Archive for the 'Training Log' category

Online Training Logs – 3 Popular Approaches

| April 27, 2017 1:56 pm

by Franz Kelsch

It has been nearly 7 years since I wrote previously about using one of the online training logs that utilities a device with GPS to track your rides, runs, swimming and so forth.  Back then I discussed the current state of several options, including Garmin Connect, Strava, Plus 3 Network, Daily Mile, Training Peaks, Ride with GPS and MapMyRide.  Most all of these online services have changed significantly in the past several years.  While I have used them all previously I narrowed my usage to only three of them and therefore I am discussing here only these three:

  • Strava
  • Training Peaks
  • Garmin Connect

It is interesting how all three services have tried to add in popular features from the other services in order to better compete.  They each have advantages and disadvantages compared with the others.   All three offer a free services while Strava and Training Peaks without some features except to paying customers.  In future blog posts I will be comparing these three online training logs with respect to things such 1) how useful they are as a training calendar, 2)scheduling workouts, 3) setting  heart rate, power and pace zones and 4)performance mounting including fitness and fatigue,   If there are other features you wish covered, please leave a comment below.

Online Training Log – Three Approaches

| March 15, 2017 4:48 pm

It has been nearly 7 years since I wrote previously about using one of the online training logs.  Back then I discussed the current state of several options, including Garmin Connect, Strava, Plus 3 Network, Daily Mile, Training Peaks, Ride with GPS and MapMyRide.  Most all of these online services have changed significantly in the past several years.  While I have used them all previously I narrowed my usage to only three of them and therefore I am discussing here only these three:

  • Strava – for the social butterfly with many features included in the free version and some good training tools for premium members
  • Training Peaks – for serious athletic training but the free version is of little value.
  • Garmin Connect – extensive free service for Garmin users

It is interesting how all three services have tried to add in popular features from the other services in order to better compete.  For example Strava popularized the use of segments and social connections so Garmin Connect implemented those two things.  But there is a big advantage of being the first in a space.  Just as Facebook has dominated the space for a social network, Strava has become so entrenched now that it is likely that most of your cycling friends are there, and maybe many of your running friends.

Strava has also implemented some of the performance measurements of Training Peaks but never seemed to have their heart into it.  This was not why most people post on Strava. They post to show their friends what they did and to aid that, Strava supports adding photos of your activity, and focusses on getting kudos, the equivalent of Facebook’s Like, along with comments.   Much of these features are included in the free Strava account.  They have attempted to add more features to the premium version, such as performance monitoring, but they are rather lame.  .

Heart Rate Zones

Even as of now you can only have one setting for heart rate zones in Strava while Garmin Connect and Training Peaks allows you to have separate zones for cycling, running and swimming.  Strava uses only one type for auto calculation, based on Max Heart Rate, while others offer many different well established standard.  Frankly using only maximum heart rate is probably to worst what to get heart rate zones but that is what Strava uses.

Here is an example from a recent tempo run I did. This how things look like on each service.

Strava

Strava shows their famous “Suffer Score” but it looks like I mostly was in heart rate zone 4.  That is because I was using their inadequate method of establishing heart rate zones based only on maximum heart rate and one set for all sports.

Training Peaks

Training Peaks is the ultimate in customization.  I use Joe Friel’s heart rate zones that use the difference between my maximum and resting heart rate (called heart rate reserve) to get me 7 zones, really 5 with the high zone split into 5a, 5b, 5c.  What a different view.  I was pushing my heart rate too much, spending too much time in zone 5c.  I spend quite a bit of time in the range 161-164 bpm which Strava put into Z4 but Training Peaks into Zone 5.  Sure I could figure out things on my own and manually put them into Strava, but why should I have to do that?  Only because Strava is not serious about performance monitoring.

Garmin Connect

Just like Training Peaks, Garmin Connect lets you have different heart rate zones for different sports and it does over many different methods from automatically creating them.  This is what this same run looks like on Garmin Connect. Just like Training Peaks, it shows I spent most of my time in Zone 5.

Fitness, Form and Fatigue

Training Peaks pioneered performance monitoring and developed the concept of fitness, form and fatigue.  Here is Strava’s rather lame approach to duplicate this (offered only to premium members).  It might just be me but I find using this chart rather useless since I also run and swim and unless I am always using a heart rate strap or power meter, it doesn’t count, according to Strava.

Strava

Although Strava has offered their Form and Fitness curve for some time, it is only with some recent changes that I find the curve to be very good.

 

Training Peaks

This is a big focus for Training Peaks.  However it shows that I am at a lower fitness than I was one year ago, highly unlikely since I am peaking for a marathon.  I think Training Peaks gives too much weight to longer workouts, at low intensity, than it does to the intervals and tempo runs I have been doing lately.

 

 

Garmin Connect

This is not something Garmin Connect offers at this time, but then Garmin Connect is a free service and to get this type of chart you need to pay for both Strava and Training Peaks.

