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PostPosted: Sun Sep 15, 2013 4:30 pm 
retrobike rider
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Joined: Sun Feb 19, 2012 10:08 am
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Location: Nth Somerset, UK
At the request of another forum member and with an OK from Tel, I am starting this thread to pass on what little I know about these machines. I am by no means an expert, I just use one to record stuff, but with any luck, other users will post their experiences.

To explain; I started riding road bikes for the first time ever just under a year ago. I have ridden mtb's for a little over 20 years and been a Martial Artist for longer, so 'training' has been a part of my life for a long time.

So, once I began training on my road bike it became clear I needed to know if I was progressing and by how much, otherwise the effort may well have been wasted. I used a HRM (heart rate monitor) on the turbo when recovering from a dislocated shoulder, and as my son is already a very experienced and dedicated road rider, I sought his advice.

First off, I (you) needed to decide what data I was recording, that sort of dictates what device you buy. For instance, my daughter just records the route, the speeds, height gains and descents. This is all done on a downloaded app (short for application) on her iPhone. I am sure there are lots of similar apps for lots of different types of phones, and I'm hoping that users will add their knowledge and experiences to this thread.

In my case I don't 'do' phones. I have one for work and another for when I'm out on my own and that's that, so I wanted some sort of GPS.

I had decided I wanted the following data: Heart rate, cadence, height gains, and speed. Looking at the current crop of Garmin's (and there are others) they all looked a bit pricey for a toe dipping exercise, so I looked at the specifications of some of the older (and cheaper) devices that could be picked up second hand. In the end I chose to look for a Garmin Edge 305. There is also a runners wrist watch type 305, so watch out you don't get the wrong one. I chose the 305 as it has an altimeter and so can record height gains and losses. It also can store routes for you to follow, but I never used that function.

I bought my 305 on ebay as a recently refurbished unit and all I got was the machine itself. Fortunately we already had a compatible heart rate monitor strap and also a cadence meter and magnet, but if you don't have these then they will cost you extra, and watch compatibility, as you need to get accessories that will speak to your GPS (in my case the 305).

Next I wanted to store the data and in the case of the 305, the computer does not see it as a memory stick or mass storage device, so you need to download (for free) some software from Garmin that allows you to upload the data to the relevant web site. Garmin have their own such site called Garmin Connect, but a better known site is probably Strava. There are others, and I don't really think it matters which one you use.

I am not a contender for a Strava King of the Mountain, and I'm really not the least bit interested in comparing my performance with that of a man half my age and so I use the 'Private' option on all my uploads, which means the only people who get to see how badly I'm doing are my son and daughter (by invitation). I upload all my rides to both Strava and Garmin Connect, that way I always have the information backed up.

I am not going to explain what you can do with the 305, you can download the manual for that, but there are a couple of things worth knowing. The first is that there are very few options for mounting the 305; the Garmin mounts are cheap enough at around £7.00 each on line, but at present they are pretty much all there are. The second is that if you hit a big enough bump, the 305 can switch itself off. It happened to me three times in the best part of 1000 kilometres of recording and one of those three was over a speed bump. There is a fix on line, or I found that if you secure the mount just a tiny bit to the left or right of bolt upright, then bumps didn't jar the contact inside, and the 305 keeps recording.

Just recently I have changed from the 305 to the 500, mainly because the 500 is slightly newer and because a member was selling his off for £80 inc charger and a Bar Fly mount (which I swapped with my son). The 500 does much the same job, but doesn't have the route function that I never used. The 500 also has a wide choice of aftermarked mounting brackets and lastly the 500 is seen by your computer as a mass storage device, so you can either download some analysis type software and do all your work offline, or you can still upload your data, which is what I do. Or you can do what my son did for a long time.. both.

These are the only two GPS devices I have used and I hope other people will add their knowledge and experience.

As far as the data is concerned, I have been watching my progress using heart rate, average speed and average power. The power data is a bit thumb in the air, as I don't currently have a power meter on the bikes, as most of them cost more than the value of all my bikes combined, so I allow the Garmin to work out the power using whatever algorithms it sees fit.

