Sunday, March 6, 2016

Edge, But Not Cutting Edge

I just know that this is going to be a great week. Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico will give me something to watch over breakfast, temperatures in the 50s and maybe even the 60s will motivate me to rack up some miles on my bike in the afternoons, and Daylight Saving Time will return in the middle of the night on March 13, adding a usable hour to the end of the day. Was it just two nights ago that I drove to work on snow-covered roads? Spring gets turned on tomorrow as if someone were throwing a switch, and hopefully we will see no more of winter.

I’m ready. In fact, I’m armed with better technology as the 2016 cycling season begins in earnest. On Friday, before the snow came, I did my first ride with my new GPS device. My old Garmin Edge 200 died near the end of a ride last weekend. I tried all sorts of things to get it to respond/reset, but nothing worked. Whatever went wrong, I think the battery was OK. But the device is 3 years old and has seen a lot of use, so I’m not horribly disappointed if it has reached the end of the road. The 200 is a very basic unit anyway and lately I have been thinking about adding some new dimensions to my training. I’m very interested in Zwift, for example, and it demands things like power and cadence as input. The 200 can’t produce such numbers.

I found a good deal on a new-old-stock Garmin Edge 500. If you’re familiar with the Garmin line, then you know the 500 is far from the latest or greatest device. But it is a big step up from what I had. I would need add-on devices to measure power, cadence, etc., but at least I have those options now. Winter 2015-2016, assuming I can speak of it in the past tense, was a pretty easy one. Next winter might be worse, and if I’m confined indoors for too long I may turn to Zwift for relief. In the meantime I will be happy just to have a couple of additional features and (I hope) more accurate elevation data. The 200 always under-reported my climbing totals and I expect the 500 to do a better job.

I used a stopwatch and MapMyRide to figure out my time, distance and speed for a couple of rides that I did between the death of the 200 and the arrival of the 500. I feel confident in the accuracy of those numbers but I wouldn’t want to resort to that method every day!


  1. David... I'm assuming you don't own a smart phone? You could've used one of the many phone apps, like the MapMyRide mobile app, instead of doing the manual calculations, no? I typically run a phone app during my ride even though my phone is in my back pocket where I can't see it. Most of my rides are around 2 hours and as long as I'm riding where I get service, my phone battery does just fine.

    I sure hope the cost of power meters comes down more this year. I got somewhat *addicted* to power measurements this winter riding Zwift, now I'm wondering how I'm going to survive the summer without knowing my power output!

    I think the biggest benefit of having a power meter is that it makes it easier to determine if I'm pushing too hard or not hard enough. For example, if I'm riding in a group up a long hill and I'm pushing over 400 watts to keep-up with the pack at the bottom of the hill, I know that my legs will explode long before I hit the top of the hill so I should drop some gears and spin at a lower wattage that I know I can handle... and likely pass the other rides on the way because they pushed too hard too soon ;-)

    1. True: I don't have a smart phone. I still have a flip phone whose only real function is to make actual phone calls. It has a camera and a calculator and one or two other things, but I don't use them.

      A lot of people say that you're not really training unless you're training with power numbers. That's hard to refute. I know how imprecise things like heart rate training can be. The cost has kept me on the sidelines, but the cost keeps coming down!