What do I do now?

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So you bought a Garmin. You’ve got OS maps included too cos it seemed like the right thing to do, now what do you do?

Ride around bike parks and trail centres recording your rides and putting them up on Strava of course…

Well, there’s a lot more you can and should be doing. But first, here’s one of my crushes from the 90s – the delicious Louise Wener and her band Sleeper with “What Do I Do Now?”  You see what I did there? Continue reading “What do I do now?”

Stand up for Strava

Where the wild things are
Where the wild things are

I thought it was time someone made a stand for Strava. We see increasing amounts of bad press about speeding cyclists in public places or even the daft need for speed cameras on bike trails. And a blame of sorts is often landed on Strava.

I wont and can’t deny that Strava doesn’t allow and promote competition with its Cups and KOM Crowns; but surely these cyclists are competitive by nature and some how they would find a way of racing no matter what? Strava allows them to seek out other riders times and segments – yes. But if those segments are on shared paths and parks surely Strava is helping by highlighting where the problems are and who the riders are that cause the probelm?

Its an easy target, as are cyclists in general when it comes to public spaces – we should just ride sensibly or away from these locations and the problem wouldn’t exist.  Talk of banning or closing down the app is ridiculous in my opinion, the authorities should work with Strava to target the offending cyclists.

There are some negative sides to Strava, or the way it is used but the benefits of the app and the usefulness is far greater.

The Strava Effect

This article on SingleTracks covers it quite well. Strava has taken the soul out of cycling in some ways and it bugs me to see a bunch of cyclists at the end of a ride all checking their phones for their “results”. How many new PBs, any KOMs etc?

There is nothing wrong with this per se, but when it becomes the focus of conversation after a ride it really bugs me.  “I’ve hit my climbing challenge this month” “How many miles you done now?” “I beat you up that climb by 4 seconds”…  Yawn!

How about we talk about how great it was to be out together? How about we we talk about the stunning views from the top of the mountain? How about we talk about how technical that climb was and laugh at how someone fell in a puddle? How about we talk about when are we doing this gain? How about we talk?

Its not quite as bad as all that but it does annoy me.

And please don’t get me started on the constant shares on Facebook! Why?

ooh Well done mate you road your bike today.

Strava and Me

Since signing up to Strava I have become a little addicted to it myself, but I rarely talk about it or my achievements (or lack of). This doesn’t mean I’m not competitive and don’t strive to become quicker its just means that Strava is a personal thing for me.

I don’t really mind if you are quicker, though I am interested in how you manage to go so much quicker than I do.

“sometimes it is nice to smell the flowers, doesn’t mean you can’t measure how far you went to do it” – Nik

I rarely sign up to challenges either – If I do its to motivate myself as Strava gives a handy prompt to let you know how you are doing on a distance or climbing challenge. Not to compare my progress with others – it helps me keep track of my exercise, my progress on regular routes and gives me a gentle reminder to get out more.

Check out Mr Morzine’s thoughts on the same subject.

I am also a map fan so love looking at where I’ve been and where I could have been. Strava highlights segments and I have used the segment explorer on many occasions to plan routes – this ride was created using the Segment Explorer. Not so I can smash someones time, but so I can see what that little orange wiggly line is like in the middle of those woods!

You can use strava for this too
Smelling the flowers

Benefits of Strava

When I see others have been out and I haven’t it prompts me to ride. I check Strava to see where a few of my more adventurous biking friends have been to see if they have found some new trails. Now I want to go out and I know where to go!

Recording routes and trails is vital when exploring especially if you are far from home or want to easily explain the location to a friend – “Have a look on my Strava.” is a pretty common element of many a mountain bike conversation.

As mentioned above its also helpful for exploring new routes using the Segment Explorer…

Basically you get out of something whatever you put in – the same goes for Strava.  A number of people I know have given up on Strava as it was ruling their rides, I wonder why they let this happen and why fun biking and Strava can’t coexist for them and for the media as whole?

Oh well, I guess that’s their problem.

#StandUpForStrava

If its not on Strava…

Genesis CDF Cyclocross Bike
Did this ride really happen?

…did the ride really happen?

I realised this last week that I am a Strava Addict. Yes I admit it.

I didn’t really doubt it and let me get this straight, its not that I am addicted t o chasing down other peoples times and climbs. I am much more realistic than that. I ride for pleasure and fun, and ONLY OCCASIONALLY do I feel the need to try and beat someones time.