Training Calendar

Strava

If you want to keep track for your actual training, such as how many miles you have biked, run and swam by each week, it is pretty much impossible in Strava unless you use a service like velowview.com that pulls your data from Strava and presents it in a lot of useful ways.  Strava only will tell you what you have done the current week and the current year.  None of that is shown on this calendar view that uses a hard to visually method to distinguish between types of sports.

Training Peaks

I love the calendar view for Training Peaks because it offers a lot of information.

Garmin Connect

Garmin Connect is pretty good. You can easily see cycling vs running, but it lumps all the totals together here.

Other Considerations

This only covers a few features of each service.  If I were to cover the social aspect, Strava would rule the world, so if that is important to you then by all means use Strava.  I use it for that reason and I upload all my activities to Garmin Connect and both Strava and Training Peaks will automatically pull that data from Garmin Connect.

All three services offer a free version. With Garmin Connect, everything is free for Garmin device users and most such users will setup things to automatically upload there and let Strava and other services pull from Garmin Connect.  Strava and Training Peaks both offers a free version, but Strava’s free version offers much of the what the social butterflies want.  The premium version of Strava let’s you see things like segment leaderboards by age groups, but you are out of luck if you are much older than 65 since Strava assumes no one should be exercising beyond that.  Training Peak’s free version is rather limited.

Where I am Headed

I have been a premium member of Strava for 7 years now].  That costs $60 a year.  It’s social aspect, including showing your many followers what you have done, and allowing for comments and kudos, and it’s dominate position makes it something that most want to belong to, at least as a free version member.  If you don’t belong to Training Peaks, then maybe being a premium Strava might make sense.  Training Peaks costs $120 a year, twice what Strava. It is used by many who are serious about training, especially those who have a paid coach who might communicate through Training Peaks with established workouts.  If you are not serious about specific workouts, then you might want to pass.  If you have a Garmin device, you should set it up to upload to Garmin Connect automatically and they let your other services pull the data for there.  That way everything is automated.

Age Factor in Sports

| May 10, 2016 12:36 pm
Age Factor in Sports

by Franz Kelsch
If you are new to cycling you may notice that regardless of  your age, you are improving each year. This seems counter to what one would expect because we know that as we age, we lose some ability each year. However for those new to the sport the aging factor is being more than offset by developing the muscles and skills of they new found sport. It seems that this may last as long as 6 years before they start to see the decline. Although I have run most of my adult life, I started cycling at age 53 and yet set some of my best times at age 59.

At some point, we will all experience the effect on our performance due to aging. It turns out much less than most people think.  Considerable research was done by Yale Economic Professor, Dr. Ray Fair.  As most economists do, he studied a lot of data.  In this case of world class running and swimming times for different ages.  Dr. Fair was also a marathon running and did several sub 4 hour marathons so not only did he bring is economic skills to the task, he related as an athlete.  His work was documented in this New York Times Article.

I took his data and plotted out the aging factor for running for men, although I believe it is similar for cycling. The effect due to aging is only about 1% a year, up to age 60, where the slope of the curve increases.

AgeFactor

There is an online calculator . I plugged in my Boston Marathon qualifying marathon run time at age 58, which was 3 hours and 35 minutes. For my current age of 68, it shows a time of 3:52. It is interesting that on my Garmin 920XT multi-sports device, it has a Race time predictor that is rather close to that.  This race predictor is based on my past runs.

IMG_2747

At the age of 68 I still do speed workouts. It seems may people as they move into their 50’s and 60’s start to use their age as an excuse and back off. My observation is that many of them turn more to endurance and neglect speed workouts. There has been some recent research that shows the benefits of short bursts on our health. This article by Dr. Mirkin explains the numerous health benefits of interval training for those of us in the golden years. If you always run, or bike, or swim, at the same pace, you are missing health benefits and you are also working out all the time at your maximum capacity, which makes things hard.

Yes we all age and there is no getting around the fact that our athletic performance will decline as we age, but that decline can be less than most people experience. Too many people I know back off on their training and intensity, or worse yet, give up the sport as they age.

Want to Weigh Less?

| February 6, 2016 7:44 pm
Want to Weigh Less?

I recall hearing a TV Medical Doctor who said that exercise to lose weight is a waste of time becasue it is easier to just eat less.  Upon hearing this realized that this Doctor didn’t know what he was taking about.  Although some people might be able to keep their weight down to a low level without exercise, for most people it will not work.  Sure they can diet for a period of time, lose the weight, but 97% of those people will gain all their weight back, and more.  I believe the secret is to understand that weight loss, or gain, is on the margin.  We have all read that it is a matter of calories in and calories out.  I happen to believe that balance and although each individual might have a different basal metabolic rate, after understanding that it becomes an issue of how many calories you consume compared with how many calories you use and on a daily basis that difference is small, but overtime it means gaining or losing weight

The issue is that we all need to eat to live.  We are can not just go without eating and our very nature will drive us to eat sufficiently for survival and that means until,we are no longer hungry.  Try to fool your body and it will think you are in a time of famine, and will do it’s best to use less calories for your survival.  Some have said the secret to losing weight is to not go hungry.  It sounds like an oxymoron.  If it were easy, then obesity would not be such an issue as it is in the world.

