January Spanker

So 2017 outdoor cycling got underway today with my first real ride of the year. I was planning on getting out new years day, but it was too icy to be safe, so just the one turbo session in the week so far.

As well as aiming for doing as many of the 100 Greatest Climbs as I can this year, for me, it’s about exploring and enjoying being out on the bike. Going new places. That’s part of why I’m tackling the 100 Greatest. It gives me a set of places to go and ride. Ok I’ve been to some of them before, but I want to push the count up. New roads, new places.

The other idea that is on the list, is visiting as many local places as we can with funny names. So today Andrew used his local knowledge of the area to the south of us to route us up Spanker Lane. I’m childish enough to prefer to stop and take a picture of the street name, than worry about my time up the hill. And we turned on the road part way up the main segment anyway!

Which was extra useful, as today I was riding the old commute bike. I’m still wary of my collar bone which I broke last year. So the 28mm tyres and aluminium frame as well as the more upright position make it preferable to riding the carbon fibre bike with it’s 23mm 110psi tyres.

And the disc brakes are a reassurance too. I’ve lost a ton of descending confidence since the accident, with the time off too. So being able to stop better really helps.

But that bike is heavy, it’s at least 3kg heavier than the carbon bike. I need to re-weigh them both as I’ve made some changes and can’t remember what I had on the bikes when I weighed them. But I think with water bottles the carbon bike is 9kg. Wheras with the pannier rack on, the commuter bike is 12kg.

Plus, something had got my gears out of wack and I didn’t want to jinx the ride adjusting them. So my best rear gear was a 28, not the 32 the bike has.

Thankfully this route was lumpy, not hilly. The total climb racks in well over my threshold of 100ft/mile which defines a tough ride, but, there was nothing super evil. Just an unending lumpy up and down. But even so I was slow. I felt strong. Stamina was fine. I could put the power down and push hard and get some speed out up a hill. Just not as much as the fitter guys with lighter bikes I rode with!

I’m thinking next week, a proper hilly peak ride. I don’t want to hit one of the local 100 climbs as it’s too early and I’ll be no where near my PR. But I want to ride a few really tough hills to give myself a good test.

Oh, took me about 2 minutes to fix the gear shift when I got home!

2017 Goals

2016 was an epic cycling year for me. The main aim of the year was the completion of the inaugural running of the Tour of the Highlands Sportive, which is an awesome three day, 300+ mile event with a ton of climbing. I also aimed to hit my highest ever annual mileage cycling. I planned to commute on the bike 3-4 days a week, depending on weather to get 15 miles each commute day, plus a 100km+ ride every Sunday with the club. Unless the weather prevented it. At least 100 miles a week on average through the year.

I was doing great, right up until I did a ride to the coast with B&DCC. That ride was too flat. Not enough hills. I got bored of cycling. 120 miles in I’d had enough with another 20 to go. I had plenty of power left to ride. I was just fed up of actually riding. That led me to deciding to cut back the cycling for a week or two, then start training to do some hill climbs when the season started.

I love riding up hills. That’s my thing. I know that. A big long challenging flat ride is ok, but I’ve done the coast and back a few times so I knew I could do it. It wasn’t a new challenge. I’ve done a 200+ mile flat sportive. That was tough. But I’ve done 200 miles. I know I can just keep riding, if I fuel right. It’s boring. I need the hills!

So the idea was to hit the hill climbs. I know I’m not going to be competitive. I’m not interested in proper structured training, I just like to explore, enjoy and ride upwards. But I’ve done a couple of hill climbs before, they’re a bit of fun. It was something to aim for to get me excited about riding again.

Then I got knocked off my bike by a dog on my Commute the day before my family holiday. I broke my collar bone quite badly, requiring surgery. I did get back on the indoor trainer as soon as I could, to keep the fitness, but it was 4 months before I was fit to ride outside again. This kind of destroyed my cycling year, and got me banned from cycle commuting, as it’s the second time I’ve ended up in hospital as a result.

