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Masochism with a data gizmo

Gizmos of the data-collecting or displaying variety are banned from my handlebars and everywhere else. This Guardian article explains why:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2023/may/29/running-app-mental...

Here's a quote illustrating the thrust of the article:

"That tragic image of me sobbing while choking down a conciliatory Cornetto on my living room floor pretty much sums up my relationship with exercise tracking technology.

I’d like to say at this point that I know running [cycling] apps are brilliant for some people. It can be a total joy to watch your stats change as you get stronger and faster. I once got a kick out of it too, but at some point it became a stick I used to punish myself. "

How do you feel about the training apps, programs and other data-gathering thingies? Are they for or agin' 'ee and your cycling pleasures or purposes? What are you training for that seems to require their use?

257 years ago, when I road raced, I did briefly have a computer on the bicycle bars. Frankly, it was just an annoying distraction compared to the excellent effects of the chain gang or the actual racing, during which no one had time to collect or look at data.  Just trying to stay on seemed a far better way to get fit.  1

If you're new please join in and if you have questions pop them below and the forum regulars will answer as best we can.

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17 comments

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Daveyraveygravey | 1 year ago
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See, you don't have to be a wannabe pro to enjoy the data side of it, or the community aspect of Strava.  I have Strava friends who I have never met, or bumped into once in a while.  One of them rode across France and Switzerland last year, he's got me thinking about (maybe ) riding to Pescara.  Another guy did an Everesting near Portsmouth, so I made the 100 mile round trip and did a couple of climbs with him.

I've logged every ride since 2012. I regularly did 8000km a year, then I crashed and broke my scapula so had two slack years around 5000 km.  The next year I tried for 10k...and that made me rethink.  10k is roughly 30 km a day, which seems reasonable.  Until you don't ride for 3 days, or a week. I am now focussed more onenjoyment, doing rides that are more of an adventure, than just logging another 2 km here or there.  If you put the right key words in the title its really easy to look up old adventures, plan new ones. 

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jaymack | 1 year ago
2 likes

I did Ride London over the Whitsun bank holiday with no more than my 35 year old sports watch. It was gloriously liberating watching so many others poking and prodding various expensive looking blocks of plastic strapped to their handlebars rather than taking in the wonders of day.

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marmotte27 | 1 year ago
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When I got into serious (meaning of the word certainly subject to definition) cycling twenty years ago I bought a cycle computer and, a little later, a heart rate monitor.
After a while I figured out that these devices always show the same numbers, so that there's really no need for them, at least at my level of cycling, and stopped using them.

Navigation happens on maps. Sometimes I photograph them (from paper or the computer screen) with my phone (I got one when they got rid of phone booths here in France), that's about the only kind of digital navigation happening here.

Strava and whatnot I haven't even so much as looked at.

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Cugel | 1 year ago
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Another article in the Groanydad discusses "perfectionism" - that strive to become better than before which never ends as nothing is ever better enough, in the fevered mind of the striver.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2023/jun/04/the-rise-of-perfectionis...

A quote from the article, quoting Victoria Pendelton on her never-ending need to be better:

Victoria Pendleton, when interviewed in 2008 after winning six cycling world championship titles and Olympic gold, told the Guardian: 'I just want to prove that I am really good at something. And I haven’t quite done that yet – at least not to myself.' ”

**********

The article mentions that the strive for a "perfectly-formed" life and lifestyle is largely a vehicle of neoliberalism's rabid consumer mode, in which profits and the landfills are fattened by the fashion cycle (including fashionable cycles) whilst our wallets, environment and feelings of self-worth are constantly slimmed down to starvation levels.

Those with a serious case of the perfections can, for example, obtain the latest Pinarello with the latest Campag et al for only £12,000. Mind, after 3 rides and a look through websites like this 'ere, it won't be good enough. There are several £12,000+ bicycles available, see?

Still, it might improve the Strava timings by 10 seconds.  But that won't be good enough either, will it?   1

***********

Here's another cycling-related bit from that article:

"It doesn’t end there. Curran’s collaborator, Dr Andy Hill, has observed that perfectionism not only diminishes our capacity to succeed, but actively obstructs us from trying in the first place. In one experiment Hill challenged cyclists to race against themselves, setting a goal that should have been comfortable for them to achieve. On completion, he told them they had failed. The cyclists (picture pelotons of tearful mamils), were then asked to have another stab at it. Those that had scored low for self-oriented perfectionism put in the same effort (or a little more) but those who scored high for perfectionism saw their performance plummet the second time round. They simply gave up. Perfectionists experience such profound feelings of guilt and shame on failure that they withhold effort to avoid facing it."

