Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Garmin GPS

There's a design flaw with the Garmin 210 Forerunner: something in the mountains around Chiang Mai find them delicious, so every other time you take your GPS out there, it gets gobbled up by the trail fairies. These are the same pests that nick your sunglasses, let your tyres down, and break your rear derailleurs, and the government really should do something about them.

It's that, or the strap on the Forerunner is a bit flimsy and suffers under load, particularly when it's wedged against the edge of some body armour and you keep crashing into piles of rocks, but that can't possibly be the reason everyone keeps losing their GPSs when we go riding in Thailand.

Whatever the reason, I'm without a GPS and I'm in training for a marathon. Since it's really handy when training to know how far you've run, I either have to go to Happy Valley and count how many times I run around the racetrack, or go buy a new GPS.

Neither of these is an ideal solution. The track at Happy Valley is incredibly dull after you've been round it fifty times, which is a conservative estimate after training for two marathons. And a new GPS costs money.

Lots of money.

I feel like Rip Van Winkle. If he'd bought a GPS watch in 2006, gone to sleep and woken up to find prices had doubled. So much for the inexorable march of technology making things cheaper; ruddy Garmin and Polar and Nike keep adding new features to their watches, to justify raising the price.

Some of these are quite useful, like calorie burn rate calculators for when you're in the gym and out of sight of satellites. Some of them are useful but not for me, like special buttons for triathletes to tell their watch they're now running in skimpy shorts and a silly top, when a minute ago they were cycling in a terrifying skin tight lycra cat suit. And some are unhelpful, like the 'Lance Armstrong' button on some of the Nike watches, which you can press to hear encouraging words from Lance as you hurtle along.

All I'm saying is it's hard to see how somebody with a Texan accent exclaiming that he hasn't done any drugs1 is going to motivate me to run faster. If it was a good ol' boy yelling that he'd just knocked back a pint of moonshine and a gram of speed, and he didn't like me looking at his sister, then I'd speed up.

Not being the kind of person to be distracted by the small print, I don't know if a Paula Radcliffe version is available (when you press the 'Motivation' button you hear a recording of her husband chastising you for not trying hard enough) but the truth is I already know what motivation I need: a 16 stone plumber from the Lake District, screaming at me to go faster. Shame they don't make portable plumbers...

And a shame that if they did, I don't expect I'd find them in a very serious triathlete shop in Central, where the staff have less fat than a Powerbar and they think the secret of riding bicycles is having a regular cadence, rather than being the guy who collided with the least trees on the way down the hill.

But that's the only place in Central I can find that sells GPS watches, and they're all insanely expensive. Looks like it's a choice between buying a made-up one from ebay, or hiring a man in shorts and a t-shirt to shout at me from the top of the mountain, occasionally blowing a whistle.

Well, it worked at school, didn't it?

If I'd gone to a school up a mountain...
1 Maybe Lance says something else. Can anyone confirm that?


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