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My Best Tech Gift Ever: Garmin's Edge 500 bike computer

A gizmo that rests under Jay Greene's handlebars helped the CNET reporter hit his 150-mile endurance-biking goal. And for that, he loves the gadget.

Jay Greene, with his Garmin Edge 500 below his handlebars, at the top of Cayuse Pass on the east side of Mt. Rainier, 104 miles into Ramrod in July. His smile was entirely forced.
Jay Greene
Every day this week, a different CNET writer or editor will recall a tech or geek-centric present that left a mark. Read past stories by Eric Mack and Jeff Sparkman, and look for another installment tomorrow at midnight PT.

It's easy to set personal goals and then let them slide into the abyss of good intentions. The tech gift that really stands out for me is the one that's helped me prevent that from happening.

It's Garmin's Edge 500 bicycle computer, which my wife gave me for my birthday in 2010 (though honestly, I asked her for it). This summer, near the end of a soul-sucking, endurance-testing ride, the Edge 500 came through for me once again.

I had set a goal to finish a ride called Ramrod (Ride Around Mt. Rainier in One Day) in less than 10 hours. But 7 hours into the ride, it was looking bleak. I'd covered 104 miles and done most of the 9,000 feet of climbing. To attain my goal, I needed to cover the final 45 miles in three hours. Certainly doable, but I was pretty cooked.

I needed data to keep me on track. And data is what the Edge 500 does really well. Like most cyclometers, the gizmo, which rests just below my handlebars on the bike's stem, tells me the speed my bike is moving, the distance I've ridden, and the cadence at which my feet are pedaling.

What's the best tech gift you ever got? Send your stories and photos to crave at cnet dot com (subject line: Best Tech Gift) for possible inclusion in an upcoming feature.

But the Edge 500 doesn't stop there. It provides a trove of data, letting me pick up to 24 different data fields (from about 45 choices) to display on three different screens that I can toggle through during my ride. It also uses GPS to track where I've gone, which is swell when I upload the data after my rides.

What makes the big difference, though, is that it continually motivates me by giving me information about my ride. Those cues -- such as average speed, which I knew needed to top 15 mph to achieve my Ramrod goal -- are all I need to push a little harder and train a little more.

As for Ramrod, I finished in 9 hours, 49 minutes, and 32 seconds. Thank you, Garmin.

Find a memorable gift for the people in your life by visiting CNET's 2012 Holiday Gift Guide.