Suunto Core Alu

Although I have a Garmin Fenix I use for running and kitesurfing, i also have a suunto core which I love. but the first edition Core has had it’s issues the latest being battery problems so I have sent it back to Suunto.

(within six months it had munched its first battery, three months later it had got through two others so I pretty much forgot about it. Last month I sent it back to Finland under warranty, and two weeks later I got a refurb back (was made a month earlier than the one I sent in.)

This one lasted a week before exhibiting the same problems as my original one (blank display, no life) so it’s currently back in Finland again.

I’ve heard good things about the late 9xxx serials, and the 0x serials, so check before you buy – if it’s a 7xxx or 8xxx serial number, even an early 9xxx (try to buy later than 930x) then walk away.

Serials are Year, Week, 5 digit serial – a eg 949xxxxx is week 49, 2009.)


In the meantime i have a Suunto Core Black Alu to enjoy. Get yours here – if you buy one I get a whopping few pence as a thank you

Screenshot 2014-07-29 23.05.43

Same Spec but nicer build

Suunto Core Alu watch, which comes in a variety of finishes, is a soup to nuts watch, though keep in mind it lacks GPS.  That short coming aside, it can measure the air’s temperature and tell if you’re heading in the correct direction thanks to the digital compass, which mind you automatically calibrates itself according to your surroundings.   In addition to that, there is an automatic altimeter/barometer switch, storm alarm with a weather trend indicator, altitude logger with altitude difference measurement, multiple date/watch/alarm functions, sunrise/sunset times for 400 locations, multiple language support, a user replaceable battery and a few different straps to choose from.

Best cycling watch


A Watch Shop has named its top 5 cycling watches for 2012 after extensive on the road testing during the Spring of 2012. But newer polar and garmin fenix not included.

“I’ve raced in international tours and multiple US National Championships with one podium during my career having ridden with riders like Greg Lemond and Louis Garneau, so for our company the evaluation of cycling watches is a very serious matter” says Rusty Squire, President of the Heart Rate Watch Company. He adds, “Many of these cycling watches rival the very best bike computers on the market.”

Here is the list of the top 5 cycling watches for 2012:

#1 Garmin Forerunner 910XT – This cycling watch does it all with the ability to receive ANT+ power, heart rate, speed, distance, pedal cadence, accurate altitude with a barometric altimeter and a large display screen. About 95% of all the bike computers on the market today can not match its prowess as a cycling device. It even provides highly detailed maps through Garmin Connect software that provide unmatched metric detail. This watch is completely waterproof.

#2 – Polar RCX5 G5 Tour de France – This watch is the official training computer for the 2012 Tour de France. It provides speed, distance, 5 heart rate zones and even features a dual frequency chest strap that can get heart rate while swimming. The new G5 GPS sensor is smaller than a cell phone battery and gets over 20 hours of GPS data plus the WIND speed sensor offers dead on speed and distance information.

#3 – Garmin Forerunner 610 – This little touch screen marvel gets every last piece of cycling data except for watts output but its compact size allows it to easily be used as an everyday watch. Use the optional cadence sensor to get cadence plus you’ll see speed, distance, elevations, heart rate and it even features a cumulative training load that looks at training history. It has running and cycling modes allowing for easy transitions between sports but it is only IPX7 water resistant, so don’t swim with it.

#4 – Forerunner 310XT – Even though it is nearly 3 years old it is hard to take the Garmin 310XT off this list because it set all the current standards for what a cycling watch should be. It gets watts data, speed, distance, cadence, elevations and more, although it lacks the swim features and barometric altimeter of the Forerunner 910XT. Still at about $150 less than the Garmin 910XT it is a great value in a cycling watch.

#5 – Polar RS800CX G5 – This is the same watch used by the brothers Frank and Andy Schleck that finished 2nd and 3rd in the 2011 Tour de France. The Polar RS800CX is hands down the most
sophisticated heart rate monitor on the market with recovery heart rate data and an enormous
ability to analyze heart rate. When you add the G5 to it it makes a pretty slick bike computer
plus it can connect to Polar cadence sensors as well.