For the past month, I have been using a program called MyFitnessPal.com to record my Calorie consumption.  It takes it’s data for exercise from my Garmin devices, to get the amount of calories consumed due to exercise.  Having a power meter on my bicycle, means that is a rather close estimate.   This chart shows that it estimates my goal is about 1,670 Calories a day.  This is based on my basal metropolis rate for my weight, and my goal of losing 1/2 lb a week.   On the chart shows the Calories consumed each day compared with this goal.

Calories Consumed

You can see on almost all days I am consuming more calories than the goal, which means only one thing, weight gain.  I know from my post experience that without doing something else, my weight would continue to increase until the higher weight would result in a basal metabolic rate sufficient to use up all the Calories I consume.   Our TV Doctor would say to just eat less.  But I am not eating deserts and I am not “full”.  I eat just enough so I am not hungry but always would like to eat more.  It is the margin, the difference between the calories consumed and the calories burned that results in weight loss or gain.  It is the bar above or below the red line and to talk about the entire bar is frankly a waste of time.

The next chart shows the exercise I did during the same month.  It is from running and biking and since I have a power meter on my bike, the estimate is probably much better than most people will get.  I realize that most people are not going to be able to burn as many Calories as I do since time demands don’t allow it, but the principle is the same.  It is also true that to some degree the high level of exercise means I probably eat a bit more than I would if I did not exercise, but I mean only a small amount.  The last day of the month had no exercise and even on that day, I ate more than my basal metabolic rate.

Calories Burned

Combine the charts and you get this chart of Net Calories.

Net Calories Consumed

On the above chart you can see that on most days I am below my goal.  So how did I do?  I have lost about 1.5 lbs, close to my goal.  If I removed all my exercise, I would have gained 3 lbs, which means I would be nearly 5 lbs heavier.

 

Ultimate Interval Training

| May 29, 2013 8:19 am
Ultimate Interval Training

Since there was not nearly as much study on interval training for the bike as there has been with running, I adapted my running training over to the bike. For marathon training I found mile repeats and half mile repeats to be a good workout, while doing 400 meter repeats for a short race. So on the bike I used 7 minute or 3.5 minute intervals followed by half that time for a rest interval, and would repeat 4 times. Many cyclists use a much short interval length. Of course the length of the interval, it’s intensity, and the rest interval, will all be a factor on what aspect you are trying to improve. Some research suggests an Ultimate Interval length based off your T-Max.

Before I get into the details, let me first make a case of why you should have a power meter to do this, although at the end I do offer some suggestions for those who do not have a power meter.

Use a Power Meter

With running, it is easy to see your progress by watching your pace for the interval splits. But with a bike, your speed is dependent on much more than just how much effort your are putting in. I tried to use a repeatable, mostly circular course to cancel out the effects of wind and incline. I figured if I averaged my speed during all the intervals that would be an indication of my fitness. However since I started to train with a power meter, I see that my prior approach is not sufficient. Take a look at this graph of four workouts done during the same year. If I based my estimate only on speed I would have thought I had declined during the last interval workout, but I actually improved by looking at the average power of the intervals.

Power Intervals

The Ultimate Interval

Now that I have the advantage of using a Power Meter, I can change the interval approach and not try to just do the same course and interval length. Some studies point to what is referred to as T-Max interval as the basis for the ultimate interval. See this article in Bicycling Magazine.

Find Your T-Max

1. First you need to determine your Peak Power Output (PPO) by starting out cycling at 100 watts, increasing your power by 30 watts every minute until you reach exhaustion. You can go by your own feeling on what that point is, or some use a benchmark as when your cadence drops below 60 rpm.

2. Rest for one or two days, then after a warmup, start your timer and ride at your previously determined PPO until you can no longer sustain that power level. The amount of time you were able to hold your PPO is your T-Max. For most people that is around four to six minutes.

3. For the Ultimate Interval, use 60% of your T-Max for the interval length and twice that for the rest interval. So if you were able to hold your PPO for 6 minutes, you would use an interval length of 3.5 minutes followed by a rest interval of 7 minutes. This is the opposite of what I have been doing.

4. When doing the intervals take your power to your PPO and hold it there for the interval length (60% of your T-Max), then rest for twice the length, letting your heart rate decline down to about 60% of your maximum heart rate.

5. Start out with two to three intervals, doing two sessions a week. Try to build up to six to eight sets twice a week, with at least two days of spinning or rest between.

No Power Meter?

Without a Power Meter you will need to just use a nominal interval length, in the range of 2.5 to 3.5 minutes and a rest interval twice as long. When doing the intervals take your heart rate to 95-100 percent of your maximum heart rate. The recovery period should be at 60% of your maximum heart rate. My maximum heart rate is 176 so for the interval I would try to get over 167 bpm and for the rest interval I would be at 105 bpm, which is pretty much how I have been doing intervals.

 

High Altitude Training

| August 19, 2012 11:46 am
High Altitude Training

David and Deb Hoag and Guy Batista arrived on Saturday evening from California so we had a chance to do some riding at high altitude.  On Sunday we drove up to Kamas and biked from there up the Mirror Lake highway.  At the summit the elevation is as high as you go on the Hoodoo 500.

