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Riding "Measurement Free"

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Road Cycling It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle. -- Ernest Hemingway

Riding "Measurement Free"

Old 06-23-19, 08:18 AM
  #1  
DaveLeeNC
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Riding "Measurement Free"

For context I have been riding around 150 to 200 miles per week pretty regularly since 2015, although that dropped off a bit the past 12 to 18 months. Other than a timed solo 50 miler just to see what I could do and a solo century (hit my goal of a sub 5 hour ride), I had no particular goals (I ride alone by choice) and no other 'competitive rides'. And I do hit age 70 in a few months.

I've had Garmin Vector pedals and the typical other electronic stuff pretty much from the start. And I always tracked stuff so the moderate degradation in performance due to both age and a somewhat reduced level of riding pretty much stares me in the face and was a demotivating factor. So starting back in April I have been (for the most part) riding 'measurement free'. I don't even turn on my Garmin 800 when I ride. All I do is look at my watch when I start and when I stop. My rides have few to no traffic stops so I take a guess at time lost due to that (nothing to a couple minutes) and record that time, my best guess at normalized power (so I have some idea of what level of work I am doing), and a best guess at speed (mostly for maintenance purposes). This reminds me of my 'running days' back in the 1970's and 80's.

I have found this to both change my attitude toward riding (in a positive manner) and it seems to have increased my riding as well.

Just a FWIW. Doing this has been a (somewhat) bigger deal than I would have expected.

dave

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Old 06-23-19, 08:24 AM
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I rode computer free for the first two years, and only this year have added an Elemnt Bolt, which I like. I don't want to add anything further though, because as a recreational weekend rider, once I start adding sensors and measuring everything under the sun and getting too technical, the enjoyment of just riding will evaporate.
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Old 06-23-19, 09:01 AM
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Originally Posted by DaveLeeNC View Post
I have found this to both change my attitude toward riding (in a positive manner) and it seems to have increased my riding as well.

Just a FWIW. Doing this has been a (somewhat) bigger deal than I would have expected.

dave
Different people are motivated by different things. Congratulations on finding something that works for you.
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Old 06-23-19, 09:11 AM
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Originally Posted by DaveLeeNC View Post
I have found this to both change my attitude toward riding (in a positive manner) and it seems to have increased my riding as well.

dave
But how do you really know, if you're not measuring the amount of riding you're doing? J/K

My view is that you're essentially right. I do like to confirm my speed with a speedometer sometimes, just so I know that when I sense I'm getting faster, I can prove I'm not blowing smoke up my own seatpost. I can make assumptions based on how well I'm keeping up with cars in city traffic, but until I actually see those numbers, I never *really* know I'm going as fast as I think I am.
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Old 06-23-19, 09:14 AM
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I ditched on-bike measuring years ago - found myself looking more at numbers than the landscape. I found it to be quite liberating at the time. These days, I run Strava on my phone in my jersey pocket to track total elapsed miles for maintenance purposes, and if on group rides, there’s no shortage of connected riders to navigate or track average speed.
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Old 06-23-19, 09:16 AM
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I tend to vacillate between the extremes. I'm now incorporating a power meter.
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Old 06-23-19, 09:27 AM
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I use this on my bike. For the same reason I have gauges on my car. For no other reason then to have the information. Information is good, Its what we do with it that counts. It has a Clock, Trip length in km & time, Shows average and actual speed, And odometer. Everything I want for $45 CDN. I wouldn't go without it.

https://www.trekbikes.com/ca/en_CA/e...olorCode=black

It's got nothing to do with being obsessed with performance or numbers. If it was I wouldn't be riding one of Giants most upright bikes, The Sedona. As a recreational rider, It's mostly about comfort, pleasure and adventure. Whether I ride 15 or 50 km makes no difference. Whether I'm cruising at 20 kph or if I'm feeling athletic, I'll do some sprinting or riding up a challenging hill, It has to fun, Otherwise what's the point.

If I was a commuter, I would always leave some extra time so I don't have to rush. Here the information from a computer will be handy. And I would be riding a more aggressive bike with less wind and rolling resistance like the Giant Escape.

