I wrote a bit about my "Garmin Edge 500" last week, but wanted to add a follow-up note. One of the reasons I wanted this unit was a feature they call the "virtual training partner." The idea is basically that you can ride "against" yourself on routes that you have done before to see how much faster or slower you are riding. You select a course you have ridden before and then "do" that course again. In addition to the "other" three screens of information with up to 18 data points, this feature adds two more screens to show you 1) your time and distance relative to your prior time; 2) a profile of the elevation changes with a dot representing your current and prior self; and 3) a GPS unit style map showing your relative positions on the course.
I tried this "feature" out for the first time on the Shop Ride last week. There was an issue with the way it worked because I think the data was "off" just a bit at the start (I seem to recall not starting it and letting it get a lock on the "satellites" before rolling away from the shop) and then I doubled back a couple of times on the course to pick up people having equipment issues. The unit was confused by my failing to replicate some of these items so it was telling me I was "on" or "off" the course when one of these anomalies from the prior ride occurred.
I next tried this feature on my normal commute to work and the "extended" route I have been taking on the way home. In this case, I was comparing Friday's ride to the prior "Wednesday's" ride and it work "virtually" flawlessly (Did you notice that pun with "virtually" being used in the sense of "almost" and also in the sense of computers replicating "reality" in a "virtual" manner, aka "virtual reality"? Damn I crack myself up "sometimes.") Anyway, that is very cool and a feature that seems quite "advanced" for this very small and reasonably priced unit.
I can see how this could be used very effectively for a "training" tool to compare something like a 10-mile TT course on a monthly basis to compare fitness. Now if I just add a power meter, a driver for motor-pacing and a personal masseuse I could train like the wanna-be I have always "wanted" to be. "Kidding" aside, it would be a good training tool.
My real reason for the interest in this feature, however, is that I was able to go to someone else's download of their Leadville 100 race last year, in which they finished 35 minutes ahead of the 12-hour "cut-off time," and I was able to ("literally" in about three clicks) import their race data into my Garmin unit so that I can race against that finish time all day long. My only "expectation", or should I say "hope" is to finish inside the 12 hour time to be an official "finisher" and get my belt buckle. I think this will serve as a great motivator to keep me moving and help me keep a sense of the pace I need to be going to make it. And, if it is proving to "scare" me rather than motivate me, it is easy to flip to another screen and ignore it. Just between you and me, however, I am hoping that I can stay on about this pace for the day and it will provide "comfort" for most of the 11 1/2 hours of riding (or really, "suffering") that day.
And finally, "yes," I did add annoying quote marks to at least one word in every single "sentence" of this blog. "Sometimes" "two" or "three".
"Thanks" for reading.