David and Franz decided to go a bit further and biked down the far side a couple of miles to see Mirror Lake.

On Monday, while David needed to work, Anne and Franz on the tandem took Deb and Guy up the Alpine Loop.

The summit is not as high as the prior day, but still over 8,000 feet.

On Tuesday we decided to take a break from biking and do a hike.  It was a 1.5 mile high up over 1,000 feet to the entrance of Timponogos Cave.

That evening Franz and David biked over to the Utah Velo hill climb ride while Anne took Deb and Guy up the bike trail to Vivian Park.   On Wednesday it was just an easy ride.  With the Hoodoo 500 race starting in 48 hours, our training is over.

Last Big Training Ride for Hoodoo 500 – 2012

| August 18, 2012 2:27 pm

Franz completed his last big training ride for the Hoodoo 500.  With only 5 days before the race, other rides are going to be in the Active Recovery zone.

Training Log Online Options

| May 12, 2010 9:00 am
Training Log Online Options

by Franz Kelsch with contributions by Steve Saeedi – last updated: May 12, 2010

Years ago, as runners and cyclists, we would sometimes keep a training log in a notebook, or maybe one of those free booklets that Runner’s World magazine gave free if you renewed. I started to keep my workouts in an Excel spreadsheet, which I keep up through today. Computer based programs were released and as manufactures starting to sell devices which provided for data upload, they usually included some program to work with their device.

There has been a recent explosion in the number of websites that allow you to track your workouts online. With the growing popularity of GPS enabled devices for cycling and running, most of these sites allow you to upload your workout directly from the device, making the process much simpler. Why would someone use a web based approach to a training log? There are a several of key advantages to using a web based program. First it is device independent. To this day, Polar still has not released a Mac version of their training program. Some programs have been released only on a Mac. None of these work on mobile devices, such as smart phones. All these limitations are solved by using a web based approach.

There is the additional advantage with the movement to social networks. If I put my workout in my own log, it is not visible to anyone else. With the web based options discussed here, you can share those with your friends who are using the same web based application, over social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, and embed code inside your own blogs and websites. The social aspect is enhanced with many of these sites offering a Leader board so you can compare your training with your friends or even all users of that site.

Just a couple of years ago web applications were very limited. That has changed significantly and some of the best web based applications, such as Strava, using Ajax features to give you the feel you are using a local based program. In addition, most all of the web applications are free to use, funded by advertising. So is there any downside to using a web based application? The answer is yes and it is common to the movement to the cloud for both data and applications. Your data is stored somewhere else. It is often impossible to export it out. If the site shuts down then you have lost all your data. So you may wish to keep a local copy of the data using the program that came with your device. My Excel spreadsheet has lasted for well over 10 years, as technology has come and gone.

We are looking at the following web based applications. This is not an all inclusive list, but does include many of the popular sites that allow tracking of workouts.

  • Garmin Connect – A free only site geared to those using Garmin GPS devices but does allow manual input .  Also allows for GPX update of Garmin and non-Garmin workouts. Also provides elevation correction for devices that don’t have elevation or barometric altimeters. Can export activities in any number of formats.
  • Strava – A subscription only site that allows GPS upload and manual that automatically shows how you are doing compared with other users climbing the same hills.  For devices that don’t have power meters, Strava will calculate and chart wattage for devices that have barometric altimeters. Cannot export activities.  They recently released an iPhone application.
  • Plus 3 Network – A free site that allows both GPS upload and manual input.  It has a unique aspect that let’s you earn money for your selected cause, based on your miles.  Each of the optional causes has a sponsor who pays the money.  You earn money based on your miles and/or time depending on type of workout. Cannot export activities.  They have an iPhone application.
  • Daily Mile – A free site that is more geared to runners. Allows both GPS upload and manual input.  A Facebook type social network approach to sharing your workouts.  Cannot export activities.
  • Training Peaks – A free site, with premium option, that allows GPS upload and manual input.  Some very detailed analysis tools.  You can print workouts but not export the data.
  • Ride With GPS – A free only site (provision for donations).  Excellent mapping tools.  Allows upload of GPS files for plotting courses and downloaded of courses to GPS devices.  For devices that don’t have power meters, the site will calculate and chart wattage for devices that have barometric altimeters. You can export individual workouts in a number of formats.
  • Map My Ride and Map My Run – Free sites, with various premium options.  Geared toward those who wish to map out their running and cycling courses that can be downloaded to GPS devices.   They do support upload of workout information but do not support uploading from a Garmin Edge 500.   Heavy advertising on free sites is intentionally annoying to encourage you to pay for on of the premium options.  They provide iPhone applications (both free and paid) that allow you to use the iPhone’s GPS to track your route and upload it.

Below is a summary table followed by a detailed review for each site with many screen shots included.

