Louise Gagnon writes….
I have been on club rides where over 60% of the group members are equipped with Garmin GPS pre-loaded with the day’s ride. In theory, such abundance of riders in possession of the day’s ride is not problematic but it is in my view quite possibly gradually changing the way we ride as a group – and not for the better in some instances.
My past 20 rides with our beloved club have left me with the occasional gnawing feeling that a wonderful tool such as pre-loaded GPS rides may just unconsciously lead us into occasional sloppy group riding.
I think some of us have at times been led astray by the “HA- HGROG” syndrome (He’s Alright – He’s Got the Ride On his Garmin) or even worse, it’s close cousin “IA – IGROG” ( I am Alright – I’ve Got the Ride On my Garmin). In my opinion, this is leading us into making assumptions that have already caught us out.
Here are a few cases in point:
- Ride leader proceeding at a fast rate of knots turning left or right at junctions with stretched out packets of riders in tow (not within sight of each other, sometimes miles apart), and leader not issuing any form of signposting instructions to guide the next packets, incorrectly assuming that all his riders are in a blissful state of “HA- HGROG”.
- The last member of the lead packet cited above neglecting the customary fundamental courtesy of staying behind at the junction, incorrectly assuming, as his ride leader just did, that the rider behind is “HA- HGROG”;
- Riders shooting past a ride leader who had ever so briefly stopped for a steam roller to finish a stretch of road repair while in unfamiliar territory way out of our usual riding area. Safe in the knowledge that they knew where they were going, 80% of the riders just sailed past the ride leader using the pavement and proceeded quickly down the road without any sign of relenting. This showed a lack of courtesy for the junior ride leader in charge who, as he did his best to catch up with the group now stretched out nearly 800 metres ahead, was overheard saying “How disappointing that a ride leader is trying to do the right thing and everyone else is carrying on”. I wonder if this group bravado would have so readily occurred had riders not been in a collective “IA – IGOG” empowered state of mind?
- Ride leaders cruising along with no back marker in sight for a good 15-20 minutes after many left and right turns have elapsed. Ride leaders stopping to assess the situation but opting to carry on nonetheless while a good 10-20 miles from end of ride. Ride leaders heard saying out loud regarding the missing back marker: “HA-HGROG”. As if Garmin could also assist a back marker in fixing a mechanical or worse, dealing with a medical emergency “back there”! In my books, a ride leader ought to know the condition and whereabouts of his riders and she/he can never abdicate on this duty of care;
- Ride leader not carrying OS map backup and overly relying on/rigidly sticking to his/her meticulously planned GPS route distributed the day before for all to upload. Such over-reliance on pre-loaded GPS rides leads an insecure ride leader into rigid thinking; temptation is then high to neglect to do what he/she ought to do which is to adapt one’s route at the drop of a hat either at ride start if a new or a less capable rider shows up, or if any situation requires a detour while en route;
- Last but not least, it is disheartening to watch a fellow rider become a safety hazard while mentally engrossed in pressing Garmin buttons at the expense of his/her awareness of what goes on in the tight riding formation.
Garmin GPS pre-loaded with the day’s ride have the potential to become powerful allies for conscientious ride leaders and riders.
We are proud to advertise on our club business card our credo of “Never get left behind”. Sadly poor use of pre-loaded GPS routes by ride leaders and riders alike have on some occasions already prevented us from delivering on that promise.
May I suggest that it is time for us to reflect on this occasional “Garmin Myopia”. It is important we do so, lest our cherished collective courtesy and safe group riding may just become the first casualties.