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Old 06-23-19, 09:31 AM
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It really is a personal decision. I dont do any real time data but have Strava running on phone in pocket just for fun. Others track real time HR and power, cadence, speed etc., I think the data nerds are over the top sometimes but its their ride, their choice.
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Old 06-23-19, 10:10 AM
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There are a few reasons I'm "measuring" but none of them are performance related:
  • Bike profiles allow me to track wear on various parts. (How long have I had this cassette, etc). Rubitrack on the MAC is awesome to track these things by the way.
  • I have knee problems, and I keep an eye on my cadence. Staying in the 90s or above and avoiding "grinding gears" has mostly gotten rid of the pain.
  • Reviewing GPS tracks after the fact allow me to discover trails or routes I wouldn't have seen otherwise.
Aside from that, I don't pay much attention to the data and don't try to analyse it in any way.
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Old 06-23-19, 10:34 AM
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Glad to hear you are free from the tyranny of numbers. I have a cycle computer and use it for the correct time and total distance for a ride. That's it. Even the distance is not important, but I appear to like to know how far I've ridden. I've toyed with the idea of getting rid of the cycle computer altogether, but have not yet done so. I think the day is coming. Too many numbers in my life.
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Old 06-23-19, 10:53 AM
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And the bicycle cockpit is so much cleaner without gadgets.

i measured and tracked things back when I was in my 40s. But electronics free for more than a couple of decades. I know the mileage of most of my rides, so that familiarity is my own calculator. The body can speak loudly at age 70 when it wants to tell something, all I need do is listen well. But i’m in the lucky category for physical health.
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Old 06-23-19, 10:44 PM
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I was always a measurement-free kinda person, but got bit by the Strava bug a few years back, letting it run silently in my pocket. In 2018, I got an actual computer. In 2019, I added a heart rate monitor. I've found both additions have been helpful in improving my performance...and since I like going fast, and I like a good workout, it's improved my enjoyment overall.

But! The major change I made this year that really improved my enjoyment (and actually my performance) was to eliminate myself from the Strava leaderboards. I'd gotten sucked in to the point where I actually cared about segments, and segment times, and all of that added a lot of stress to riding. It's still great to hit a PR on some climb or flat stretch - but all that is completely unrelated to the purpose of the ride (which is to go fast, or get a good workout, or just spend time with friends.)
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Old 06-24-19, 02:08 AM
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While actually riding I just go by feel. I'm only concerned about numbers while training, which is mostly indoors or on a nearby 5 mile circuit loop. But in fast group rides the proof is in the pedaling. If I can keep up, I'm doing okay. Having a display of data in front of me won't help then. But it's useful in solo training sessions.

I took my cheap bike computer off my steel road bike a couple of months ago just to make it easier to clean the whole bike. Never put it back on properly. Turns out I really didn't care about that stuff while riding outdoors.

However I do use it for the indoor trainer. The sensor won't reach from the rear wheel to the handlebar. So I set the receiver/display unit on the table next to my indoor trainer. I just use the speedometer for interval training sessions, to maintain a consistent effort for the peak efforts and easy spins.

But for my usual rides I just use phone apps and check 'em later, after the ride. Mostly Wahoo Fitness, transferred later to Strava.

Oh, and recently I added a Wahoo Tickr. Mostly out of curiosity. Some metabolic issues have messed with my BP and HR the past year, so I was curious to see whether my subjective "how I feel" corresponded with my heart rate. And it pretty much does. Turns out using my heart rate for training wasn't adding much benefit. I do it, but it's not really telling me anything I didn't already know.

On the carbon bike I keep it as clutter free as possible. No point having a light bike if I'm gonna overpack like I usually do with my other bikes. That bike is mostly for harder training sessions close to home so I don't need to carry much. And I can check my phone app data later.

On longer casual group rides I usually take my hybrid and may not even remember to record to Wahoo Fitness or Strava. If I had fun it was a successful ride.
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Old 06-24-19, 03:15 AM
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I like clutter free too when it doesn't compromise safety. My handlebar has 9 "Things" on it. All of which I use.

A Rear view mirror, Light, Bell, and of course 2 Brake leavers are all essential safety items. Plus a compass and small computer, and 2 Twist grip shifters.

