During my Tour de France road trip, I intent to put up a blog post on a daily basis. These posts will include video and statistics from that day’s ride using my Garmin GPS unit.
In 2007, I bought a Garmin Edge 305 GPS. This was one of the cycle specific units. It’s no longer made but you can still get it from various cycle shops for about £180 or from Ebay for around £100. The 305 just plots your journey; It doesn’t have maps. If you want maps and a colour display, you’ll have to go for the Edge 605 and above, but you will have to pay more. The Edge 605 is £230 and the 705 is £315. There is a flagship touchscreen Edge 800 in the pipeline but that’s not yet available in the UK.
Even though the Edge 305 is getting on a bit, it is still a very commendable unit with the following features:
- Virtual Partner® – lets you race a virtual competitor over a specified distance and speed.
- Courses – lets you race against a previously recorded workout, so you can compare your current and past performances over the same ride.
- Auto Pause® – pauses the timer when you slow down or stop and resumes when you speed up again, so you can focus on your ride.
- Auto Lap® – automatically starts a new lap each time you pass a specified location or travel a preset distance.
The standard display is fully configurable with as much or as little information as you require.
Not only can you upload your completed rides onto your computer using the software provided but you can also upload them to the Garmin Connect website. Once you’ve done that, you’ll get a map with your route plotted onto it. You’ll also get loads of statistics and graphs of your speed and the elevation of your ride as well as your Heart Rate and/or cadence, should you have either of these two add-ons. Once done, you can share your ride with friends in a number of ways such as Twitter, Email or Facebook.
The Virtual Partner® and Courses are great training aids. If you have a particular course which you do regularly, you can convert the data from any ride on that course and ride against it using the Virtual Partner®. Now, when you ride that course, you will get a graphical representation of where you are, on the course, compared to where you were on the course when the ride was taken. I do hope this makes sense.
You can also pre-plan routes using sites such as http://ridewithgps.com/ and transfer that data to the Edge 305. That way, even though you don’t have maps, you do have a line to follow which hopefully will prevent you from getting lost. This is particularly useful when taking part in events such as the Evans Cycles Ride-it events as Evans publish the route as a downloadable GPS file for you to transfer to your Garmin GPS unit prior to the ride, negating the need to follow a map.
Uploading routes is exactly how I plan to use it when I come to ride the route. At the moment, although the start and finish towns are known, the actual route each stage will take won’t be published until June 2011. When they are published, I will plot each stage using http://ridewithgps.com/ and transfer them to the Edge 305. On the morning of each stage, I will then load that stage’s course and follow it. As I ride, not only will I get the usual information such as Speed, Distance travelled, Heart Rate, Elevation etc. but It will also tell me the distance and estimated time to the finish. I will still take maps for the interest of knowing exactly where I am but I won’t need to refer to a map at every junction to make sure I’m going the right way. Don’t you just love technology!!!
Even though this unit is no longer made, it is still supported by Garmin. Last year, my unit developed a fault. I sent it back to Garmin and, as it was out of warranty, they just charged me a flat fee of £65 in return for a brand new unit.
So there you go, you can go cheap and get a whole bag of features at the same time.