No Garmin No Rules: leave your computer at home

by Anne-Marije Rook


Show of hands: Who has ever forgotten to charge or start their Garmin and reacted like this:

forgot your Garmin

I think most of us have. And when things go really wrong  –like your Garmin failed to record or a file got corrupted – we have probably all spent an embarrassingly long time trying to recoup those files. Must. Have. Data!

Because ‘if it’s not on Strava, it never happened.’

Avid and competitive cyclists, as a whole, have become absolutely obsessed with our ride data and Strava. You set off for a ride and the collective clicking in of cleats is immediately followed by the beeping of a dozen cyclocomputers.

Some friendly competition and ride data certainly serve a purpose but do we really need to let the little screen on our stem dictate every ride?

Jen Abercrombie says no. In fact, she encourages you to leave your Garmin at home every once in a while and just enjoy the ride.

The creator behind the popular “No Garmin No Rules” stickers, Abercrombie is here to remind people that it’s OK to ride without structure or purpose.

“I want people to enjoy riding bikes without always thinking of mileage or power; maybe even get a little lost,” said Abercrombie. It’s not that she’s against computers or training; she’s no stranger to using a Garmin herself, but “I think that some rides are just for fun and I want to take the piss out of how serious people get on the bike sometimes.”

To counter this data-focused riding culture, Abercrombie started “No Garmin No Rules.”

No Garmin, No Rules stickers

“‘No Garmin No Rules’ is a movement, a revolution, a four-word manifesto… OK, really it’s just a sticker you put on your stem to remind you that bikes are fun,” said Abercrombie.

The idea came about when Abercrombie showed up to a group ride and realized she’d forgotten her computer.

“No Garmin No Rules” was just a thought that popped into my head, and I thought it would be funny to make a stem sticker that said that,” said Abercrombie, a former musician who’s no stranger to making and selling “merch”.

She mentioned the idea to her friend Chas Christiansen, who jumped on the idea immediately, and the sticker was born.

“I was just going to make a few of them for friends, but I put it on Instagram and John Watson posted it on The Radavist. Overnight, I had way more orders than I had stickers,” said Abercrombie.

The demand, Abercrombie said, was overwhelming and stressful even.

“The printing company was so slow and some people had to wait more than a month for the second run.  I got a couple of very angry emails. That, for the record, isn’t very “no rules-y” of people, so maybe they didn’t deserve the stickers,” she said.

But it’s rewarding, too, that so many people share her philosophy.

“There’s something about making stickers, shirts and patches that reminds me of [my band] days. Like a song, you share an idea that resonates with people and they want to be a part of it and represent it too,” said Abercrombie. “And it doesn’t have to be either/or.  Lots of people are training their asses off with a Garmin for racing, but they still put the sticker on their basket bike or wear the t-shirt.”  

When asked where her favourite No Garmin No Rules ride has taken her, Abercrombie revealed that nowadays she’s pretty much Garmin-free all the time.

“All my rides are No Garmin, No Rules, but in the past year or two I’ve done some fun bike-camping rides with girlfriends in the hills near Los Angeles, and up and down the California coast,” said Abercrombie. “I love that my bike can take me to a place where I find myself sitting in a campground with my friends, wearing a headlamp, drinking wine and dancing to music coming from someone’s cell phone.”

Jen Abercrombie out on a No Garmin, No Rules ride. Photo by Garrett Kautz.
Jen Abercrombie out on a No Garmin, No Rules ride. Photo by Garrett Kautz.

Like the idea? Get your No Garmin, No Rules swag here.

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