Well, I finally did it . . . I went and got me a Garmin. An Edge 705, to be more exact. It is, of course, a full-featured GPS, tracking all sorts of things: elevation, grade, speed, average speed, calories burned, direction, with a full-color map and directional pointer . . . and it also will do heartrate, with a chest strap. FUN! I love new toys!!
I first got it about a month ago, but didn't have time to mount it on the bike the day I got it. I did want to see how it worked, though, before I made the final plunge and amputated my trusty CatEye, with the 9000+ miles on the old ODO. So, we drove to Pennsylvania, to do the Pedal to Preserve ride, and I took the Garmin along. On the way, I fired it up and played with it a while. "Hey, this is interesting," I said to Jeff, as we were speeding up I-95. "It says I'm burning about 40 calories a minute. Cool! Maybe we could market this as a super calorie-burning device!" (The guys at my Weight Watchers meeting got a kick out of that one.)
I also got the MapSource® City Navigator® chip, which supplements the base map. With it installed, I can see nearby restaurants, stores, food-stops, etc. -- for all of North America. All. Of. North. America. On a chip no bigger than my thumbnail. It's clever, too. A pizza parlor, for example, is a small pizza slice. A car repair center is a mini car, hood up, on a lift. A retail store is usually a little shopping bag. A church is . . . a little miniature church. (What, you were expecting the Face of God?)
Shoot, this feature alone is well worth the price. You know, you've been there: on a cue sheet jaunt or organized ride, pedaling along on a lonely road you've never, ever been on before in your life. You're tired, You're thirsty, you just ate your last Clif bar, and you're hoping to stumble on a gas station, or maybe a convenience store. For me, that was then; this is now. Garmin to the rescue! If I need to find a store, all I have to do is look for those little symbols. When I find one, I can move the pointer over to it, and the Garmin will tell me exactly what's at that location, whether it's a Panera, a WaWa, or an Exxon station.
Furthermore: my geographically-challenged self now has ABSOLUTELY NO EXCUSE for getting lost. Neither can I legitimately refuse to go down "that interesting-looking road" because I don't know how I'll get back.
The only problem I've encountered so far: it's frozen up a couple of times, while I was biking. I was going to Rockville Town Center yesterday morning; 7 miles into the ride, I noticed that the readout only said 4.88 miles. Nothing worked but turning it off and then on again. It started counting again, but only from the point it froze up. (And my upload of my ride to my computer sure looks bizzare; apparently I transported from the 4.88 mile mark to the 7.25 mile mark. Beam me up, Scotty.)
I'm still learning all of the features. You can download rides, but there aren't too many out there yet. You can take rides from other mapping services, like routeslips.com or routeslip.com, and translate them into the proper language for the Edge. There are 3rd party applications that will do this; I did discover how to do it for free, in a rather awkward way . . . now, if I can just remember what it was I did . . .
You can also take a ride you've done and convert it into a "course." Then, it becomes a pink-outlined route on the GPS. It doesn't give you turn-by-turn directions, like it would if you told it to take you to a given point, but it does beep when you are off-course, and will also tell you when you're back on-course. How easy is that? Even I can't get lost, with that feature enabled.
Er, no. It doesn't talk. Thank God. Imagine having to explain THAT to that idling motorist at the stoplight. It does chirp, though, when you stop and start. I have it on the AutoPause option, so that it stops measuring time when I stop.
Adventures to be continued . . . let's go exploring!