Cyclists - Save Your eTrex

Save Your Etrex from the Bicycle Mount

I haven't been blogging for a while because I've been busy either playing Sid Meier's Civilization V or riding my bicycle in my free time. Lately, I've been mostly riding my bicycle and I want to show all of the cyclists that navigate with an eTrex a simple trick that might save them money.

I won't get into why a bicyclist might use an eTrex for navigation when there are so many other bicycle specific options. I might cover that in future blog post, but if you are like me and you do chose to use an eTrex to navigate your bicycle, you need to know the Garmin recommended bicycle mount has "issues".

The mount is inexpensive but it has some flaws. One minor flaw is that the mount sometimes has difficulty disengaing the GPS when you want it to, but there is another flaw that is much worse. Sometimes the mount ejects the GPS when you don't want it too. Regarding the first problem, I actually had a minor dump on a "long" ride. When I got home, I had so much trouble getting the GPS out, I actually had to break the mount and buy another one. Considering the low cost of the mount, that was really just a minor annoyance though. The second problem, on the other hand, is farily serious.

I have owned two of these said Garmin eTrex mounts now with two different eTrex models and "frequently" the GPS will "fly" out on me. I've even had this happen to me on two different supported century rides. The first ride was the True Grit 100 out of Fort Smith, AR. I was between a breakaway and a main peloton when the GPS flew out early in the ride. I had to go back and retrieve the GPS. I possibly lost about 2 minutes or so of time. Two minutes really isn't a big deal early in a century ride, but it's a bit nerve racking when everything is going good and equipment is flying off. In the case of the True Grit ride, the GPS flying off probably didn't impact my finishing place since I was outside the lead group anyway. The second time the GPS flew off on a supported century I was't so fortunate.

I was participating in a 114 mile version of the Joe Martin Gran Fondo out of Fayetteville, AR and was hoping to post my ride to Strava. I was crusing along in the back of peloton at a healthy pace when all of a sudden near Natural Dam, AR I failed to see a called bump. I hit the bump and off went the GPS rolling down the road. I broke from the peloton and went back to locate the GPS but couldn't find it. I presumed the GPS wound up going over a nearby bridge. I looked over the bridge but couldn't find the GPS. I ultimately decided that it wasn't a good idea for me to waste time going down below to look for the GPS. I then spent a significant amount of effort catching up with the peloton. At some point I did catch up the peloton and even the leading "breakaway" [1] but I had to expend a large amount of energy to do so. Later on, in the more "advanced" stages of the ride, I was no longer able to stay with the "breakaway" and eventually came in fifth with a respectable time. Also, the only way I could post my ride on Strava at that point was with a manual entry which I chose to not do. I wonder if I could have maybe made third place if my GPS hadn't flew off on me ☺

Anyway, I guess I need to stop "whinning". If you are a cyclist and use an eTrex for navigation, you can now see why it is important to do something about the inferior Garmin recommended mount.

There should be a D-ring on the back of the eTrex 10, 20 and 30 models. Just tie a string onto this D-ring and tie the other end to your bike handlebars. It's that simple. Yes, I whinned for six paragraphs before I finaly told you this, but it's my blog so I can say whatever I want (within reason)... Anyway, here are some pictures.
To view the images, you must have a modern browser that supports webp.

Step#1 - Tie a Loop String to the eTrex D-ring

This string needs to be long enough for you be able to loop the eTrex back through it and onto your handlebars but short enough so if the eTrex comes out of the mount it wont catch in your brakes or something else. Also, the string needs to be thin but strong. Too thick a string will interfere with your ability to take the eTrex in and out of its mount. Too thin a string might break too easily and allow your eTrex to fly off when it comes out of the bicycle mount.
eTrex D-ring String

Step#2 - Run the String Underneath Handlebars

Holding the eTrex on the seatside of the handlebars run the string underneath the handebars to the other side.
eTrex Looped Over Handlebars

Step#3 - Run the eTrex Back Through the Loop

Keeping the "middle" of the string underneath the handlebars, bring both the eTrex and the side of the string opposite the seat up towards the sky
eTrex D-ring String
...and then insert the eTrex through the string loop
eTrex D-ring String

Step#4 - Observe Your eTrex Can Now Dangle From Your Handlebars

Gently let go of your eTrex to see if the string loop holds your eTrex to the handlebars when it is not in the bicycle mount
eTrex D-ring String

Step#5 - Insert eTrex into Mount

Leaving the safety loop intact, insert you eTrex into its mount.
eTrex D-ring String

This technique makes for a reaonable way to protect your eTrex in the event that you hit a bump and it comes flying out of it's bicycle mount. I've hit a few bumps after doing this and the technique has worked each time. The eTrex came out of its bicycle mount but I was able to simply grab it as it was dangling from the string and put it back where it should be. In most cases, a skilled rider should be able to do this without even getting off his or her bike assuming the eTrex and string didn't get caught on bicycle equipment or parts.

WARNING and DISCLAIMER!!! - The technique mentioned in this blog works well for me, but there is some risk involved. If the string you use to protect the eTrex is too long, there is a chance the eTrex could get entangled in your wheel or brakes. This could potentially cause a serious accident. It is *YOUR* responsibility to use common sense and ensure the "safety" string is short enough to prevent this from happing. The "advise" (or lack thereof) on this blog is provided free of charge and I will not be held responsible for any damages or injuries that result from the use of this technique. Finally, not all bicycles and riders are equal. What works for *me* on *my* bicycle may not work for *you* on *your* bicycle. With that said, I hope this article *helps* someone.

BTW: While I didn't get to log my Joe Martin 114 Gran Fondo event on Strava, I completed my first (and quite possibly last) double century "yesterday" (August 5th, 2017). I did 210 unsupported miles in less than 15 hours and was able to upload the ride to Strava. Strangely, even though I was using the "safety" string, my eTrex never popped out during that epic ride...

This blog entry is actively being working on and is subject to minor changes. I understand the content of this entry is nonacdemic, but please refrain from "citing" this entry until I am finished. A casual reference or link is okay, but it would be a *REALLY* bad idea to use this blog entry in an acadmic paper (not that you would want to) because the content you see today may not be the content you see tomorrow... (and I don't feel like keeping track of revisions right now)


[1] - Actually, as I began to catch up with the riders in the front, it looked more like the peloton was starting to disolve out of exhaustion. Of course, once I caught up with the lead group, I don't recall seeing too many people from behind ever again even if I was't able to maintain the "winners" pace.

©2017 - Shawn Eary
This post is copyright (where allowable) by Shawn Eary and is released under the Free Christian Media Licence (FCML). Content from authors other than Shawn Eary maintain the copyright and license rules that were imposed by the original authors.