Hipster’s don’t put power meters on their fixies.
Now, if I can just find time to ride it.
Hipster’s don’t put power meters on their fixies.
Now, if I can just find time to ride it.
Monday night I went out on a ride that had the primary purpose of getting my atrophied muscles some exercise. A side benefit was it also gave me a chance to test out a route tracing iPhone application. In yesterday’s post, I talked about the success of my primary goal. Today, I’d like to share my initial observations about the secondary one.
I’m not that excited about adding one more piece of technology to my bike. I find my Quarq CinQo powermeter and Garmin Edge 500 to be enough. Sure, I haul my cell phone around with me for that just in case need. However, that doesn’t have to do so much with my ride as it does with if I suddenly stop riding!
While making my plans for the 2010 Ride for Mike, I always intended it to be an interactive affair. That phone back there would play more of a role in that trip. The plan is to stop along the way and use my iPhone to send tweets out about my progress. With the iPhone 4, I’ll also able to take some HD video… if I happen to have anything worth catching on video.
Then I thought, wouldn’t it be cool if I could use the iPhone to allow people to follow me on my route in real time. I started looking an application that could do it. Right now, the closest I have come is the Cyclemeter by Abvio. At least I know that it will track my route… whether it will allow people to follow me as I ride or if it will only allow them to see after I’ve finished is the question.
The application sends out a tweet when you start with a link to a map. I’m told that it updates my position every 5 minutes. So, my assumption is that if you click on the link during the time of my ride, you will see my progress within five minutes or less of that time. I’ve yet to test that part of it.
Of course, my greatest concern is with the AT&T network. The iPhone application might do a great job collecting the positioning data, but that doesn’t do me any good if I can get it up to the Web! My understanding is that the Cyclemeter software compensates for this by buffering until if finds a connection.
Then I wonder about the GPS accuracy. This isn’t as big of a deal, but consider these two maps from my Monday night right. The first is the one generated by my Garmin Edge 500. The second one is from the Cyclemeter software.
At first glance, the Cyclemeter route looks identical.
Look closer and you will see that the Garmin GPS read a much tighter route than the iPhone one. Now, neither of them stayed dead on during the ride, but the iPhone one was a bit more wacky at times.
The Garmin data is much prettier…
It looks like this is the approach I’m going to have to take. I wish there was an ANT+ connection to the iPhone so that I could port the Garmin data through my iPhone to a server on the internet and display even more information from my ride. Still, this is about the investment I’ll need to make considering how many people will (or, more to the point won’t) be following my progress.
Do you use the Cyclemeter? Can you give me some advise? What type of battery life do you find you get? I’d also like to connect with some folks who would be willing to check in with me on my next ride. I’ll let you know when I plan the test and you can click on the link of the tweet that is sent out. We can figure out how it works together!
By the way, here are the links to the actual Google Maps routes that were generated Monday evening.
Saturday after my functional threshold power test, I sent the data to my coach, Jim Cunningham. He was traveling in California and was unable to give me his analysis that day. However, on Sunday afternoon just before I sat down for a meal with family, the phone rang. It was Jim.
After the normal exchange of pleasantries — it was raining in Greenville and sunny in California — Jim got down to business, “I looked at your data and thought it would be best to give you a call to get your thought process during the test.” Somehow I figured that would be the case. My approach was probably a little unorthodox.
“I noticed that you had a higher cadence in the beginning with an average wattage around 260 watts,” he continued, “but then your cadence drops significantly three different times and at those points your wattage is over 300 watts.” Yep, the graphs don’t lie. That is exactly what happened.
I explained to him that I was fearful of starting out too strong and that I took it easy in the beginning but measured my effort to keep myself close to my known FTP average. The bursts were times when I stood and dropped the cadence in order to increase the wattage to bring the average up. The times between the bursts were me attempting not to red zone too early from the harder efforts.
“I understand,” he replied. “However, typically in a TT effort you try to maintain a steady effort.” Somehow I knew he was going to say that. “I think at some point in the future we need to have you do another TT effort, but this time keep you in the 80s for your cadence. It could be that for TT efforts you will do better with a lower cadence.”
I explained to him that when I ride at a higher cadence it gives me a very good cardio workout, but I cannot sustain high wattage for very long doing so. I get much more fatigued when I am spinning at 95 to 100 rpm in order to hold a 270+ power level. Bigger gear in the 80s and I can hold that power level much longer.
