Riding Without Data

No Cyclometers Needed.
No Cyclometers Needed.

I’m compliant with Rule #74: no Garmin, no cyclometer, just an uncluttered cockpit. I’m not anti-data, if I could generate some awesome data I’d like to know about it. If I was racing I would train with data. I just got bored with looking at the numbers and not doing anything about them. When my Cateye cyclometer/heart rate monitor demanded yet another bi-monthly battery change, I took the whole thing off and never looked back. Total milage, elevation gained, I no longer care about these numbers.

Can you ride without data? Does a ride even happen if it doesn’t show up on Strava? Bretto brilliantly introduced the V-meter three years ago. It was an idea that flew in the face of all the new technology we needed on the bike. Push on the pedals and if in doubt, push on them harder.

I did buy into a heart rate monitor or two in my time. Early on we used them like kids used the early alcohol breathalyzers installed in bars. That was an ill conceived notion if there ever was one; it’s a damn bar, only young drunk males are going to use breathalyzers and it won’t be to see if they are too high to drive. Rather, they are going to use it as a drunkometer, to see who can get drunker. For us it was young males on bikes, I’m gonna peg this HRM, see, see, I can get a higher number than you because you suck.

Without data I know when I’m going faster than 65 kph, things do change at those speeds. And I know when I’ve done a 160 km ride only because it’s a route I know from past centuries. I do live on an island. But I still make deposits at the pain bank at regular times. Being too big to climb and living on the side of a volcanic island has made every ride something. When I was younger I couldn’t enjoy a forty-five minute ride, I actually wouldn’t go on one. What was the point of such a short ride? Now forty-five minutes can mean forty minutes of steady climbing and five minutes of descending. That’s a ride.

Getting shelled by your friends tells you something, something you already knew, they are faster. Riding with friends who are faster is the best training aid. I figure it’s a quality training ride if I barely make it home. Do more of those, keep doing them a little harder.

Keepers Tour 2012 was doubly fun for the training required before the trip even started. We all need incentive to crank up that kind of fitness. I’m sure the 200 on 100 Cogal riders felt the same way; this ride is going to hurt but it will hurt less if I murder myself in the months before. The Spring Campaign is looming and I’m already devising  training rides that will either make me fit or ruin me, or both at the same time, which is what usually happens.

 

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116 Replies to “Riding Without Data”

  1. @Mikael Liddy

    @eightzero

    Next up on the crap-tastic-o-meter will be the HUD for cyclists. Some twatwaffle will design a google-glass thingy with a heads up display that will display more pointless shit in front of you. Stay home, ride the rollers in front of a merckxdamn HDTV instead.

    what, like this?

    Oh, Jezuz H. Merckx, this is just fucking shit in a bag.

    http://jet.reconinstruments.com/

    I get it. More fucking toys. If this is your thing, great. But $600? JHM, I could get a Assos Bib Short for that! (Wait..what?)

  2. I understand the luddites who neither want nor need data when they ride.  I feel the same way when I MTB.  But given limited time to train I want to maximize the value of every ride.  The one thing I don’t do is measure average speed down which the road to ruin lies.  However as someone with  both a high resting heart hate and max HR (as in 204 bpm in a two mile Army fitness test) it is very important to track HR versus power since standard ROT don’t apply.  Speed will come but I’m more concerned with effort vs output, especially when building a base after a long time off the bike.

    So I understand the freedom that comes with riding IAW the V factor some of us need the feedback to get us where we want to be.  And from a personal perspective I don’t want to stare at the CPU the whole ride I do want to know what I’ve accomplished on each ride.

  3. @eightzero

    @Mikael Liddy

    @eightzero

    Next up on the crap-tastic-o-meter will be the HUD for cyclists. Some twatwaffle will design a google-glass thingy with a heads up display that will display more pointless shit in front of you. Stay home, ride the rollers in front of a merckxdamn HDTV instead.

    what, like this?

    Oh, Jezuz H. Merckx, this is just fucking shit in a bag.

    http://jet.reconinstruments.com/

    I get it. More fucking toys. If this is your thing, great. But $600? JHM, I could get a Assos Bib Short for that! (Wait..what?)

    It’s a good job Hincapie has retired cos I’d be at the roadside with a stick to poke in his spokes for promoting those things.

