The 12 Days of Randonneurmas rolls onward with something for the technical side of randonneuring. We all somehow managed with cue sheets and maps (and asking for directions — ha!) and I was determined to hold out as others bought GPS units and started talking this strange language of waypoints and signal sensitivity. But once I started carrying a GPS on the tandem it became a regular part of our randonneuring experience.
Hands down the best GPS (in my experience) for randonneuring is the Garmin eTrex Vista HCx. MG carried it on the D.C. Randonneurs’ Woodbine Wallop 200K this Saturday and raved about knowing where she was on the route at all times, especially after dark.
Garmin makes bike-specific Edge models but they have to be recharged at home. The Vista HCx, which is technically for trail use, relies on common AA batteries that can be changed during the ride without the loss of data. With high-capacity NiMH rechargeables, I can get about 15 hours use before changing batteries.
The Vista HCx is still a little brick on the handlebars. But, the backlight is strong and the turn-by-turn prompts work really well once you get the hang of making routes on Garmin’s Mapsource software. Check out Nick Bull’s tutorial for the ins and outs. The Vista HCx runs about $300 but can sometimes be had as a bundle with other accessories for less — REI puts it on sale occasionally. One more gadget, but this one is terrific when you need it. And, it makes a pretty good automobile GPS if you can live without voice prompts.
Tomorrow: Something less expensive.