On Sunday night my workout was supposed to be an hour ride with a large portion of that in a 190 to 220 watts zone. I determined I wasn’t going to look at the cadence readout on my Garmin Edge 500. I was just going to find a gear that allowed me to hold that wattage and felt comfortable to me.
At the end of the workout, I felt great! I then looked at my power file. Every interval was nearly dead on between 82 and 84 rpm. I was also better able to sustain a steady rhythm. Even when I felt as though I was spinning faster during the warm-up and cool-down, I was still only at around 86 rpm.
I realize that I need to learn to ride at a higher cadence. However, I also think cadence is somewhat of a personal thing. There is an amount of finding what works best for you. I can see myself settling in somewhere between 85 and 90 rpm. Time will tell.
And, yes, I realize now that when it comes to a TT effort FTP test, I need to measure my effort out across the entire period instead of dipping and spiking. As Jim said near the end of the conversation, “You shouldn’t have had that much left in the tank at the end.”
The bad news? I didn’t really do my FTP test correctly. The good news? Most likely had I done it correctly, I would have had better results. On top of that, I still increased my FTP by 10 watts. I’ll go with the good news!
Thought it might be neat to take some video from the start of a ride all the way through the process of getting the data from the Garmin Edge 500 to my coach and ultimately onto my computer for future use. Of course, a video like this can’t show everything or answer every question someone might have. I’ll be glad to look into any questions the video might generate and find an answer.
It is Monday and folks at Garmin told me that the software update for the Edge 500 would be coming out today. I’ve had the opportunity to try it out and it seems to be working. If when you attempt to send the data from Garmin Connect to your Edge 500, you may get an error. However, simply click the “send to” link again and you will find the data does transfer.
My second Functional Threshold Power test occupied my mind yesterday. It was a pretty busy day without it. I was a little nervous going into the event because I knew I was a little more pressured than usual and my schedule wasn’t going as I planned. Still, the time did come and now I’m waiting on my coach for the official results.
At 7:30 AM I was at a budget planning meeting with my two business partners. Actually, it was just one. The second had gotten a bad head cold the night before and joined us later on the telephone.
That meeting lasted until a little after 11 AM. Of course, by that time the Upstate Winter Bicycle League had already started. There would be no pink cat. 4 sprinter’s vest for me.
Then to make matters worse, a toilet in the office building had plugged. There was water gathering in the carpet in one of the programmer rooms on the other side of the wall from the restroom. Since care of the building is one of my responsibilities, it was up to me to get it cleaned up.
That led to a late lunch which then led to a late start on my pre-test ride. That ride was to be a 2:15 ride with a warm up of 15 minutes at under 180 watts, a sustained wattage between 180 – 220, and then a cool down for 15 minutes under 150 watts. It was a little cool out there, but not bad. I was well layered and only my fingers started getting a little cold by the end.
After getting off the bike and getting myself sorted out with some food, it was time to get back on the bike. This time I would be on a trainer in my basement. This ride would be different in that I was supposed to work up to giving a solid TT effort and that would determine my Functional Threshold Power.
It starts off with a 10 minute warm-up with a nice little push in the last two minutes. After 5 minutes of backing off from that last effort, you start a 20 minute effort maintaining wattage between 220 – 240 watts. Then it is time to spin easy for 10 minutes. Ready? Now it is time for an all out effort for 20 minutes before finally spinning down for a final 10 minutes.
Everything was going according to plan until the first 20 minutes segment. Even though I was in my unfinished basement and the temperature was in the mid-50s, I was really starting to get warm. I knew that would lead to fatigue. So, I got off the bike, opened the door to the outside, and set up a fan. Things started to cool down quickly and I got back at the task at hand.
The meat of the test started with the 20 minute all out effort. Knowing my habit of starting out too early, I tried to start out below what I knew my Functional Threshold Power level to be. I did this for the first 5 minutes. My Garmin Edge 500 was telling me that the Quarq CinQo power meter was recording 260 watts. I then shifted down and stood putting out over 300 watts for a couple of minutes.
That effort moved up close to my known 270 FTP. However, I knew I could not sustain that for the next 15+ minutes. I backed off to recover a little bit until I reached the 10 minute mark. At that point, I upped the wattage again. This time the watts went up to 276. Now it was time to recover slightly for the final push to the end.
