Monday 30 September 2013

One annoyed cyclist!

Today one of my friends was telling me about his commute to work on his Dahon.

There is a part of his route where several traffic islands are dotted along the road. They are there to primarily slow traffic. When coming up to one he usually adopts the assertive riding position as only one car, motorbike etc.., is able to pass. He was cycling along at a leisurely pace when all of the sudden he heard from behind a car accelerating and then attempt to dart in front of him. There was no way two of them could make it through!

Anticipating this he braked and let the car through and stayed where he was. This obviously wasn't enough for this particular driver as he opened the window, hurling abuse. My friend merely shook his head and said nothing. Shaking his head was the wrong thing to do as the driver got out of his car and made his way towards my friend, swearing his head off. He was quite a small chap and I inform you of this as being about my my height - a good bit over 6 feet tall - my friend is not.

He asked what my friends problem was so he told him. My friend said along the lines that he was sure his intention this morning wasn't to nearly run someone over, but by his actions possibly as he was stupid, he nearly did. The driver didn't like this and asked my friend to, "...come on then!" My friend asked him what he meant by this. This threw him and he didn't really know what to say other than repeat himself.

In case you are wondering, this all took place very quickly but on a Monday morning in rush hour the patience of many a London commuter is often strained. My friend tried to push his bike off so that he could leave the scene but was blocked by his new found friend.

This little plebeian-type creature, despite inconveniencing himself, my friend and all the poor commuters behind still came out with, "...come on then!"My friend then did something that brought things to a swift conclusion. He partially folded his bike, put it on the traffic island and said back, "...okay...come on then" and walked closer. With that the driver got in his car, shouting about what he would and wouldn't do speeding off.

It wasn't the best way to deal with this situation however I wonder what I would have done? I certainly wouldn't have gone toe to toe with someone or got into a slanging match. My poor friend was shaken and not himself for a few hours. If anything he was brooding about it for the entire day.

I really do wonder how some drivers are allowed on the road? I do of course include some cyclists in this. Some car drivers really do seem to exist in a cocoon and have no concept of other road users. When they have done something wrong, instead of acknowledging it by perhaps saying sorry or just doing nothing they instead go on the attack. People like this particular driver shouldn't be on the road. It is only a pity there isn't a way of weeding them out and ensuring they aren't driving anything with wheels!

Sunday 29 September 2013

Basingstoke Canal Ride on a Titanium Orange Brompton

Up bright and early we were afforded a slight lie in as the meeting time for the ride was an hour or so later than its usual 09:00. Arriving at Richmond at a leisurely pace I soon saw the familiar sight of my riding partner Mark KOH W. Also present was Kevin who was in the UK for a few days from New York, had brought his Brompton and decided to join us - brilliant!

I must confess that my mood for this ride took a nosedive as reaching to get my camera I discovered that the screen of my camera was not working and had a tiny hairline crack. Upon discovering it I felt like abandoning the ride but decided to press on with just my iPhone.  I will have to send it for a repair at some point. 

We set off just after 10:15 with my mood only marginally improving. We cycled a good few miles on the road before reaching the banks of the River Thames and eventually the canal section itself. Once on the canal towpath were rarely left it. 

The scenery was lovely and it was great not to be bothered by cars. The towpaths themselves were fairly quiet with walkers, families, people fishing and other cyclists. Weather wise it was a warm day for late September, with some cloud. There were a few occasions where it started to rain however it was very light and short lived. 

Canals are mainly a feature of our industrial past. They were built to transport goods and raw materials over huge distances. The advent of the railway saw them fall into decline and near disuse. Basingstoke canal was completed in 1794 as a means to connect the River Thames at Weybridge. Closing in 1932 much of it lay totally derelict.  After over 18 years of restoration 32 miles of the the canal were reopened in 1991 and now it is a thriving waterway for all manner of uses. 

Throughout the ride hints of its industrial past were evident. On a few bridges you could see the raised groves that allowed workers to drag their canal barges where their horses were unable to tread. 

The scenery kept providing a visual treat and in many ways the sight of lots of brightly coloured Brompton bicycles, ridden by equally colourful characters provided much the same for those intent on a day out. 