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brooksby replied to Cugel | 1 year ago
3 likes

Cugel wrote:

... the Groanydad ...

That doesn't rearrange to form the Guardian 

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chrisonabike replied to brooksby | 1 year ago
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brooksby wrote:

Cugel wrote:

... the Groanydad ...

That doesn't rearrange to form the Guardian 

They've started using autocorrect?

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Tom_77 | 1 year ago
1 like

Before I had a Garmin, I used to record all my runs (time and distance) in a notebook, then in a spreadsheet and eventually with a Garmin. I was mostly concerend about not getting injured - "too much, too fast, too soon" is a very common cause of injury for runners.

I also found it useful for working out when to replace my trainers, making sure I ran my slow runs slowly and pacing myself during races. The HR data was sometimes useful for longer races (10K, Half Marathon), but less so for shorter ones.

Now that I've stopped trying to set PB's (my last attempt to run a sub-40 10K was 6 years ago) I pay a lot less attention to my Garmin. I know I'm gradually getting slower and slower, and I don't need to be reminded of that. Quite often I don't look at the data once it's uploaded, I find the end of year stats interesting though.

For cycling, I like to know how far I've gone, but I'm not that bothered about anything else. I've never raced, except for a couple of low-key Duathlons, so I don't feel that I need to anaylse anything very much. I had a cadence sensor at one point, just out of curiosity, but I prefer to go by what feels right.

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Woldsman | 1 year ago
1 like

The most efficient way to avoid angst related to running - the exercise choice of the Guardian writer - is to not go running. 

I'm too tight to pay for Strava, so miss out on some of the payment-only features that I previously took for granted, such as clicking on my fastest segment time and seeing when I completed that ride.

Other than that I record rides in part to signpost them to others I think might enjoy the routes.  I'm beyond worrying about my decline in performance and stop to take photographs of what I think are nice views.  And a bike ride is a perfect excuse for, say, a sausage sandwich.   
 

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TheFatAndTheFurious replied to Woldsman | 1 year ago
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Woldsman wrote:

 so miss out on some of the payment-only features ... ... such as clicking on my fastest segment time and seeing when I completed that ride.

You can do that in the free subscription by going to the "full leaderboard" of a segment, and it shows you a "Your stats" panel with an entry for "all time PR" showing the date, your segment time and a link to the activity on the date.

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Woldsman replied to TheFatAndTheFurious | 1 year ago
1 like

thelonelyone wrote:

Woldsman wrote:

 so miss out on some of the payment-only features ... ... such as clicking on my fastest segment time and seeing when I completed that ride.

You can do that in the free subscription by going to the "full leaderboard" of a segment, and it shows you a "Your stats" panel with an entry for "all time PR" showing the date, your segment time and a link to the activity on the date.

Thank you very much for that.  I had started to draft a response in which I explained that I can no longer do that - but then I actually read your comment properly and followed the instructions!  

The screenshot below shows what I meant - but I expect you know that already.  I've just clicked on a Strava buddy's recent ride then clicked on a segment I know I have completed.  You see where the time "Your PR 2:05" is highlighted?  Previously I could click on that time of 2:05 and it would take me to the activity.  I hadn't thought to click on the full leaderboard option because I can only view the riders with the top 10 times.  

Anyway, thanks again for that workaround  1 

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TheFatAndTheFurious replied to Woldsman | 1 year ago
4 likes

Woldsman wrote:

 

... but then I actually read your comment properly and followed the instructions!... 

That's not how you use the internet.....

Woldsman wrote:

Anyway, thanks again for that workaround  1 

Welcome 🙂

 

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Cugel replied to Woldsman | 1 year ago
0 likes

Woldsman wrote:

The most efficient way to avoid any angst related to running - the exercise choice of the Guardian writer - is to not go running. 

I'm too tight to pay for Strava, so miss out on some of the payment-only features that I previously took for granted, such as clicking on my fastest segment time and seeing when I completed that ride.

Other than that I record rides in part to signpost them to others I think might enjoy the routes.  I'm beyond worrying about my decline in performance and stop to take photographs of what I think are nice views.  And a bike ride is a perfect excuse for, say, a sausage sandwich.   
 

The most efficient way to avoid any of life's angsts, employing your logic, would be to murder oneself so as to avoid any possibility of such angst arising!  However, it may be angsty in the extreme coming to such a decision.

Now, about that sausage sandwich ..... I have discovered that preparing the thing halfway around the ride is the difficult bit. One needs to take a heavy-bottomed frying pan along with the cooker.  Also, on hot days the sausages can go orf if not kept in a small fridge. There is also the risk of starting a forest or grass fire.

