Thursday, December 1, 2011

My Internal Compass is Busted....

Although honestly... it's never worked.
There are, I'm sure, those who might argue that my moral compass is busted as well.
But those people are wrong and need to be killed.
I can't even think of how many times I've been on unfamiliar roads (sometimes familiar!).... over an hour past whatever time I said I'd be back from a ride..... thinking... nay, KNOWING that I'm heading back into town.... only to see an Asheboro City Limit sign or the like.
I can be 50 yards from where I need to be and will backtrack MILES to find the route I know to said location, simply because I have no sense of place.
No... unless it's late evening or early morning and I can gauge E and W with the sun...whatever internal compass I'm supposed to possess... it just doesn't exist.
I'm legendary for it, in fact.
"What did you do this weekend?"
"Oh, I went riding with Watts."
"Did you get lost?"
"Duh... What do you think?!"
As a result I am map obsessed. My house is full of them.  I carry them with me everywhere... look at them when I go to the restroom... when I eat alone... in a waiting room.... lying in bed. Maps are my porn. http://www.maptube.com/... (I have no idea if that's a real link... click at your own risk)
When I'm just relaxing at my house, I get on googlemaps and mapmyride and just look.
When I get back from a ride, the first thing I do is pull out my Delorme Gazeteer and pour over it, looking at the roads I was on and trying and formulate a sense of where and how. With those markers, I can sometimes trick my body into knowing which way to go. (Ah... it's sandwiched between Poopsville Rd. and Lickpoop Way... so if I turn right then I head back to Poopsboro!)

Sometimes, yes, I STILL manage to get lost. But I've come a long way.
Still.... riding unfamiliar roads in unfamiliar cities.... with poorly marked cue sheets.... it can be an adventure.
About a year ago, a sales rep convinced me, in the midst of the Garmin boom, that I should purchase one and use it for demo purposes. "Hey... have you tried this? You need one." That kind of thing.
I did purchase the Garmin, but never touched it until about a month ago. Classic Watts.
I guess I'm a bit of a techno grouch.
Only a bit, though. I mean... really...
I'm sitting here blogging on a laptop with Pandora playing a Weird War station. But I'm alway years behind. I don't have an Iphone. I have no idea what Spotify is. I've never used Bit Torrent.
The only reason I have a Facebook account is to promote the shop
(wow!.. um....really? Well, you're uh... you're doing a great job? Watts? ...keep it up? I guess?)
Les, who I bought the shop from, to this day does not have an email account or cell phone. Friendly Bike did all of it's ordering over the phone and in person. I still have boxes of old receipts, sales and repair tickets in storage, dating back to 2001. Yep. You're still in the "system." I just have to dig to find you.
I have begun the transition to computerizing the shop, but still don't have an official POS system. Well... I DO... but not the "Point Of Sale" system. Just a "Piece Of S***" cash register that dates back to when Friendly Bike first opened it's doors in the early 90's.
"What?" I grouse. "It works!"
Which, yes, is somewhat self defeating as a  person trying to make a living in retail. I mean.... my job is to convince people to buy the latest and greatest. Right?
And without a doubt there's alot of great stuff out there, to say the least. And as much as I'm behind the times sometimes, I do appreciate good stuff.
The point of all of this is to say.... Holy Crap, I LOVE this effing GARMIN! It has saved my ass enough times in the past month to merit mention. 
It IS an older model.. the 705 edge, which has just been replaced with the 800. One of the key upgrades is the mounting bracket. The 705 has a very easy disengagement, which has resulted in it deciding to bail from the bike at 20 mph at least twice.
The new model does not have this problem. And I'm sure it has some great features. I'm still learning them all, honestly.
For ME, the key feature that makes the 705 and 800 worth the cost over the 500, (a more economical option which includes the power, incline, speed and tracking features) is that it includes a basemap. I can watch my progress with the map, similar to the GPS in a car.
(Interlude: about 7 years ago, my father, whose shopping habits are the stuff of legend... (think buying BOLEX watches proudly. No... not Rolex.... BOLEX. "They look the same!") ....bought my siblings and I GPS systems for the car. Pleased as punch with the crazy deal he got out of the back of the truck, he presented us all with, not a TomTom, not a Garmin, but a  GPS for DUMMIES. Admittedly, this seemed like an appropriate place for me to start. I realized very quickly, however, that the name wasn't a reference to any kind of ease of use... rather the processor or map system being used. When traveling down the Freeway, GPS for DUMMIES would randomly have me get off at various exits, only to immediately get back ON the freeway. More than once I found myself being told to turn down a oneway street in cities that don't stand for such nonsense. Since I only used the thing when I was in desperate need of getting from point A to point B in a timely fashion, such detours were less than endearing. In fact, said GPS unit is no longer functioning after being hurled bodily at the dashboard multiple times, then crushed in a Hulk Fist of DOOM until the screen went blooey.

Unlike my Garmin.
Which was extremely handy on Thanksgiving, when I rode 85 miles on unfamiliar roads near Atlanta, GA, and found a primo shortcut back my start point without having to backtrack 42.5 miles. I did this by simply by glancing at the Garmin as I rolled along!
Or say, the afternoon ride I squeezed in recently, where my self-assurance at being able to fit in 50 miles before it got dark was clearly a wee bit over-optimistic. When the road got insanely busy with the postwork traffic, and the light began disappearing....I desperately needed a bailout, and a direct one. And sure enough... I found it. High five, Garmin.
The one downside to the Garmin...... after going through hell to remove the chip they had implanted in my brain, I've now given THEM a way to track my whereabouts.
And yes... as you can see from the picture, it's a little larger than a standard computer. Hence the stem mount. It's one of those things. Yes, it adds a little unwanted bulk on otherwise clean lines, but I'll let it slide.
(R)EVOLVE, cogs.

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