After last weeks Richmond to Oxford this ride was pretty tame to say the least but it wasn't meant to be anything else. It was a welcome change to simply poodle along and enjoy the views. As I did I thought less and less about my camera and gradually stopped sulking about it. I made no attempt to speed along and was content in ambling. Speed could come later. 

At Weybridge we said goodbye to Mark and Andy who had to be back in London while th rest of us pressed on. As is so oftentimes case, former industrial waterside buildings have given way to trendy and somewhat expensive accommodation. 

I took my Titianium Orange Brompton with me and I still like the riding position to that of my M type. The great thing about having an S and an M type is that I can choose between them. The M might have been better suited to this slower pace  up I could not resist the draw of taking the S. 

After a particularly muddy section I the distance we saw the familar and welcome sight of Mick B in many ways the Commander and Chief of the Brompton Club. It was great to see him and it has been far too long since he has been on a club ride!

Going under a road bridge we spotted some urban graffiti which offered a great photo opportunity.  In the second picture I am sure that's Peter from the Tweed Run? 

Kevin from New York said that he was fairly new to cycling but looked pretty fit to me. I have written before that New York is the place in America I would like to visit first. His description of cycling in Central Park fired the imagination and I vowed to myself that one day I will go there. (I like our American cousins - and I am not speaking about my actual American cousins. I have met lots of people from all across the world and I have yet to meet a person from the USA I have not got on with). 

Arriving at Aldershot we took trains bound for London and said our goodbyes. Kevin, if you are reading this, it was lovely to meet you and when you next cycling in Central Park take your camera with you, take a few shots and send them to me if you can. It was also great to meet some new faces and I hope you'll be able to come out on future rides. Thanks again to David for organising this ride and navigating us safely! He is becoming indispensable!

Arriving at Waterloo I cycled to St John's wood at pace and go there in very good time and more importantly without getting lost!!  Yesterday's ride was a break from the big distances at a brisk pace, although saying that I ended up cycling about 42 miles in total. As a British winter approaches it will be these sort of rides that will keep us going. There are lots more adventures planned and next Saturday night May will be a night to remember!? More on that later in the week. 

At the moment I am without an internet connection so until it is fixed I cannot link to my ride data. You'll have to work a bit and copy and paste! I'll sort it out when it's back. 

Remember you out there, it doesn't have to be far or quick! It just has to be enjoyable. So, get that bike out of the garage and go for a ride. You'll be surprised how good you feel after even a mile or so. If after a mile you don't feel too bad, cycle a little more  do this and you'll be on the start of your own adventures!!

Tuesday 24 September 2013

Car out of action...I'll have to use the Brompton!

This evening after a long day at work I was going to pop down to the local shops to buy a few essentials the Orange Household had run out of. I decided to be lazy and take my car. At least I tried to take the car.

First sign that my car was not going anywhere was the central locking not unlocking. Second was when I opened the car manually (possibly the first time ever) the inside light didn't go on. Finally turning the key in the ignition induced little reaction. I suspect the battery has gone? At least I hope that it all it is!

Still needing the essentials I took my Original Orange Brompton down from the Brompton Dock in my study and headed off to the local shops. I felt mildly inconvenienced but no more. A few years ago when I did not have a Brompton this might have been an incident of some magnitude. Luckily, owning a couple of Brompton bicycles means that I can at least get around - I commute to and from work on my Brompton anyway.

Added to this, if I have to take the car to the garage I can simply put one of my Brompton bikes in the boot, leave the car there and then cycle home. People have become all too reliant on the car and  personal transport in the form of a Brompton really can be very convenient.

Monday 23 September 2013

Are you a closet weight weenie?

A kilo! You may not think it is much. In Brompton terms the weight saving of almost 1 kg afforded by the purchase of a Titanium version may be a bridge too far for many in terms of cost. However, the weight saving of 1 kg is a big deal. In Brompton terms the saving of a few hundred grams is a big deal. I ask the question, are you a closet weight weenie?

