Sunday, April 20, 2008

GPS's are cool

Now, a while ago I bought a handheld GPS for Geocaching and general purpose use. Very nifty, but I never used it for anything bike related. So, recently I became aware of a lot of atheletes using GPS units and mapping software to overlay their runs/rides onto maps from online sources like Google Earth or Terraserver.

It showed a neat 2D/3D profile of the ride, elevation gain, ride miles, all kinds of stuff. So, not only could you keep track of your own rides, you could share the files with others and download files from them as well.

A bit of poking around seemed to make one think that a Garmin brand GPS is the only one that will work for this, but not so. I had bought a Magellan eXplorist 400.

It turns out that the other brands will work fine most likely, but the Garmin 205/305 is the holy grail of bike mounted data gathering GPS units. It will give you time over distance, maybe even heart rate, etc.

Mine does not do this, but with the software from downloaded to my PC, it allowed my Magellan unit to send in the saved tracks and generate some cool maps and data.

A recent ride produced this:

Soooo very cool, eh? 20 miles, 2600' of climbing. I can swap to all kinds of map views, track my mileage and elevation gain over the year, share rides with others, etc.

I like.

I also had to make my own bracket to hold the GPS unit. The Garmin brackets are small and allow the GPS to be mounted on the bars or the stem. The Magellan brackets are big and ugly and only are bar mounted. Bar mounted is bad. Too close to the knees.

So, I dug out an old taillight strap/clamp and cut up a steel bracket, added some padding and GPS bracket.

To hold it in place, I tried velcro. No go. Too slippery. Then I saw someone using rubber bands from inner tubes. Perfect.

Notice I added a small split ring onto the GPS and I attached a lanyard from the unit to the h-bars just in case it gets knocked loose. So far it has been absolutely rock solid.

I am hooked. Give me data. How high, how far, how fun! Man, I wish I would have had this on the Julian race.

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