Garmin, Shmarmin

Guest poster Don Blount finds that sometimes, it’s better to just ride.

This was to be an early morning ride. And because of my schedule, I had to be back home no later than 7:30 a.m.

I don’t like these early wake up calls when it is dark and cold. According to Accuweather, the windchill was about 34 degrees.

But I was set to go. I was dressed, tires inflated and even had warm non-caffeinated tea in my water bottle. I pushed the button on my Garmin 305 to get it powered up as I hit the road.

I hopped on my saddle and looked at the screen of the Garmin, it was blank, showing none of the familiar settings. I pushed the button again. It beeped, the welcome screen flashed, and then it went out again.

I had charged the darn thing, or so I thought, two nights earlier. I tried two more times. Nothing.

So it was 6:30 a.m., my choice was to either go back inside and not ride or ride without a bike computer. I had my Blackberry in my jersey pocket, so if I stopped I could use that to view the time. However, I had nothing to track distance, cadence, speed, heart rate or any other of the data that I use while riding.

Left, what it's supposed to look like. Right, what it looked like on this ride.

I decided to set off on a familiar route of about eight miles out, focusing on the bottom part of my stroke. I felt as if I were riding blind since I had no idea how fast I was pedaling, or my speed or my heart rate.

But I was comfortable, warmed up quickly and my breathing was steady.

I arrived at my turnaround point and stopped to check my clock. If my calculations were correct, I had gotten there in about 25 minutes.

I doubled back, and arrived home – another eight miles – in about 25 minutes.

It was a short ride but a good ride for that time of the day. I felt I had worked but enjoyed the ride and really could’ve gone much farther.

And by not having my Garmin available to show me what I was doing, at least for this ride, I enjoyed myself in a different way than I usually do. Maybe because it was more of a self-regulating challenge and less of a “trying to do what the reading tells me to do because I want to get a workout challenge.”

I do all of my riding alone because of my work schedule and family obligations. But, I think I had gotten so wrapped up in the numbers of my Garmin that I was missing out on enjoying the ride just for the sake of riding. (It’s the Type A part of me.)

My Garmin is charged and ready but I’m going to find a way to do this type of riding more often.

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8 thoughts on “Garmin, Shmarmin

  1. What constitutes a good ride is often revealed in how you feel, not necessarily by the numbers.

    ** does spit-take ** non-caffinated?

  2. I’ve been there and done that. Most of my road riding is alone, with my Garmin, and I have years of numbers to track “progress” — I’ve felt the pang of the missing 305 on a ride. The cure, for me, is straightforward: mountain biking. I’m so focused on the terrain, my technique, my companions, the scenery and the ride that I don’t notice the numbers. And when I look at them at the end of the day, they really don’t mean much. They don’t show that I tried a section of trail 3 times, or whether I cleaned a move or turfed it again. I come back from a mountain bike ride with a totally different kind of appreciation for a day on the bike.

  3. I just put my Cateye CD300DW up for sale on Ebay. I’m going back to my Micro. I was doing fine and making sensible progress before I knew exactly what my cadence was. I got tired of feeling ‘accountable’ to technology. I took up cycling again because I enjoyed it in the seventies when I rode with no computer at all (GASP!).

    We do so much these days ‘because we can’. That doesn’t make it meaningful.

  4. Pingback: Garmin Shmarmin « Bike Noob « My Blog

  5. This is one of the reasons why I don’t get a heart rate monitor. I know at the end of each ride what kind of work out I had by my own self-assessment, instead of by numbers. Others call it, “Perceived Effort”.

    When I rode in the Spring and Summer, it was easy to see my cadence and other numbers. However, as I have started riding in the dark (5AM or sometimes 9PM), I don’t see the numbers anymore because it is just too dark to see them. I do get a glimpse every now and then, but I have gotten more accustomed to just go by my effort overall.

    -RamonH

  6. Every now and again, it’s a good idea to get out without the computers and the constraints we allow them to put us under. I’m just as Type-A where that’s concerned, making sure the Garmin is ready even for a quick 1.01 mile out and back to the grocery store.

    But it’s definitely an exception. Now that I have it, I don’t think I’d want to go back to the way it was before.

  7. Pingback: What’s the Best Cyclocomputer? « Bike Noob

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