A former work colleague who has now sadly emigrated to Canada used to commute to and from work on his single speed titanium black Brompton definitely fell in to this category. His set up before he emigrated was as follows as far as I can remember:

  • Single Speed Titanium S - type
  • Black frame
  • Kojak tyres
  • No mudguards
  • No front carrier block
  • Firm suspension
  • No Ezy Wheels - standard rollers
  • Lighter non Brompton chain set - black (not sure of make)
  • Lighter non Brompton cranks - black (not sure of make)
  • Brompfication seat post
  • Sella Italia saddle (which he said was just over 100g in weight - can this be true)?
  • Titanium bolts to replace just about every bolt on his bike
  • Lighter headset - black
  • Eggbeater titanium pedals - 175g the pair
  • Brompfication titanium clamps
  • Carbon handlebar (not sure which type)
  • Lighter wheels (which he had specially made from a specialist wheel builder in Japan)
  • Black bar tape as grips (because they were lighter)
  • Brake levers replaced with lighter black aluminium type (not sure of make)
  • Cables replaced with a slightly lighter version

He claimed that he had got his Brompton down to just under 8 kg. I have no reason to doubt this as when picking up his bike it felt dramatically lighter than my Original Orange Brompton. I write all this as at the time I thought he was crazy. At the time I remember thinking that I would not succumb to such trivialities. I remember him saying that it was the 'titanium factor.' Once you had sampled the delights of the reduction in weight, you would strive for more. I suspect all these extras would add up to the cost of  another Brompton - perhaps more?

My former colleague was uber fit but could not be convinced to enter the Brompton World Championships and would have done very well I suspect. His vice was the small Garmin 500 strapped to the main frame, upon which he would time his commute there and back, logging his fastest times in the hope of getting a personal best.

Well, as you know I have a Titanium Orange Brompton and have gone through the weight shedding process. My friend was right and the closet weight weenie in me came out with a vengeance and was even actively encouraged by some of my fellow Bromptonians!

I feel I have done almost as much as I want much as I can in this regard. Any weight savings from now I will try and obtain by not having that biscuit, chocolate bar or other calorie inducing morsel. It will probably be healthier and less expensive!

My friend in Canada took his Brompton with him and still commutes on it. He claims that he is going to do so through a Canadian winter on Kojaks as anything else would be too heavy. I thought he was crazy in London and I still think he is.

I would be interested to know whether you have tried to reduce the weight of your Brompton or bicycle and tell us why you did this in the comments section. Are you a closet weight weenie?

1 kg - are you a weight weenie?

Sunday 22 September 2013

Return of the Orange Brompton

What a strange title to a blog entry I hear you say to yourselves! I mean it is supposed to be a write up of the Richmond to Oxford trip. Those of a certain age and perhaps even gender may recognise that I have eluded to a particular Star Wars film in the title of this blog. In this film Luke Skywalker has been off learning the ways of the Force to come back better and stronger when facing several quite nasty challenges. Well I am glad to report that I didn't have to face Darth Vader but I feel the bit about coming back better and stronger has some relevance.

I rose bright and early, partook in breakfast and was off on the overground train to Richmond. Before boarding the train I was accosted by no less than four people who wanted to take a picture of me in my new Brompton Club cycling jersey.

When on the train I was playing around with my iPhone and posting a few messages on our Facebook page informing that I was on a train bound for Richmond and four people had taken my photo.  Not very interesting however it seems to be the done thing. In doing this my riding partner BumbleBee replied that a couple of mountain bikers on his train had afforded him some admiring glances. Having noticing a couple of mountain bikers on the train I was on, I looked down the carriage to see my him sitting there. Sending him a text he soon joined me where I was sitting and we chewed the fat until we arrived at Richmond.

At Richmond we awaited for the troops to arrive and memories of last year flooded back. Those who took part where:

Jenny's friend (on a big wheeled bike)
Dina (who was to join us at Waltham St Lawrence)

Just before 09:00 with David navigating we were off. I was going to Oxford again but this time things were very different...

A year ago I had already been on a few longer rides with the 'Small Wheels Big Difference' chaps. There idea was to ride from Lands End to John O'Groats on Brompton bicycles. They did this aplomb and I had joined them on a few of their training rides. There Oxford to London ride (my blog entry of which I have provided a like to at the bottom of this post) was a journey I would not forget. Read it after this and you will discover why. Added to this was last years ride to Oxford along the same route (again you will find a link to my blog entry for this below).

