Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Beauty of Standards

I did my standard training ride to Rescue yesterday, and as promised, with my Garmin Edge 305 set to 1-second record mode. It is such a core training ride for me that I wanted to get the best possible trace so I know how it compares to other organized rides or challenges I might want to train for. The great thing about standards, at least for training, is that you can compare your performance over time and tell where you are doing well and where you need work.

I had a little trouble with the Garmin in that it didn't quite work as expected. First and foremost, toggling the timer on and off manually, and even power-cycling the device, I was not able to force my trace into history and thereby get around the 3:30 minute recording time limit when recording in 1-second mode. This is just pissing me off. What an idiotic design limitation in an era when gigs of solid-state memory sell for a few bucks. I then had to listen to MotionBased bitch about having too much detail. Well, deal with it, because I want all the resolution I can get for my hard-earned money. Buy more disk space and a few more servers, and deal with it already!

I will likely delete the trace from yesterday, because the complimentary MotionBased subscription only allows you to save the last 10 rides. My trace this time ended up flawed as I forgot to restart the timer after power-cycling the device at the Rescue Fire station. I rode for about a mile and a third before I noticed I wasn't getting any grade info - one of the side-effects of having no GPS trace. When I look at the trace I get a straight line across the base of a pretty good sized hill, and am not sure what MotionBased did with this.

Did it understand that this was an O&B route and re-route around the error? I don't know. I do know that my device's 3,800 ft of climb became 6,200 ft on MotionBased. If MB is correct, I am a lot closer to my goal ride than I thought, and it explains why my Party Pardee ride was so fast - even on a day when Big-D was taking some snap out of my legs.

I also learned that you can sub-divide your rides into laps, which should really be thought of as segments, not laps, because they are really just sub-divisions of the ride, with one important exception. The exception is that when you hit the lap button on an O&B it will start a new lap for you at that exact point on the return leg. Since I didn't know this, I manually lapped only to have it auto-lap too, creating silly, annoying little laps of less than a minute in duration.

The Garmin also recorded some motionless time, as my auto-timer shutoff is still set for 2.2 mph, and when the GPS signal got weak it would "move" the bike around enough to fool itself into thinking I was actually riding. I have reset the wheel size from Auto - which I believe causes it to ignore the wheel sensor in favor of the GPS track - to manual, and entered the correct wheel size. I hope this fixes the ghost motion problem.

Lest anyone get the wrong idea, I love the Garmin, and think it is very well done, easier to use than my "dumb" Sigma bike computer was, but being a software engineer, I can think of ways to improve it, and may well do so (at least the software) as a programming exercise.

My ride did unearthed a chink in my nutrition. One I have talked about here often enough, so really just a matter of preparation. Because of the heat I had to hydrate a lot more. Drinking that much was only possible by diluting my (Acai spiked) Gatorade to the point where I was not getting enough electrolytes. Unfortunately I didn't have either Hammer Endurolytes nor Power Electrolytes foil sticks along. What saved me was I had a 4X concentrate of spiked Gatorade in my back bottle and could simply make lots of weak Gatorade at watering holes.

It worked - barely - but it worked. I had put 2 foils of Electrolytes, which is 4 servings, in my concentrate, but at least one more would have been much better. I also have the Hammer Endurolytes, but just forgot to bring them along. The value of standards, in this case of having a standard nutrition protocol, is every ride is another opportunity to stress-test your protocol and find weaknesses and work-arounds that become critical on event rides.

So, my Rescue O&B, done in a slow 4 hours, with the modified return route using the new Johnny Cash bridge, appears to be about 62 miles and 6,200 ft of climb. A pretty sucky time, but my goal was to ride in the heat in preparation for the Mt Hamilton ride, which was blistering hot last year. Nutrition was 2 Power Smoothie Bars, ~64 oz of spiked Gatorade, and ~40 oz of water. I got home with lots of 4X concentrate left, but was planning on a longer ride, so as expected.

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