Other honorable mentions to this list include the garmin Fenix (thats mine says richdirector)Suunto Ambit, Polar CS300, Timex Global Trainer and Suunto t6d cycling bundle. “These were all some very excellent watches for cycling
and it was hard to choose, but one thing is certain, the versatility of a cycling watch is that you can use it for other sports” states Squire.

ANT+ connect the dots and know the score

ANT+ is the standard wireless transmission protocol for fitness equipment these days, for collection and transfer of sensor data, be that from a heart rate monitor, PowerTap or cadence sensor.

If you’re planning a set-up for your bike that’ll give you all the info you need for the perfect training session, or perhaps you’re hoping for a box with a nice shiny Garmin in your stocking this year, there’s now a site with a full directory of ANT+ compatible devices.

The directory is perfectly easy to use: just enter the first piece of equipment you’re planning to use, and read a short description of it. From there you can see all the compatible products, and cross check to make sure other monitoring equipment will be suitable too.

For more information, see This Is ANT.

*although I notice that the Fenix and Suunto Ambit aren’t listed *

Software for your Heart Rate Monitor and GPS

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) 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.

Trouble shooting – weird Heart Rate spikes, dropouts and how to eliminate them

For those who train with heart rate monitors, you have probably encountered a session where your HR graph just doesn’t make sense. With my garmin it used to start fine then my HR would skyrocket up to the 180’s 190’s and I would be dead if I was there 200’s. With my Suunto – sometimes I would get no reading before it kicked into life …

Suunto no record then suddenly pop into life ...

After you finish your activity and get back to your computer, you’ll probably see something like this – a major HR spike a dropout or even a level no read situation, followed by more normal HR activity: Below is my reading from the Alloa Half Marathon on the weekend with flouro yellow highlights of bits that don’t make sense ….

Frustrated, you wonder if the battery needs changing but then the next time it is fine so you forget about it …but here is a reason why this might be happening.

I presume everyone can put their strap on correctly – that is the right way up and against the skin just under the ribcage …

So assuming that you’ve got it fitted right then let’s look at what typically causes the spike or dropout in HR

1) Are you wet yet?

During the winter months and in the case of Alloa on Sunday the air is often fairly cold, and fairly dry.  This means that you’re less likely to have moist perspiration on your skin (from heat) and even less likely to be generating any sweat right from the start of the workout.  This in turns lowers your belt’s conductivity ability to read your heart rate beats …..   Simply introducing any moisture at all will usually remedy the situation – at least until you begin sweating enough to let sweat do its job.

2) Synthetic quick dry shirts:

At Alloa I was wearing a synthetic shirt as opposed to my ‘normal’ nicer smelling Merino. An unfortunate side effect of synthetics is that they can dry out the body and the skin’s sweat making the belt so dry that it can’t ‘read’ the skin. Another issue is that synthetic material can build up static which can cause electrical interference with the HR belt.

3) Your mum is a gorilla:

I have heard some people of the hirsute variety have more errors ….. you need to be very hairy for this to affect the HR belt but if you are this way inclined … a) shave or groom b) stay swinging in the trees instead of running c) if female remain indoors and plait that hairy back …..

How to lick the problem:

It is pretty easy to fix

1) Sweat it: This first one is a bit obvious – but will explain why the problem often goes away after just a few minutes of activity.  Once you start sweating it improves conductivity.  This in turn makes the HR strap work …. but you still have the earlier misread ….

2) Lick it: This is the simplest option and what I do all the time. I just give the sensors a good gobbing – but hold onto your bogeys for the run.

HR gel

3) Heart Rate Gel: If you suck at licking, then you can instead use electrode gel to improve conductivity.  This is what’s typically used in medical environs for scans and using TENS machines …. it just ensures a good contact moisture seal between belt and skin. They are cheap as chips – about £5 for a big tube that will last years … If it is a dry very cold day and I remember then I use gel on the belt before heading out.