Last year there was a mild trepidation. Last year I was unprepared despite having already ridden similar distances. This year I felt fitter and confident. This year I could not wait to have a go at 'that hill.' This year I was all but certain that I would find not only the ride easier but the hill would hold no problems for me. After all I had conquered the dreaded Ditchling Beacon after riding through the night. I had a wrong to put right and I couldn't wait! A very similar situation to Luke Skywalker but without the Ewoks.

Riding through Bushy Park we saw scores of people partaking in the 5km park run. Many were there to enjoy themselves but a few had their game face on and meant business. I could spot them a mile off as it mirrored my own.

Bushy Park

Before long we were riding parallel to the Thames. Even though it was a cloudy grey day the banks of the Thames always provide beautiful, picturesque views.

The choice of which of my Brompton bikes to take was very easy. I choose my Titanium Orange Brompton, now an S type. I LOVE this bike and it just seems to fit me like a glove. I am 6' 1" and as I write this the day after cycling some 70+ miles in total I feel no back or neck strain. The lower riding position just seems to work for me.

Our first mini stop was at a pretty lock. I took the opportunity to adjust my derailer as it wasn't shifting as smoothly as I would have liked. With a little tinkering I managed to get it back to the way I liked it and before long were were off again.

As we cycled further the river views competed against each other, with each stretch trying to outdo the visual treats of those just past. Dog walkers, joggers and those out for a stroll looked on with bemused expressions as a snaking Brompton peloton make its purposeful way towards its goal.

My other riding partner Mark (King of the Hill) W couldn't attend this ride and I know that he too would have liked to have had a go at 'that hill.' We have a very good riding relationship and tend to push for a quicker pace. Often like a couple of young children out on their bikes we can be seen racing to the front of the peloton, just because... As a result I occasionally relished in the role of a tail end Charlie marking corners. If truth be told there was little need for me to do this but it meant that when the last person had passed me I could clip in and zoom off, passing as many of our group as I could to reach the rear wheel of David.

We arrived at a pub called the 'Moneys Forehead' in excellent time. This was the point at which we met up with Mick Blackman co-founder of our happy little club. I ordered a vegetarian breakfast as of late I have sort of gone off meat? BumbleBee opted for a the largest breakfast they did, so large he could not finish it. With pure saturated fat flowing through his arteries he and the rest of us set off for the more demanding part of the ride. 

Unfortunately I pressed the wrong button on my Garmin Edge 510 in error so I have data for Richmond to Egham (Monkeys Forehead) and Egham (Moneys Forehead) to Oxford rather than one complete ride.

If you look at the ride data for the first half of the ride you will see that it was fairly flat. It was on this part of the ride I managed to get to over 25 mph on the flat after a tail end Charlie stint. The next half was going to be more demanding and have 'that hill.' The views kept coming as we cycled through Windsor Great Park, passing the famous polo field and Guards Polo Club. 

Windsor Great Park

The Polo Field

The Guards Club

With more inclines the group started to spread out. David set a wonderful pace at the front. Hugging  his back wheel and probably getting a tow, we pressed on at a good pace. We were making good time and already this group of riders were showing that they could cope with it. As we cycled along open stretches of road with hedges either side, occasionally a gap would reveal quite stunning views of the Chilterns at their very best.

The open road - the only way to travel

The rear wheel of David

M40 - The most common route to Oxford

As we approached Waltham St Lawrence we soon arrived at 'The Bell' a public house, again a stop off location from last year. Here some of the group had a drink, while some had something to eat. BumbleBee wisely decided not to have any food. The Bell is the stuff of picture postcards. The heavy beamed and timber 15th Century public house definitely is the real thing, traditional and not modern.

Old world buildings and villages

Waltham St Lawrence 

Our bikes were parked just across the road from the pub but I made sure that I had my eye on my Titanium one all the time - just in case!

Shortly after leaving Waltham St Lawrence a railway bridge we wanted to cross was blocked due to engineering works. Signed directed us through a field and through the tattered remains of what was once a barbed fence. With Brompton bikes held aloft we carefully negotiated our off-road section of our journey which many of use won't forget in a hurry!!?

Reaching the lovely Henley on Thames rowing eights could be seen practicing. It was also the point where we said goodbye to two of our group Anne and Amanda who sadly had to return to London.