    @Elric. The Luddites were opposed to the mechanical advances of the Industrial Revolution during the late 18th and early 19th centuries as they feared mechanisation would destroy their livelihoods, which in many cases it did. Not sure I am quite that troubled by someone’s Garmin.

  4. Another perspective, from an older guy.  As you get older, the line between “tough” and “stupid” becomes much finer, and the penalties for crossing it more severe.  When I decided to start racing at 60, I wanted to track what I was doing with more than just RPE, which can vary on a daily basis.  When I know I’m going to be pushing myself, I do it with a Powertap and a HRM.  OTOH, when doing endurance work, I don’t worry about power and don’t have to (though usually do) monitor HR, as long as I get the time in.  Doing it doesn’t detract from the joy of a good ride.  This weekend is a pair of ~120 km endurance rides.  Gonna be awesome.

  5. @El Mateo

    I’m a bit torn on this one. I used to keep all my mileage in a notebook (How far, who with & notes) which lasted maybe 10 years but that faded away as I got more of a life. Wish I had kept it up as its kind of cool to go back and peruse old rides. I’ve most always had bike computer/GPS to track time & miles but it is always subjective depending on the wind and who you are with. Used a heart rate monitor, excessively at times, too… Then comes Strava where you can micro manage every foot of your ride along with power & HR data and compare that to you friends, team mates and arch enemies. That’s all pretty subjective too since wind and group size has a lot to do with who wears the crown on any given segment. The power meter is surely the best way to gauge your effort but the days when my Garmin gets left at the house and its just me and the bike and a group of riders – those are some of the most fun rides I’ve done. Can’t look down at your Garmin too see if your heart is going to explode- you just go till you can’t. How far did i go? Does it matter? Figure it out … I’ve ridden these roads a million times! Get on the front and tap in to that inner cadence meter that doesn’t get used nearly enough. If the ride doesn’t really happen because Strava didn’t record it, you can always rely on The V-Meter… It always works!

    VLVV

    I think my Vmeter has recorded efforts that haven’t even happened yet. Today seemed as though the computers off the back were being drained of all power as other riders took it with them off the front.

  6. @revchuck I hear you when you say, “As you get older, the line between “tough” and “stupid” becomes much finer, and the penalties for crossing it more severe.” A couple years ago when I first got back into cycling (after getting injured too many times pretending I could still play soccer competitively), I did a 6-hour mountain bike race (tough but stupid). I strained my lower back which took over a year of physio to resolve. I started road riding, got addicted, sold my fancy mtb, joined this community and never looked back. One of the things I love about riding on the road is that I can choose my pain in a measured way. The first couple of years, the data helped, but I’ve abandoned that now and go by feel. I do sportives, but for real racing, I can see that the data would be helpful for us older dudes– to keep us on the bike and out of the clinic..

  7. @razmaspaz

    @Puffy

    a power meter will not teach you to scrape for every last ounce of energy while you are on the edge of passing out in a vain effort to hold a wheel. Only the sting of defeat and the desire to avoid repeating it will teach you that.

    I think you’ll be surprised. Training to power teaches you exactly that (along with other things). It’s just like motor pacing but without the motorbike. Take this mornings session for example which included holding power at 20w over threshold for 40min. As you tire, you slow except the power meter is screaming “you pussy, push harder” at you and you do. When you think you will not have anymore, you find some and keep that number where it should be. Take that into a race and you have the ability to push through and keep riding deeper into the pain cave. You’ve done it in training, and it’s no problem to do it again in the race.

  8. @scaler911

    As to power meters, it’s all good if you want to use one. I don’t, but whatever, we all have our own path. HOWEVER, don’t keep rambling on during group rides about how much power you’re putting out (or not putting out). I don’t give a flying fuck, and the numbers have no meaning to me whatsoever. 400 watts, 10,000 watts? What are we, lightbulbs now? I have no way to relate those numbers to my effort.

    Pretty sure we have a rule for that  Rule #72

  9. Just get on your bike, ride, step into the hurt locker and stay in it as long as you can.    I ride for the joy and purity of the ride itself.  Don’t over analyze and ruin everything.  My power is determined by the quality of riders I’m with, and who gets to the top first.  Long live the big ring.

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