4) Shift the strap:

If you spot a dodgy reading then adjust the strap – a quick shift up and down normally gets the belt to rub against some sweat and the belt normal corrects pretty quickly. Some people shift the strap so it is half on back and front or even all on the back … i have not tried but it seems to work as an option.

5) Replace the batteries:

Finally, it could be as simple as old depleted batteries – most belts use CR2032 batteries so i always make sure I have a handful around ….

Polar RCX5 review

The Polar HRM arrived nearly a month ago now and I have had a good chance to use it in various sports.

Firstly unboxing showed a nice little box and neat packaging. When you first switch on RCX it asks you to input basic things like sex, age, height, weight as well as the amount you exercise per week. I fall into a higher (amateur) category of roughly 5-7 hrs / week.

The RCX typically comes in 3 configurations … a gps setup which includes the excellent G5 gps. This is a very nice waterproof unit which holds charge for 20 hrs which is far from what i have had the pleasure of exceeding. The unit comes with an armband although I must confess that one month later i have yet to use it. The unit is very wee and fits into the small key pocket at the front of my running shorts as well as the back pocket of my running tights. I even used it the other day on a ride and had it jammed into a small front pocket of my jacket pocket. Being hunched over I expected the reception and subsequent track to be slightly skittish but coming back i compared the track to the one recorded by my Garmin Edge 305 which is on my stem with an uninterupted view of the sky. The comparison revealed that the Garmin recorded the ride as 51.42km and the edge at 51.62km … that is a 200m discrepancy over a huge distance. thinks it something like 0.4% (better get my calculator out) I am sure a shoulder mount or bar mount would make it perfect (that is me judging the Edge to be perfect …)

Other configurations are the Run pack which comes with the S3+ stride sensor. I have not used this but have seen side by side comparisons to the Garmin unit and from what I gather they are pretty compareable. The Polar unti is much bigger and does everything the Garmin does … the only feature useful to me would be the stride count … but then i am a slight Chi runner and my footfall stride is roughly 83-85/min.

The other configuration i have seen is the bike pack which has a cadence and Speed Censor … the cadence sensor would be the most useful to me … if you have the GPS sensor then i think you dont need the speed sensor.
One point I would say is that it is a shame that it is not the one unit like many of the competitors now do. Times and Garmin do their combined ones. I still use my Garmin unit along with the edge indoors when on the turbo trainer and having this placed on the back wheel makes it very practical.

I think that all the above configurations come with a heart rate belt although it is also possible to buy the RCX5 unit as a standalone piece which is probably only something that athletes that already own a polar belt (although not all older belts can be seen by the RCX5) On the heart Belt itself – amazingly comfortable and using Garmin and Suunto for the past few years I must confess that Polar know what they are doing when they make the belts … so comfy and you never get a strange spike or weird reading that you sometimes get with the Garmin HR belts.
Polar also do sports bras for women which have the HR receiver built into them which should make them more comfy than a standard setup for some.

what works with what POLAR

Back to the RCX unit. There are two colours to choose from a black and a red … I chose red because everyone knows that red is faster.

The square design has been criticised by some but I think it is great … it is slightly larger than a normal watch but once exercising the display is clear and very easy to use.
You can customise the display to show what you want to see .. I have gone into this before HERE

Using the Unit
Strapping the RCX on I immediately noticed how comfortable the watch was – in fact the whole construction oozes class not something i have noticed in the build of any previous Polar, Garmin or Suunto with the possible exception of my Suunto Core

Going outside for a run you can leave the gps on a wall whilst you pre-stretch – and then it latches onto the signal very quickly – the chipset inside the unit is a SIRF6 which allows for quicker lock on. the given wisdom is that cold fixing (in an area you have not been in before) will take around a minute, and hot fixes (starting in an area where you finished your last run / ride) will take 10-20 sec. From experience this seem to hold true. Of course this is a gps so switching it on when inside your house will not be good … but a sky above you should be good enough for the fix.
A tip I learnt for cold or rainy weather is to switch on the gps and leave it in your window whilst you put shoes on and it is generally ready to go when you are.