Web Based Training Logs

Website Site Garmin GPS Suport Polar HRM Support Allows Export Price Social Network Estimates Power Tracks Gear Map Drawing Exports to Device iPhone Android Support
Garmin Connect Yes No Yes Free Good No No No Yes No
Strava Yes No No Paid Good Yes Yes No No Partial
Plus 3 Network Yes No No Free Poor No No No No Yes
Daily Mile Limited No No Free Excellent No Yes No No No
Training Peaks Yes Yes No Free/Paid Good No Yes No No No
Ride with GPS Yes No Yes Free Good Yes No Yes Yes No
MapMyRide Limited No Yes Free/Paid Good No Yes Yes Yes Yes

Garmin Connect

If you connect a Garmin device to your computer (either Mac or PC), and click Upload, the workouts are automatically sent to Garmain Connect.  The map of the course and workout details are shown.  You can view the data by splits and also on some of the included graphs.

There is a player option that shows your workout parameters as the pointer moves along the course.  You can easily share your workout on Facebook and get some code to embed the workout in a website or blog.

You can search for other posted routes in your area and download the route to your Garmin device.  There is a nice calendar view that makes it easy to find a particular workout.  It shows the total miles per week, but it adds cycling and running miles together.  There is not tracking of miles on a year to date basis.

The data closely matches the input from the Garmin device, including your split times, calorie estimate and distances.

Strava

This is the only site being reviewed that has no free option, which will make it not an option for many users.  It accommodates other types of workouts but is best suited for cycling.  At this point, it is the only site, other than Garmin Connect,  that will upload Garmin Edge 500 files by simply clicking Upload.  Other sites require browsing to the FIT file or do not support the Garmin Edge 500, one of the newer Garmin devices.

If you drag the pointer along the elevation profile at the bottom, it will show you location on the map and some of your key data at that point in the workout below the map.   This site has a Leaderboard that ranks all users on a week to date based on such things as miles and climbing.  One of the unique features is it will use the uploaded GPS data to see that you climbed a particular hill and show how you compare with others who did the same climb, and provide for an automatic KOM listing.  Below shows the ranking in Strava for the Metcalf climb (in California).

There is also a map for the hill climb and if you run the pointer along the profile, it shows where you are at that point in time compared with the KOM leader.

It is easy to share your workout with Facebook. The site will estimate your power output along the course, unique amongst all the sites reviewed.  You can get graphs for the whole ride or for a particular split.

There is a unique calendar view, with a graph of  miles for each day, with a link to the workouts that day, making it easy to find a particular workout.  It shows your total miles, but adds running and cycling miles together.

You can track which bike you are riding, but beyond that there is no way to track equipment usage.  Strava users can join clubs and see how they are doing with other club members.  You can also have selected Friends.

A unique aspect of Strava is it’s estimate of average power output for the entire ride, or one segment, such as a climb.  Another nice feature is to find local routes, climbs and other athletes.  This could be of great value to someone cycling in an area they are not familiar with.

Plus 3 Network

This site is unique in that it now only allows you to upload your workout, but has a sponsor/cause system so you earn money for your selected clause, paid by the sponsor.

As you do any activity (run, cycle, walk, even volunteer time), you get earn “Kudos”, and therefore more money for your cause.  If you upload a GPS file instead of manually inputting your workout you get more Kudos per mile.  The site does have some graphs for your workout, but only for the entire workout and not by split.  It offers a calendar view of your workouts, but there is not a good way for you to see such things as your accumulated miles over the year or month.  It adds all miles together, regardless of the type of sport.

The site supports some social network features.  You can request another user to be your “friend”.  The site provides a leader board that starts each month and shows how many “Kudos” each person has earned.  You can compare yourself against your friends or everyone on the site.

The social network features are limited and it is not easy to post your network to Facebook.

Daily Mile

When you enter the site you feel you might have entered into Facebook by mistake.  The site is heavily oriented toward social networking.  Many people (including myself) post a lot of work out information on Facebook, but having a site dedicated to those who really might be interested could be useful.

The site offers good tools for showing your miles per week, month and for the year.  They have a calendar view to find your workouts.

There is a leaderboard where you can compare yourself with just your friends, or all users of the site.

The site provides for GPS upload but does not currently support the Garmin Edge 500, so I have been unable to test the mapping features.  You an attach gear, such as running shoes, or a particular bicycle to each workout and then track the mileage on that particular piece of gear.  There is no way to export your workouts.

Training Peaks

Training Peaks probably offers the most features of any of the sites, so many that you can get lost in the site.   It allows you upload GPS data (including browsing to Garmin Edge 500 FIT files) and manul input.   It also allows uploading of Polar HRM files, one of the few websites that supports this.  There are three main views of your workouts, Calendar, Spreadsheet and Dashboard.

The dashboard allows you to add “pods” and track nutrition.  The site allows you to view your data over many different data ranges, such as last 28 days, last 14 days, this week last year, last two years and many more.  For those who are interested in how their training is racking up, this is an excellent site.  It is also the only site that makes it easy to see how  much of your effort is between different sports, while most sites just add all miles together.

There is a very detailed map and graph view.  The graph is very detailed, almost too much so.

You can easily share your workout with others, such as Facebook.  It will even create a shortened URL to use.   You can attach gear, such as running shoes and bicycles to workouts and then track the mileage on that gear.  There is no way to export your data, other than to print it.  I did not evaluate the Premium options because the costs for premium seems to high for post users.

