I am delighted with devices which help me navigate, I’m not the best map reader and without a good sense of direction I’d be a little stifled if I needed to rely solely on maps.
Spending weeks researching the best routes, checking if border crossing are rideable and then plotting the routes to save into the Garmin is part of the game plan to try and do well in a TransContinental Race. So to have a device, which you’ve paid a fortune for, prove to be that unreliable just plain sucks.
I’d read on forums that the Garmin’s corrupt for no apparent reason, but I’d never experienced it and thought I had a reliable one. Why would one need to carry a backup device just in case?
Well when you have to knock out 300km to get to your hotel, which is very doable, then trying to navigate off an iPhone using your memory of the route is not conducive to staying competitive in a race or making your hotel for the night.
Couple this with a complete failure of the Tout Terraine’s Plug3, which is a neat little USB port allowing you to charge your devices from the dynamo hub, navigating from an iPhone would mean needing to find somewhere to plug into a power source. Try finding somewhere open late on a Saturday night or a Sunday in France.
These two pieces of equipment were the bits of kit which would allow me to just sit on the saddle and churn out the miles as I needed to. They both worked perfectly well in the US, so why choose now of all times to quit on me?
Are the Trans Race Gods trying to tell me something? They say there is no use crying over spilt milk, but I can tell you it helps to get over the frustration of all the planning gone to waste, the fear of having to announce that you’re quitting another race and this deep down feeling that you’re not strong enough to deal with all life throws you on these races.
Mentally it’s tough going solo, unsupported, especially when your competitors arrive at the start line with a partner. In the back of your mind you keep thinking if something went wrong there are two of them to resolve a problem, perhaps to shift weight load if the going gets tough. It may not happen, but it plays on you mentally. The more you struggle to get your equipment working, the more the mental game kicks in. It’s not a part of racing I’ve ever had to deal with because so much less can go wrong in a normal race. If my Garmin died on the Etape, it would be a bummer, but actually I dont really need it. When it’s so key to getting you from A to B then trusting it becomes a whole different game.
So what next. I hate the idea of being defeated, it means I will probably need to learn to read maps on the fly, will definitely travel with a contingency for navigating perhaps in the form of a backup device and look for a more reliable charging mechanism. The freedom to charge stuff while pedalling is pretty cool.
For my next race, I might just sneak off and do it on the quiet, I can’t possibly face having to tell everyone who is routing and supporting me that I’ve failed again. It’s the hardest part when deciding to quit “What am I going to tell everyone and what will they think of me?” Man it sucks being human sometimes. I bet a Lion doesn’t think the same when it fails to catch dinner, nope it rests a bit and then just gets back out there, using a different strategy until dinner is caught.
So I am going to rest my tired body, my mentally drained brain and my defeated heart. I might even go and lie on a beach somewhere and just look at the empty blue sky for a while.