The unit when setting it up can be set to auto-lap – this is something I use when running having the watch perform every 1km … i find this more useful as a pace guide and a very good nudge to the brain when i need to speed up.
the watch can be set to either follow a programme (which can be configured on polar personal trainer and downloaded) say if you were doing intervals with a 5min warm up, 10 min tempo and 3 fartleks then arm down. The watch also has a great audible warning which can be set to pace or HR. This can either be set to Loud, quieter or off. I find this more useful when doing a fat-burn ride or run when my natural instinct is to speed up and defeat the very purpose of the training.

Post exercise the RCX5 stores your last exercise in the data section fro you to review. By itself the RCX5 gives a good breakdown and review of data. You can look at individual training sessions or see a summary of the week which is useful if you need a motivator to get out the door for a run or cycle. One of the good features is that there is a very good heart rate zone breakdown as well as a neat thing were you can see what percentage of calories was in fat burn.

HR zone breakdown

Speaking of features there is something missing and that is a proper barometric altimeter. Most of the course I do aren’t that hilly and I put bike tracks into bikewithgps or other tracking websites which recomputes gps info and produces a ride profile. For those running in hilly location this lack of altimeter might be a problem but for me it is not a deal breaker.

I think the beauty of the Polar RCX5 is in the heart rate monitoring … a lot of people like myself would look at the lack of ANT+ support and the very annoying lack of integration with other platforms like map my run, bikely,endomondo and others and decide not to go with polar BUT (and it’s a big butt) polar does and has always done great heart rate monitors. The analysis that you can do post exercise is way better than polar and a bit better than the hrm software that my old suunto t6 used with movescount.

Once you have done the exercise you can upload the data using polar weblink which is a free download from their site. One word of advice make sure you click the RCX5 for PPT option as I inadvertently clicked the other option when downloading the update then tore my hair out trying to figure out what i had done)
With the Polar Personal Trainer software you can create programs as well as seeing very easily how your training load is…. This prevents you overtraining (however rare this is in my case)

Finally I would say that polar, although not integrating as well as Garmin does with ANT+, weblink does allow you to access the RCX5 and download the .hrm files and .gpx files (gps track) – it’s a shame it doesn’t use the .tcx format but i think that is a garmin proprietary format.

I may have highlighted some weaknesses in this review but I am happy with the unit and wouldn’t change it.

Suunto ambit – new gps hrm from Suunto

There is a new watch on the block ….

Suunto, the brand leader in functional outdoor instruments, announces the launch of the AMBIT*, the first true GPS watch for Explorers.

The Suunto AMBIT is what every backcountry skier, hiker, trail runner and mountain climber has been eagerly waiting for — a watch that combines a GPS navigation system, altimeter, 3D compass with advanced heart rate monitoring into a robust instrument for mountain and everyday use.


 is an awesome product that should be on the wrist of anyone who heads into the outdoors,” comments Greg Hill, the recordbreaking extreme ski mountaineer, who in 2010, ascended two million vertical feet. “The AMBIT is a potentially life-saving survival tool thanks to its full GPS capability and altimeter. It’s also invaluable for anyone who, like me, wants to record their tracks and log their vertical ascents and descents. And it looks great too.”

Specific Outdoor Functionality
With AMBIT’s full-featured GPS the user can choose waypoints to navigate with and see their location in multiple coordinate systems. The AMBIT boasts a host of other features including temperature, track logging, unique 3D Compass and barometric sensor. All these keep you informed of your location, altitude and weather conditions on your adventures.