Ride with GPS

This is a free site with excellent mapping tools but none of the annoying advertising like Map My Ride/Map My Run.  It does ask for donations.  You can view your workouts in table or calendar view.

You can upload data directly from a GPS device, or use their excellent mapping tools to draw the course.  If you draw a course, it will create the turn by turn route sheet, although it has errors at times.  Unlike MayMyRide, everyone an print the route sheet.  It has good provisions for embedding the map in a website or blog.  It is also easy to share your workout on Facebook.  Although you can manually input a workout, it wants to know the route, so this site is not recommended for those who do not have a GPS and don’t want to draw out every route they use.  This is understandable because the site is more oriented to mapping than to tracking workouts.

For your workouts you can view the map, workout data, and some graphs.

It will show your activity totals by week, but combines miles from various sports.  There is no feature to see your miles over the course of a year.

MapMyRide and MapMyRun

This site allows you to draw a map of your course, or upload a Garmin GPS file or Polar HRM file.  It does not currently seem to support the Garmin Edge 500 so I had to export to a TCX file to upload.

The main screen has four sections, nestled in excessive advertising.

This screen capture shows how cluttered the screen can be.  The map of your workout is small compared with the excessive advertising.

If you click on the map from an uploaded GPS file, or one you draw, you get a good map view and a nice profile view at the bottom that shows you the percent grade along the route.

The MapMy series as several iPhone applications that allow you to use the GPS in the phone to track your ride/run/walk and upload via the 3G network to the MapMyRide website.  You can export routes, including the ones you draw, to various formats.  MayMyRide has strong mapping tools and allows you to draw maps even on bike trails, something most mapping websites do not support.  A new Leaderboard is being added.  There is strong support for sharing your information via social networks or embedding some code in a website or blog.

There are three paid options, $30, $60 and $99 a year.  Of all the sites, MapMyRide seems to be the most commercialized, which has some advantages in terms of features, but with the downside of the constant nagging to get you to pay something.

Cycling Power Calculations

| May 2, 2010 12:52 pm

by Franz Kelsch

In another post I wrote about the many cycling power meters that are available to measure in real time the power a cyclists is applying to the pedals. This article provides some of the science behind cycling power and formulas that are being used on the Ultra Cycling website to estimate power for those riders who do not have a power meter. If you are one of the many cyclists who mistakenly say that the effort goes up the the square of the speed, you might want to read this article.

Work, Energy and Power

These terms all mean something different, but are indeed related.  A basic understanding is needed before we move on to discussing Power in cycling.

Work refers to an activity of a force being applied and movement over a distance in the direction of the force.  If you cycle up a hill you are doing Work. The typical unit of the force being applied is newtons.  One newton is equal to the amount of force required to accelerate a mass of one kilogram at a rate of one meter per second per second.

Energy is the capacity to do Work.   The source of energy came come from potential energy, as when descending, or energy produced by your body. The typical unit of measurement is the joule. One joule is the energy exerted by the force of one newton acting to move an object through a distance of one meter. The calorie is a pre-SI metric unit of energy. It is still used for food energy, referred to as Calorie (capital C).  This is called a kg calorie, or 1,000 gram calories. One gram calorie equals approximately 4.2 joules so one Calorie (as in food) equals 4,200 joules, or 4.2 kj.  The body is not that efficient in using the energy in food and only about only 18 to 26 percent of the energy available from respiration is converted into mechanical energy. Considering this efficiency, 1 Calorie of food consumed (4.2 kj energy) can produce 1 kj of energy to the pedals.

Power is the rate of using Energy.  If Energy were money in your pocket, then Power would be how fast you are spending the money and what you bought with your money would be the Work accomplished. The typical unit of Power is the watt.  One watt is equal to 1 joule of energy per second. When we are taking about Power output when cycling, as measured in watts, we are taking about the rate we are expending Energy to moving the bicycle and rider forward (Work).  If the cyclists is applying a power of 100 Watts to the pedals, that means 100 joules per second, or 360 kj per hour. To replace that energy, the cyclists would need to consume about 360 Calories of food per hour.

Forces in Cycling

There are certain forces opposing motion of the bicycle that the rider needs to provide energy to overcome. These forces are:

  • Rolling Resistance. This  is friction from contact with the road. It is affected by the bike quality, tire, road surface, tire pressure and weight of of the ride and bicycle.  At very low speeds, on a flat surface, this is the main force.
  • Air and Wind Resistance.  Air is a fluid (although one with low density) and any object moving through the air will encounter friction. It is a function of the speed of the bike plus the wind speed, the area and shape of the cyclists and bike, and the speed being traveled.
  • Gravity. When climbing the rider needs to put in sufficient energy to “lift” their own body weight plus the weight of the bike. It is is a function of the grade and speed.  As the elevation increases, the potential energy increases.  This potential energy can provide energy back whenever the cyclists descends.

Power is the work required per unit of time to overcoming the net forces acting on the rider and bicycle. If you add each of the above forces and multiple by the speed, the result is the power required. The power is applied by the pedals and equals the force applied to the pedals times the velocity of the pedal movement.