In the time I have been using a GPS, I have seen my ave speed go up, my ave heart rate come down and my ave power go up and down as the 500 uses amore correct method of calculation than the 305, never the less my power output on some of the local climbs is getting better. I also keep a check on how far I am riding per month, although that is both time and temperature dependant, which is shown by the fact I did more road riding in February and March than I did in July and August... what can I say, I prefer cold weather to hot.

My advice regarding GPS technology is decide what you want to know and then use that to decide what kind of device will suit your needs.

I'm going to send a link of this thread to my kids, so with luck they will add their two penneth.

Do I find a GPS useful, yes I do, both for recording data and also showing me real time information while riding.

I have the display set up to show me my heart rate as the main figure, with time, distance and climb / descent percentage in smaller figures, that way when I am dying on a climb I can see just how steep it is, and just how my lungs are fooling me into thinking my heart is about to burst, which it never is.

Please feel free to add your thoughts and comments about GPS technology.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 15, 2013 4:45 pm 
Retro Guru

Joined: Sun Aug 07, 2011 10:55 am
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Location: Dorset
Nice one 8)

I read with interest.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 15, 2013 8:43 pm 
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Joined: Wed Aug 08, 2012 10:41 pm
Posts: 50
Location: Bristol
I use the Strava app for my iPhone 4s which seems to record with what I understand is varied accuracy. I have never had any issues with it other than needing to have GPS signal when you commence a ride, and having to have either 3G or Wifi when you upload it. From what I have read, the Strava app has come under criticism from some for its lack of accuracy when recording journeys as the GPS can dip in and out and therefore cannot give a true interpretation of speed, just an assumed one (distance/time presumably). My knowledge of this is admittedly minimal and, as I've said, I've never had any problems.

I use Strava for a variety of reasons. Firstly, I will admit that although I no longer consider myself much of an athlete, at one point in my life I was, and I have quite a sizable competitive streak as a result of that. I like knowing if I am any good in comparison to others so I can figure out how I might improve/ride smoother/get quicker etc (typical teacher!) Most of the time, Strava just confirms what I already know... That I'm not very fast compared to most people! I'm fine with that! In fact, if you take this too seriously it tends to suck the fun out of any rides you do. (I know from experience.)

The main reason I use it is to see where I've been. I ride on The Mendips quite a lot with someone who knows his way around. I NEVER know my way around, anywhere! So this app is really quite useful for documenting where I've been in an attempt to retrace my steps at a later date. Having all these routes logged somewhere is great.

I don't care about average speeds, power outputs, heart rates etc because I don't know what any of it means in relation to anything or anyone else. I like knowing how far I've gone so I can build on that and maintain a level of fitness that I am happy with. For example, if I ride 30 miles in a week (yes, that's piss all but I work full time), I know I should either maintain that or build on that by going further/quicker to increase my fitness even more. As I near the age of 30 it's definitely important to me that I do keep my fitness levels up.

I've ridden alongside people using the same app, different apps on different devices (Android) and people using Garmin and the difference has always been absolutely minimal. In my opinion, the fact I already had an iPhone (which I would always have with me for safety reasons anyway) for which I could get the Strava app for free means I'm saving money on a Garmin. As my self-confessed novice status only requires what this free app can offer me, I would genuinely recommend it to others who would place themselves in a similar category as myself.

To see what the iPhone app can offer, this is my Strava profile - http://www.strava.com/athletes/1251067


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 15, 2013 9:11 pm 
Gold Trader / PoTM Winner / RB Rider
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Joined: Wed Oct 05, 2005 7:45 pm
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I use a Garmin Forerunner 305 , for running and cycling .

it is very good to measure related to the gps ( distance , speed etc.. ) . But calories count and power output is way off . it doesnt matter to me .

I upload to Strava too . There is a Retrobike club on strava .


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 15, 2013 9:21 pm 
retrobike rider
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Joined: Fri Aug 08, 2008 2:36 pm
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Location: Yorkshire, England
The Strava app, as with most 'apps' I know of are purley limited to the GPS powers on the phone, not the app itself, so GPS performance may vary. some Phones are not as good as others. Having a data connection on or wifi at the start should speed up initial gps lock on as it is assisted, possibly even get current sat locations.
Of road of course has the large problem of trees, you etc in the way. IT needs line of sight to work properly.