Advanced Training Functionality
The AMBIT also offers functions for the serious mountain athlete. The patent pending accelometer fused GPS gives highly responsive speed and pace with Suunto FusedSpeedTM. Heart rate monitoring with Peak Training Effect will keep you within your optimimum training zone and Recovery Time will tell you when you’re fully recovered for your next adventure. And after a hard session in the hills, the GPS will guide you home where you can upload your data for analysis on

Mountain and Everyday Exploration
The AMBIT is housed in a robust BuiltToLast casing and has an enhanced battery lifetime of up to 50hrs in GPS mode. True to Suunto’s heritage in dive instruments, it is water resistant to 100m. Upgrades are available through

Comments Jonathan Wyatt, six-time world mountain running champion:

”As a trail runner and mountain athlete, what I need in a watch is a heart rate monitor, speed & distance, and altimeter. The AMBIT has all these features in one unit which is really exciting. One of the main problems for endurance athletes is battery life of conventional GPS sports watches so the promise of 50hrs is a big step forward.”

“Fused speed technology also gives a more accurate pace which is vital for anyone serious about their running. Being able to pair it and use it with all the existing PODs and comfort belts is another big plus point for me. This means one watch can be used for all my activities like mountain biking, road cycling, trail and mountain running, cross country skiing and ski mountaineering.”

“Knowing that the AMBIT is built for the mountains and will survive whatever I or the elements throw at it also sets it apart. Being able to personalise the displays of the watch, download updates and analyse the data on all help to make the AMBIT an awesome product for mountain athletes.”

”The AMBIT is everything the outdoor athlete could want in a watch,” comments Jari Ikäheimonen, brand manager at Suunto. ”It’s a unit you can trust. With its GPS and superior functions, the Ambit takes outdoor instruments to a new level. It’s a serious watch packed within a sleek but robust casing. It is the GPS for Explorers.”

New HRM and new training schedule … but still the old legs

Still recovering slightly from the injury but I have started spinning again.

New routine is this.

bike in situ on the tacq trainer

1. Assembled the turbo trainer in the house ….

kitchen unit with iPad and movies on the unit ….

jugs of water close to hand

wooden floors so easier to clean up the sweat.


2. New HRM has arrived – a Polar RCX5 with gps

On polarpersonaltrainer website you can start following a program so I started an endurance ride one with sportives in the summer on my planned to do list ….

So here is a glimpse of it all – tomorrow night after a long day’s filming I come home and then start a 2 hr low HR ride … will let you know how this progresses in a few weeks …

my training plan (bike)

One thing I like about the site is that once your sessions are uploaded it works out a training load to avoid you overtraining. It is similar to Suunto’s Movescount Training Effect (I wrote a post about that here when i was using the T6 HRM). I started a training ride last night that said i had to do 30 minutes in Zone 2 HR which for me is only 127bpm max …. the summary is interesting showing the percentage of fat burn in the calorie expenditure … Basically long and slow burns fat …. will have to monitor this as would be great to drop 3-5kg for summer.

HR graph - not allowed any greens tonight mumma



Bryton Cardio 30 – A Full Review

I will start this review saying I really really wanted the Bryton Cardio 30 to be a great product. On paper it seemed perfect – a small size, waterproof, gps enabled but I have been sadly let down.

Out of the box it seemed nice presented in a neat case with instructions and lead enclosed.


It is smaller and lighter than I thought it would be – the tiny face displaying 3 lines of data. The strap is comfortable which is a major point for me. The waterproof rating is very good and the construction seems robust.

In Action:

This is were I start to well up – it is hopeless as a training HRM. It may pair easily enough with ANT+ coded items and it may acquire a satellite reading in an OK time but it sucks when you want to read any info from it in a run. The display is useless – it always shows distance in the top line of the display and it will show Heart Rate / Time / Calories / Distance(rpt) but what any running watch needs to show is at least HR and Disatnce AND Time …. preferably at the same time.

