and now, for something completely different.

Tag Archives: garmin

Fall Hike up Pocaterra Ridge

Route map and elevation profile.

With a glorious long fall in Alberta, we attacked Pocaterra Ridge.  I had to make a run to Canmore to pick up my trekking poles first (glad I did), so after that and a fill-up I drove out to the trailhead at Highwood Pass.  We had eight people in our group – a pretty large group!  The advantage here is that we had enough cars to do this as a point-to-point hike; we weren’t forced into an out-and-back.  I ate a Subway while I waited for the other folks to show up and set up the shuttle, and then off we went.

A beautiful hike through meadows that were full of wildflowers not a month ago led to the base of the ridge.  The smell of fall was everywhere, with the damp, moderately pungent but still refreshing odour of disappearing vegetation omnipresent.  The ridge itself climbs out of the meadows with a bit of a trudge, but when you reach the top you’re rewarded with a valley view on the left and hwy 40 on your right.  A technical – but spectacular – traverse of the ridge leads you to a steep and long downhill through trees to the north end of the trail, where we’d stashed a car for shuttling.  This descent is really made easier with trekking poles.  On the south end before the ridge, the Larch trees were still full of yellow needles, while on the north end they were bare.  Just awesome.

It’s fair to say that when I was on top of the ridge I was in exactly the place on the planet I wanted to be at exactly the time I wanted to be there.  That should be evident from my grinning like an idiot in the video, below.  I’ll get some photos up of this eventually, but here’s what Garmin and Strava had to say about the hike.  Even the drive in and out was spectacular and relaxing – given the lateness of the season, there was very little traffic; not a motor-home to be seen on highway 40, which can be a bit of a slow drive in the peak season!


Riding… Snacking…

Photo evidence! Bikes parked at the candy shop.

Well, as summer winds down, we reflect.  With family and things happening around us, we didn’t get a chance to ride as much as we wanted.  We did do a couple of great (easy, low-impact) rides with our friends Russ and Lucie though, and I thought I’d share.  We did the Canmore-Banff Legacy trail along the river, and we also did a loop from our house to downtown Calgary and back.  In both cases, we took full advantage of our surroundings halfway through the rides to snack.  Hey, if you’re riding, you need to reload, right?

Canmore-Banff Legacy Trail

Here’s the GPS plot.  First off, we need a rematch on this ride.  It was Adena’s first ride on her roadie in quite some time, and we ended up stopping a few times to make adjustments and repairs as we went.  That’s fine, but it detracted from the rhythm of riding a bit.  She was thrilled, though; she loves going fast on the road bike way more than riding her mountain bike.  Whenever we’d stop to make an adjustment, it was like she was being tortured… she wanted to go!

The only trouble is that the trail starts on the Canmore side just at the park gates.  There’s also nowhere to park there.  The way we did it was to park in Harvie Heights (right here), ride along a trail towards the park gates, and then go the wrong way over a one-way overpass to the other side of the highway.  Once there, we rode about 1km up the Trans-Canada against the flow of traffic (the move looked like this going from B to A).  A bit unnerving, but there were lots of people making the journey and it’s the only way to hook it up.  Access:  a small oversight on the trail designers’ part!

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We rode the Big Dipper.

Our 12-Mile Coulee mashup. Because of construction, the “scoop” of our route turned into a “well now where do we go?” mashup.

Okay, that title makes absolutely no sense, but check out the plot of this ride that Russ and I did yesterday.  I’ve seen some impressive GPS plot routes in my time (Space Invaders ftw!), but those are intentional from what I’ve seen.  If they’re not, that’s a series of miracles of coincidence and all parties involved should likely buy lottery tickets.  Ours was accidental.  It’s mirrored, as you can see, but it’s pretty darn close.  Ursa Major mirrored on Earth!  One minor difference is that in our dipper, the ladle has some steaming soup in it.  Nice.

Or it’s a steaming pile of something else, because what that ladle represents on our ride is a big pile of fail.  We wanted to do a fast mountain bike ride, and what easier target than the Coulee?  Heck, we’ve even ridden it in the pitch black in winter.  Summer should be an easy rip, right?  Well, with the City finishing off their ring road by removing the light at Nose Hill Dr. and Stoney Trail, they’ve completely blown up the nice meadow and tree-covered brook that used to make up the bottom of the trail in the park.  In fact, we had to trespass across the construction site to even get to the base of the trail to climb up (it was an up and down trek).