So cake must suffice. Yesterday I had a banana and a piece of "blondy (a cake made with oats, ground almond, butter, egg and large chunks of 85% chocolate). This requires no cooking but can become a bit sticky in the pannier.

I ate them at the top of Afon Twrch valley (Cwm Twrch) - the Cambrian one flowing through Ffarmers, not one o' them other twrchs about West Wales. No picnic bench so I had to sit on an abandoned low loader part-consumed by the flora.

I'm afraid I have no stats at all concerning this ride, not even the weight of the blondy. Does the "85% chocolate" count, though? The ride was "quite hard". It was hot and all hills, including some "very long" ones. (Are those stats)?

The ride isn't on Strava. I saw only two other vehicles (no cyclists) along the  Afon Twrch section (about 12k at a guess) and want to keep it that way.   1

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Woldsman replied to Cugel | 1 year ago
1 like

Cugel wrote:

Woldsman wrote:

The most efficient way to avoid any angst related to running - the exercise choice of the Guardian writer - is to not go running. 

I'm too tight to pay for Strava, so miss out on some of the payment-only features that I previously took for granted, such as clicking on my fastest segment time and seeing when I completed that ride.

Other than that I record rides in part to signpost them to others I think might enjoy the routes.  I'm beyond worrying about my decline in performance and stop to take photographs of what I think are nice views.  And a bike ride is a perfect excuse for, say, a sausage sandwich.   
 

The most efficient way to avoid any of life's angsts, employing your logic, would be to murder oneself so as to avoid any possibility of such angst arising!  However, it may be angsty in the extreme coming to such a decision...

... So cake must suffice. Yesterday I had a banana and a piece of "blondy (a cake made with oats, ground almond, butter, egg and large chunks of 85% chocolate). This requires no cooking but can become a bit sticky in the pannier.

Thanks for the angst reducing tip.  However, I think I'll go with my not running idea.  

That cake sounds lovely.  I'm glad you enjoyed largely traffic-free riding, too.  

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mark1a | 1 year ago
1 like

I would say that you & I are at different ends of the spectrum here.

I use a GPS head unit on rides, currently a Garmin Edge 1040 Solar (replacing over time previously 1030 Plus, 1030, 820, 520, Wahoo RFLKT). This is paired with multiple sensors on multiple bikes (speed, power, HR, radar, camera). I record every ride with Garmin Connect and Strava, and analyse particular ones with VeloViewer. I track distances on every bike, and using Strava's component feature, distance on each component, allowing me to forecast wear and tear. I use ActivityFix.com for a rules based "if this then that" workflow to automatically update Strava activities to have the correct bike and title depending on sensors connected and/or GPS data. 

The data collected (along with steps, stairs and sleep data from a Garmin fitness watch) helps me track calorie surplus/deficit for my ongoing battle with weight, I look at Strava segments to track my own performance (it's fun), and also, I just find data very meaningful. The old adage "you can't improve what you can't measure" applies for me. I don't feel any pressure similar to the Grauniad article's author, at my age and ability I know no matter how well I do on a bike there will always be someone faster/better, and I can live with that. Rather the opposite, I find it easier and more comfortable comparing say, average power and average HR on a particular activity against how I felt or how much I'd ate or drank.

So in summary, if one likes data recording and analysis and does not suffer with the anxieties described in the article, it's absolutely fine and makes things more interesting.

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quiff replied to mark1a | 1 year ago
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mark1a wrote:

I use a GPS head unit on rides, currently a Garmin Edge 1040 Solar (replacing over time previously 1030 Plus, 1030, 820, 520, Wahoo RFLKT).

Wow. I'm still nursing along a Garmin 800, though I am thinking it's time for an update. 

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HoldingOn | 1 year ago
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In my (distant) youth, I was an orienteer and enjoyed the competition. I bought my first Garmin GPS watch & heart rate monitor and began my tracking. I now use a Forerunner 45 and track my commute. I also use it to track my runs.

If I hadn't been tracking this information for so long, I would have sought emergency medical care after my first Spin class, when my heart rate hit 205bpm. My heart rate has always run (excuse the pun) very high.

I find it really useful to track my entire day on the watch. It gives me a heads up when I am heading towards a cold (my resting heart rate starts to creep up) I use it to alter my run/cycle cadence to see what differences it makes with my speed.

However - since it is a watch, I can't/don't check it while cycling. It buzzes every 5km, but I have no idea how long it has taken - so feel I am more focused on my surroundings, rather than a screen. I believe it would be similar to a driver checking their phone - I wouldn't be paying attention to the road (granted - different outcomes if a pedestrian stepped out in front of me, rather than a driver)

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swldxer replied to HoldingOn | 1 year ago
1 like

Got a Garmin GPS III in 1998. It was mainly designed for sailing and boating.

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