To some of us geeky MAMILS (middle aged men in Lycra), one of the biggest pleasures, next to the ride or run itself, is quantifying the vast amount of data available to us about our performance. The prevalence of GPS based and downloadable cycling computers, combined with various websites and programs have made it possible to catalog, view and analyze mountains of data; metrics from average pace to peak wattage vs. peak heart rate are now at your fingertips. Here’s a quick overview of a couple of the more common sites and programs out there.
my new favourite after a while playing with Endo … (see next)
Strava.com is the relative new kid on the block in terms of ride analysis. Offering both free and frankly too expensive subscription services ($6 per month or $59 per year) will allow riders to directly upload rides from their GPS devices and track their performance. Displaying a GPS track of the route you rode, along with an elevation profile and metrics such as distance, elevation gain, moving time, speed (max and average), average speed, average cadence and average power, you get a mass of information to sift through and analyse.
The coolest thing about Strava and it is something that Endomondo also does is social connection …. You can link Strava to your Facebook page and twitter account and you can even challenge friends (or strangers for that matter) to competitions. Strava has a unique feature that allows you to designate segments of your ride and run (climbs, TTs, crazy descents) that you can measure against every other person on Strava that has covered that route (or just a section) before and uploaded their ride. It’s an excellent idea that promotes competition and growth amongst different riders all riding in the same area.
Here is a section of the Arran ride that someone has made into sections … woo hoo I did well without even knowing it.
For example, imagine your club has a friendly “climbing competition” up a particularly long, steep, or otherwise nasty climb. Anyone who is a member of Strava who uploads a ride containing that climb will be ranked based upon speed, power, time and VAM (Vertical Ascent Meters) along with everyone else who has ridden that climb. The best part of the whole thing is that once the climb is designated on Strava, the site software automatically finds that segment of your ride and analyzes it, compares it to everyone else, and posts it in ranking of fastest to slowest. It’s an excellent tool to use to compare both your form compared to others around you, and to chart your own progress by comparing to your previous attempts.
PROS: Great community based concepts. ”Segments” option for competing with your friends. Excellent data presentation and layout. Standalone free iPhone app if you don’t have a dedicated gps hrm
CONS: Pay site is yet another expense (free site only 5 rides/month allowance)
My old favourite social exercise site – allowed you to see your friends workouts and comment on them. Again it allows analysis of the ride or run and also keep a note of your PB’s.
The social interaction may be slightly better on Endo although I prefer the slightly better analysis on Strava …. Again there is a dedicated app for iPhone so you can use that on commutes when your gps or hem is at home. Both these sites are better with Garmin products and that is more to do with the disinterest on the part of Polar and suunto more than the development of either of these two platforms. At the moment I import the gpx track from file although this loses the hrm info from the exercise. At the moment you can import the average and max readings into the endo workout but it is not a true graph.
Alternatives for Me
Movescount for Suunto users
Good analysis but lacking social connections as there is no app and your friends can’t compare to you.
Polar Personal Trainer for Polar HRM users
Better analysis but even less social connections.