It may sound strange (in fact, a lot of things I do are strange), but the thing I looked forward to most after a stage in my last race (after food and massage) was downloading the data from my Garmin Edge 705. These things are a seriously cool piece of gear. Each night, my mates and I would huddle around my netbook and check out data like altitude, distance, speed, heart rate and cadence. In fact, not only did it tell me my averages for the above, but using the Garmin Training Centre software it drew up cool little graphs to show me how hard I had ridden, so I could see my heart rate hit it's max on the big climbs, or my speed coming down those fast little descents. It also has a world basemap, so mapped out each stage so I could just about string them together and see the full 5 days of racing as one fun long trip.
I must admit that I have always been a little skeptical about GPS (I can read a map!!!), but the Edge 705 is so much more than just a GPS... Yes, it has mapping capabilities, and if you get lost, you can just select "return home" and it directs you there. In addition to this, it measures all the things you want to know about when you train. Before getting mine, I was using a generic cycle computer which measured my heart rate, speed and cadence and I'd always thought this was adequate, but when I started training with my Edge 705, I began noticing really rapid improvements in my cycling. It keeps me really honest. I can look back over the data at the end of a ride and although happy with averages, it helps me pinpoint particular areas I need to work on, like cadence on hills, or speed on flats, for example. It even has a cool little feature which lets you race a time or a friend's time on the same route, so you have a simulated competitor to "race" against sitting right in front of you on the handlebars. You can also select which data fields you want to display on the unit while you are riding, so if you want to see your heart rate, speed and distance at the same time, you aren't stuck looking at the time of day and cadence or having to flick through screens. The versatility of this unit is awesome!
The unit is compatible with powertaps and much more comprehensive than the standard computer that comes with most powertaps. It is also wireless, so you can download your data wirelessly (with a USB plug-in) or transfer data between your Edge 705 and your friend's Edge 705.
The Garmin Edge 705 is, without a doubt, one of the most useful pieces of equipment I have put on my bike this year. Check it out at http://www.garmin.com/garmin/cms/site/au