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Fun group ride despite mechanicals, heat, humidity, headwinds, wasps…

Monday, July 21, 2014 by  
Filed under Daily Blog


I woke up on Saturday morning READY TO RIDE!

My bike was sparkling clean and fully tuned, I had a great night of sleep and felt well-rested, I’d done a light ride on Friday and so my legs were feeling fresh, and the route we had planned is one of my favorites. I practically flew out of my bed at 4:30 AM.

I took this photo of my friend William as he was approaching the spot where we join up for the 21 km ride over to the group ride start. I snapped my derailleur hanger a few seconds later.

I took this photo of my friend William as he was approaching the spot where we join up for the 21 km ride over to the group ride start. I snapped my derailleur hanger a few seconds later.

For the Saturday morning group rides I almost always meet up with my friend William, who lives nearby, and we make the 21 kilometer (13 mile) ride over to the group ride starting location together. So I arrived at the spot where William and I meet a few minutes early, and I decided to get off the road while I waited. I dismounted, and walked my bike a few feet to a safe spot. While I was waiting I pulled out my phone, and a couple minutes later I saw William approaching. The sun was coming up behind William, and I thought, “Oh cool, this will make a nice picture!” So I snapped the photo just as my bike fell over onto the concrete with a sickening crash. 🙁

Normally when I stop my bike I straddle the top tube, which obviously prevents this sort of thing from happening. Unfortunately this time I’d just finished walking my bike, and never re-mounted. So I picked my poor bike up which, of course, fell on the drive side scratching my brand new Di2 rear derailleur. Everything looked okay, but when I spun the pedals the derailleur was caught in the spokes. The hanger was cracked.

Yep, that’s hanger number four. In less than a year.

Whatever, I was prepared. I pulled off the rear wheel, retrieved my spare derailleur hanger, grabbed my multitool, cursed at myself for good measure, and got to work while William held the back of the bike up for me.

This was my first field replacement of a rear derailleur hanger and, as I quickly discovered, the 2.5mm wrench included with my multitool was too short for the job. The frame of the bike prevented the short wrench from reaching the two small screws that bolt the hanger to the frame. Okay, should have checked that in the shop beforehand. More cursing as I made a mental note to put a longer 2.5mm hex in my kit.

The group ride departs at 8:00 AM sharp, and at this point we were out of time. I told William to go on, and I would have Lisa come pick me up. I figured if I got back to my shop, swapped the hanger out and made the drive to the group ride in my truck I might just get there in time.

Lisa, who is probably getting very tired of rescuing me before her first cup of coffee, quickly arrived and drove me home. I got the hanger swapped out, and made it to the group ride with minutes to spare. Thanks to me, William had to haul ass to make it on time, and so his warm-up was more of a sprint. Sorry, dude.

After a few laughs and some well-deserved ribbing, we set off on the ride.

The first 20 kilometers (12 miles) of the ride was at a nice warm-up pace. When we hit FL-19, I knew it was about a 17 kilometer (10.7 mile) unbroken stretch–perfect for a time trial effort. I figured I’d go off the front, and if anyone else was feeling frisky they could get on my wheel and we’d rock it together. No one followed, so I thought, “Okay, this will be an ITT (Individual Time Trial)”.

At roughly the halfway point I was feeling good, averaging just shy of 40 km/h (25 mi/h). My average watts at the halfway point were 276, which was not impressive for what was going to be about a 25 minute effort (276 watts is more of an hour-long effort level for me).

I finished the 17 kilometer (10.7 mile) ITT in 00:25:19 with an average speed of 39 km/h (24.3 mi/h) and an average wattage output of 264. My wattage PR for a 25:19 effort is 292 watts, so I was a little disappointed with my performance. I was still feeling really strong, so I suspect that I was subconsciously holding back knowing that I still had a lot of riding after the ITT effort.

After the ITT I waited for the group to catch up, and rejoined the paceline.

The route we were doing is sort of an “out and back” route, with a few alternate roads on the return thrown in. As we reached the halfway point and turned back south, we hit one of those alternate roads, CR 445.

