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Electronics vs. Real World Riding   Leave a comment

Trek Domane Duo Trap

Black Friday.  Small Business Saturday.  Cyber Monday.  The holiday retail season is in full force, and across the country, people are looking for gifts for their friends and loved ones.  These days, much of this gift giving will consist of video games, computers, iPads, TVs, and other electronic devices that can be useful, educational, fun, and help instantly connect us to people and information.  At the same time, the modern holiday electronics haul tends to include gifts that make these connections less personal, and that keep us indoors, sitting still, “connected” to a simulated reality.

Ok, you see where this is going…we’re a bike shop and we’re going to advocate that you buy bikes and bike-related accessories as gifts.  That’s actually not where this edition of the blog is going.  If anything, the electronic age is upon us and in some cases there is an absolute need for technology in today’s society.  Many of today’s devices enhance our lives in ways that simply weren’t possible a generation ago.  Trying to avoid this reality would be disingenuous.  Nevertheless, the need for things like bikes has shifted in today’s society, and in some ways it has become even more important.

Of course, we love bikes, and think that bikes and cycling-related gifts for cyclists are a great idea.      Electronic gifts become obsolete rapidly as updated versions are introduced, but a quality bike can last practically forever.  A good bike can be handed down to young riders as their former owners outgrow them, and will retain value over time.  Even after they’ve outlived their hand-me-down status, bikes can live on as donations either locally, or through organizations like Bikes For the World (www.bikesfortheworld.org) that makes donated bikes available to people in third world countries. For kids and people entering the sport, a new bike provides a new way to see the world, freedom, and a fantastic way to stay healthy.  For committed cyclists, a cycling-related gift can enhance the rider’s enjoyment of the sport, and is a great way to show the cyclist in your life that you support their passion.  You may no longer have that Pong video game you got back in 1978, but there are still plenty of bikes from that era on the road today.

As great as bikes and cycling gear can be as gifts, we also need to recognize that technology is an ever-growing part of our lives.  We’ve all heard the complaint that kids today (and many adults for that matter) spend the majority of their time sitting in front of computer monitors and not enough time outside experiencing the “real world”.  While that may be true, a new reality has taken hold.  Technology has integrated itself into the educational and work landscape.  Kids and adults work and do their homework on computers, use the internet for research, and email their teachers, classmates, friends, and bosses regularly.  Once the work is done, it’s usually only a couple of mouse clicks away to maintain a social life via Facebook, catch up on personal emails, and make productive use of these growing technologies.  Mobile devices put all of this information in our pockets in a way that was considered science fiction a few decades ago.  Technology that was once considered extraordinary or luxurious years ago has now become almost a necessity in life today.

So rather than blaming technology for some of its unintended circumstances, or trying to resist its advance, maybe the answer lies in merging technology with things like cycling.  This merger can lead to some cool, fun, and interesting opportunities. The advent of more advanced bike computers and bike-specific GPS units can eliminate the need for paper cue sheets, and allow people to easily track their training progress in great detail.  Power meters allow access to pro-level training data.  Electronic shifting promises to eliminate dropped chains and needs virtually no adjustment once it’s set up.   Bike and helmet-mounted cameras allow us to replay where we’ve been, and have even been used to catch drivers who’ve run riders off the road.  High efficiency lighting systems have never been better, increasing safety, and also opening up the world of after-dark riding both on and off road.  Online, growth in sites like Strava, MapMyRide, GarminConnect, and RideWithGPS can help riders track their rides, find and preview new routes, and even allow for friendly competition among friends via social media.  Even your mobile phone can get in on the act, with countless bike-related apps available for download.  Now your phone can become a bike computer, mapping device, fitness tracker or reference tool.

As time goes on, technology will continue to advance, and it’s really up to us how we integrate it into our lives.  Technology can never replace the great sensation of exploring the world via your own propulsion, or the mix of accomplishment, exhaustion, and contentment that you feel after a big ride.  Technology can, however, be used as a tool to enhance these experiences.  More significantly, with society spending more time in less-active pursuits, cycling can become an important outlet to reconnect with the real world, away from computer monitors and giant TV screens and provide a path to better mental and physical health.  If electronic enhancements inspire you to ride more, everybody wins.

As always, we welcome your questions and comments regarding any of the subjects in the blog.

Look for our next blog where we’ll be covering the book signing with Charles Scott at the shop on December 5th at 7pm.  Charles will sign copies of his new book, Rising Son, and talk about his travels through Japan and Iceland on bikes with his children.  If you’d like to attend the event, call the shop at 914-666-4044 to reserve your seat.

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Posted November 29, 2012 by bicycleworldny in Bike Electronics, GPS

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