The second bad point is that although it can be set to autolap at every 1km say it does nothing else … there is no lap time shown / there is no summary to read and no way to gauge how fast your last split was unless you deduct the last km from current and try work out the split …. and when you are pressing on in a training run this is the last thing you can do.

So this leaves it as a GPS tracker with which you can analyse your run when you finish …. but the disaster here is that the GPS is wildly inaccurate. I used it on the MTB marathon in Wales and it was way different from the Garmin Edge 305 I had on the bike (this is a steal these days at £170 ish)

Blue=Bryton Green=Garmin

This was bad enough but did a run on my regular river route and the Bryton came up very short again … you can see the type of track it records … this is an open park with near zero tree cover and NO tall building nearby ….

My Suunto T6 with GPS and the Garmin Edge (as well as sites like WALKJOGRUN) gave the same reading only ever differentiating by about 50m over a 12km run – but the Bryton is bad – it is out by 800m on this run which is an 83.9% accuracy according to a comparison on Sportypal…. so distance wise it was 800m out on this run and 2km out over a 52km ride. Very Very VERY poor

So thankfully Wiggle operates a good return policy and I will be buying something else that is ANT+ compliant (prob a Garmin of some sort)

BOTTOM LINE – Avoid the Bryton Cardio like the plague ….. it is faulty with bad software, bad GPS and terrible interface.

I have since bought myself a polar RCX5 which is just fantastic …. review HERE

Want a Heart Rate Monitor?

Selling two on the lovely fleabay



The Suunto T6C with GPS pos and HRM belt and Bike Pod






An older but still highly specced Polar 625x HRM with S1 footpod and Cadence Sensor ….

Reticent but know they will just sit in the drawer – need to go ANT+ with all my various bike / running / kiting gear ….


Bryton Cardio 30 review (the first few days)

The watch HRM is still new to me but initial thoughts are this. (Update used at Ruthin in MTB race with mixed result see bottom of this page HERE part  …..Was using the Bryton Cardio 30 on the bike as well as the Garmin Edge 305 (which is great and now around £175) and there was quite a large difference in readings. There was a small section in woodland but not enough for this difference…..)

Now done a Full Review where I advise against spending money on this watch.

Good Points

  • The watch is small – much smaller than you think – quite a bit smaller than the Garmin 405 which I guess is a direct competitor, and more importantly comfortable on the wrist which the Garmin wasn’t.
  • Bryton Bridge seems reliable and the ability to export .gpx files is great for those using other online diaries like endomondo (although giving the protocol to Endomondo would be useful too in case people wanted to import direct)
  • Waterproof rated to 30m so I wont hesitate to use this kite surfing.
  • Ability to pair with any ANT+ protocol device like HRM straps and power meters / cadence sensor etc

Middle Points

  • So far I would say i am still not convinced – initial operation is a bit fiddly – the user interface is more complicated than most GPS units I have used.
  • Initial satellite lock is longer than the Garmin 405 and the Suunto GPS pod.
  • The displays on the watch are also not as clear or as user friendly useful as some I have seen.
  • The USB connector lead is short – for me connecting to the back on an iMac I would say an inch or two too short but others may find it fine. Unusual connection – don’t lose the lead as it isn’t a regular USB. This uniqueness may have something to do with the waterproof features.

Not so good Points

  • The display always has distance at the top of screen then main display is set as either km/h, rpm (stride), min/km, HR or calories. I would have liked to see an average pace as GPS reading are so flaky that it isn’t a reliable indicator.
  • Display is small and doesn’t have the versatility you would need as runner or biker in monitoring your stats/status.
  • A moan would be the lack of auto-lap summary – I have set unit to put in lap marker every 1km but it needs to flash you the last km time to be really useful as a running HRM. The Suunto T6C would flash up a lap time for a few seconds e.g. 4:11 along with ave HR for that lap so then you would know whether to kick in a bit or stay at pace.


Still positive but yet to take it for a proper run – will do that one morning this week before work or Saturday morning and hopefully I can report back with an extended update.

