Sunday, January 23, 2011

Garmin Edge 800 Mini Review

I posted recently on Facebook that I purchased a Garmin Edge 800 to replace my Edge 705. I used the 705 for two years, and wanted to see what was new in the Garmin line-up. I had briefly considered the Edge 500 about a year ago, but it didn't have the GPS navigation functions that I was used to on the 705. So, I waited and the result is the Edge 800!

First, let me highlight the things I really like about this unit (these are in no particular order)! First, I love the new mounting system. The old system was prone to breakage so much so that I actually carried an extra mount on my bike in case of emergency. Now, Garmin would always replace the broken one, but still...I'm glad to see they updated the mount.

The Edge 800 has more screens for viewing data. The 705 had two screens with up to eight pieces of data per screen. The 800 has three screens with up to 10 pieces of data per screen. Personally, I like to leave the two top pieces extra large for Power and Speed, leaving the lower screens for other data (cadence, distance, elevation, grade, etc.). With the 800, I have more than enough screens available to see everything I need at a glance! Also, they have changed the font to one that is bolder, so it is easier to read the screens! Finally, the night time screen has white letters on a black background. I assume this will use less power and is much easier to read.

The screen is larger than the 705, and in this case, bigger is definitely better!

The 800's USB cover seems more robust than the 705. Many people had problems with the 705 cover falling off...I don't perceive this as an issue on the 800. Also, since the cover faces down, it seems there is less likelihood of water contamination if the unit is used in the rain.

The touch screen is pressure sensitive, so it works even with long-fingered gloves. Very nice! No more messing with buttons...just a sweep of the finger across the screen and I can access different screens, including elevation and maps.

It was hard to find anything I didn't like about the unit, but here a few small things. The 800 features an auto-scroll feature that automatically scrolls the unit through the data screens, elevation screen and map (note, you can choose which screens are included in auto-scroll). However, even in 'slow' mode, it still moves a bit fast for my taste. I can't imagine using it in medium or fast mode.

I haven't had a chance to play with the navigation features yet, but if it is the same as the 705, it will definitely be a love/hate relationship. More to follow on this... I also haven't tried using it with a AA external battery pack...this will definitely be a deal-breaker for those of us who ride longer rides in the dark where we need back-lighting.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

2011 Anacapa 200K Brevet

I think the best way to start a new year is with a long bike ride! So, my friend Bruce and I decided to ride the Anacapa 200K brevet to welcome in 2011! Given the shop move, holidays, illness, etc., I've been off the bike for about seven weeks. So, Bruce and I decided to take this ride at a really easy pace and just enjoy the day. I also thought I would try something new and take some video throughout the day. It was fun at the beginning, but definitely became more challenging as I got tired. Anyway, here we go...

Here's a link to the route. Note that my Garmin 705 didn't start up until about 3 miles into the ride, so the mileage is a little short:

The ride started out cold (down to 32 degrees according to one source)! Forecast suggested there might be rain later in the day, but it never materialized. It never got warm though (highs in the low 60's). Bruce and I got to the start line with plenty of time to spare, but a quick bathroom break and I missed the mass start. No worries...I figured I would catch Bruce up the course and with no group present, it made it really easy to ride at a mellow pace and enjoy the crisp morning.

One of my favorite sections is the ridge ride from Grimes Canyon, through the back roads, over to Los Angeles Ave. This area is covered in citrus groves, horses, alpaca and is just gorgeous cycling. The lack of cars is an additional plus!

A quick trip along Los Angeles Ave. took us to another one of my favorite stretches of road - Foothill Blvd. is a fun roller coaster that takes you into the city of Ventura. The crystal clear sky provided us spectacular views of Anacapa and San Juan Island as we flew down the road at up to 47 mph! Poli St. took us by the Ventura mission, and the streets through Ventura were all but deserted at 9am on New Year's day!

We continued up the Ojai bike trail and then along the beautiful Casitas Vista Rd. to our first control before the ascent to Lake Casitas.

The day was finally starting to warm up as we began the climb up to Casitas. We took our time and enjoyed the climb to the top, where we were treated to spectacular views of the Ojai Valley below! A fun descent down the back side, and short second climb, and then we are bombing our way down to Carpenteria.

We decided to eat lunch in Carpenteria, stopping at Giovanni's Pizza. Now, pizza sounded like a great idea at the time (and it sure was good! They made a fresh pie just for us!), but as far as cycling food goes, pizza is not necessarily the best choice. Stopping for almost an hour left me cold and stiff, and it took quite some time to burn off the pizza sitting in my gut. But, since our goal was to have a relaxing day, we didn't worry to much about it....

Actually, I was REALLY sluggish for about an hour after lunch, and had a hard time riding along the coast as we traveled south along PCH to Ventura. But, as usual, a quick stop in Ventura and I was feeling better. And by the time we reached the next control in Port Hueneme, I was feeling great! We had a quick snack with a couple other riders (Jerry and Vicki), and then headed south to the Naval Base and out last information control.

Ah, the things you notice as you are getting close to the finish. I tend to be a "glass is half-full" type of guy. I noted to Bruce that we should have a tail wind all the way in from the base. His response..."yeah, but we will have a headwind all the way TO the base!" It actually wasn't that bad, was it Bruce? :)

By the time we were heading inland, I could definitely hear the barn door creaking. We took a quick stop at the base of the last climb up Santa Rosa Rd. to turn on lights and grab a quick snack.

The ride up Santa Rosa Rd. was uneventful. We caught and passed a couple other riders, crested the climb, and bombed down Tierra Rejada to the finish line at the Jones' residence. Total time was 11 hours, 10 minutes...1 hour 50 minutes slower than last year but just as enjoyable!

Special thanks go out to our wonderful RBA (Regional Brevet Administrator) Greg and Lisa Jones. Greg and Lisa always open their house to us and their son, Daniel, always bakes fresh pizza in the pizza oven out back. Aside from the ride itself, hanging out at the Jones' house and catching up with everyone is always a highlight of the ride! Thank you Greg and Lisa...our PCH Randonneurs group would not be the same without you and your hospitality!

To the rest of you...have a wonderful, healthy, prosperous and safe 2011...and get out for a ride! It's a great way to start the year!