I watched as the wattage dropped during those minutes to around 274 watts. I knew that was better than my previous test, but I was certain it did not represent where I was today. It was time to stand and push to the end. So, with about 4 minutes left, I came out of the saddle, shifted down, and then pushed to the end.
It was worth it! Yes, I felt kind of sick by that last pedal stroke, but looking at my Garmin I saw an average of 279 watts for the 20 minutes. That is nearly a 10 watt increase over my last FTP test. That final push had raised my average by about 5 watts. Looking at the graph, I see that it was also the portion of the ride where I put out the most wattage.
I uploaded my data to Trainingpeaks.com and my coach, Jim Cunningham, who has been in California coaching at the Olympic Training Center, will soon let me know if I did everything correctly so the test will be valid. I can’t imagine it won’t be. I will be curious to know if he expected a better performance.
Me? I’m pretty happy with it. I have had a very rough start to my training due to all the physical problems I’ve been having. It has hampered my off the bike training most of all, but has not made training on the bike as profitable as I would like either. To see any increase it encouraging. Now that I am starting to beat this pain, I hope the next segment of my training will be even better.
Who knows what my numbers will be next time? Yes, I realize that an FTP of 279 watts just puts me in the Cat. 4 level, but – hey – that is what I am! I would love to see myself over 300 before all is said and done. You’ve got to start somewhere!
Let’s take a look at the Garmin Edge 750 compared to the Garmin Edge 500. I’m sure I’ll be learning even more about the Edge 500 as it is used more on my bike. For now, I’ll focus on the dimensions and menu navigation.
At first I’ll admit that I was more comfortable using the Edge 705. It was the unit with which I was most familiar. While the joy stick is has can be annoying when trying to select a menu item (it will sometime twist when you press down moving you to another item instead of selecting one), it did provide a lot of versatility when navigating through the menus.
The Edge 500 does not have the joystick. However, once I started understand the logic of the menu and how you moved between them, it started to become second nature. If you are looking to get the 500 and haven’t had the 705, you probably won’t think anything of it.
For the most part, the units are very similar in their basic operation. The biggest changes are actually things you don’t see. For instance, the Edge 500 no longer uses .tcx files. Instead the .fit format is used. The reason for this is that the file size of the later is smaller and is a more efficient use the unit’s memory.
I have not yet been able to test this, but Garmin says the battery life on the Edge 500 is 18 hours. The Garmin 705 is supposed to have a 14 hour life. I’m one of those people who plug things in automatically so rarely go on two rides in a row without charging my units. I’ve never had any trouble with the 705 and I doubt I will with the 500 — even on longer rides.
Garmin has created a solid unit for rider who is into training and racing. The price is right. I’m sold.
UPDATE: December 8, 5:00 PM – The official word from Garmin is that the Garmin Edge 500 requires a software update to allow for downloading zone settings to the device from Garmin Connect. They are also working on a new release of the Garmin Training Center that will include power data options. No estimated time was given for the release.
A big “thank you” to the folks at Peaksware for helping me get up and going loading my data from the Garmin Edge 500 to Trainingpeaks. After mentioning my problems on Twitter, I was contacted directly by Gear Fisher, the COO. I was up and going in less than an hour and had several followup contacts from members of the Trainingpeaks team.
The key to working with Trainingpeaks and the new device is to have the latest Trainingpeaks Device Agent. The version that I have now is a late beta and the release version should be out soon. So far I have found the beta (Windows version only) to be pretty bug free and a great improvement over the previous version!
However, my Garmin Edge 500 issues are not over. While I have gotten my upload issues resolved, I am still having trouble getting some of the settings adjusted on the device. I am unable to set the heart rate and power zones.
With the Garmin Edge 705 you would use the device itself to input the zones. However, the Garmin Edge 500 does not allow you to enter the zones directly into the device. Instead, the manual instructs you to use the Garmin Connect or Garmin Training Center to configure the zones.
So, I went to my Garmin Training Center on my Mac. I did find the spot to enter the heart rate zones. However, there was no place to configure the power zones. Once I entered my heart rate zones, I looked for a way to get that information back to the Garmin. I searched every option and even went online searching for something I might be missing.
Zip. Zero. Nada.
Maybe the Garmin Connect online application could help. Ah, at least now I had the option to enter both the heart rate and power zones. However, once again, I had no way to get the information back onto my Garmin.