Sportive Training Continues

It is hard to train for a slightly hilly Sportive when you are in the middle of a flat desert 5000km’s away from your bike. I am trying to keep my miles up on one of those Lemond static bikes and even have my cycling shoes and padded shorts with me so I can do some hours on the bike. This morning was a shorter session – 2 x 15min standing hill climbs. For me that is tightening the friction until difficult to pedal sat down then stand up and dance for those 15min.

HR on those two 'hills'
EPOC (training effect) - see the hump for the short respite

More Cyclosprtive tips I have picked up


Wear appropriate clothing
Make sure you carry appropriate clothing with you. I would never ride this event without a rain jacket, especially in October. As a mid-summer ride, I’d probably still take a light shell for the descents. A gilet is an essential bit of kit, I’d urge everyone to have one, and I rarely ride without wearing one. Arm warmers, knee warmers, helmet and gloves are all essential too, just remember conditions can change quickly in the hills and after every climb comes a descent.

Get out and ride
Miles, miles and more miles! There’s nothing to substitute getting out there on the road. Try and make it sociable; head to a café with your mates, take in some hills on the way. Try and build up your distance over the weeks, with a combination of slightly harder short midweek rides and a long one at the weekend. The key is to enjoy it, that’s why you ride after all!

I would not advocate doing intervals for a long ride. The base miles from your rides, as long as you push it on the climbs, should be enough for your next challenge.

Know how to climb
Climbing varies from person to person, hill to hill. Some riders may be able to push a big gear in the saddle, while others dance on the pedals. Don’t forget climbs hurt everyone. It’s just how riders deal with the pain that separates the fast guys from everyone else – along with talent and training, but that’s another matter.

Keep it steady
The key point in an event is not to go mad on the first few climbs. Start off nice and steady, try and stay seated in a comfortable gear, concentrating on keeping a smooth rhythm. Keep an eye on your cadence, it’s likely it’ll be lower than when you are on the flat – but you also don’t want to be pedalling at 50rpm. Personally, I climb at around 80-90rpm in the saddle. There are occasions where you’ll need to get out of the saddle – again don’t forget you’ve got several climbs in the event, so don’t waste your legs on the first climb. Keep the gear low and don’t fight the bike.

Staying relaxed on any climb is the key. This is a combination of your position on your bike and fatigue (I’ll get on to food later). Ideally you want to be sitting comfortably back in the saddle for these high cadence climbs, vary your hand position where needed, from the shifter hoods to the tops. It’s unnecessary until after you’ve crested the climb to be on the drops, this will just put more strain on your body.

Be a groupie
If there’s a headwind, try and keep in a group as there’s nothing worse than having the wind in your face with miles to go. Don’t get in a group that’s pushing you out of your depth right at the start though, you’ll only overcook it, get dropped and spend the rest of the climb/ride grovelling! Once again, a steady rhythm is essential. The target is the top of the climb, not a point 50m ahead of you. Use each crest or bend as an intermediate focus, but never forget the end goal.

If at all possible, try and avoid getting off and walking on any climb, you’ll lose all rhythm and it’s not going to be any more fun pushing.

Make sure you eat
A good solid breakfast will help you through the day; cereal, porridge, toast are best. If you must have a fry-up, don’t set off too quickly – give it sometime to digest!

Check out the course profile before hand, as this gives you the ideal opportunity to fuel up before each climb. Try getting some food down you on any flat section and remember to stay hydrated before you hit the climbs. Eating is crucial, as you’ll be putting out much more power climbing. I’d suggest on a 100-mile event,to go with 80 per cent solid foods and 20 per cent as a back-up of gels.

Although gels are easier to consume on the go, they do leave you feeling rather hollow and your stomach will always function better with some good solid foods in there. Use the gels as an emergency for when you’re near the end of the ride and you feel that ‘bonk’ coming on.  Depending on where it’s sensible to eat, when racing I always try to eat every 30 minutes, give or take. A hard training ride, I might go an hour, but always eat before you think you need to and refuel once you reach each summit. I’d suggest using an energy drink too, taking a gulp every 15 minutes or so.