Last week my Garmin bike GPS failed to connect to my computer meaning that I lost a ride to the oblivion of the internal memory.  Now let me explain, this was only a small pedal out at lunch time not even 10 miles, but I enjoyed it and I rode down a section of hill on my cyclocross bike that I normally do on my MTB. I was desperate to see how the times compared as I felt like I was moving! This was the first reason I was disappointed, secondly I wanted to show that the CX bike doesn’t stop me riding off road and doesn’t make me a roadie.

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Its not a road ride

Thirdly, I do like to keep an eye on my exercise and while I know full well I went out and I took a photo (above) to commemorate the occasion, my Strava account doesn’t know!  I can’t add manual entries – everyone knows they don’t count!

After much searching on the internet (Googling as we have become accustomed to calling it) I found that i was not alone in my pain. While this doesn’t appear to be a known fault as such, its seems to just happen to these devices to some people. It could be a mechanical issue with the USB port – I don’t know.

What next, a new one? Certainly buying gadgets is great, but the Garmin actually works otherwise.  I know I can use a card reader and take the activities off the device microSD card. Excellent! Problem solved. I can ride again.

So two days later I rode and rode and rode (and took more photos) and got up to a fantastic high speed on a little road descent. Can’t wait to see how I compare with others and my previous times!

ARGH!  I didn’t have the device set up to record to the microSD card! Another ride lost to oblivion – that actually didn’t happen and the only record is another photo.

I have now fixed the issue and rides will be recorded to the microSD card from now onwards. And I have saved myself buying a new Garmin!

More new bike bits it is then…

Garmin Home Screen Tip

I stumbled across some great advice today for Garmin users – forgive me if you already knew this.

I saw that it was possible to add some custom text to the home screen on my Garmin Edge 800 – this is ideally a great location for your telephone number or ICE (In case of emergency) details. So here goes:

1. Connect your Garmin device to your computer and open it up in the explorer (Windows) window.

Garmin Edge custom screen

2. In the root menu locate and double click the “startup” file. It should open into Notepad as this is a TXT file.

Garmin Edge Start Up File

3. Now see the where the text says <display = 0> , change this number. The number is seconds and is the number of seconds the display will stay on to show your message. 10 might be enough, but only if someone is expecting a message so I would make this 20 or more as its a lot more obvious then.

4. Under the line <!– Type your message on the next line –> you should, type your message!

5. Save the file. Disconnect your device and re-boot – it should look something like this. As you can see, I’ve had my Garmin for some time, don’t waste any time and update yours right away, these are expensive gadgets to lose.

Garmin edge screen shot

I am lead to believe that this process compatible with the following units: Garmin Edge 510, Edge 520, Edge 800, Edge 810, Edge 1000, and Touring/Touring Plus.

Before this there was an attempt at that…

ASICS trainers

I have mentioned previously that my mountain biking came about by accident a few years ago. Having done various forms of martial art over the years (tae kwon do and shotokan karate), it had been a while since I had done any proper exercise so I decided I would try running. Even the smartphone apps and music couldn’t keep me interested longer than about 3 weeks, so I gave up.

It was going to be some time before I was going to notice any improvement in fitness or ability and I gave up long before either. I don’t regret it as such as I bought a mountain bike and my life changed, but looking back now I wish I had stuck at it a bit longer.

Garmin Vivofit

Different forms of exercise can compliment and benefit each other and a friend of mine recommended I gave it another go to help with cardio fitness. So a few weeks ago I dusted off the trainers and went for a run.

2 miles and the next day my quads were aching! I hadn’t really stretched so I suppose I had it coming, was this a good idea? This time with Strava and some automatically generated goals (best 1km, best 5km etc) and a new found love of stats and of course a desire to get fit I stuck at it.

Gadgets help me and I really like my Garmin Vivofit and the Garmin Connect App. These along with Strava are helping me record my activities and encourage me to get off my back side.

Now only 3 weeks and a handful of runs later I am running 5km under 30mins and I have set my self an adventurous goal of running 10km by the end of the month – that’s only 10 days away!

I have a cold this weekend so I’m not doing anything to make it worse, but 10k by the end of April is a must. While it’s not a cycling goal it’s a fitness goal.