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Stormy group ride yesterday; Garmin Edge 810: First ride report.

Thursday, February 27, 2014 by  
Filed under Daily Blog

February
27
2014

I did a couple of rides yesterday: a brief 16 kilometer spin in the morning (the primary purpose of which was to tweak the settings on my new Garmin Edge 810 before my “main” ride), followed by a ~90 kilometer group ride in the hills.

The afternoon forecast was calling for thunderstorms, so we knew that in all likelihood we would be doing a very soggy group ride. I didn’t care so much about the possibility of rain, I just wanted to get out and ride!

A brief respite from an otherwise very rainy 55 mile ride!

A brief respite from an otherwise very rainy 55 mile ride!

Tracy came up with a scenic and hilly route that began in a small, one light town called Howey-In-The-Hills (population less than 1,000 people), and then took us over to an even smaller town called Center Hill. After that we peddled over to Clermont before making our way back to Howey.

Not long after we departed the rain started falling. For the first half of the ride the amount of precipitation varied from a light sprinkle to a moderate dousing. About halfway into the ride the rain abated for awhile, but we never saw sunlight.

There was no rain falling when we got to Sugarloaf Mountain in Clermont. We climbed Sugarloaf, and from our excellent vantage point (the top of Sugarloaf is the highest spot in peninsular Florida), we saw that our return route was going to take us directly into an ominous looking storm. With little choice but to brave the squall, we bombed down the steepside of Sugarloaf, dutifully peddling into the blackness that lay before us…

This was the scene at the end of the ride. The rain was coming down in buckets for the final ~16 kilometers.

This was the scene at the end of the ride. The rain was coming down in buckets for the final ~16 kilometers.

The wind quickly hastened; rain began attacking us in sharp, glassy sheets as we took on the Little Mama and Big Papa climbs. Adding insult to injury, glowing 18-wheelers whizzed by us on the rural highway, buffeting our small group with walls of water and swirling wind.

As we rode through the storm I smiled a big, toothy grin. Perhaps I did this to convince myself that I was enjoying the weather, but I think I did it mostly to freak out the drivers coming towards us. They, almost undoubtedly, thought we were all completely off our rockers.

Despite the rain, it was was a fantastic ride though some beautiful country. I really enjoyed it, and am looking forward to a return trip under sunny skies. Here’s a group picture (I’m not in it, someone had to take the photo). Click to enlarge:

Our only stop of the day. This was in Center Hill, Florida, population 900. Left to right: Mike Braden, Dave Viney, Tracy Draper and Clare Wasteneys.

Our only stop of the day. This was in Center Hill, Florida, population 900. Left to right: Mike Braden, Dave Viney, Tracy Draper and Clare Wasteneys.

 

Moving on to the Garmin Edge 810

First of all, if you want to read my initial impressions of the Garmin Edge 810 along with details on how I set it up, check out yesterday’s blog.

Before I went to meet the group I preloaded my Garmin with Tracy’s route and paired it with my Galaxy S4 smartphone via Bluetooth. Just before we set off on the ride I launched the Garmin Connect app on my smartphone and started the Live Track feature; on the Garmin itself I loaded the course and started the ride.

Everything seemed to be going well, but at about the 2.5 kilometer mark my Garmin announced that it had lost Bluetooth connectivity with my phone. Great. That effectively killed the LiveTrack session, as it requires communication with the smartphone. I know the problem wasn’t with my phone, as I use its Bluetooth functionality with several other devices and never have a problem.

Then, less than a kilometer later, the Garmin simply shut off without warning. I was not happy.

I powered the Garmin back on, and it asked me if I wanted to discard or save the ride. I saved it, and started a “new” ride with the same course. The Garmin did not automatically pair with my smartphone, but there was nothing I could do about that while we were riding.

When we made a stop in Center Hill I spent nearly the entire break attempting to get the Garmin to reconnect my phone. Nothing I tried worked. Eventually I had to give up, as it was time to roll out.

For the rest of the ride the Garmin performed flawlessly (except, course, for LiveTrack which requires Bluetooth). A few thoughts:

– Turn-by-turn directions were spot-on and clearly presented. A+ there.

– The on-screen data was easy to read with a quick glance downward. The text was much larger and more clear compared to my Edge 500. I was very happy about that.

– Swiping between the data screens worked exceptionally well. Even when the screen was covered in rain and my hands were soaking wet, I was able to quickly swipe between screens and control the unit with no problems. I was very impressed.

– At one point Dave modified the planned route. Once we returned to the planned route the Garmin picked up on it and resumed turn-by-turn directions with no trouble.

When I finished the ride I was shocked to see that that the Garmin’s battery, which was fully charged when I started, was down to 38%. This was a mere 3.5 hour ride (including stops)–and Bluetooth/LiveTrack was not even running since it crashed early in the ride! That means the Garmin would not have survived even a 6 hour ride, which is not at all an uncommon riding time. For a device that claims “up to” 17 hour battery run time, this is not acceptable.

While one could argue that because I had turn-by-turn directions running (and attempted–unsuccessfully–to run LiveTrack), the battery would not achieve its “up to” maximum, but Garmin has highly touted these features of the 810, and if they are such a drain that the battery can’t last for at least a century ride, well, that’s ridiculous.

So, considering the sudden shutdown and the Bluetooth issue, I’m hoping that I just happened to get a lemon unit. Amazon sent me a new Edge 810 via overnight, and it will be here today. I’m very hopeful that the new Edge works as advertised, because apart from the issues I experienced I absolutely loved this device on yesterday’s ride. I want to keep it, I really do.

Stay tuned…

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