Monday, September 20, 2010

Technology

Technology is a wonderful thing as long as we don't become totally dependant on it. A great example is my new Garmin Forerunner 305. Its a GPS tracking training tool which also comes with a heart rate monitor. What I am basically using it for right now is to track how far I've gone and how long it took and where my route took me. The advantage to this is I can therefore concentrate on the actual event (riding/walking) and not worry about having to figure out my pace or distance or time.

This is all great! Of course there is always the human element involved. I have to be outside and not moving when I turn it on so it can acquire the satellite signals. I have to hit the correct button(s) to start or stop the time or to mark the end of a lap. Its not a good idea, for example, to hit the stop button at the end of a lap instead of a lap button. This completely ignores the rest of the ride/walk and then no longer accomplishes the functions for which its used.

It is also unadvised to turn the unit on, just prior to getting on your bicycle and starting to ride, thinking it will only be a few seconds for the signal acquisition. This can take upwards of 3 minutes especially while moving! Again this then negates the unit’s usefulness in tracking distance, time and route.

Once the human element is performing the functions as designed, the unit is great, though! I've used it on my ride around Long Lake in Hale, Michigan, Riding from My brother's house along the bike trail to Lake Erie and back in Flat Rock, Michigan as well as to map my short loop through the neighborhood by my house and my new longer loop along Boulder Highway, Tropicana and Broadbent. (Click on the links to view the maps).

I am already thinking of many more exciting places/routes I want to ride to see how the unit performs. For example riding the Railroad Tunnels trail from the trail head all the way to the Hoover Dam visitors Center would be interesting. I wonder how it would handle going through the tunnels. I guess there is only one way to find out!

One thing this technology has shown me is exactly how I am doing in terms of riding and walking/jogging. I certainly can't call it running by any stretch of the imagination when I only do it in short intervals and the speed is very slow. The positive with the technology is that there is no fudge factor. It shows me exactly where I'm at and what I'm doing which is very encouraging as it also shows the progress being made. Too bad its not totally waterproof or I'd wear it while swimming. Of course that would be a very boring map with 32+ lengths of the pool all one on top of the other.

So, technology is wonderful as long as one learns how to use it and then pay attention to the results!