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.