Navigating into the Future

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Introducing the Garmin Edge Explore 1000

Ever since I led the first Backroads trips back in 1979, our turn-by-turn written directions have represented independence: independence from biking at the same speed of the fastest or slowest rider, and independence from the “group” mentality that turns people away from other forms of organized travel. While many tour operators insist on making guests hike or bike at the same pace, the combination of our detailed directions and our industry-leading support means that we not only expect but encourage our guests to speed ahead to tackle a big climb, or to take a break to savor a cappuccino in an inviting town square.

Backroads Garmin Edge Explore 1000 Since 2006, the promise of a new form of independence has come onto the scene in the form of navigational cycling computers. We’ve been watching intently as these devices have evolved and improved over the years, and we’ve listened closely as more and more guests ask for GPS files for their own devices, or for us to provide GPS devices on our trips. Our initial tests showed us time and again that there is a gap between what many guests want (turn-by-turn directions like a car navigation system) and the actual experience delivered by the units that were available. And we confirmed what gear-junkies already know: rather than improving navigation, the wrong device can ruin a whole day’s ride! We tested the devices used by the few other companies offering GPS units and found that the experience left a lot to be desired. We rolled out downloadable GPS directions back in 2012, all the while holding out hope that in this world of rapidly changing technology, the right GPS device would come along.

Well, I’m excited to report that we’ve just finished testing a fantastic brand-new GPS device that is heads and shoulders better than the rest of what’s out there on the market. (My wife Liz and I used the units in Champagne, Alsace, Provence and the French Riviera during the last phase of testing.) We finally have a device that meets our highest standards and that we expect will complete the three-piece puzzle of making sure everyone can navigate in whichever way suits them best.

We’re outfitting our bikes with the top-of-the-line Garmin Edge Explore 1000 on Biking Trips in Europe, North America and Hawaii in 2016–included in your trip at no additional cost! How does it work? You simply show up and your Backroads bike will be set up with a Garmin Edge Explore 1000, pre-loaded with all the routes on your trip.

Don’t worry, we will still have our beloved paper directions for those who prefer to stay unplugged from technology during their vacation. And for those of you who already have your own navigation device, downloadable GPS files are now available for all Biking Trips in Europe, North America and Hawaii.

See you out there!

-Tom

Tom Hale Riding with the Garmin Edge Explore 1000 in Spain


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Tom Hale

Tom Hale

Founder and President at Backroads
A native of Moraga, California, Tom Hale possesses a passion for two seemingly divergent interests—business and back roads—which he has powered into the world's most successful active travel company, Backroads. It was the back roads that first attracted him, as a competitive runner at Campolindo High School (where he still holds the two-mile record at 8:57.2) and at the University of Oregon, where he was a teammate of legendary runner Steve Prefontaine. Armed with a Masters in Environmental Planning from UCLA, Hale was six months into an environmental planning position in Las Vegas when the back roads called again—big time. A middle-of-the-night inspiration to start a bike touring company motivated him to pedal 5,000 miles alone through the West, all the while formulating plans for his new business. Settling in Berkeley, Hale washed fondue pots by night and built his fledgling travel company by day. In true entrepreneurial fashion, he did it all—designed the itineraries, maintained the bikes, led the trips, produced the catalog.