Strava and Gear Fit Integration Pt II

So, I have been playing with the Strava integration with Gear Fit. My first try was less then smooth. However, that seems to mostly be down to the beta quality of the Gear Fit software itself. Rather than from Strava’s side (I do think the Strava app is awesome. Shame about my phone battery life and HRM integration limitations, so I’ll stick to Garmin).

Seems that the Strava/Fit integration shows you the  “Popular” segments you ride, and segments you star.

So today I set off to ride Holme Moss, part of the 2014 Tour De France stage 2, and made sure before I set off that the Holme Moss segment I consider definitive was starred.

When I got to Holmfirth I started Strava on my phone. Battery was already low, as Gear Fit Manager holds a wake lock keeping the phone awake and draining the battery instead of letting it deep sleep.

Samsung support say this kind of thing is “typically” fixed with software updates but they have no idea if we’ll ever get one. Twats.

ANYWAY. I was dead happy to see my percentage progress, current time and lead against my PR display on my wrist as I slaughtered myself up Holme Moss.

I pushed hard. I over did it on the early part of the ride and was 23s ahead of my PR really early on. Which meant on the last stretches of the climb (1/2 a mile and counting down, love those lines on the road) I was hurting and losing some of the 2+ minutes of gain I had on my PR. When I hit the 200 yards I gave it everything and finally pulled myself over the finish in 22:09, nearly 4 whole minutes under my PR from May last year.

And being able to see that count down/up on my wrist was really fantastic.

It’s just a shame that the battery life on my phone is butchered by the Gear Fit Manager. Not that it’d last long enough for me to do a whole 100 mile ride anyway with GPS tracking. But, it is just slaughtered as a useful device by the buggy beta quality of Samsung’s integration apps.

Strava and Samsung Gear Fit Integration

I’ve recently got myself on the bleeding edge of technology by buying a Samsung Gear Fit smartwatch/fitness band. It’s a great looking smart watch, but, the software so far is a little bit flaky. I’m guessing it’ll get more stable as time goes on.

It does the job of a pedometer, HRM and exercise tracker as well as letting me choose which notifications that happen on my phone will also happen on my wrist.

I was slightly surprised that when Strava updated on my phone, an option for “App Connect” appeared on the Gear Fit with the only option being to enable Strava. On top of the option to have notifications from Strava on the watch.

I couldn’t quite work out what it did/would do so I contacted Strava support who took a little while to work out that basically it would display summary data from Strava while riding.

I usually track with my Garmin Edge 705, as I like the navigation, display options and the battery life on really long rides. But I thought I’d give the Strava app a go to test the fit tonight on a shorter evening ride.

First problem was that Strava crashed every time I started recording. I eventually un-installed and re-installed Strava and it ran.

Update: this was a bug with Strava 4.0.1, when I re-installed I got 4.0.2 which fixed the bug. Nothing to do with the fit.

Then on my wrist, time elapsed and distance were displayed, along with a “chequered flag” which I presumed stopped the work out. I pressed the button on the fit to go adjust the brightness. After that I couldn’t get the Strava app to display again on the fit.

So I stopped recording and started again, the fit screen went all garbled, it lost connection to the phone and rebooted. I tried again a few times. No luck.

So I rebooted the phone and the fit and tried again.

This time I got the display back, and didn’t turn it off!

This displays nicely the elapsed time and the distance:

Strava Summary on the gear fit
Strava Summary on the gear fit

I thought wouldn’t it be nice to see segment information, so tried swiping the screen, and there we had it, the last segment I had ridden with my time for the segment:

Strava Segment on the Gear Fit
Strava Segment on the Gear Fit

Great! Perfect for short evening segment hunting rides, I can see my progress through the latest segment, and I can see the PR maybe?

Only I can’t. After I got to the top of Give it Some to the Pub, it came up. Short segment. I then kept an eye on it as I dropped down through Killamarsh.

As I was trying to draft a big car through the village on the Killamarsh Tramstop Dash and then smash myself up Halfway Up, it was still telling me I was 100% through Give it Some to the Pub in 20s.

Which is a bit disappointing.

Still, it’s new, and can only get better!

And having a button instantly there on my wrist to stop the Strava app is neat, any time I do use the Strava app over my Garmin. Which given the instant segment information and the Gear Fit information (as it gets better) I am very likely to do for shorter rides.

I’ll pass the info on to Strava, and hopefully it’ll be made more stable soon.

Rowsley Bank

The first time I hit Rowsley Bank, I’d been hunting around the climbs in the area for something that might be like the dreaded Hardknott Pass that was coming up on the C2C in a Day.

It’s not Hardknott.

But those hairpins are tough. The worst thing for me, is that after the nasty bit at the bottom it just keeps on going for ages after. However, seems the official 100 Greatest Climbs version ignores that part and concentrates on the steepest area.

It starts off not too bad. It’s a harder lead in than Winnats, but not as much as Curbar. Then it nips through a farm/cottage and hits the hair pins.

That’s the hard bit. They’re vicious and nasty. The inside of them is sheer and painful.

And I know this, because today the entire Mazda MX5 owners club decided to drive up it as I hit the hairpins. Forcing me to stay on the inside of the 1st and 3rd instead of taking the outside where the gradient is not so vicious. It was the third nasty hill today, and the driest, but the only one I lost traction on the rear wheel out of the saddle.