At the about the 40 mile point (the 23 mile point on my ride data for Egham to Oxford) we all stopped to take some water and a few snacks as it marked the point at which there would be a steady climb for the next 7-8 miles with good amount of this at the end being 'that hill.' The group was told that we would wait for each other at the top of the hill and that they could make their own way up there at their own pace.

We set off and David set a very purposeful pace. I briefly took a turn at the front as we pressed further on, leaving the rest of the group behind. (I must do more of this on future rides as David took the lions share). David must be at least 10 years older than I but you would not know it. He is supremely fit and looked effortless as he cycled along.

Soon the signs for Pishill...'that hill' could be seen and as we changed gear due to the steeper incline we knew that it wasn't far away. I could not wait. I had already waited a year for this and I wanted to defeat the Dark Side was 'that hill.'

It was a tough ascent but I have to say David and I wasted little time in besting it. Reaching the top I had mixed feelings. I was happy that I got all the way up without a foot touching the ground but now questioned why I had held 'that hill' with such respect? It didn't seem that bad. If it had of gone on further I'm pretty sure I could have carried on. Perhaps I had build this up in my mind as 12 months ago it WAS more. Back then it got the better of me. Twelve months on I am a fitter and stronger rider. Like Luke Skywalker I have learned, made progress and taken advice from many a wise Jedi Master (you know who you are chaps).

My Titanium Orange Brompton at the top of 'that hill.'

Down there in the gloom is the road up to the top

The next rider up was Jenny's friend on his big wheeled bike just under 5 minutes after David and myself. Next was Jenny on her two speed Brompton which was a brilliant effort!! Next was Rob shortly followed by Dina. BumbleBee reached the top about 20 minutes after David and myself which was much quicker than last year! My riding partner was a different rider and like me has grown a great deal in the last year. Finally Michael was not too far behind. After a quick rest we were off again with Oxford in our sights.

Riders taking a rest. Isn't that Peter from the Tweed Run? He gets everywhere!

As we progressed we were again treated to some gorgeous scenery. A field of sun flowers caught my eye as did copious numbers of Red Kites who circles overhead and at times swooped low as if to see what we were up to.


Red Kites

We reached Oxford in good time, much earlier than last year. Saying our goodbyes BumbleBee, Jenny, her friend and I made our way to the train station for a train back to London. It was lovely meeting Rob and Dina and I hope that they will come out to play again on future rides. Equally it was good to see Jenny again and meet her friend and perhaps he can be encouraged to buy a Brompton?

On the train it was standing room only but after the high of defeating 'that hill' I didn't care. At Paddington we said our goodbyes and I headed out for the short ride to St Johns Wood. Unfortunately, as frequently happens with me I got hopelessly lost! I cannot describe the route I took but I ended up cycling another 7 miles! Somehow I ended up in South Kensington and once there in familiar territory I found my way!!

It was a brilliant day out. I am glad that I was able to defeat the Dark Side - even if it was perhaps in my mind. In case some of you are wondering whether after reading this I now now regard myself a Jedi Master...the answer is no! I still have a long way to go. I want to get fitter, stronger, lose a few more lbs, perform better in Brompton specific races and keep pace with David!. I have still have a long way to go and my apprenticeship is not over!

Thanks to all those who came but special thanks to David for his excellent navigation and interesting route!!! 

Friday 20 September 2013

London to Oxford - Revenge will be mine!

Tomorrow I will be cycling from Richmond to Oxford. This was a ride I went on almost exactly a year ago and marked my first true outing with the London Brompton Club. It would be true to say that I have been looking forward to this ride for some time, for a number of reasons...

Last time I coped pretty well we just about everything and in the last 12 months I have become a great deal fitter. One aspect of last years London to Oxford that proved difficult was a particularly steep and sustained hill. I was unable to ride the entire way up, getting about 3/4 of the way up. Even Mark (King of the Hill) W didn't manage to beat it and believe me that says it all! Sadly my friend Mark won't be able to make tomorrow's ride but I am endeavouring to beat 'that hill' for both of us. 

I am going to be taking my Titanium Orange Brompton with me tomorrow and will travel light. If you look at my blog post for last years trip you will see pictures of the S bag I took with me, packed with just about everything item of cycling kit I had bought up to that point. It makes me shudder to think what it must have weighed but it must have been several Kilograms! How things have changed!  Looking back it is no wonder Mark and I couldn't get up that hill as he had an S bag as well. 

