The major improvement to the Harvard route was using Oak Hill Road out of Littleton, rather than Harvard Road. Oak Hill Road is prettier, if noisy from Route 2 traffic until you cross Route 2, and the ascent is far more challenging (though not all that hard) and you get a great winding descent into Harvard - except the last few hundred feet is uphill. Art from Keep It Tight suggested I try this route and it was well worth it.
One of the fun parts of riding on Sunday was using my new Garmin Edge 200, which my boys gave me for Fathers Day. I charged it and then added the route (called a Course in Garmin land) I intended to take before starting out. I initially used it as a bike computer, a purpose which it served well. I chose to have the unit automatically sense when I started or stopped and it beeped when it sensed either and it did a good job with this. With the large screen I could see distance, speed, time, and average speed easily. In Littleton, I added the course. As I started moving, the very rough map (consisting of my location and the lines of the roads I intended to follow) was automatically zoomed in to where I was and I could see my position relative to the curves in the road ahead of me. It didn't show intersections but if the road curved left at an intersection and the line I was following turned right, then I would know that I should turn. If I didn't turn then the unit would chirp a couple of times to alert me. It would sound the same beep as it used for starts and stops when I got back on the course. I had my Cateye wireless computer along for the ride and the readings from the GPS matched that of the wireless generally. One issue, that is true for GPS generally, is that heavy foliage degrades the GPS signal, making them less accurate. I noticed that in such conditions the GPS would give me a slower speed than the Cateye and then when I got out of the trees the GPS would catch up with a sudden 2-5 mile per hour increase in my speed. I think it is accurate enough for me but I'll hold onto my wireless computers for the days when solar activity degrades the GPS sigmal.
Garmin introduced this basic version of its GPS/bike computer not that long ago. The more advanced versions deal with cadence and heart rate monitors and the most advanced version includes maps. I have other devices that can do maps much better than the small screen GPS units for when I might actually need them and I am a fan of paper maps as well (I use Rubel maps in Massachusetts). I'm happy with the unit I have and think that for me the most expensive units would be much more than I need. As someone who works with spatial data and GPS units for a living, I'd prefer seeing latitude and longitude or UTM or State Plane coordinates but that's hardly a requirement for a cycling computer. And I can always get coordinates from my Android phone, whether or not service is available.
I look forward to testing the Garmin on my Surly, which has a wired computer. I went back to my old wired computer on the Surly when I noticed that the generator hub and light interfered with the wireless computer and, with the wires from the lighting system, the head tube is a busy spot on my bike. I'm expecting that the GPS is not affected by my lighting system and, if so, I'll be using the Garmin on the Surly as well.
Total miles for the year: 1112, miles in June: 375