Renaissance: Cycling Driven by Numbers
Aug 2013 06

One of my favorite sayings of all time is: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.”

I am a numbers guy.  Why?  I think it is encoded in my DNA.  I am an engineer by education and an operations/financial guy in real life.  Numbers drive me.  So when I took up cycling three years ago, I started to track all of my stats.  From the beginning, I have always used a great app on my iPhone called Cyclemeter.  My initial review is here: http://ramcycling.com/?p=239.  I am still using Cyclemeter and I love it.

This season I made a significant upgrade to my tracking and analysis.  I added Wahoo Fitness Bluetooth Heart Rate Monitor and Bluetooth Speed and Cadence Sensor (http://www.wahoofitness.com/Products/Wahoo-Fitness-Wahoo-Blue-SC-Speed-and-Cadence-Sensor.asp).  Both have allowed me to track more data and analyze my efforts. (I also recently added Wahoo’s RFLKT display device.  More details here: http://www.wahoofitness.com/Products/Wahoo-Fitness-Wahoo-RFLKT-iPhone-Powered-Bike-Computer.asp.  This allowed me to eliminate the old Sigma computer and keep my phone in my pocket.)  With this change, Cyclemeter no longer uses GPS for speed and cadence.  By using the SC Sensor, GPS does the pathing and elevation and the bike generates speed and cadence.  Adding the Bluetooth HR monitor now gives me an idea of how hard I am working.

Then KP the Masher introduced me to Strava (www.strava.com) .  Strava tracks all of our rides and segments. (See our Strava data on our homepage.)  Segments are parts of rides like a tough hill or a fast downhill.  Now I have a real life app that will do the analysis for me and compare to all other people who have ridden where I ride.  It is a form of virtual racing, even against myself.  I get instant feedback on numerous stats:

  • How does my ride stack up against my previous rides?
  • How do I compare with people I am riding with today?
  • How do I compare to other’s who have ridden these areas?
  • Where should I ride?  You can use Strava to search for segments or rides in an area you are visiting.
  • If you use a Heart Rate monitor, Strava will give you a “Suffer Score” to show you how much effort you gave.
  • You can use a Power Meter (I do not have one) to get more information.

In July 2013, I rode 12 times for a total of 353.56 miles.  One of my best months of cycling.  I attribute this to many things including riding with some awesome people in the Bluegrass Cycling Club.  But I also know that I feel and see a difference in my body that is also supported by a lot of data and statistics.

The bottom line: Numbers drive me. Let them drive you too.

 

2 Comments

  1. Masher says:

    That stuff at the top looks like greek to me, but the content makes perfect sense. Nice write up. Also those that thought Renaissance Man started off slowly this year might want to checks his stats on strava now … he’s been putting in work!

  2. Art says:

    Very good write-up. I absolutely appreciate this site. Keep writing!

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