum Pace
Oct 7, 2011
773
111
63
Tokyo
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#9

joewein

Maximum Pace
Oct 25, 2011
2,443
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133
Setagaya, Tokyo
joewein.net
#10
Is it OK to take a road bike onto a train here? I have never seen it and the trains I seem to catch have very little room for anything else.
Yes, provided you put it inside a special bike bag (輪行, rinko, mostly 5000-7000 yen) so it is fully covered and no one else can get dirty from the chain or wheels. Usually that involves taking off at least one of the wheels. I wouldn't do it during the rush hour, out of consideration for other passengers. You should be fine for weekend rides.

When I go for longer rides, I virtually always bring along the rinko bag, just to have the option of returning by train if the weather changes or I run out of time or energy or I have major technical problems.

Some people use large garbage bags and duct tape available at convenience stores, but it depends on the station staff if they let you through or not, because it doesn't technically meet their minimum requirements. People got away with it for emergencies, but a proper bike bag is better.
 

joewein

Maximum Pace
Oct 25, 2011
2,443
916
133
Setagaya, Tokyo
joewein.net
#11
wow, you went for a newer car instead of just getting a Garmin Nuvi?

I gotta try that one out..... :)
No, I am just saying the navi is what my wife most appreciated about changing car.

Replacing it was not just to get one with a navi, it also had something to do with the 200,000 yen or so of repairs during the last year of ownership of this great piece of German engineering, plus the fact that it guzzled petrol at three times the rate of its Japanese successor. But this is leading us a bit off-topic :)
 

TOM G

Speeding Up
Jun 13, 2011
102
3
38
Minato
#12
6tautstrings,

We're in the same boat. What you described is my situation down to the detail. I stayed in my apartment on the Cyclops trainer for the past several weeks out of fear of getting lost, navigating trains with rinko bag, etc... Last weekend I finally went out with the group, rinko-ed for the first time and made it back home to write about it. Can't wait to get out again!

Feel free to send me a note if I can help. Still finding my way...

Take care,
Tom
 

jdd

Maximum Pace
Hardest Crash
Jul 26, 2008
2,519
650
133
Kanazawa
#13
You need a navi to get out and explore (and then to find your way home)??

(some female from another thread should be here, calling out: 'herbivore'...?) :p

Maybe just go...?

I was in Mitaka for a couple years in the mid-80s, and rode out to Okutama and back maybe a half-dozen times. No trains, no mapple, and definitely pre-PC and pre-GPS. We just knew it was out there, and, well, we got back.

PS--I now have an Edge 500, a (gps) tracker. I never use it to navigate, only to log where I've been. Yes, in figuring out where to go I have occasionally done a circle where I've found myself back where I had been maybe 40-60 minutes before, but that's just because space is curved, and you have to be a little tricky to outsmart the universe.
 
May 22, 2007
3,619
1,455
143
Kawasaki
halffastcycling.com
#14
The 800 is a waste of money.
Depends how you look at it.

I would say it's overpriced and under-featured if only used for navigation. There are other Garmin products aimed at hikers (like the eTrex Legend/Vista) that will do more, for less.

But the Edge 800 offers lot of other features: training information, performance monitoring, etc.

What have I got to lose? .......Myself!!!
It's not so much the getting lost, it's the finding my way home that becomes a problem :(
You can see Landmark Tower from the summit of Mt Fuji. I think it should be easy enough to find your way back.
 

joewein

Maximum Pace
Oct 25, 2011
2,443
916
133
Setagaya, Tokyo
joewein.net
#15
I was in Mitaka for a couple years in the mid-80s, and rode out to Okutama and back maybe a half-dozen times. No trains, no mapple, and definitely pre-PC and pre-GPS. We just knew it was out there, and, well, we got back.
We also used to live without mobile phones. In the old days we'd meet up with people we agreed to meet a couple of days earlier, none of that "I'll text you when I'm ready and we can meet up somewhere then". Before that there was a time where people would walk for kilometres to visit someone's house, on the off chance that they might be home, because there were no telephones.

I agree, you can certainly still do rides without a GPS, but it makes things a lot easier. Just go back a few years on this forum and you see people describe routes to each other in quite some detail, instead of posting RideWithGPS or MapMyRide URLs.

When we travelled by car using maps, we used to stick much more to the same routes, not venturing as much to go off the beaten track. Even more so with the bike. I used to cycle locally much more, or to places I'd been to by car. Now I venture out further, knowing how easy it is to find my way back. All this is possible without a GPS, but it takes a bit more courage.

Using Google Maps on the Android phone to determine how many km it is on foot to some place gives me a good guess how long it would take to get there by bicycle. It's easy to compare travelling times by train (it searches train connections including walking time) versus by bike.

I used to ask my wife about train connections to get from A to B, now it's me who tells her how near or far everything is from here. It's only when you venture everywhere by bike without fear of getting lost that you start to understand where everything is located, versus the distorted view of geography that you get from travelling on underground train networks or by car on the Shuto expressway.
 

jdd

Maximum Pace
Hardest Crash
Jul 26, 2008
2,519
650
133
Kanazawa
#16
...
It's only when you venture everywhere by bike without fear of getting lost that you start to understand where everything is located, versus the distorted view of geography that you get from travelling on underground train networks or by car on the Shuto expressway.
Yep.

