Sunday, December 30, 2007

this is the modern world

When I started racing during the Greg LeMond era, there was no such thing as In fact, the entire internet was just a gleam in Al Gores's eye. Bike racers bought or borrowed the latest issue of Velonews (black and white print on newsprint) or The Ride (now Bike Culture) at the local bike shop and checked the list of upcoming races at the back of every issue. A mailing address was included for each race so if you wanted to pre-register you could mail a standard USCF entry form and a check. Preregistration closed well in advance of the race to allow time for mailing and hand entry of the data. Seems like the dark ages now.

Although I tend to be a traditionalist and generally remember the "good old days" fondly, I have to admit that the current method is a big improvement (thanks Al!). But I do have a suggestion to advance the state of bike racing even further into the modern age:

With the increasingly widespread availability of GPS systems in cars, I suggest that all bike race announcements should include a destination address that can be punched into a GPS system. Its even easier than Mapquesting the directions and it takes all the guess work out of navigating.

My very thoughtful mom got me a GPS unit for the car this Christmas and I immediately saw the potential value of this new-fangled peice of electronic equipment. It gets stressful sometimes driving to a race and wondering if I have allowed enough time to get there and set up all the sound equipment before the Cat 5 race starts. I am always looking for a quicker route to make up for those precious minutes I lost between the 4th and 5th snooze alarms. I haven't been late for a race yet but last year I was sure I was going to miss the start of the Naugatuck Criterium when I saw the red tail lights of stopped traffic in front of me on Route 95. I made it and barely got the PA system ready in record time, and I was on the mic with a couple of minutes to spare.

It remains to be seen if these new GPS units will be the next cell phone (indespensible) or the next CB Radio (do even truckers still use those?), but providing an address close t0 the parking lot in each race announcement would be a big help to anyone that has one.

Gasoline cost less than $1 per gallon in 1987. With gas prices likely to remain well over $3.00 per gallon in 2008, that means it costs about 3 times more to drive to races now than it did 20 years ago (not even considering all of the other costs). Maybe the GPS will save me a couple of gallons until they make a hybrid with enough room for my sound equipment.

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