By far the most used Garmin feature during my European trip is Garmin’s mapping function.
Imagine the days when exploring the globe must have felt like an unfathomable expedition. How things have changed since then and thanks to technological advances the world is becoming smaller each day.
Maybe the biggest way technology has shrunk the world is through the internet. It is almost inconceivable when you think how accessible the internet and GPS devices have made the places that once seemed the furthest away.
I have experienced this first-hand and it has become a practical reality as my cycling career continuously involves a lot of traveling. My first trip to Europe saw me traveling to the Flemish speaking part of Belgium back in 2004. I had just turned 19 and the reason for my visit was the acceptance of an invitation I received from the Belgian professional ladies team, Topsport Vlaanderen. The team took notice of me at the previous year’s World Championships junior race in Canada and wanted me to join them for a stagiaire (try-out) season.
The team manager arranged for me to stay at a local university sport hostel and being there during their summer holidays meant I was the only resident in the entire hostel apart from the caretaker and his family who lived there permanently.
Staying alone also meant training alone and having no intentions of getting lost, I would simply stick to riding out-and-back alongside the region’s main canal. Looking back now it seems like I barely explored the area but back then I felt very adventurous as I followed the meandering waterway.
In 2006 I returned to Europe and raced for the British ladies team FBUK. The team was based in a small Belgian village called Tielt-Winge, located just south of Brussels. I lived there for the entire summer racing season (6 months) and decided it was worthwhile to take some of my hard earned money and invest in a map of the area.
Goodbye out-and-back rides along the canal and hallo route scouting. Suddenly I could plan countless training loops and if I did get lost while out on a ride, my map would only be a pocket reach away to navigate me back home. Oh what freedom!
In 2007 I signed for the professional Belgian team Lotto-Belisol and in my 2nd year on the team I arrived in Belgium with my first ever Garmin training unit. Adios to my pocket map and howdy to my GPS device.
I still remember my first training ride on European soil with my Garmin unit displaying maps right there on the screen. I decided to zigzag around the neighbourhood to put the device to the test and then pressed the “Reroute back to starting point” feature. To my amazement the Garmin retraced my steps, navigating me right back to where I started. In that instant my little Belgium suddenly became a very big place. From then on I could ride in any direction my heart desired knowing that I’ll be able to find my way back home.
The last two years I’ve been back racing in Europe but these days it’s on fat tyres with my Garmin Edge 1000 as guide. My Garmin has taken my European training routes to a whole new level with it’s in depth mapping functionality. By mapping courses on Garmin Connect (Garmin’s online training platform) I’ve been able to explore on-and –off road routes, repeatedly impressed with how well the software maps out bike-friendly routes.
I mainly use Garmin’s mapping function to design fun and scenic trails in an unfamiliar area or country but there is plenty more navigation features Garmin has on offer through Garmin Connect and their GPS devices. A good example is the “Round Trip Routing” feature which enables you to simply tell the unit how long you want to ride and it’ll automatically suggest three route options. Then there is also the option to simply enter an address, or look up a point of interest (i.e. food, tourist locale, etc.) like you would normally do on your Garmin automotive GPS device. This is quite handy when the caffeine tank is empty and coffee is needed.
Regardless of your navigation needs you can be sure that Garmin will have you covered and to this day Garmin’s slogan rings true for me – “You’ll be lost without it”