I also have a Rack, Trunk bag and taillight on the back, a Kickstand, and like most folks, a water bottle. All those accessories including 500ml of water add about 4 lbs to my 31 lb X-Trail Comfort bike with its bolt upright riding position and 50 mm x 26" tires @ 32 psi. Needless to say speed is not a priority.

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Old 06-24-19, 03:51 AM
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If you're not riding for performance gains or to know your relative level, great! do what works for you.
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Old 06-24-19, 08:25 AM
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Originally Posted by DaveLeeNC View Post
My rides have few to no traffic stops so I take a guess at time lost due to that (nothing to a couple minutes) and record that time, my best guess at normalized power (so I have some idea of what level of work I am doing), and a best guess at speed (mostly for maintenance purposes).

dave
Instead of guessing, why don't you just have normalized or average power and moving time displayed or recorded on your computer? Sounds like those two data fields are what you are interested in. Remove distance, speed, HR, cadence, total time, etc.. and just have those two fields you want.
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Old 06-24-19, 11:19 AM
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Originally Posted by jadocs View Post
Instead of guessing, why don't you just have normalized or average power and moving time displayed or recorded on your computer? Sounds like those two data fields are what you are interested in. Remove distance, speed, HR, cadence, total time, etc.. and just have those two fields you want.
Power (avg or normalized) is the parameter that defines "degradation". So it is the one parameter that I don't want to see right now. I suspect there will be a point down the road where that will change and I will "just have to know".

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Old 06-24-19, 11:28 AM
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Originally Posted by gurk700 View Post
If you're not riding for performance gains or to know your relative level, great! do what works for you.
Mentioned earlier by @canklecat = the 'relative level' is in group rides with guys 10-20 years my junior.

Performance gains are attainable without electronic gadgets, to imply otherwise is silly.

Gadgets and data are motivators for a huge percentage of roadies, go for it!
But for better accuracy best to have 2 measurement systems, then you can have 2 data sets to compare.

Be sure to have an iWatch to wear for data collection when not cycling.
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Old 06-24-19, 11:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Wildwood View Post
Mentioned earlier by @canklecat = the 'relative level' is in group rides with guys 10-20 years my junior.

Performance gains are attainable without electronic gadgets, to imply otherwise is silly.

Gadgets and data are motivators for a huge percentage of roadies, go for it!
But for better accuracy best to have 2 measurement systems, then you can have 2 data sets to compare.

Be sure to have an iWatch to wear for data collection when not cycling.
Sure you make gains but can't quantify. Any amount of riding gets you fitness as a beginner cyclist. But when you hit a wall, to get over that wall you need to be able to see some numbers or quantify in some way. Best way is Power Meters / Data.
If Strava KOM hunting is the goal and measure, then sure! But with same exact effort and weight, I've taken 20-30 secs off my ~20min efforts simply cause of wind direction. i.e. my personal bests weren't indicators of fitness gains.
Not knowing how hard you're training is a huge handicap. Perceived efforts are extremely unreliable as we feel different day to day and depending how much we recover.

In short, anyone who's training seriously would be missing out and handicapping themselves greatly by not using data.

In any case I don't understand the notion of data being a hindrance to enjoying bike riding either. Even the hardest interval sessions have recovery periods, cool down and warm up. I get to enjoy even my hardest rides.
If anything more so knowing I've done the work and going back home with an easy pace is time to take nature in and enjoy the view.

To each his own.
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Old 06-24-19, 11:41 AM
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I have a Garmin watch recording everything. But it's out of view unless I want it.
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Old 06-24-19, 11:41 AM
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Originally Posted by DaveLeeNC View Post
Power (avg or normalized) is the parameter that defines "degradation". So it is the one parameter that I don't want to see right now. I suspect there will be a point down the road where that will change and I will "just have to know".

dave
Not really. If your interest is in riding and not your limits then there is really no need to ever know. Either way a good day is a good day (just more qualitative riding "acoustic"). I started racing in the 70's so have seen both sides of this. I don't race very frequently now but enjoy structured hard training. I find enjoyment in the hard effort and seeing what kind of numbers I can generate.

