We asked two avid cyclists what they think of using global positioning systems on bicycles – one is for their use, and one against.


Geoff Saxon, organiser of the North Cornwall Tor and Cheshire Cat cyclo-sportives

I think Garmin and all bike GPS devices are a good thing for a number of reasons. One very practical one is in cyclo-sportive events, where you can use a GPS to avoid getting lost in the event of any route signs going missing, which can happen in even the best organised events. If you download the ride route into your Garmin you are not so dependent on signs.

The next use is for your own rides. You can be more adventurous with a GPS. Many experienced riders train on routes they know well and have ridden for years. I used to do that but often I?d wonder what was down a side road, but didn?t go down it as I wasn?t sure where it came out. With a GPS you can check out those side routes and incorporate them into new ones and just follow the screen.

Of course you can do the same with a map, but keeping stopping and checking a maps is awkward and time consuming, especially in winter when you?ve got to maybe take off your gloves and fish around in clothing pockets. A GPS takes all that bother away.

They are a good training tool too. There?s nothing like seeing numbers to record your progress, and some GPSs generate a lot of numbers, altitude gained, gradients, tons of stuff.


Chris Sidwells, regular Cycling Weekly contributor and lifelong cyclist

What?s wrong with getting lost now and again? There is so much emphasis these days put on going somewhere, achieving something, generating information and numbers. All laudable things, yes, but in their place. Are they really the only reason why we ride our bikes?

Some of my most memorable bike rides have involved getting lost. Well if not actually lost, at least not knowing for certain where I was going. Stretches of road or track I never knew existed have then been incorporated into regular rides. Rides that have been shared with friends and become part of their cycling life, and so on.

For me a GPS removes the fascination of turning off your route and finding out what is down this or that road. Somehow it takes some of the spontaneity out of cycling, some of it?s freedom even.

I know you can use a GPS to plan new routes, but for me that?s too premeditated, too planned. For me planning with a GPS removes the instinctive choice you make when out on the road based on nothing more than how interesting a road looks wondering where it leads.

I also think that depending on a GPS badly affects your sense of direction. Most older riders I know seem to be able to hold a map in their heads of where they are. This ability quickly transfers when they are riding in other areas, and they always seem to know where they are going.


GPS and cycling: The Cycling Weekly guide