This week's Want it Wednesday is the Garmin Edge 800. I need this computer. Kevin loaned me his to help me pre-ride the Iceman last weekend. The Iceman is a point to point race made up of a network of seasonal roads and single track. Although I’ve done this race every year but once since 1997, it is difficult to follow before it’s marked. Kevin only had the first half of the course loaded on his Garmin so I took it to work to try and load the second half. Sean, a co-worker who rides, looked at the Garmin and said he must get one. I pointed out he already had a Garmin Edge 800. Sean said he had the older version; Kevin's is thinner and had carbon fiber trim. It amazes me how we as riders can’t imagine living without something once we realize it exists.
The Garmin Edge 800 does everything a good bicycle computer does (measures heart rate, cadence, speed, etc.) but it is also a GPS that does all sorts of amazing stuff, like lays a map of your ride over images from Google Earth. I am technologically inept so I don’t care about all that. I must have this Garmin because it records ride information so you can then race against stored data. Last weekend I was racing against a virtual Kevin. One arrow represented me and the arrow a mile or so down the trail represented Kevin, like a video game. The course is highlighted on the screen which accurately tells you where to turn. This was helpful on a course like the Iceman where you go from one trail to another for 27 miles. Kevin virtually kicked my ass. He will realize this when I return his Garmin. I have a few days to come up with an excuse. Lately I have been blaming my wheel circumference but Kevin is the other guy in Michigan still using a 26er. If I was thinking, I would have secretly strapped the Garmin to the bars of my vintage 2-stroke Yamaha and did the entire course in under an hour just to give him something to struggle with.
The ride was excellent. A bus makes a few trips every weekend between the finish line at Timber Ridge and the starting area at the Kalkaska High School. This saved Sue and me the bother of leaving a car in Traverse City and driving another one 25 miles to Kalkaska, or riding the course both ways. I wasn’t able to figure out how to load the second half of the course onto the Garmin, which was fine since the first section is the most complicated part. It took the stress away from trying to pick out which trail to go on. Before Kevin offered me his Garmin, I figured I would follow tire tracks but that would have been a poor plan; tire tracks went this way and that way, an indication that the people who have been pre-riding the course were as lost as I would have been. The GPS couldn't help me after Williams Lake Road but all I had to do from there was stay on the VASA cross country ski trail (which is well marked) and look for the large white sign for Timer Ridge, which I missed, highlighting how helpful the Garmin is when you are riding one trail but your mind is someplace else.