Estimating Power Output

Those interested in the math can read further on how to estimate the power required to overcome each of the forces on the cyclists. These are simplified formulas dealing primarily with static forces and do not take into account all items that affect the forces such as wind, impact of turbulence, mechanical fiction in the drive train, etc.

Rolling Resistance

Terms

  • Frl – Force, in newtons, caused by rolling resistance
  • Prr – Power, in watts, to overcome Frl
  • Crr –  coefficient of rolling resistance – typically 0.004 but can be as high as 0.008 for bad asphalt or as low as 0.001 for a wooden track.
  • g – acceleration due to gravity – 9.8 m/s2
  • Wkg – mass of the ride plus bicycle in kg
  • Vmps – Veloicty in meters/sec

Formulas

  • Frl = Wkg x  g x  Crr
  • Prr = Frl x Vmps

Example

Take a rider and bike combined weight of 165 lbs (75 kg) traveling at traveling at 20  mph ( 8.92 meters per second), using Cff of 0.004 and with g being 9.8 meters/sec/sec.  The force would be:

  • Frl = 75kg x 9.8 m/s2 x 0.004 = 2.94 newtons.
  • Prl = 8.92 m/s x 2.94 newtons = 26 watts

Since the power is proportional to speed, the same rider traveling at 5 mph would require 6.5 watts to overcome rolling resistance.

Air and Wind Resistance:

Terms

  • Fw – Force on rider and bicycle due to wind drag
  • Cw – drag coefficient, typically 0.5
  • Rho – air density in kg/m .  Depends on temperature and  barometric pressure. Some typical values are sea level: 1.226, 1500m: 1.056 and 3000m: 0.905
  • Vmps – Speed in meters/sec
  • A – effective frontal area of the rider and bicycle in m^2.  Typical value is 0.5.

Formulas

  • Fw =  1/2 A Cw Rho Vmps^2
  • Pw = Fw Vmps

Example

Take a rider and bike combined weight of 165 lbs (75 kg) traveling at traveling at 20  mph ( 8.92 meters per second), with no headwind, using Cw of 0.5, Rho of 1.226 and front area of 0.5. The force due to wind drag would be:

  • Fw = 1/2 x 0.5 x 0.5 x 1.226 x 8.92 x 8.92 = 12.19 newtons
  • Pw = 12.19 newtons  x 8.92 m/s  = 108 watts.

If you at traveling at 5 mph, instead of 20 mph then:

  • Pw = (1/2 x 0.5 x 0.5 x 1.226 x 2.23 x 2.23) x 2.23 = 1.7 watts

Gravity:

Terms

  • Fsl – Force in newtons due to the pull of the rider and bicycle down the slope
  • Psl – Power in watts required to overcome the force of Fsl
  • Wkg – Combined weight of the rider and bicycle in kg
  • g – Acceleration due to gravity, 9.8 m/s^2
  • GradHill – gradient of the hill, in decimal, the ratio of the rise to the horizontal run.

Formulas

  • Fsl = Wkg x g x GradHill
  • Psl = Fsl x Vmps

Example

Take a rider and bike combined weight of 165 lbs (75 kg) traveling at traveling at 5  mph ( 2.23 meters per second), climbing a hill with a grade of 12% (GradHill = 0.12).  The force due to gravity would be:

  • Fsl = 75 x 9.8 x 0.12 = 88.2 newtons
  • Psl = 88.2 x 2.23 = 196 watts.

Combined Forces

Formula

  • Total Power = Prl + Pw + Psl   or Total Power = (Frl + Fw + Fsl) x Vmps

Examples

Using the values we already calculated in the above examples:

  • Flat Road, 20 mph:  Total Power = 26 +108 = 134 watts.  Here most of the power is used to overcome air drag
  • Flat Road, 5 mph: Total Power = 6.5 + 1.7 = 8.2 watts.  Here most of the power is used to overcome rolling resistance
  • Climb, 5 mph, 12% grade: Total Power = 6.5 + 1.7 + 196 = 204 watts.  Here most of the power is used to overcome gravity.

Some cyclists mistakenly say the power needed goes up by the square of the speed. Although the force due to air drag goes up by the square of the speed, the power required due to air drag goes up by the cube the cube of the speed.  Speed has a linear impact on rolling resistance force and no impact on gravitational forces.  Remember to get power we multiple the force by the speed.  Air drag forces already have the square of the speed in the formula so to get power your multiple by speed once again.

Real World

The above calculations are based on a simplistic model and exclude the effect of wind and some other dynamic forces.   Wind is very seldom zero and even on a circular course there is net loss of power due to wind, assuming wind is constant. There are also factors influenced by aerodynamics of the type of clothing being worn, the type of helmet, the biking position, turbulence caused as the air flows past the rider.  Except in the case of a tail wind, all these other factors will increase the power required. For climbing significant grades these additional factors are small compared with gravity and can be ignored.  However for flatter terrain at high speeds, some additional watts or power output will usually be measured.