I need a goal for 2017, something to keep me motivated and excited to ride. I always ride year round, except in the dangerous weather. Rule #5 and Rule #9 are really important to me. So I generally keep going, but I just need something to look for to help that.

We’ve got another three day tour planned for the year, that’s going to be great, riding in Shropshire with most of the group I rode TOTH with and a couple of other good cycling friends. But that’s fairly early in the year (end of May) so I need something to keep me going all year.

I’ve been keen on Simon Warren’s book 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs, and the follow up Another 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs for some time. I’ve now ridden 18 of them over the years I’ve been riding. As I live near the Peak District, there’s a good cluster I’ve ridden many times.

So my aim this year is to ride as many of the 100 Greatest Climbs I can in the year. Not just looking to ride ones I’ve never done, but to get as many in as I can. So, I am to complete all the Midlands climbs. That’s easy, I can ride to them all from home. There’s a few Yorkshire ones I can get to from home yet to tick off also. The trip to Shropshire includes a couple. So now I’m looking around to see which other hills I can get to in a day trip with the car. Some of the Lake District hills to revisit, and hopefully the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors could get a visit. I’m also looking at using the train to get from home to somewhere, then ride up some of the hills on the way back.

It’s got me dead excited!

Setting Up Your Garmin for Navigation

You’d think once you have put the GPX/TCX file on your Garmin, you could just ride it right? Wrong. Unless you change a few settings, navigation is a bit sketchy, trying to route you random ways, down footpaths, all sorts of rubbish.

What you need to set depends on your device. If you have a device that supports maps, but only have the basemap and not the expensive Navigation Bundle. You can get free, legal, fantastic maps. See my post on free maps.

Garmin 605/705

  1. Turn off recalculate route, with this on it will shortcut you home. Which is the start. Which is a short ride as you’re already there!
  2. Turn on Settings -> Map -> Lock on Road to keep you on road.

Took me some time to crack that. I had fun for a while, but with that everything is fantastic.

Garmin 800/810

  1. Routing => Bicycle
  2. Guidance Method => On Road
  3. Lock on Road => No
  4. Recalculate => Off or Prompted

I don’t have an 800/810, so I am not 100% sure of this. So if you know better, let me know.

Garmin 1000

  1. Click the Settings Icon at the bottom of the home screen
  2. Select Activity Profiles then select your preferred profile
  3. Select Navigation, then select Routing
  4. Set Routing Mode to Road Cycling
  5. Set Calculation Method to Minimize Distance (though Minimize Time shouldn’t be too different)
  6. Ensure Lock On Road is set to On
  7. Select Avoidance Setup and make sure all options are disabled. Since we are loading pre-planned routes onto the Edge, we don’t want it recalculating the route on us if it thinks there may be a toll, highway etc.
  8. Set Recalculation to Disabled.

Garmin Touring

Don’t know, sorry 🙂

Garmin 500

It doesn’t do fancy navigation and maps, it just points an arrow. No further setup required.

Downloading and Copying Files to Your Garmin

First step is to download from the Strava Route page. This will have options for “Export TCX” or “Export GPX”. You probably want a GPX file, unless you know specifically your device requires a TCX file (Garmin 500, 510 for example) . Click on the right button and your browser will download the file to your disk.

Where it goes depends on your browser and set up. I prefer Google Chrome. In this case you get a little box in the status bar for the file you have downloaded:



Click on the drop down arrow and select the “Show in Folder” option. This will jump you straight to the file selected in Windows Explorer. You can then right click on the file and select “Copy” from the context menu.



With Internet Explorer, it’s similar, but you have to confirm you want to Save the file:


And then select Open Folder:


You then need to navigate to your Garmin. On the tree on the left side of Windows Explorer there should be a GARMIN device, if you plugin your Garmin via the USB cable.



Clicking into this should show your Garmin folder, and inside that, your GPX (Edge 605, 705) or NewFiles folder (Edge 500, 510, 800, 810, 1000, Touring, Touring Plus). Click into there and press Ctrl-V, or right click and select Paste to copy the file in.

