My Favorite Piece Of Cycling Gear

After I finished my weekend ride, I did what I always do: I went to my computer and loaded my Garmin data onto Garmin’s website.  While doing so, it occurred to me that this little box may very well be my favorite piece of cycling gear.

The Garmin keeps me endlessly amused while riding.  In three different windows, I get mountains of data displayed in ways that I can organize as I see fit.  Some of that data is actually useful.  Temperature, heart rate, % elevation, calories burned, miles covered, current speed, average, speed, time of day…  The list goes on and on.  The Garmin becomes a sort of video game – as I pedal my machine it provides immediate feedback on the work I have done (or failed to do).  It’s nice to have something record my efforts for posterity.

Speaking of recording, the fun doesn’t end on my ride.  As mentioned above, I can take my Garmin and load the data to a website, which helpfully displays the data in all sorts of attractive ways.  I can see my ride depicted on a map, or the intervals I’ve conducted, or convert the map to Google Earth, or look at my activities displayed on a calendar, or get a report of all rides done for a given period of time, and a zillion other things.  It’s great to have a historical record of each ride I have ever done.  In this way, my Garmin becomes a sort of electronic cycling diary.  Since I love statistics, this is the perfect tool for me.

And the Garmin is just about the most reliable piece of gear I own.  I’ve had flat tires, broken spokes, creaky cranks, frayed handlebar tape, broken lights, and all sorts of additional problems with almost every piece of cycling equipment and clothing I have ever owned.  The Garmin is rock-solid.  It has never failed me even one time over 18 months of use.  There’s a lot to be said for that kind of reliability.

As with almost everything, I can nitpick things I don’t like about the Garmin.  Quite often I reportedly defy the laws of physics and gain more elevation than I lose despite starting and finishing at the same location.  The temperature readings can be suspicious at the extremes – the readout has never been more than 102.2 degrees, and it has reached that point FIVE times.  That’s an amazing coincidence, if it is accurate.  Likewise, it doesn’t seem to want to tell me the temperature has dipped much below freezing, no matter how cold it appears to be.  Every once in a great while, the GPS gets confused and plots me about 100 yards from my actual location.  This will continue for a half mile or so until it snaps back into reality.  However, these are all very minor things when compared to the mountain of information and enjoyment it provides.

So here’s to the Garmin and its ever-reliable stream of data and charts.  I’m not sure how far I would have cycled without it, but I’m certain it would have been far less, and not nearly as much fun.

Many (but not all) of my 2010 rides, imported into Google Earth from my Garmin

12 thoughts on “My Favorite Piece Of Cycling Gear

    1. The Garmin 500 that I have doesn’t have maps on the device itself. I get to see my route after I download my data into Garmin’s website, which keeps all of my rides sorted for me. You can see the site by clicking on any of the maps in this blog – I hyperlink them to my Garmin page.

      For just a few hundred dollars more, you can get the Garmin 800 which does have the ability to depict your location on a map.

      1. It doesn’t have a map function but it does have a poor alternative. Mapping a course and using it gives you turn by turn directions like on those old car GPSes, without an underlying map.

    1. At the Garmin.Connect website, click the Export tab for your activity and choose Google Earth. This will automatically create a Google Earth layer for your ride. Obviously, this won’t work if you don’t have Google Earth installed on your computer, but the software is free to download.

  1. I love mine, and it even gives me less trouble than yours too!

    Also, thanks to you for recommending the device to me. Like you, I’m not sure how fewer miles I’d have clocked without the device, but it would’ve been far less 🙂

    P.S.: Like the idea of routes superimposed on Google Earth, gotta try that!

  2. Does anyone ever tire of all the feedback? The reason I ask is I just did a single day ride and rented a bike that was sans computer. I found that I really enjoyed just riding the bike and three hours went by must faster than usual.

    1. Personally, I try to do both. When I traveled to Australia on business, I was hoping to get a rental bike. I brought my Garmin on the off chance that I did, and now I have the ride recorded for posterity. I was puttering along, taking pictures and not even wearing cycling clothes (apart from the helmet). It was a very casual ride, but the Garmin was still there!

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