Regarding degradation, I'm glad that I don't have power files from my 20's and 30's to compare to today (60's). Just memories of some good days/performances and many many grinds. All of which get better the older we get! In that respect I kind of feel for the younger guys now. Cold hard reality will have it's day

I would recommend older riders keep track of HR, more for health than performance reasons.
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Old 06-24-19, 12:32 PM
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Wonder what % of riders using data over-train to achieve a goal?

I have no problem with people using data, or with all the things they need to accumulate it. It's good for the economy, good for cycling, good as a social media conversation piece, good for data collection, good for bragging rights. And if that's what it takes to keep people interested in cycling (or other sports) then it may be good for their longterm health. Data is also a disincentive if, in the mind of the data collector, the results don't justify the effort - especially when compared to their contemporaries.

Please don't push the notion that you must have yadgets and data to be serious cyclist - unless you are a competitor really fine tuning performance or a pro living off your racing results.


FWIW - I dwell on riding position for efficiency as much as I work on aerobic capability and power generation - frequently allows me to ride equally with stronger/younger riders, except in the mountains. Isn't overcoming air resistance (except for serious climbing) the biggest obstacle in attaining speed??? I would appreciate a wind tunnel session every couple of years more than a wireless data generation device.
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Old 06-24-19, 12:58 PM
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Originally Posted by gurk700 View Post
Sure you make gains but can't quantify. Any amount of riding gets you fitness as a beginner cyclist. But when you hit a wall, to get over that wall you need to be able to see some numbers or quantify in some way. ...To each his own.

It's amazing that any cyclist ever improved their performance before electronic gadgetry!!! Those walls from the past must have been taller or thicker, since we never had power meter data to scale them.

But I totally agree - to each their own. Whatever it takes to promote the sport and make it attractive to the greatest number of people is a huge positive. Data On.
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Old 06-24-19, 01:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Wildwood View Post
It's amazing that any cyclist ever improved their performance before electronic gadgetry!!! Those walls from the past must have been taller or thicker, since we never had power meter data to scale them.

But I totally agree - to each their own. Whatever it takes to promote the sport and make it attractive to the greatest number of people is a huge positive. Data On.
All relative. Since data entered the sport, the whole field improved. Before that, you were racing vs others without data.
I absolutely agree. In the end we all ride. I celebrate all kinds of riding with or without purpose of training or use of data. It bothers me when cyclists shame other cyclists for riding electric bikes too. One less friggin car! NOTHING wrong with that.
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Old 06-24-19, 01:26 PM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by DaveLeeNC View Post
For context I have been riding around 150 to 200 miles per week pretty regularly since 2015, although that dropped off a bit the past 12 to 18 months. Other than a timed solo 50 miler just to see what I could do and a solo century (hit my goal of a sub 5 hour ride), I had no particular goals (I ride alone by choice) and no other 'competitive rides'. And I do hit age 70 in a few months.

I've had Garmin Vector pedals and the typical other electronic stuff pretty much from the start. And I always tracked stuff so the moderate degradation in performance due to both age and a somewhat reduced level of riding pretty much stares me in the face and was a demotivating factor. So starting back in April I have been (for the most part) riding 'measurement free'. I don't even turn on my Garmin 800 when I ride. All I do is look at my watch when I start and when I stop. My rides have few to no traffic stops so I take a guess at time lost due to that (nothing to a couple minutes) and record that time, my best guess at normalized power (so I have some idea of what level of work I am doing), and a best guess at speed (mostly for maintenance purposes). This reminds me of my 'running days' back in the 1970's and 80's.

I have found this to both change my attitude toward riding (in a positive manner) and it seems to have increased my riding as well.

Just a FWIW. Doing this has been a (somewhat) bigger deal than I would have expected.

dave
You can see my posts in the racing forum - power meter training - on this for years. Not only might things be more entertaining, I'm seeing NOT using electronics makes many faster. Measurements have their purpose, but getting on the scale daily, vs weekly is not going to make much of difference. Best measure for going fast is speed. That is so stupid obvious, I don't understand why all the obsession with power, or even HR. How fast did you go?
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