But I got up it both times I’ve tried, and I plan to get out again as the first hill in a ride (like it was the first time, not the third as it was today) and take the outside on all the hairpins and smash my PR.

Check out the 3D profile on veloviewer. vicious.


Curbar Edge

The first time I hit Curbar Edge was after I’d done the Coast to Coast mountain bike route over two days. I thought I’d ridden some tough hills on that. This was a Sunday ride with some non-C2C friends. And we hit Curbar, and it hit me back hard.

For a long time since then, I considered it the toughest hill I’d ridden. It had a special place in my mind as being a bastard. And that mental image made it one.

Nothing else in Derbyshire, not Mam Nick, not Winnats Pass, not Rowsley was worse than Curbar.

Today I rode three of the 100 Greatest Climbs, and this was the 2nd I hit and it was the easiest.

It’s not the tough bastard I thought it was.

Oh it’s tough.

Just not as tough as it was in my head. Today I slayed that beast of my imagination. I didn’t even PR it. It just got put into perspective more.

It starts hard, a big, steep imposing ramp, then levels off a bit (if you can call it levelling off) through the village before some nasty hair pins and an endless ride to a blind corner that hides a last little sting.

It’s hard work, but I now love it instead of hating it. Which is nice. Good training. I plan to hit it on some evening rides when the day gets longer. Fresher legs and smash my PR I think.

Winnats Pass

I’ve always loved Winnats Pass, and the area around it. There’s just something stunning about how it looks.

As it’s reasonably local, famous and obvious, I’d already ridden it a few times before getting the 100 Greatest Climbs book, and I wasn’t surprised it was in there.

Much as I love how the place it looks, I didn’t love riding up it. It’s seriously tough.

The lead in, which looks nice and flat as you approach, quickly jumps up to nearly 10%. Then you hit the first cattle grid and it gets silly.

Twisting and turning up through the pass, it’s epic in its beauty. Not that you can admire that as you’re head down, giving it everything to keep going. It’s a really tough climb.

Personally, I don’t think it finishes until the road junction at the top, but, given the number of segments on Strava there is some dispute as to what makes the Winnats climb!

Check out the interactive 3D profile on Veloviewer.

There are three of the 100 Greatest Climbs which are close to home for me. Winnats being the furthest, and the 2nd most ridden (by me). And it’s the toughest. I rode three of them today in one ride. Winnats was the first, and still harder than Rowsley Bank at the end of the ride.

Double Brutal

Last year, the Sheff Rec Cycle Club announced they were going to run their usual club annual challenge ride as an open sportive with limited places. The route is a tough 50 miles of repeated climbing in the Strines area near Sheffield. It covers ground that the Tour De France Stage 2 2014 will cover.

You can see the information they published about the event here.

Frankly, we were too tight to pay the entry fee to ride the sportive, especially since it was only 50 miles. So we decided we’d just cycle out to Strines one Sunday and do the route ourselves.

Unfortunately, that meant that we were adding an additional 50 miles onto the route, and a considerable amount more climbing to get over the hills to Strines.

Thus was born Double Brutal.

We thought it would make a good March landmark ride as part of our C2C Training Ride series. The route is good, because it loops round Strines a lot, which means if the weather turns really nasty, or it’s too tough, it’s easy for people to drop out and head back to the start.

Strines is also quite sheltered, so if the weather is a bit off, we won’t be constantly blasted by wind like we were on the Lincoln Blast.

We’ve improved the route this year, so it’s not just out there, challenge and back, but puts a bit of interesting Edge of the Peak District Fun on the return, and called it Double Brutal – Redux.

This ride is brutal. It’s 100 miles, with over 13,000ft of climbing. That’s 160km with 4,000m of climbing. Almost the same ascent as the C2C.

We’re planning on riding the route on Saturday the 15th of March. A Saturday not our usual Sunday just this once. We’ll likely be starting from Eckington at 8am. There’s the possibility of picking others up at Bradfield as we hit the start of the main Strines Challenge route for those who feel they’d rather have their Brutal in a single measure.

And this video should give you a good idea of what it’s like, just look at those silky smooth surfaced empty roads with beautiful views and weather…


On Sunday, in the horrific wind (but otherwise rather nice weather) we took on a blast out east to go to Lincoln and ride up the Michaelgate climb.

We were going to Lincoln anyway, and I recently bought the book 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs and Michaelgate was in it. So we added it.

The book says:

Michaelgate is a true classic, a 1-in-6 cobbled road through the heart of Lincoln. The centrepiece of the annual Lincoln Grand Prix, one of the country’s greatest bike races, it’s a bone shaking, lung busting test of man and machine.

The book then goes on.

Which Michaelgate does not. It’s short.

I was expecting really steep, really treacherous cobbles. I was expecting to have to stay seated for traction on the rear wheel. Which would be a problem as I was on the winter bike with not the best hill gearing and a lot of extra weight.

I was expecting to fight my way to the top and collapse exhausted from this epic climb.

As it was, I got out of the saddle for my gearing, pumped away and was up it, and steep hill, and wondering why the pubs were still shut.

We’d ridden out for a pint, and been so fast the pubs weren’t open. So we sat outside the cathedral to fuel up and then set off again.

Here’s the Strava segment. Clocked in at 1’40, and 260th roughly out of 600 and some. I’d like to go back on the fast bike without the wind and see how much higher I can get. But. Not overly impressed with this climb.