References:

Hot Ride to the Junction

| September 6, 2008 10:00 pm

by Franz Kelsch

It was only 5 days ago that we were in Utah and I rode up Alpine Loop to see the snow from a recent storm. I did not take a jacket and was very cold on the way down. Today’s long ride out to the junction was HOT HOT HOT. Kind of like out of the kettle into the fire.

I was leading a long ride for the bike club. The official start was in San Jose, but I figured starting from Morgan Hill would be the same distance, please riders said they were going to meet us along the way. To meet meet the timing I would have had to start biking from home at 6:30 am, but it was still dark so I asked Ann to drive me 6 miles towards Morgan Hill and I started there, at about 6:55 am. It was warm enough, despite the early hour, that I did not need any arm warmers. Ten minutes later I met Gary F and we rode together up Monterey to Bailey. We then made our way over and did the first climb of the day, Metcalf. I did the climb slower than usual because I had a long ride ahead. We had to wait at the top for any riders to show up and then only two did.

We then started down the backside and were met by Russ and Joe F. Not long after that Cindi S. was coming the other way and turned around to join the group. We made our way of to Quimby for the second climb. Quimby is a nasty climb of nearly 2,000 feet with some sections that approaches 20% grade. I had not really tried to time the climb up there for years so I did push a bit harder to see how I was doing compared with several years ago. Since those prior times were all set on a short ride, I felt good with my time which was less than a minute off my best time ever and better than I ever did in 2004.

Quimby Climb

Distance: 4.2 miles, Climb: 1,975 feet, Avg Grade: 8.8%
Time from Ruby to Summit
Date
Time
Weight
Max HR
Avg HR
Ft/Min
Single
Tandem
9/6/08
35:42
139
167
156
51
5/20/04
36:40
6/12/03
34:47
172
165
57

Russ and Gary had gone ahead of me but the others were all behind. There was not waiting at the top of Quimby by the leaders so I headed down and to Mt. Hamilton road where I caught them getting water. We then had the long climb up to the top of Mt Hamilton. It was already getting hot. We passed Louise M. on the way up, she had started the climb earlier. Russ had reached the summit before anyone so Gary and I stopped just long enought to fill our water bottles then head down.

Due to the heat our plan was to turn around at the bottom and make the climb up Mt. Hamilton before it got too hot. Gary, Russ and I stopped at the Isabel Creek to wait for others. Then we started to talk about going to the junciton, per the orignal plan. No one else showed up so we headed out to the junction, not realizing how hot it was going to be.

I had a simple lunch, a turkey sandwich and some potato chips. Russ and Gary both had a big lunch with a lot of french fires. I thought I could never eat all those fires and climb up the backside.

We didn’t take too long to eat because we knew the temperatures would continue to rise. We each bought a Gatorade to stick in our back pocket because we knew that two water bottles would not be enough to make it back to the summit in this heat. I ended up drinking mine on the spot then filled the bottle with water to carry.

On the way back we saw a couple of cyclists headed in the same direction, pulled off the road resting in the shade. One yelled out that it was 112 degrees. I check my cyclometer and it was reading 112, although it tends to read high when in direct sunlight. But then my body was in direct sunlight!

The three of us were biking together until the last climb before we descending back to Isabel Creek for the start of the big climb. Then Russ started to move ahead and Gary started to fall behind. As we started to climb up the backside of Mt. Hamilton, I slowed was gaining on Russ but I could no longer see Gary. I caught Russ as we approached the spring at the 3 mile mark (3 miles from the top) so we stopped there to splash some water on ourselves and cool off. We waitd for awhile and still no Gary. I started to worry about him since he is a faster climber than I am.

A van was now coming up the hill so I flagged it down to see if they had seen a cyclists. As it was stopping I could see that Gary was in the van. I guess he had some issue so the driver offered to carry him to the top. Russ and I got back on our bikes and finished the climb to the summit. There we found Gary laying on the ground. He had become dehydrated, was cramping and even had the chills. I rush up to get him a cold drink and then he used some water to cool himself off. We knew we needed to wait for him to recover.

Eventually he wanted to go ahead and bike so we all started down the hill. Then it was a climb back over Quimby. After reaching the San Jose Valley we could really feel the heat again, after a bit of cooler temperatures at 4,000 feet summit of Mt. Hamilton. Russ headed his own wan and Gary and I headed back to Morgan Hill. Gary was not feeling well so we stopped at a McDonald’s to cool off and have some drinks. I wanted him to have more time to hyrate. We filled our water bottles with ice and water there and then headed back home.

I dropped Gary off in Morgan Hill and then biked home. It was past 6 pm when I finally finished. I had biked 135 miles and climbed nearly 13,000 feet. My HRM showed only 11,900 feet, but last time I did this same route it was 12,700 feet. We’ve been under a high pressure system resulting in a reduction of accumulated gain. I will use 12,800 since I did an additional climb up Santa Terresa to Miller this time. This was therefore the most climbing ever on a training ride.

If I had done all five passes on the Death Ride, I would have biked 6 miles less and climbed 2,000 feet more, so this was some training ride.

This is the profile of the ride.