Anyway.
I got my dads old Orange SanFrancisco (ZTE Blade) phone off him as he cracked the screen. For me not a problem I just wanted it to log rides.
I have used it in my pocket, thrown in my back pack etc. BUT the best and most consistent way is at the top of my rucksack, in the top most pocket. I don't get in the way at all then.

There are apps available for heartrate, and all the other monitors, (strava can do this too) even barometer if your phone has it. Other apps may also do this and when platforms evolve and apps evolve. Which is the one advantage of Apps on Phones or similar devices, easy to try and easy to add features.
The phone does all it's data transfer too. You don't in fact need a SIM card or mobile operator as you can use Wi-Fi when you find a connection. (at least on my phone).

for people that don't do phones, don't think of them as phones. They are mini-computers with a lot of data-logging sensors connected. Once you understand that, it's much easier. Some just happen to have the a phone 'sensor' added so they can be used as a phone.

I like Strava because I like the segments. Only my 'friends' can see my logs as that what I have my settings set to, so I don't need to make private all the time.

Why do I like the segments, it is interesting seeing that I was quicker up the radio mast this year (the peaks national just gone) than last even though I didn't feel I was*. I can compare my times over that segment very easily. Being a long segment (time wise) it's going to be pretty accurate.
Short segment not though due to the very crude way Strava works and calculates things and the inherent inaccuracies of GPS. There is no point going fast than something if it's only a 3 second change you're looking at. It is not that accurate. Strava tells you themselves how 'poor' it is, read what they say.
While I use 1 second intervals, the default for Android is 3 second and then due to the way Strava calculates after uploading, for a segment, you may be 2 or 3 secs better or worse than you are if you happen to have you gps location correct.

That is where segments work though, compare to yourself and your friend over time.
(or for knackering out the new riders you made use it and keep telling them 'this is a segment' and watch them bomb off :lol:)

*and some bugger called Martin was 3mins 30secs faster (I was just of 16 mins) on a 1989 MS Racing bike... and I was one of the 'quick, actually road all of it' ones, lol.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 16, 2013 10:22 am 
retrobike rider
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Joined: Mon Apr 16, 2012 9:15 am
Posts: 56
Location: in NeilM's house
I've been using GPS devices for cycling since November 2009, the first unit I bought was an Edge 705, and after around a year with it I bought an Edge 500 and sold the 705 on. Being that I also own a power meter I was using an application on my mac called Golden Cheetah which gives you more insight into your data than you will ever need, and allows you to keep all your Garmin data on your machine locally. Shortly after getting the 500 I found that the "premium" HRM strap was close to useless, and being that I had a power meter and a fairly decent understanding of how to interpret the data while riding I stopped using my HRM. I also used an application on my mac called Rubitrack which again allows you to keep all your data locally. I joined Strava in Autumn 2010 and found the service to be great for looking at "segments" (this was before the days of 10 second sprints and bridges being considered climbs, essentially when it just had useful segments on) but using both of those AND Strava became overkill, so I switched to just GC and Strava, GC for power analysis and Strava for general ride information and logging.

As Stravas power features have got better and better I have now stopped using GC entirely and just use Strava with my 500/Quarq. If i'm not riding properly then I wont track my rides, but most stuff does end up getting tracked and put on Strava, which I think is an absolutely great service and if you have a power meter is well worth upgrading to premium for the extra data you get.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 16, 2013 8:35 pm 
retrobike rider
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Location: nuneaton warks
is mrs mac comming along soon? or is she still in the garage bolting the Q rotor rings and garmin vectors on the sibilo ?


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 16, 2013 9:07 pm 
retrobike rider
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The furthest Mrs M ever got with bike mounted technology was a Cateye Mitty 2, which I think we still have here somewhere. :mrgreen:


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 16, 2013 9:38 pm 
Gold Trader / PoTM Winner / RB Rider
Gold Trader / PoTM Winner / RB Rider
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Joined: Tue Feb 26, 2013 6:26 pm
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Location: 54 Festive Road Winchcombe GLOUCS Yarp...
Can you explain the merits of a tri pro? :lol:


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 16, 2013 9:44 pm 
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Joined: Sat Oct 06, 2012 5:17 pm
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Location: Norn Iron
NeilM,

Thanks very much for taking the time to start this thread - i really appreciate it - if you are down my way - a beer is already cold for you!

Richard

p.s. thanks to Tel too!!!


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