Category: cycling

Garmin Edge 800
The Garmin Edge 800 is Garmin’s latest GPS enabled cycling computer. I decided to pick one up last fall when they came out, after being the satisfied owner of two previous Garmin cycling specific models. (Edge 305 and 500) Garmin tends to always release new products in the Edge line with beta quality firmware at best, which I totally understand. However; the Edge 800 firmware can’t even be called beta, its more like alpha at best. I’ve owned the Edge 800 now for 5 months, and Garmin has had one lousy update. All of the rave reviews somehow missed the major bugs with some of the most basic use cases for the Edge 800.

One of the most basic features of the Edge 800 is the ability to give you turn by turn directions with a map card installed. Plot your course on, export it to the Garmin, and you’re on your way. Amazingly, this feature is completely broken with the Edge 800. Turn by turn directions do not work without doing a laborious workaround.

Another basic use case that’s completely broken with the latest Edge 800 firmware update is plugging your device in to a computer. With the 2.1 firmware version, plugging the Edge 800 into a mac does not initiate USB drive mode. The workaround is to hold the reset button while plugging in the USB cable, then releasing the reset button.

How such a bug got through the most basic level of QA is beyond me. Many users are experiencing rides where suddenly the Edge 800 reports that they went 3000+ miles. I experienced this the bug the other day ruining the data from my ride.

I think the Edge 800 has a lot of potential, but the current firmware is just too buggy to actually recommend the device at this time. Garmin’s lack of timely updates to their flagship cycling device is simply inexcusable.

Since Lance Armstrong’s comeback started earlier this year, he has embraced Twitter, blogging, and video blogging as means to communicate and interact with fans. A few weeks in to the Giro, Lance Armstrong stopped speaking with media, after the Italian press tried to vilify him because riders staged a protest on really dangerous course. This protest happened a day after a rider nearly died in a horrific crash.

Lance decided to cut out the middleman, and embrace new media as a means to disseminate information. Naturally, the mainstream media was not happy with the embargo. The major mainstream media outlets have a centuries old tradition of getting their asses kissed by those being covered. A New York Times writer published a snarky rebuke of Lance’s boycott yesterday. Quite ironically, it was in a New York Times “blog.”

Cycling is a sport that is poorly covered in the United States, so its easy to see why Lance would consider the press to be unnecessary. The New York Times sent Juliet Macur to cover the Giro. While Macur might be a gifted writer, she knows very little about cycling. Is it necessary for sports figures to embrace the media anymore?

Personally, I find Lance’s twitter feed and video blogs to be really interesting. Much more interesting than a lengthy media profile done by a journalist. There is certainly a need for good journalism, especially when it comes to controversial issues like performance enhancers. However; journalists need to accept twitter, and the fact that direct communication via the Internet is here to stay. Long gone are the days where major media outlets were the only method of disseminating information to the public.

I was very excited when Lance Armstrong announced that he was going to return to professional cycling, and attempt to win another Tour de France. A few weeks later, Lance started throwing curveballs to the press, indicating that he might not ride in the Tour de France.

Now, Lance has confirmed that he will be riding in the Tour de France, but in a supporting role? I’m sorry, but if his true goal is bring as much awareness to cancer as possible, than his best bet is to not bother with the Giro and race to win the Tour de France.

In the past, Armstrong famously ignored the other major cycling events in order to concentrate on winning the tour. If Armstrong is not going to race to win the tour, than he might as well not bother showing up. Nobody wants to see an over-publicized parade lap.

I’ve never been a fan of Lance Armstrong, but his now confirmed comeback plan is huge for cycling.

If he is semi-competive at his age, it would be impressive. If he actually wins the TDF, it would probably go down as the greatest athletic accomplishment, or at least in the top-5.

This time he would have to win clean, since the drug testing has really stepped up since Lance was destroying the competition a few years ago. If Lance were to win in 2009, every accomplishment he did before would be considered legitimate.

“And, granted, I’ll be totally honest with you, the year that I won the Tour, many of the guys that got 2nd through 10th, a lot of them are gone. Out. Caught. Positive Tests. Suspended. Whatever. … And so I can understand why people look at that and go, Well, [they] were caught — and you weren’t?” he told Vanity Fair. “So there is a nice element here where I can come with really a completely comprehensive program and there will be no way to cheat.”

Now all we need is a Landis comeback, and I will book my tickets for France.

Today, marks one year since I decided to take the plunge and get a road bike. Oddly enough, I celebrated by doing one of my first organized bike rides. I managed to tag along with some co-workers for the Princeton Freewheeler’s bike event.

The ride, turned out to be my first over fifty miles, and because I followed a few people on the 100 mile ride, I ended up doing 72 miles. Not bad for 195 pounder. 🙂

The Garmin Edge tracked all my stats, including my inevitable cracking after 50 miles.

princeton bike ride

I celebrated by eating a 4000 calorie dinner at the Cheescake factory.

Vive Le Tour

The Tour de France is over, and this year’s tour was a great success. It finally looks like professional cycling is starting to clean up.

The US media seems to be covering the tour in a negative light, by focusing on the positive drug tests. For me, and people who follow cycling, the positive tests were a good sign.

Perhaps the most refreshing trend in this year’s tour were teams with independent testing programs. Team Garmin Chipotle is the big innovator in clean cycling, and Team Columbia has signed on for the same program.

Carlos Sastre was the winner of this year’s tour, and it looks like he did it cleanly. Want proof? Look no further than the time he recorded on his breakaway climb up the famous Alp d’Huez. Here are the top 10 times in history.

1 Marco Pantani 37’35 (1997)
2 Lance Armstrong 37’36 (2004)
3 Marco Pantani 38’00 (1994)
4 Lance Armstrong 38’01 (2001)
5 Marco Pantani 38’04 (1995)
6 Jan Ullrich 38’23 (1997)
7 Floyd Landis 38’34 (2006)
8 Andreas Klöden 38’35 (2006)
9 Jan Ullrich 38’37 (2004)
10 Richard Virenque 39’02 (1997)

All of the people in the top 10 are basically confirmed dopers. (I still think Landis was clean) Carlos Sastre won the Tour this year by climbing up the Alp d’Huez faster than anyone else, but he only managed to place 17th on the all time list.

The 2008 Tour De France was clean. A big congratulations to American Christian Vande Velde, who managed to take 5th in the overall standings. The fact that Christian could do so well on the clean Garmin Chipotle team speaks volumes for the future of cycling.