Thursday, April 17, 2008

Tech Toys

Gadgets can be so intriguing. This is of course true for equipment intensive sports such as golf and bicycling. It is surprisingly true for non-equipment intense sports such as running and tennis.

Very few of us compete professionally. However sports equipment is an incredibly large consumer market. I believe it is driven by middle-aged men with more money than time who strive to get maximum enjoyment out of there recreational time. If that means a new set of clubs every season or a new tennis racket so be it.

The random accessories are where I find myself really struggling with purchases. The only training accessory I needed when bicycling regularly was a watch so that I could be home before dusk. I did not need a speedometer, odometer, cadence, heart rate, altimeter, or power feedback. I would put in a lot of miles and do intervals based on perceived exertion.

I bought a heart rate monitor about 6 years ago and really enjoyed it as an adjunct to my endurance workouts. When I lost the watch part, I was a little disappointed but not enough to get a new one.

When the speedometer went out on my bicycle, I was truly at a loss. I depended on this thing immensely and missed the feedback. I still finished the season without it and instead just watched the stopwatch and cadence. The cadence is a poor substitute to speed and distance. So first thing this season, I got a bike tune-up and replaced the computer with a wireless version without cadence. I am very excited.

Now I am hooked on the possibility of getting a Garmin Edge 705 which provides not only heart rate, cadence, altimeter, but also GPS and if I were so inclined integrated power. This little tech wonder runs around $550 and well beyond any expense I could justify.

However, I do not think it is unreasonable to spend $2000 annually on hobbies in general. Unfortunately I have been sucking up a little over half of that with gambling losses. Throw in a pair of running shoes and some clothing and I am pushing $1500. If I find a few coins I am interested in, there goes the rest of the budget.

The obvious answer to my dilemma is to not play cards for 3 months to save up half the money. Then I am really only looking at a $250 purchase, at least $150 of which could be offset as a birthday gift.

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