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Guide to Santana’s Electronic Guidance

Updated: 11/30/2022

Welcome to the 2022 primer for e-guidance for your upcoming Santana Adventures Cycling Cruise. Our veteran guests already know what to expect. For those of you who are joining us for your first tour, please read carefully, as Santana does not provide the navigation device that you’ll need to bring with you in order to enjoy your vacation. Santana does provide the electronic mapping and routes for the devices listed in this guide.

Like every other cycling tour company, Santana formerly relied on maps and paper route sheets. The eternal problem is that neither method could show you where you were, or could tell you if you were on or off course. Becoming lost and/or riding extra miles was a regular occurrence.

In 2010, Santana became the first bicycle tour company to make the switch to GPS guidance. The reason for this conversion was our move from hotel-based tours (where arriving too late for dinner was acceptable) to ship-based tours, where it is essential to arrive at the dock before the ship sails into the sunset.

Along the way, we found that the initial reluctance about learning to use a new device quickly replaced the age-old anxiety of becoming lost and/or riding extra miles. While many of you possibly dreaded the idea of buying a new-fangled GPS, by the end of the second day you’ll never again wish to rely on a map or old-fashioned route.

Jump ahead to 2022…

Although we believe a handlebar-mounted GPS is still the best option, we’ve learned that today’s Smartphones can replace a dedicated GPS device as easily as they replaced most of our cameras. Since you likely already have a Smartphone and are familiar with its operation, learning to use it for bicycle navigation is a relatively simple matter.

Three important items to note about using your smartphone:
  1. Make sure you obtain a top-rated handlebar mount. Spend a few extra bucks to make sure it stays mounted to your bike if you end up on bumpy terrain. We like these mounts: Mous Intralock, Quadlock, & Peak Design.
  2. If your phone isn’t an up-to-date model that’s weatherproof, it’s time to upgrade. While we never recommending riding during a full rainstorm, sudden rain showers do happen. If you’re going to mount your phone on your bike, please make sure it’s water proof.
  3. Bring a fully charged power bank. Our GPS routing app uses lots of battery power as it is constantly checking your location and vector. We strongly recommend bringing a battery pack with you so that you can recharge while on-the-go. While they cost a little more, getting a water-resistant or waterproof battery is also a smart choice—if you already own one that’s not; bring a ziploc bag for it.

Your phone is your lifeline if you have a breakdown or an injury—please make sure you’re taking precautions so that it operates when you need it most.

Even if you already have (or decide to buy) a capable GPS, it only takes a few minutes to download the free RWGPS (Ride with GPS) app to your iPhone or Android. Then, if something were to happen to your GPS, you’ll have a backup navigation device in your pocket.

If you plan to use your phone for navigation, please download these free apps before you leave for your cycling cruise.

We haven’t abandoned Garmin!

While we believe the trend towards smartphone navigation is inevitable, don’t fret if you’ve already invested in an expensive Garmin. We continue to support all of our previously recommended units (except for the Edge 605/705 that haven’t been sold for over 12 years). Additionally, if you have a non-Garmin GPS that integrates with RWGPS, no problem! If your Garmin device has a microSD memory slot, we will continue to provide an updated pre-loaded chip with rides and maps.

Now that most of you will opt to use a phone you already own, we have eliminated the GPS buyers guide. That said, If you are still looking for advice on GPS units, either to replace or upgrade what you currently own, please feel free to reach out for insights on current offerings that would work for one of our tours.

FAQ’s that always arise before a tour:
  • Will there be cue sheets/maps?
    No, since 2010 all of Santana’s overseas events have been GPS guided; you will need a Smartphone or GPS unit. A route/cue sheet, unlike an e-map, can’t confirm if you’re on or off course. Even if you’re off course and hopelessly lost, reporting your coordinates allows emergency responders or our SOS van to arrive without delay. This is not only a potential lifesaver if you are injured, it allows us to help you reach the ship before it sails into the sunset.
  • Can I use my portable automotive GPS?
    DO NOT bring GPS units designed for cars or motorcycles (including Garmin’s “Drives” (formerly Nuvi and “Zumo”)) These devices are purposefully engineered to reject the best courses for non-motorized vehicles.. For Santana Adventures’ tours, all automotive GPS units are a 100% FAIL!
    When will routes be available? On the eve of your tour, after all routes have been rechecked, you will receive an invite link to our ride on the GPS event site. Accept the invite and further information on how to download rides will become available.
  • Where can I find out if my device works with RWGPS?
    Mobile app link: GPS device compatibility and setup:
    Will I have all of the routes before the tour? No. While we’ve scouted all routes long in advance, we’ve had repeated problems when riders with preliminary routes lead others onto an outdated course. Additionally, most ports won’t assign a specific dock until a day or two before our cruise embarks. Because our RWGPS routes are cloud-based, as long as your phone has connectivity in Europe (which is highly recommended in any case) our routes can be updated at the last minute.
GPS Units Fully supported

If you find a Garmin in your closet (or on the internet), we know how to troubleshoot issues for the following types and models:

  • Cycling specific models with memory card slot (allows plug and play): Edge 800, 810, 1000, 1030, Edge Explore 1000, Edge Tour and Tour Plus.
  • Cycling specific models that require wireless connectivity: Edge 1030plus, Edge 820, 830, Edge Explore
  • Adventure models (all have a memory card slot): All Montana, All Oregon, Dakota 20, eTrex 20, 30, 20x, 30x, and any version of eTrex Touch.
  • As a rule, if your GPS shows arrows instead of displaying a map, it won’t navigate the routes we provide (or help you to work your way around a construction zone).
Prepare for Success:
  • If you plan to use your phone for navigation, please download these free apps before you leave for your cycling cruise.
  • Ensure your phone can make calls in any foreign countries you’ll visit. Generally speaking, Verizon, ATT and T-Mobile provide overseas connectivity for $5-10 a day. If you have a Trac phone or a secondary provider, you’ll need to find and buy a SIM card for each country you’ll visit (which is a huge hassle). Make sure your current phone is waterproof.
  • Carry a fully charged power bank for your smartphone, and spare batteries for GPS units that don’t recharge overnight. Bring necessary chargers, cables and adapters for your device.
  • Having seen too many GPS devices and smartphones launch into oblivion and getting promptly run over by a following car we cannot stress enough the importance of a secure mount for your GPS or phone. If you have a bike mounted GPS your unit should already come with the appropriate hardware to secure your GPS. The greater challenge is how do I secure my phone to the handlebars. We’ve looked at the myriad choices out there but the few that we would consider worthy are mounts that have some form of locking device. Avoid units that secure your phone via a “rubber band” system. Those may be great for your Peloton or perhaps cruising the local rail trail on your hybrid, but for most real world situations you run a high risk of spitting your phone off of your bicycle when you hit a big bump. We do not endorse anything specifically but a phone mount that actually clamps to your bars and has a lock mechanism (like most bike GPS mounts) is the way to go. Two examples of these are the “Quadlock” and Peak Design’s “Out Front” bike mount. You can check out the DC Rainmaker website for more insights: (search phone mounts)
  • In addition to RWGPS, have WhatsApp and Google Maps on your phone (yes, you need Google Maps even if you are using an iPhone). If you do break down or get hopelessly lost, these two apps allow us to locate you in the shortest possible amount of time.