On Rule #74: Going Unplugged

I think the most exciting Christmas present I ever received as a child was an Avocet 30 in what must have been 1989. Being in Minnesota and it being December, it meant my bike was going nowhere near the road any time soon, so I kept the silver dollar-sized computer in my pocket wherever I went, just so I could look at it, touch it, and imagine how much I was going to look like Greg LeMond now that I had this computer. My heart broke a little bit that next summer when I realized he had abandoned the Avocet in favor of a Ciclomaster CM34 with a built in gradient meter and altimeter. Perhaps this signalled the beginning of the end of my love affair with data on my bike; it faded almost as soon as it had begun.

I have a Garmin 810 which I use primarily on rides with whose routes I’m unfamiliar, or on any gravel ride in the mountains for safety reasons. It makes me feel like I’m riding with my iPhone on my handlebars. It probably has Facebook on it. While riding, it serves as a constant distraction; how much have I climbed, how much longer is the climb, where is the next turn. Even when I know a turn is coming up and precisely where it is, I still find myself distracted by the little changes on the screen as the directions flicker across.

The background noise serves as constant static between me and the sanctity of the ride, always there simmering just below the surface. What bothers me about it is that these questions are raised by the availability of the data, not by a need to have the questions answered. Brad Wiggins reportedly crashed out of the Giro d’Italia because he was staring at his power meter data, wondering if it was accurate. This was not a relevant question to be asking when descending a mountain pass in the rain.

Riding is one of the few opportunities we have where we can escape the internet, data, and the noise of our daily lives. Data has its place in Cycling, but there is an undeniable liberation in untethering and riding just for the sake of riding.

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158 Replies to “On Rule #74: Going Unplugged”

  1. To be sure at the unspectacular ends or starts of their careers, but hardly “nobodies”!

  2. This thread seems to have died down, but it’s a fun topic, so here goes.

    Only a simple Cateye on the bars — during the week I ride on my lunch breaks, so I usually keep it on speed and clock to make sure I’m back on schedule. If I’m not on a schedule, I’ll display elapsed time.

    Pockets are keys on the left, wallet on the right, phone and casquette in the middle. Food and arm warmers get evenly distributed as appropriate. I enjoy Strava (if only to check in with @chuckp), so I have that going but out of sight.

  3. And now I see that this thread had picked back up! That’s what I get for leaving a comment 1/3 written over night and posting it in the morning.

    While we’re on the subject, Luca’s troubles are quite sad. I hope he gets things (and himself) sorted out. He was one of the first riders that I noticed when I started following the sport again last year. I know I’ll never be the lead a team — even in the lower categories — but if I start racing again, I like the idea of getting to the a place where I could be a savvy road captain or reliable domestique. Then, of course, Gent-Wevelgem. Wow.

  4. @ErikdR

    Johan Lammerts, Frank Hoste, Eddy Planckaert (!), Johan Museeuw (!!!), to name but a few.

    Exactly. Lammerts and Hoste were ex-TI Raleigh and those boys wrote the book on how to ride team time trials.

  5. @Oli


    Further, if you wrap inside to outside you actually are going across the winding with your grip, whereas if you wind outside-in you complement the winding, as shown clearly in these pics.

    1. Outside-in

    2. Inside-out

    Oli totally validates this Park video.

  6. Sorry, but IMNSHO that’s a terrible technique! For a start he does it the opposite way to me at the bottom, then that silly half lap of the lever to (eventually) get it right on the tops. It’s not the first time Calvin has been wrong though.

  7. Park video is 100% correct. Tape from the bottom, wrap outwards, and switch direction at the hoods (but not with figure of 8, unless you’re wrapping bars on your L’Eroica bike, simple once around the hoods is fine).

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