Thursday, October 10, 2019

BikeWalkLee: Technology… tool, or trouble?

BikeWalkLee Column
The News-Press, October 10, 2019
by Ken Gooderham

Technology… it makes life great right up to when it makes life terrible.  It’s both a tool and a tether, making us able to do so much more as it sometime demands us to do much more.

When it comes to running or riding, tech can be a great training tool… and, sometimes, a terrible distraction.

On the one hand, it allows you to track time and distance, making it easier to chart your progress if you’re working to build up your miles or pick up your pace. If you’re working to move more or monitor your body’s response to various events, there’s certainly an app for that – one that will generate as much data and detail as you demand.

On the other hand, focusing on your numbers instead of your form (and your fun) can suck the life out of what should be a pleasant process. (It can also do more harm than good if you pick up bad habits in pursuit of better numbers.) Tech also can make it way too easy to focus on what the technology is doing instead of what’s going on around you. That’s particularly dangerous when it shuts off one of your senses (say, hearing thanks to earphones) that could be warning you of that vehicle rolling up behind you.

Overall, most runners and riders would agree that technology has been a boost for them. Simply the ability to ride or run with a map, a GPS unit and a way to call for help (otherwise known as a smart phone) is a vast improvement over the olden days when maps were paper, GPS was unknown and calling for aid required a phone booth.

Similarly, for people training for a race – or just training to get better – or who like the idea of having a coach in your pocket or on your wrist, the proliferation of fitness apps and watches brings a world of knowledge to your athletic (or simply recreational) routine.

The key – in technology as in life – is balance. Use the information technology can gather as a tool, not an obsession. Make the access available via a smart phone an asset, not a threat, to your safety. Use the data as a motivator if that’s what you need – but be able to turn it off when you need that as well.

The other aspect of technology is understanding what will and won’t work for you before you get started. That can be about motivation, as mentioned already, but it can also be about method. Don’t bother with a fitness watch if all you want to do is track how far you rode… there are bike computers built just for that. And don’t drop hundreds of dollars on a watch that can answer your phone and pay for your lattes if all you want to do is track the distance of your daily run.

Technology is also complicated enough that you need to know your sports – and your skills – before making a tech decision. If you’re all-in on one sport – such as running, riding, golf, etc. – find the tech that’s designed for that. If your sport takes you through a variety of events (think triathlons, for example), then you’ll need technology that can track what you need to know about all those activities… and, by the way, also needs to be waterproof (not just water-resistant).

If you’re comfortable with computing, you can synch your technology with your phone or tablet… which you’ll need to do with many units if you want to capture and track data as well as take full advantage of GPS capabilities. But if your idea of high-tech is a flip phone… well, stick with the Casio because expensive fitness tech is probably not for you.

Remember, when it comes to running or riding it’s not who has the most toys… it’s who has the most fun. That’s what makes this kind of activity something you’ll come back to day after day… not a bunch of numbers on a screen.

Be bright, less light

As you have no doubt noticed, the days are shrinking. Summer is coming to close, even though someone forgot to tell the thermometer about that. This means less light in the morning and evening, when people may be out for a walk, run or ride. If you’re one of those people, remember to work harder to see and be seen – bright colors, bright lights and a little more awareness. We don’t get out of Daylight Savings Time until Nov. 3, so be particularly careful during your morning activities.

Ready to ride or run? 

Run? Runners have a number of distance options available… there’s the 5K, either this Saturday with Cops and Joggers in downtown Fort Myers or Oct. 26 with the LCEC Goblin Gallop in Cape Coral or the Halloween Monster 5K in Naples. Want more? How about a 10K, with the annual FISH race on Sanibel Oct. 26. If that’s still not enough, thin about the Gulf to Gulf 80-mile Relay, where six-person teams run from downtown Naples to the Sanibel Causeway and back. Details at, and respectively.

Ride? Critical Mass has these regularly scheduled rides on tap:
  • Saturday, Oct. 12: Sanibel Critical Mass ride, gathers at 7 p.m. at Jerry’s Shopping Center, 1700 Periwinkle Way, on Sanibel
  • Friday, Oct. 18: NE-Lee Critical Mass ride, gathers at 7 p.m. at the Winn-Dixie, 14600 Palm Beach Blvd.
  • Friday, Oct. 25: Cape Coral Critical Mass ride. Gather at 7:30 p.m., start at 8 p.m. at the Southwest Florida Military Museum parking lot at 4820 Leonard Street for a family-friendly ride through the Cape.
  • Saturday, Oct. 26: Saturday Slow Roll 8 a.m. meet-up at 2160 McGregor Blvd. Recommended for inexperienced/young riders. Distance is 6 miles, includes group ride instruction.
Lights required for night rides, helmets recommended for all, details at

Both? The lone local-ish event is the Longboat Key Triathlon/Duathlon, with both Olympic and sprint distances on Nov. 17; details at or


Have a favorite route you like to bike, or a unique walk you’d like to share with others? Tell us about it at, and maybe we can feature it in an upcoming column.

# # #

Ken Gooderham writes this on behalf of BikeWalkLee, a community coalition raising public awareness and advocating for complete streets in Lee County — streets that are designed, built, operated and maintained for safe and convenient travel for all users: pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders of all ages and abilities. Information, statistics and background online at 


No comments:

Post a Comment

BikeWalkLee is not responsible for the validity of any comment posted at this site and has the right to remove any comment at any time.