Am I on time?

28 Oct 2018


Is there something which will tell me - while I’m riding a bike - whether I’m on time for a train? Even if I could find the right app, fiddling with a smartphone isn’t an option: it’s already cold enough in Cambridge that I’m wearing gloves on my pedal-based commute.

My Garmin Edge GPS offers “ETA”, can be operated with gloves on, can follow a track and offers “training mode”, all of which seems promising. Thing is, I can’t actually find any documentation that explains how it calculates its ETA. If I cycle a bit quicker for a few pedal strokes, the ETA drops dramatically. Is the device assuming I’m going to maintain that speed for the rest of the journey? There’s no way to know. I just want “you’re 2 minutes ahead of schedule”… “you’re 2:15 ahead of schedule”… and so on. Training mode shows me a virtual opponent and tells me if I’m ahead or behind in metres (not time). That’s no good if I started off “training” a few minutes late, or early, and it’s unclear whether I’m racing my personal best, or whether my virtual opponent is following some other mysterious itinerary.

Now, the journey for which I want this feedback is particularly straightforward, I admit: 26 traffic-free minutes along the straight line that is the Cambridge guided busway. No hills: other than three pedestrian crossings, it’s just me against the wind. I know that I can trundle along on my German tank-bike with child seat at 19.5 km/h - without breaking a sweat (and that’s important).

I have had to resort to a low tech solution: encoded information about location and time, and a Casio F91W cable-tied to the handlebars. This is pleasing in its relative low-tech-ness, but I’m surprised that I’ve had to resort to this.

I would love to hear of a better solution…

Tags: geeky, cycling, cambridge, personal