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Excellent ride yesterday, but GPS let me down.

Saturday, May 5, 2012 by  
Filed under Daily Blog

GPS is awesome, but not perfect.

GPS is awesome, but not perfect.

Even though I was feeling a little under the weather yesterday morning, I decided to head over to Wekiwa to do some mountain biking. I was excited about creating the very first Wekiwa segments on Strava, as there are presently none defined.

A “segment” is essentially a defined section of trail that allows cyclists (and runners) to be ranked against their own previous efforts as well as all other athletes who have covered the same segment.

I find the absence of Strava data at Wekiwa very surprising, as many of the trails out there are quite popular with XC mountain bikers and runners.

So I when I got to the trailhead I fired up the Android Strava app, and set off. My goal was to define a loop starting from the Sand Lake trailhead, around the red blaze (bike) trails and back to the trailhead. This loop is roughly 7.8 miles, and would be defined as segment.

I also wanted to break that loop into 3 separate segments that make for nice timed mini-sections:

1st segment: From the Sand Lake trailhead to Marker 13.

1st segment: From the Sand Lake trailhead to Marker 13.

Segment #1: From the Sand Lake trailhead to Marker 13 (2.8 miles). This is the speed run I’ve been doing for a long time, but I modified the end point I’ve always used in the past. I’ve always stopped at what I call “the fishbowl”, but this is sort of an arbitrary (and not-so-obvious) end point for a timed section. I decided to extend the end point of this timed section to Marker 13, which is about a quarter mile past the fishbowl. I did that so it’s more obvious to people riding the segment where the segment ends. Because of the change, my previous personal records are not applicable. Time to start setting some new ones!

My time on this section yesterday was terrible. As I mentioned, I was feeling a little off yesterday morning and this first section of trail in particular was a fight. Also, the trail is dryer than I’ve ever seen it. I ate the dirt pretty hard taking a corner that had about an inch of dead pine needles on it. That wreck slowed me up a bit. 🙂

2nd segment: From Marker 13 to Marker 19.

2nd segment: From Marker 13 to Marker 19.

Segment #2: So for the next segment I decided to define it as Marker 13 to Marker 19 (1.9 miles). This section is short, but it made sense to end it at Marker 19: from Marker 19 you can either continue on the Red blaze (bike) trail back around to the Sand Lake, or take the White blaze (hiking) trail around to Camp Cozy.

The White blaze trail is technically for hikers only, but this trail is very remote and I rarely see anyone out there. This is a more challenging section of trail for mountain bikers compared to the rest of Wekiwa, and it’s a lot of fun to ride. It’s loaded with big roots, mud and water (very low elevation) and switchbacks. It’s not a very fast section of trail, and so there’s plenty of time to yield to foot traffic if need be. I’ll be creating a segment for this trail at a later date.

Segment #3
: For the final segment of the complete loop, I was going to define it as Marker 19 back to the Sand Lake trailhead (~3.1 miles). Notice I said “was”, and that’s because when I got back to the trailhead the Strava app reported that I’d ridden more than 245 miles, and was currently in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. Apparently at some point on this section of trail GPS lock was lost.

This third section of trail is, in a word, Hell. It’s not fun, it’s not interesting, it’s not technical and it’s flat. It is, however, an absolutely insane cardio workout if you ride hard. Why? Sand. The sugar sand on this section is deep and endless. My heart rate during this entire stretch rarely drops below 190 BPM. You have to ride hard and fast, because if you don’t you will be sucked down into the sand. Over the past year I’ve seen lots of bikers on this section, and most of the time they are walking their bikes. You’ve got to be in good shape to complete this section without dismounting…

Well, yesterday I rode this final section as hard as I possibly could, and I set a new personal record. When I got back to the trailhead I seriously thought I was going to puke. When I saw that there was a GPS issue that prevented recording of the segment and my PR, I have to admit that I was pretty pissed off.

So I’m going to have to ride the whole loop again to define the complete loop, and also define the 3rd segment. Not a big deal, of course, I ride that loop all the time. Also, I want to go back and add segments for other sections of trail that I ride all the time at Wekiwa.

I have a feeling I’m going to get some hate mail from riders who try to beat my time on that 3rd segment (which I’m going to call “Sand Hell”). I’m not saying my time won’t be beat, but I’ll be very impressed if it is…

John Stone Fitness Comments

4 Responses to “Excellent ride yesterday, but GPS let me down.”
  1. Have you thought about getting a bluetooth heart rate monitor? I know you really like your timex, but the BT would let you sync up your info nicely.

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