The route will be approximately 63 miles and there are currently 7 other riders - all on Brompton bicycles. The weather looks to be good and it should be a great day. Eight Bromptons in a peloton will be a wonderful sight for onlookers and those taking part. 

I have already prepped my bike after performing the mother of all cleans after I got back from the overnight. London to Southend ride. One last job will be to fit some new rear brake pads. This shouldn't take too long and apart from that I am ready.

Thursday 19 September 2013

OrangeBromptoninfo email

I have only recently logged on to my account as I had actually forgotten I had even set it up! I just want to say sorry to all of you who have kindly sent me an email and not received a reply.

I will endeavour to reply to each and every one of you and thank you for taking the time to email me.

Garmin Edge 810 and 510

Quite some time ago the very nice people at Garmin UK were kind enough to let me borrow one of their excellent Edge 800 GPS computers. They also kindly let me borrow the newer updated Edge 810.   Garmin kindly let me have the 810 for a full month and it was a very dark day when I packed it up and sent it back to them!

This long overdue review is for the 810 but also for the smaller non mapping 510 which I didn't get to review from Garmin but liked so much decided to buy it myself. I will explain why I bought the 510 later in this blog post. Many of the features cross over both units and I will indicate this throughout the review.

I also have to say that this is a real world review. Garmin had the confidence to simply let me borrow their devices and review it as I found it. There was no editorial control and I was free to write whatever I liked. The only condition was that i had to return it!!

What you get inside the box - Garmin Edge 810

The box is quite small but packed with lots of goodies. Garmin sent me their top of the line Navigator version which has full UK and European road maps on a micro SD card, heart rate monitor, cadence sensor and out front mount.

You can of course buy the unit on its own which makes things cheaper but if you were to do this and buy all the extras as standalone items it would cost you a great deal more.

The contents

Hear Monitor

This si very easy to set up and get working out of the box. The elasticised and adjustable band goes around your chest and the small plastic coasted sensor you can see in the picture below clips on. The Garmin 810 and 510 both have an option that looks for this sensor and picks it up quickly. Once done it  starts recording data straight away.

It is a very useful bit of kit and allows you to see what your limits are and get to know your capabilities even better. Great for more serious training.

Heart rate monitor

Cadence Sensor

Again, very easy to set up. Once fitted this will measure your  pedalling cadence as you ride. It measures and reports to the Garmin your pedalling strokes per minute, providing valuable feedback. It is really good for discovering how your cadence changes over different terrains and points along a ride. It is also a means to improving your pedalling efficiency.

The cadence sensor

A bag of mounts and industrial O rings

The Out Front Mount is new for the Garmin 810 / 510. This allows you to place the device further out than the handlebars and makes viewing the device that bit easier. On the Brompton handlebars the mount proved to be too large on its own but packed with a the rubber protector from an old front light mount it was okay.

The out front mount

The actual Garmin Edge 810

The Garmin Edge 810 is almost identical to its older (and still available) 800. It is the same size, shape and has the same button layout. The screen has not been updated in terms of resolution but I have to say this is probably a good thing. If things had gone high definition the battery life would have surely been a great deal short than its 17 hours.

One clue to the fact that this is an 810 are the words 'Edge' and numbers '810' etched onto the device.

The 510 is smaller than the 810 but larger than the 200. 

The 510's clever mounting system - as seen on the 200, 800 and 810

The 200 and larger 510

GPS / Navigation / Accuracy

After turning the Edge 810 on it immediately starts to hunt for and lock on to satellites. This is very fast and from memory seemed to be slightly quicker than the 800 although there isn't much in it. I have written many times that I am completely useless when attempting to navigate anywhere. It really is a problem for me and I am just one of those people that frequently gets lost. The Garmin 810 with its maps of the UK and Europe allow you to enter postcodes, towns and even search for points of interest. In doing this a route is found very quickly and following it is fairly easy.

The 510 is equally as fast finding satellites if not a tad faster however it does not have the routing function that 810 has.

