Confession Time: Shame on me, I have cheated on my maps
Ready for it? Last week sometime, Kenny put his Zumo on my bike. Yes, yes, I know. Open mouth, insert foot.
I’ve taken 5 rides on the bike with the GPS now. It was turned off for 2 of them. 1 ride I strictly used the MP3 player. 1 ride I kept it on for the duration but I found that my desire to look at the screen was distracting. And lastly, while out playing tag-o-rama with the LI guys from ADVrider.com, I managed to unintentionally set a waypoint. Being that I had absolutely no familiarity with the device, I’m not sure how this happened as I was largely just listening to music.
What was an enjoyable ride listening to tracks from NIN’s Year Zero turned into me being hassled by some British lady who kept trying to tell me that I needed to make a left because I was going the wrong way. Considering that I had no idea how I turned on the way point, I surely didn’t know how to intuitively make that uppity broad shut the hell up. I ended up turning the stupid thing off.
What have I learned from my rides with the GPS so far?
- If you are in unfamiliar territory from wandering as I am apt to do, you can set a course for "home" and just mindlessly follow it.
- Gas locations and distances at the touch of a button. Can’t beat that.
- Saving your tracks is a big Pro. If you are a wanderer this can be a great reminder for future outings.
- Lengthy route planning is most easily done at a computer. For multi-day trips routing on the fly seems like it would be more difficult if you didn’t have access to a computer. You don’t get a high enough overview like you would by cracking open a map of the area.
- The propensity to look at the screen feels distracting to me at this point.
- Blind faith in a machine can be a hazard. Assuming that the machine is always right is… wrong. Though it may not happen often, you sometimes find yourself at a gas station that was there 5 years ago. We ran into this issue in Tennessee once.
I think the reality is that GPS is absolutely useful but won’t always be the only right tool for planning when I don’t have access to a computer. My perceptions might be colored by my unfamiliarity with the device at this point. At the very least, you always know exactly where you are and wherever that may be you’ve got yourself an easily accessible and waterproof MP3 player. More time is needed for me to formulate a better informed opinion.
How about you? Is a GPS a must for you? Can you take it or leave it? Hate it? Comment below!