A Bike Without a Computer Is Like – Well, What Exactly?

A Bike Without a Computer Is Like – Well, What Exactly?

Hmm, well, I dunno really. A day without sunshine? No, maybe that’s a little drastic. Groucho without Chico and Harpo? No, not quite. Flatt without Scruggs (for all you bluegrass lovers)? No, certainly not that. I guess it’s like something that’s great in itself, but is even better with an added something, which it doesn’t have right now… Wow, that’s really nailed it!

So what am I trying to say here? Maybe just that although you don’t need a cycle computer to make your bike work, it’s that bit more fun when you’ve got one. My own computer died the other day, after I don’t know how many years service, and it just wasn’t the same without it.

The morning was sunny and warm, and I was working at home without an awful lot to do. So, I figured I’d get out for a decent bike ride. After all, I’ve spent the winter just cycling around town to get places – OK in itself, but I really felt like I needed a good ride to blow the cobwebs away. Plus I could do with being a bit fitter. And did I mention that I could maybe lose a few pounds too?

And my cycle computer, which was fine last time I used it, was totally dead. I hadn’t used it for a while, as I’ve been working from home and any bike rides I’ve done have been too short to make it worth bothering with – a mile or two at most. Could have been the battery, could have been something else – it didn’t really matter to me then, as I just wanted to get out for a good ride. Which is just what I did. But it was weird just how often my eyes strayed down to where the computer should have been, only to see its empty cradle. The ride I did was about twenty miles – I know this because I’ve done it a lot of times – but I don’t have a clue how fast I went down the hills, how slow I went up them, or anything much else. I did have a good ride though!

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Ride over, I had a good look at the old computer. Sadly, there was nothing I could do; after some effort (not a good sign!) I got the back off, gave the battery a good clean and put it back in place. The back then went on again, no sign of life appeared, and the back now refused to budge. If it wasn’t already beyond repair, I’d have put it that way trying to get it apart again! So, it was off to the bike store for a new computer. All the more annoying, as all four of my bikes have fittings for the old computer on them, and they’ll need to be replaced too. But, if this new one lasts as well as the old one did, it’ll be fifteen years or more before I have to do all this again.

In The Urban Cycling Handbook, I wrote that a computer is something you might want, but it’s by no means obligatory to have one. This morning’s ride showed that, for me at least, it’s pretty close to being an essential item!