***

btw Joe, I've harassed the powers that be, and going from a core duo system of several years ago, to a recent i7 quad core, is definitely the switch that made my PS app unusable. (which you expressed in more technical terms)

But I've got a new budget, so something will work out.
 

DeltaForce

Maximum Pace
Sep 17, 2011
204
25
48
Toki, Gifu
#17
I came to Japan 13 years ago, with my bike. No PC or internet, no cell phone, no cycling buddies, no gps, no Japanese language ability. I wouldn't have been able to ask for directions, other than grunting and pointing.

I bought a Mapple map book of Kanto, A4 scale. Before a ride I would look for greenish bits on the map, hoping to find the country side, or a river perhaps. My goal was to get out of the concrete jungle and into the mountains.

I would, and still do even with online route mapping, find the simplest route. I plot a route with as few major turns as possible, and remember them. I once wrote them down for a handle bar stem sticker too. I have a memory like a seive, but when getting back home depends on it, I could always remember the major intersections/turns. keeping the major turns down to 4 or 5 for a long ride means using main arterial (traffic from hell) routes, but after successfully getting somewhere once, I had the confidence to try alternative routes nearby. If I was going to get lost, I could head in the general direction of the main arterial I had used before and be able to continue along it, or go back home. As I built up my knowledge of basic routes to varios places, I didn't need to plan ahead with the map book, and would sometimes head down a promising road on the spur of the moment, knowing route x was somewhere out to my left, and route y was somewhere out to my right, and I would probably hit one of them eventually, or I could just go back the way I came. That was fun, and I still use some of the obscure, not on the map, routes I found back then.

From Minato Mirai, I would start by finding a route out to the coast to somewhere like Kamakura or Enoshima. Even if you get a little lost, you'll find the coast eventually, and then be able to follow it for as far as you want to make the ride. I would be equally keen to find a route to the Tama river. Once you get on that, you can just follow it up to the mountains. There are quite a few of us who use the Tama river at some point in our ride. It's the fastest way for me to get up to the mountains. Alot of the TCC rides finish up nearish the tama river and I find myself returning home via it. You'll also see other riders out training on it. I've used it to get to the start of most rides I've joined in the mountains, but from Minato Mirai you might end up with over 200kms on the clock. A quick look on Google maps, you could get to the Tama river along route 1 in about 1 hour.

http://ridewithgps.com/routes/1099056

Also, when you see a ride posted on this site, ask for help with a route to the start, if you know how to get to the Tama river, (depending on the start point) you might be able to meet up with someone else at some point along the river and get to the start with them. Might be a very long ride, but the river is very, very flat. I've been totally knackered after about 160kms riding out to the start and the through the mountains, but if I can get to the river, I can limp back the last 30km as it's so flat.

But, as loathe as I was to getting a bike bag (something weird about taking the train on a bike ride), it has made some far off TCC rides possible for me. You won't regret it. As I said, Minato mirai is quite far from the mountains.

Having said all that, I now rely on GPS with my old Windows phone. If you have an Iphone or Android phone, you don't need to worry, it will get you back home. I my opinion, the phone is better than a Garmin for following a route or not geting lost. You have access to much more detailed maps and a nice big screen. You can load up someone elses route from the internet, or have Google lay out a route for you on the spot. I keep mine in my back pocket, and take it out at intersections when I need to refer to it. As I get more and more knowledge of routes I hardly look at it, but it's nice knowing it's there if I get lost.

Early in the year, James Machin led some good LSD rides around the Miura peninsular, starting from Yamashita park (in your neighorhood), so you are well situated for that kind of ride.

I'm up in Aoba ku, the most northern part of Yokohama, and about 10km west of the Tama river. If you can get on the Tama river we might see each other for a ride.

Dave
 

joewein

Maximum Pace
Oct 25, 2011
2,443
916
133
Setagaya, Tokyo
joewein.net
#19
Here's a RideWithGPS log of one of the Miura rides led by James early this year:
http://ridewithgps.com/trips/503661

You can also bike-bag from Zushi or Kamakura back to Yokohama to keep it shorter and/or take the Keikyu line down to Keikyukurihama to cut 30 km off the start.

Here is the Half-Fast Cycling Miura route from Keikyukurihama to Zushi (you can also cycle to the start / back from the finish):
http://app.strava.com/runs/hfc-miura-4062205
 
Feb 11, 2012
10
0
0
Yokahama, Japan.
#20
I have a bike bag but it is a hard case and without a car (no point in Japan) I can't see what use it is other than for flying etc. The point you make about a 10km or so ride to the starting point is not an issue (other than finding the place). OK. Sounds like I'm starting to make excuses so I'll stop there on that point. I had thought of the Iphone option but I’m deterred because of the stopping and checking etc. I was looking for the simplest option available which I thought might be a GPS. I was going to say I'm a human, therefore, intrinsically lazy, but being a cyclist that’s an oxymoron. Thanks for the other pointers, I’ll take a look at routes etc.