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Carrots, Cross-eyed, and Electric Bikes.

I’m gunna git ya!

It’s hot in Calgary right now.  I know there are a lot of places a whole lot hotter than Calgary right now, but when we have been struggling to make it over 20 degrees for all of “summer” so far, a sudden blast of 30 degrees makes everyone both happy and sad right now.  The same way that we laugh at other cities in Canada who shut themselves down after a foot of snow, people laugh at us for when the heat goes above 25 and we have to start having rolling blackouts because the system can’t handle the sudden load of air conditioners turned on for the one week of the year we might “need” them (because, it still drops to almost 10 overnight… seems like a decent air-conditioner to me).  Well I don’t have an air conditioner, and I do have a lot of grumpiness, so here goes.

I did a nice commute route home tonight, as can be seen here.  I don’t get to do it in 30 degree heat that often, so I take days like this as being a bit of a treat.  The wind seemed favourable today instead of the usual blast out of the west straight into my face on the way home, so I lengthened it to the funny finger-trap bridge before looping back towards the northwest.  As always happens when the weather improves, the fair-weather commuters appear on their bikes to get to and fro.  I’m 100% behind this, I think it’s great that more people get out and on their bikes, it’s just too bad a lot of them don’t know the rules of polite cycling on city pathways.  Seriously, buy a bell, people; the pedestrians will thank you – they thank me!

Now let me state this outright.  I don’t like you, electric bikes.

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Trail Run on the Coulee

After not being able to run on Saturday with the other monkeys (Graham, sick, asked very sweetly to play with blocks with him and I couldn’t say no), I made it a mission to get out for a trail run on Sunday.  I know the monkeys went down and up the same trail, but I just decided to make a loop out of it from my house.  The weather was fantastic, at about 0 degrees, still cold enough that the creek was frozen enough to run on.

I decided to take out my Salomon trail runners as opposed to the regular Brooks running shoes.  They were awesome on the trail, but the second half of my loop was on pavement and they were really not good for that.  I ended up with sore knees and feet by the time I got home.  I know part of that might be my gait, and I continue to try to work on that.  I also used Yaktrax on this run, which made it much easier to keep my feet on the trail.  Still, I was surprised how much sliding out I still did on some of the really side-cut parts of the trail; definitely not safe to ride a couple parts of this right now!

Here is the loop and the run profile.  It ended up being 78ish meters of climbing  over what looks like about 2km, based on the proportion of the loop that was in the ravine.  I was too lazy to just measure the distance in the GPS software.  I loved running the coulee, but the loop back through my neighborhood was so boring.  I have a nice running loop through Silver Springs that is somehow much more satisfying.  I don’t know what it is about running around Scenic Acres, but it just sucks the will to live right out of me.  I digress, the loop:

Loop on the map, 7.2km

Run profile

Video after the break.

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Addicted to Data

No no no, I’m not talking about Star Trek TNG.  I am talking about the data that my fitness-related devices spit out.  I ran to work this morning after having to leave my bike there last night, and I felt naked.  You see, I left my Garmin attached to my bike, so for my entire run here this morning, I have no heart-rate data, and no distance data, no time data, no elevation data, no location data… it’s just wrong.  And that’s when I realized:  I’m addicted to data.

You see, I’ve run this route to work many times, and I checked the time on my phone before I left and when I got here (so I did 7.6km in 50ish minutes), but that’s no longer enough information for me.  That got me to thinking about the data itself and why I like it so much.  I think it’s the graphs.  I really like those graphs.  I like to try to make as smooth a line as possible through data.  Jaggedy spikes somehow tells me that I’m doing something wrong, or that I’m not fluid or something.  I like clean data to the point that traffic lights tick me off when I reach them on red, because it interrupts the capture of the data in a smooth fashion.  Here’s what I mean:

Green box? It's a stupid traffic light messing up my data collection! The rest of the data is on the move, as evidenced by the pace plot (blue line).

