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Strava is changing the way I ride; Garmin Edge 500.

Friday, May 11, 2012 by  
Filed under Daily Blog

May
11
2012

Since I started using Strava I’ve noticed that I’m riding shorter distances, but I’m riding much harder and with fewer breaks.

For example, yesterday I rode at Wekiwa and I did something I’ve never done before: I rode the entire “Bike Loop” like it was a cross-country mountain bike race. Normally when I ride this particular route I stop to rest a couple of times–generally after each timed section (called “segments” on Strava). Yesterday I decided to ride the entire loop with no breaks and no rest, and I rode very, very hard.

The end result was I completed the loop in just 39m36s; that’s a full 10 minutes faster than I’ve ever done this loop before! The reason the time was so much faster than my previous best is, of course, because yesterday I never stopped for a break and my pace was relentless.

With no rest breaks, you might expect that my times on the three segments that make up the complete Bike Loop would be slower than my previous bests (which were all set riding all-out knowing I’d get to rest after each section). Well, Strava didn’t correctly match the first two segments (I have a support ticket open) so I can’t compare those, but the final and most grueling segment, Marker 19 to Sand Lake Trailhead “Sand Hell” (Red Blaze Trail) I completed in just 16m43s. That’s a personal best/KOM by more than a full minute! I set my previous best time of 17m46s on that section just last week, and I did it after taking several minutes of rest. That makes yesterday’s time even more satisfying.

Hopefully Strava will be able to determine why two of the segments were not properly matched, as I’m curious how those times compare to my previous bests. On that note, I have to say the one thing that really annoys me about Strava (and this is probably more a function of GPS technology than an actual Strava issue), is when segment matching fails. It’s extremely aggravating to ride hard and expect to see a new personal record and/or King Of the Mountain when you’re done, only to find the segment didn’t even match properly.

Garmin Edge 500. Want.

Garmin Edge 500. Want.

I think getting a dedicated GPS device like the Garmin Edge 500 may solve a lot of these GPS issues. The Garmin would mount to my stem, and it would have a clear view of the sky (my phone is, of course tucked away in my pocket or in my CamelBak). In addition, the heart rate and cadence data provided by the Garmin would be fascinating to view on Strava along with the elevation, speed, power and distance data. Finally, being able to see my heart rate as I ride without having to take my hands off the handlebars (which is what I must do to check my Timex Ironman), would be much safer.

Unfortunately the Garmin Edge 500 is not an inexpensive piece of equipment, and my bike budget was blown out of the water after all the upgrades I did in March. I added it to my Amazon Wishlist. 😀

John Stone Fitness Comments

4 Responses to “Strava is changing the way I ride; Garmin Edge 500.”
  1. Is it possible to connect an external BT GPS module to your phone? The built in ones are usually not that accurate, and also just 1Hz, which means that you at best will get an accuracy of 1second on your laps.

    I bought an 5Hz BT GPS (accuracy 0.2seconds) that I use for lap timing when I do trackdays with my motorcycle, the external one works at least 10 times better than my Nokia built in GPS.

    There are also 10Hz GPS modules, accuracy = 0.1seconds.

    http://www.amazon.com/BT-Q818XT-Qstarz-10Hz-Bluetooth-Receiver/dp/B003YCZINA

    GPS modules with MTK chip sets are also more accurate and sensitive than e.g SirfStar III chip sets.

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    • That’s an excellent thought. I can’t see why it wouldn’t work, but ultimately I still think the Garmin is the way to go: one small and lightweight unit, high quality GPS (I assume? I can’t find any info on what kind of GPS unit is in the Edge 500), heart rate monitor and cadence sensor.

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    • No, no motorized vehicles allowed at Wekiwa (or any of the other trails I ride).

      Actually the issue you mention is a fairly large source of friction in the Strava community–particularly amongst roadies. Some roadies have been caught “earning” KOMs in cars and the like. Another reason the HR data is a good thing to have as an added form of “proof”.

      It really sucks that some people feel the need to cheat. How can there be any sense of accomplishment or pride in claiming a record that you didn’t earn? I just don’t get it. I feel sorry for people with such a low sense of self-worth.

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