That should be Job Done. However, some users find that clicking on the GARMIN device launches various Garmin software. This is irritating Windows Autorun features. Just close whatever it opens and hopefully it’s let you in. If not, on the left hand side, when you hover over the GARMIN device you should get some little expander arrows or plus signs.


Carefully click on these smaller icons to expand out the folder structure until you can see the GPX/NewFiles folder and click directly into that to paste.

And that really is job done.


Using Routes on a Garmin

This is just a quick guide to help people load routes onto their Garmin’s for successful cycling navigation.

  1. Get your device set up right
  2. Get a route onto the device
  3. Ride with the navigation enabled

You need to make sure the right options are set on your garmin, or you won’t get turn by turn direction and you’ll get all sorts off odd behaviour. It varies by garmin. I only have a 705. Important thing is to turn recalculate off on all garmins, or generally it finds the quickest way to the end. Which given most rides for us start and end in the same place makes for short, confused rides 🙂 You may also need to turn on “stay on roads” or whatever the option is.

For turn by turn directions, like a car satnav on a 705, 800 or 810, you need to use GPX files. Unfortunately, Garmin Connect downloads the TCX option to your device. Which is why I re-draw club routes on strava as that lets me export the GPX file. GPX files go in the GPX folder on your garmin when plugged in to your computer.

500 it seems gives your best navigation option with a TCX file.

To get a route on your device from Garmin Connect, make sure you:

  1. Install Garmin Express
  2. Visit the course
  3. Click send to device

It should then be on your device as a TCX.

If you want a file from Strava, Click Export, pick your device type and follow the instructions (use the GPX file unless you have a 500/510).

When riding, choose the route to navigate.

Now, bit vague with these instructions, but, there are more detailed Ride with GPS specific details on the Ride with GPS support pages here. I will try and improve the info here when I have more time. Grab me at the start of a Club run if you can and I’ll see if there’s anything I can do to help, or grab me on Facebook.

Free Garmin Maps

Many people ride with a Garmin GPS unit. Some people have Garmin Edge 500 or 510, these don’t provide a map display. Some people ride with a Garmin Edge 705, 800, 810 or 1000. These do support maps.

Some people with the map supporting Garmins do not have the maps as the Ordnance Survey map bundles are pricey. Some people aren’t taking the upgrade plunge because of the map price.

Fortunately, thanks to Open Street Maps, there are free suitable maps you can use. Frankly, it’s a bit confusing finding out what you need and how to use it.

So this is it boiled down for cyclists in the UK who want a “just get me mapping option”

  1. You need a MicroSD card to go in the Garmin. You may already have one. You only need a 1gb one for the maps I recommend.  An 8GB Sandisk high quality card is less than a fiver from Amazon
  2. You need to download the maps, I use and recommend Talkie Toaster’s UK Contour Routable maps and have ridden with them for years now. Download this file. Or if you know what you want look here.
  3. When you download the file, it’s a zip file, extract the file there should be a GMAPPSUP.img file in it. That’s what you want.
  4. Follow from Step II here.

You now have free maps on your Garmin.

B&DCC Red Routes



Double Brutal

It’s the time of year again to go Double Brutal.

That’s doing the Sheff Rec Strines Challenge route, 50 miles and loads and loads of climbing taking in some of the Tour De France roads (the wrong way actually) AND a bonus extra 50 miles riding to it. Check the original post from last year for details.

The Strines route loops round, loads of points you can drop out and ride into Sheffield if the weather turns really nasty in winter. Or your legs break. Or your mind breaks.

I need to update the route a bit, but, being an ultra-tough ride, there are many options.

I’m planning to start at Eckington, because I don’t want to ride in the wrong direction to get to Bolsover start. From there we ride through Door etc to get to Strines. This means there’s a good meeting point at Damflask Reservoir for those who want to pick up just the brutal 50 in Strines.

Yes I did say Just.