Okay, so maybe the issue was the fact that I was attempting to do this with my Mac. Maybe only the latest Windows version would allow me to configure my Garmin with the Training Center. I went to Garmin.com to download the application. Finally I gave up as the download would hang every time. Currently, I am waiting to hear back from Garmin support.
I do like the device and I’m looking forward to describing some of the features that I like. However, I’ve got to get through these issues before I’m ready to give it an enthusiastic review. Really, it isn’t the device itself so much as it is how the device interacts with its support mechanisms.
I realize that I am an early adopter and in today’s world this is just how products come to the market. Hopefully, any readers who are looking to purchase the device will find these issues resolved before their units arrive.
Then again, maybe I am just dumb and am missing an obvious option here. If you have any information that could help me get my zones put into my Garmin, I would appreciate it.
UPDATE: After publishing this article earlier this morning, I checked my Twitter account to find Gear Fisher had sent me a link to what appears to be a beta Device Agent program. I say beta because I have not seen it available on the Trainingpeaks website. However, the program worked beautifully (on my Windows machine) and I was able to get my data uploaded. Not sure when the new device agent will be widely available. Stay tuned…
After finishing my first ride with the Garmin Edge 500, I was ready to upload my data to Trainingpeaks.com. Being familiar with the Edge 705, I didn’t think twice about connecting my 500 and drilling down the directory structure to find my history file to upload. Problem is… it wasn’t there.
With the Garmin Edge 705 you would find the file and then upload it to Trainingpeaks.com or open it directly in your WKO+ software. The files containing the data have a .tcx extension. It was a system that worked just fine.
Now, I was searching in vain for the .tcx files. Finally I found a file with the .fit extension that appeared to be dated at the time I rode. There was a second one from the day before when I tested the Garmin Edge 500 for the first time.
Next I tried the Trainingpeaks Device Agent. It kept telling me that there was no Garmin connected to the computer. Finally, I went online to see if I could get some help. There was none to be found. The only thing I found was the following press release.
Cyclists who purchase Garmin’s new Edge 500 GPS-based cycling computer, available later this year, can upload workout data to TrainingPeaks software.
Lafayette, CO, September 18, 2009 – Peaksware today announced that purchasers of Garmin’s newest innovation in GPS technology, the Edge 500 cycling computer, will be able to upload workout data directly to TrainingPeaks training and nutrition software. All workout data recorded by the Edge 500, including anything from a paired ANT+ compatible heart rate monitor, speed/cadence sensor or power meter can be saved, analyzed and shared using a free or premium TrainingPeaks.com account, or for further power and GPS data analysis by using TrainingPeaks WKO+ desktop software.
“TrainingPeaks is excited to add Garmin’s newest cycling computer to our list of more than 80 compatible training devices,” said Donavon Guyot, CEO of Peaksware. “Compatibility with the Edge 500 cycling computer means cyclists, from the elite to the beginner, can continue to seamlessly use TrainingPeaks as their one source for tracking all of their training and routes.”
Designed for the performance cyclists, the Edge 500 cycling computer tracks speed, distance, time, position, elevation, calories burned, and power when paired with an ANT+ compatible power meter along with other data. Workouts uploaded from the Edge 500 cycling computer to TrainingPeaks can be saved and analyzed over time as well as shared online with a coach or with friends on Facebook and Twitter.
Cyclists can upload workout data from the Edge 500 cycling computer directly to either a free Basic or Premium TrainingPeaks.com account, as well as export the data to TrainingPeaks WKO+ desktop software for advanced power and GPS data analysis. Visit www.trainingpeaks.com to create an account or get a free trial of WKO+ software.
My request to Trainingpeaks.com support was an automated response letting me know that they would be glad to help me during their regular business hours. Seems I was stuck. I’m not an impatient person and I don’t mind waiting. However, I was supposed to get my data up for my coach to analyze and it would be nice to know whether I should keep looking or just wait.
I then got word from Elizabeth with Peaksware. “So sorry about the confusion with the Edge 500,” she wrote in an email. “We are certainly working on adding to our list of over 80 compatible training devices. We have had a slight delay in developing the direct compatibility we had announced in anticipation of the release of the Edge 500, but we are definitely working on it.”
That answered my question. I’ll be going back to my 705 for future rides until this issue is resolved. My initial experience with the device on the road (which I had wanted to write about today) was positive. However, if you are thinking of purchasing the device for the purpose of recording your power and uploading it to Trainingpeaks.com, you might want to wait a bit.