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My 20km Commute

So I live pretty close to work, but I quite often take a detour on my way home to give a bit of a longer ride.  I credit the longer commutes with helping me to lose 10 pounds over the last couple of months.  I really enjoy the route, but it’s a hard thing to describe to people as parts of it can end up being a through fields and parking lots and holes in fences type-thing.  The easiest way to describe it is to show it, so I recorded my commute last Thursday to show the route.  Don’t worry, you don’t have to sit through the full 50 minutes of the commute, it’s time-lapsed with comments here and there.

I chose an excellent tune by Orbital called “Time Flies” for the soundtrack because that’s kind of what the video represents!

I can stretch the route out even further by going all the way downtown before heading back to the west, but I find that’s a bit of a time trade-off, and it’s better to stick to the 20k and stay under an hour to get home and see the family.  I’ll still go all the way downtown once in a while, but not too often.

Great Ride Home.

I wasn’t expecting to make a post about a good ride today.  By all accounts, I should have been absolutely beat today.  However, it turned out to be the opposite.  While my muscles were slightly fatigued, apparently I have improved like mad in the last couple of weeks.  I should maybe have expected it as I shaved a full minute off my ride in this morning over 7.6km.  A minute is a lot over that distance.  And here I’d planned on going out and taking it easy because my muscles were tired!  I didn’t think I hit it that hard, but there you go.

The ride home was the same:  over the 20km, I shaved about 5-6 minutes off the time on the ride I posted a couple weeks ago and I maintained a lower overall heart rate and a higher speed.  Yeah, I put some new wheels on my bike (and they are awesome), but I don’t think that should have had anything to do with it.  I feel like they roll a little better than the stock wheels, but they are pretty cheap and I bought them so I could swap tires on the bike during the winter by just changing the wheels.  It’s just easier and faster.  So, they’re cheap wheels by all accounts.

Anyways, here are the stats… I’m like 10bpm slower than I was before with better overall performance:

Ride home from work - August 25, 2011


Good ride home.

I had an absolutely great ride home today, and it made absolutely no sense to me.

My little girl was up a good portion of the night last night, so I doubt I got more than 2.5 hours of sleep.  Add on top of that, full exhaustion of the day of work.  Then there was Friday’s ride home, where I did a short 10km route home and was faced with 30-40km/h winds in my face the whole darn time.  It was raining too, but I don’t mind that.  Riding in the rain is just wet, riding in the wind feels like mother nature is personally singling you out for a large amount of unnecessary torture.  Wow, that was horrifying.  I actually swore at Nose Hill Dr. as I was riding up it, refusing to drop to the granny gear on the Norco.

Such a different story today.  By all rights, I should have been exhausted.  I started with a resting heart rate of 80bpm, which is pretty darn lazy if you ask me.  Then I rode from the University Research Park across the University Campus, down past the hospital, and to the Bow river.  I felt like an absolute god, completely invincible.  So, I decided to push it.  I headed left towards downtown at the river to make a 20km loop home, instead of making a 13km loop that would be achieved by turning right.  I didn’t get to kill the hill by the hospital like I usually do because of high traffic, but I kept a pretty good clip going for the rest of the ride.  The muscles hurt a bit doing it (they’re always gonna complain) but they didn’t stop providing power.  I also maintained a pretty decently high heartrate more comfortably, as compared to rides I’ve done in the last couple of weeks.  I don’t think I could have sustained a higher pace for the ride than I did, but the sustained pace I had was much improved over last week.

The charts speak for themselves.  Forgive the mess, but I only wanted one picture.  🙂

Stats from my ride home from work, August 8, 2011. Data comes from my Garmin Edge 305, and the graph comes from Sport Tracks.

You can see the speed is kept pretty constantly near 30km/h.  My hearrate seems to always hover near 175-180, but never lower than 160 (unless I had to stop for something – and even if I did, that’s fast recovery!).  That awful climb at the end is Nose Hill Drive, but it makes a really cool shape to the graphs:  speed goes down, heart rate goes up and grade goes up!  I need to get my speed up on that climb with the full panniers.  It’s better than last week, as I was hovering around 10km/h, but I know from last year that I’m easily capable of sustaining at least 13km/h on that with the full ballast of my lunch bag, clothes, laptop bag, and jacket in the panniers.  The thing I’m happiest about on the heart rate plot is not how high it is, but how comfortable I stayed while keeping that high value throughout the ride.  I was worried about running out of power, but I didn’t.

Hmmph.  Maybe the awful ride on Friday slapped some performance into my sorry legs!