CR 445 is pretty remote, and much of the road is extremely rough and bumpy. So we’re cruising along CR 445, and I rotated to the front of the paceline for my pull. Not long into my pull something flew into the vents of my helmet, and I could feel it crawling around on my head. Just as I thought, “Please don’t be a stinging insect!”, I felt the first sting on the back of my head.

Holy hell that hurt!

I kept riding and unfastened my helmet just as I felt the second sting. PLEASE STOP STINGING ME MR. WASP!

I pulled my helmet up, and the rider behind me said the wasp flew out. I put my helmet back on, and kept the pace as I refastened the clasp. It still felt like the wasp was crawling on my head, and the stings were really hurting (later Lisa discovered 3 distinct stings on my head). There was nothing I could do about the pain, so I just kept riding.

At this point the heat and humidity were really getting up there, and the heat index was over 100° (F). We were also fighting a pretty strong headwind. Despite all that, when we reached the last rest stop I was still feeling really good, and so I asked if anyone wanted to hammer the last 21 km (13 miles) with me. No one was interested, so I told everyone good ride and took off on my own.

The heat and headwinds were beating the hell out of me, but I was determined to finish the ride at greater than a 34 km/h (21 mi/h) pace.

So, as if enough things hadn’t already gone wrong, my Garmin 810 decided to lock up on me (first time that’s ever happened with this 810). I reset the unit, and when it finished rebooting the option to “Save” or “Discard” came up. The thing to do here is ignore that, and hit the start button. Sure enough, the ride resumed and all my stats and history from the ride were still there. Whew!

Or so I thought. More on that a little further down.

When I finished the 96.5 km (60 mile) ride, I was happy to see that my Garmin reported that my average speed was 34 km/h (21.03 mi/h). Because I was on my own or pulling for a large portion of this ride (and the entire second half was into a headwind), I was quite pleased with this result.

So when I got home and uploaded my ride, I instantly saw there was a major problem: the entire ride up until the point where my Garmin crashed was gone. I could see from the small file size that the data was simply not there. It was gone, and there was nothing I could do about it.

Then I remembered that I had Garmin’s Livetrack running. Livetrack contains all the speed, power, heart rate, cadence and GPS data! The problem is Garmin does not provide any way to download that data (come on, Garmin…. really?!) Further, the Livetrack data is only stored on Garmin’s servers for 24 hours, and Garmin support was closed until Monday.

I did some searching and saw a few threads in which others had been faced with a similar situation, but found no resolution. I posted about the problem on Facebook, and my friend Eugene Cusie pointed me to this thread on Garmin’s site. Using the information in that thread, I found my ride data and saved it.

The problem is that the Livetrack data is in a format called “JSON”, which is not something Garmin Connect or Strava can use. So now the trick was to find some means of converting the JSON data to a format that Strava or Garmin Connect understands–TCX format, or similar.

I did lots of searching, but found nothing. I tried contacting the author of the thread mentioned above (who said he was working on a conversion tool), but he never got back with me.

Oh well, I had my data, and I figured Garmin support could help on Monday. I went to bed, and when I woke up I had a message from a Facebook friend who is a software developer and fellow cyclist, Michael C.

Michael actually took the time to write a custom conversion tool in C#, and it worked perfectly. I was speechless. After writing the conversion tool, Michael came across this web site that does the same thing. 🙂

I want to give a HUGE “Thanks!” to Eugene and Michael for their help. Really appreciate it, guys.

Here’s the complete ride with all data (thanks to Michael and Eugene) on Strava. Note that my moving time was increased by nearly 2 minutes during the JSON conversion (not sure why), and that brought my apparent average speed down to an incorrect 20.9 mi/h. I did happen to take a screenshot of the Livetrack screen, which showed the correct average speed:

Screenshot from the Livetrack data showing the correct moving time and average speed.

Screenshot from the Livetrack data showing the correct moving time and average speed.


The funny thing is, despite all the problems I experienced on this ride, I loved it. Great day on the bike.

John Stone Fitness Comments

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