Thursday, November 18, 2010

Mountain Biking Gadgets

How things have changed! In the good old days, when I were a lad (in the 70’s) me and me mates would simply get our Choppers out (Raleigh Choppers that is!), and head down the woods ‘scrambling’ as we called it. Mountain biking as it has become these days.

You had to go with at least one mate because the Raleigh Choppers were so heavy it took two of you to get them out of the shed, and over any fences!

When it came to gadgets, or mountain bike tech, in them days, apart from the uber cool and ultra funky Chopper centre console three speed gearshift (what were they thinking - the chopper was not the most stable of bikes, before you took your hand off the bars, and eyes of the track to change gear!), side stand and long chopper seat there was not a great deal. This was was the era between lolly sticks in your forks (for that authentic motorcycle reving noise!), and the release of the Raleigh Grifter with its twist shift gears! If you had been down the bike shop and waved your wad of one pound notes you may have had a manual ‘click’ based mileometer (a crude device with a geared counter which was turned by an attachment on the spokes to record miles travelled), or if you were really posh you may have had an analogue speedometer driven by the front wheel. I doubt any of these were anywhere close to accurate, but they were fun, and they were the good old days, no?

In comparison nowadays when I go out scrambling, or mountain biking I guess, I am wearing as much tech – clip in shoes and breathable acme technofibre clothes with pockets everywhere. And that’s before we get on the bike with it's 27 gears, big grippy tires, full suspension and cloud like, carbon fibre assisted, weight! Then we can start with the 'real' gadgets.

These days when I go out mountain biking I carry more computing power than the NASA rockets of the 70’s.

There’s my Garmin Edge 705 sat nav unit which seem to monitor everything including climbs, descents, heart rate, maximum speed, average speed, lap times, distance, altitude, exact route and pedal speed (cadence) to name just a few of the myriad of facts and figures it stores. Once back you can analyse all of this data on stunning charts and graphs, and even view and play the route back on satellite imaged maps using Google Earth. You can click on any point on the Google Earth satellite map to see your exact speed, heart rate, etc at that exact second on the ride! And next time out on the same route you can race yourself (against your previous time)! Amazing, and probably medically dangerous at my age!

My next must have mountain biking gadget for every ride is the obligatory mobile phone - just in case of accidents or incidents! - probably especially useful if I am racing against my previous best time using the Garmin mentioned above ;-)

And last but by no means least is my latest new mountain biking gadget, the GoPro HD Hero helmet cam. This little beauty video records every second of the ride in high definition, and comes with a range of mounts to allow if to be pointed forwards, backwards, up, down, etc. Click here to see a 'first play with a new toy' rough sample HD film!

With this toy we can replay our rides over and over again, and share these after the event with other like minded pedalheads!

So where it used to be a 2 minute job to get ready I now have to ensure all three gadgets are charged prior to my ride, and then there’s the download and analysis after the ride.

It’s not like the good old days is it! And now I differ from most the old dodders who start a sentence with ‘its not like the good old days is it?’ - My view is - thank god it's not! It’s much much better – all these amazing gadgets allow you to get much more out of your biking – share routes with mates, use other peoples routes, go further and further afield knowing you have the phone in case of an emergency, record and re live your best biking moments with mates, etc.

It really is epic – bring it on – I cant wait for the next generation of Mountain Biking gadgets!

And of course the beauty of all these portable gadgets is you can use them equally well on your kayak, motorbike, skis, snowboard, surfboard, yacht, etc!

If you are missing any of these essentials from you life - it's a good time to ask Santa ;-)

Have fun

Looking to the future Paul

Mountain Biking Experiences and Tours from around the world

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