Bike Profiles

One great feature common to the 810 and 510 is the ability to assign different bicycle profiles to the device. A few items of information is required which then helps the device to provide bespoke data specific to the bicycle you are using. 

Screen Options 

The 810 and 510 can display lots of custom screens. As you can see in the pictures below, the screen on the left has 8 fields of data while the one of the right has 4. Customising them is quick and easy and there is a huge amount of information fields you can choose from. If you like you can have several screens with various information available by swiping with a finger left or right. It useful, functional and clever.

Another screen shows your elevation

You can of course set the brightness, have it say on or turn off after a few minutes. You can even set day and night backlight colours.

Virtual Ride Partner

Common to the 810 and 510 is a ride virtual ride partner. This allows you ride in real time against an imaginary cyclist. This could be you riding against yourself on say your route to work or it could be against someone who has downloaded a route to the Garmin Connect Website.

Connecting to an iPhone

On of the best functions of the 810 and the 510 is the ability to connect them to your iPhone, iPad or similar device. This function is quite simply brilliant.

Pairing the 810/510 to my iPhone was very easy. Simply turn on Bluetooth on the phone and it starts to look for devices. Once found it asks for permission to be connected to the Garmin Edge. Allowing this allows you to make the connection. 

Once connected you have lots of great things you can start doing. One great feature is 'LiveTrack.' This allows you to send an email, tweet or FaceBook post inviting whoever you choose to view the route you are about to it! There is a slight delay for the person taking you up on your offer but they can follow your progress on detailed maps. It is a great idea and works well. 

It is one of my favourite features for the 810/510 and I have used it on almost every big ride I have been on. Those on the receiving end tell me that 9 times out of 10 they haven't encountered problems using it.

The start of a LiveTrack route on the iPhone

Staring out viewed on an iPad

You can even get a hybrid view

Loading routes 

With the older 800, you had to plug in a USB cable and connect the device to your computer before routes could be uploaded to the excellent Garmin Connect Website. With the 810 and 510 this is not needed. As they can be connected to an iPhone or similar you can download the route you have just done straight on to your Garmin app. This lists the route and tapping on it brings up ride data and maps. Another click and you can have it loading itself to the Garmin Connect Website.

It works extremely well and on longer rides I have not only viewed the ride data and maps on my iPhone but loaded it up to my Garmin Connect account before I have got home. Along with LiveTrack it is perhaps my favourite feature.

Garmin Connect

The following pictures were taken from an iPad but they can be seen via the iPhone app and website. Garmin Connect is a dedicated website that is excellent. It is a place where you can connect with friends and share routes. You can upload your routes and share with the world, those close to you or just yourself. You can download literally thousands of routes to your Garmin device and then follow them. The scope is endless.

I really like the data and maps and the way it is presented. The Garmin Connect Website is by product of buying a Garmin device but I absolutely love it.




Detailed maps

Why I bought the 510?

It really came down to the fact that I am next to useless at navigating - even with the Garmin 810! One the longer rides I go on there is usually someones else navigating who does a much better job than I could ever do. They do this with a Garmin Edge I hasten to add!

If in the future they had a device that gave spoken audible directions I would almost certainly get it. I personally did not need the mapping feature but I did want the touchscreen, bluetooth connection to my iPhone and excellent battery life. For me the 510 was the best option.

Having used the 510 for several months now I love it. I use it on every ride and it has yet to let me down. Battery life is excellent as is it tough waterproof credentials. It has coped with sustained downpours that have lasted hours. Once a ride has been recoded it keeps going until stop is pressed.

It is a very useful and motivating tool. I have been trying to get round Richmond Park for example at an average of 17mph. It is he 510 that is telling me how close I am going. If I am on a longer ride and need to maintain a certain pace. the 510 does a brilliant job of letting me know how I am doing.

Final thoughts

The 810/510 are brilliant devices that are genuinely as useful as they are fun to use. Don't however forget the 800. It may not have all the bells and whistles that the 810/510 possess but it can be bought for good price if you shop around. For this you get many of the features listed above and good routing / mapping abilities.

For me though the 510 was the device I wanted and I haven't looked back. For the foreseeable future at least I cannot see me using anything else.

Many thanks to Simon at Garmin UK for letting me borrow the 810.

Link to my Garmin Edge 800 review