If you ride a bike you can’t avoid hearing about Zwift. Virtual Reality riding linked to your smart trainer to make that winter training more bearable. For some, including me, it’s a massive win keeping me motivated to sit on my turbo for over an hour this evening trying to set some new PRs on some virtual hills.
For others, they can’t understand why we’re not out in the cold wet and dark getting killed by winter motorists as well as cold wet and miserable.
But each to their own…
Big bone of contention is that Zwift racks up your mileage and climb totals for the year on Strava, which annoys the hell out of people.
So, should it count? Is it close enough to reality?
I only really care about going up hills, so let’s look at that. First, I remember Ben at Veloviewer.com posting an article about how to find segments you’ve ridden that are like a climb of interest you won’t get to ride. It’s here. So we can use that to find a segment that suits us for comparison.
To save me the bother, Andrew pointed out that Half China is quite a lot like Carr Lane. Which is a segment B&DCC, the club we ride with, runs a hill climb up so we’re quite familiar with.
How to compare? Well I figure VAM is a good one. I’ve only ridden Carr Lane 7 times, which is nothing compared to Andrew who is over 80 repeats. My VAM ranges from 652.4 3 and a half years ago to just over 1000 for my PR and last April.
My VAM for Half China goes from 844 a few days ago to just over 1000 just before I got ill late last year and slumped my fitness.
I’d say that’s a pretty fair comparison and climb on Zwift counts then.
I checked one or two other segments, seems close enough to me.
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.
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:
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:
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.