Hopefully all these tips will help you succeed – and remember to smile it is supposed to be fun ….

Sportive Training Continued: Turbo Day

My training plans for the Sportive is based on a short training period – I am a finisher as opposed to front runner. I am already doing over 7 hours a week of cross training, running and cycling so planning on more specific Sportive preperation as opposed to exacting cardio.

Intensity: The intensity level of training is defined as ‘low’, ‘medium’ and ‘high’. In pre-season (and off season) the focus is still on low intensity work to continue building endurance and in particular increase your aerobic fitness. This is the bedrock of sportive riding – developing heart and lungs so they can efficiently deliver oxygen to your working muscles. At this stage we also introduce some mid intensity work to start developing speed and the ability to sustain that speed.

At mid intensity you’re operating just below your anaerobic threshold – the point at which your heart and lungs can no longer keep up with the oxygen your muscles need to function properly. This can be tested scientifically, or you can aim to be working hard enough that conversations are possible but in short sentences only, and you are never getting ‘puffed out’ (start to breathe/blow more rapidly to expel CO2) which is a sign of excessive CO2 production due to anaerobic activity.

Cross training: Cross training is any non-bike exercise and it’s useful to ensure that this covers a wide range of muscle groups to keep you in overall good shape. One round-the-world cyclist said that all of his pre-ride training was on core strength, including arms and most of the upper body, because he wanted to avoid strain or injury from so many miles in the saddle. He said he got bike fit once the ride began!

Turbo trainer: Turbo sessions can serve a range of purposes – a standard session is a good low intensity steady ride when the weather is too bad or nights are too dark to go outdoors. Long interval sessions should be about 6-8 minutes at medium intensity followed by an easy spin at low intensity for 4 minutes to recover. With all sessions, aim to maintain a good cadence of 80-100rpm and a smooth, steady cycling rhythm.

Low intensity flexible training: If you have limited time then developing your aerobic system through long workouts is not an option. Instead you need to find one hour a day that you can use effectively to raise your heart rate – it could be a solid hour of rapid walking at lunchtime, a Sunday dog walk, or an extension of your cycle ride home from work. It’s about stealing snippets of time that add up to a real training benefit



Today’s training was turbo training at low to mid-intensity. Had a friend on the bike next to me (in a gym 3000 miles from home and my bike) so the time passes really quickly. Hadn’t had breakfast so grazed a Clif Bar between 30mins and 1 hour into it so never felt hungry although Desert Roadie said he felt a gnawing hunger …..

Here is the Heart rate graph – I am surprised it went up to a 153bpm spike as I was trying to keep it around 139-142 (70% of max HR for me)

Bryton Cardio 30 ordered – to be reviewed soon

Interesting to see how the new upstart compares to others on the market.

Cardio 30

Cardio 30, the smallest GPS sports watch on the market, is for all levels of athletes. By setting goals in our pro-training programs, Cardio 30 can accurately calculate and record your location, speed, distance, pace, stride rate, cadence*, heart rate* and more. Your training results then can be shared and analyzed at

With built-in “G sensor”, no extra foot pod is needed for indoor exercise.

Obviously Garmin (with their patent infringement lawsuit) have their various Forerunners (which I found uncomfortable and too chunky) and Suunto with their T6C and Polar are main competitors … although Suunto/Polar have seperate GPS units which pair.

I wanted a system that worked on ANT+ so that my cycling and running as on one system …..

A review coming which will hopefully give more info and insight than the Bryton website.

Training started – Hill training

according to my list:

If you cannot find a hill that is long enough then complete a 30 minute TT then complete a total of 30 minutes of hill repeats (not including recovering spinning back down to the bottom)
Cycling over geared 55-60 revs per minute before riding up hill can closely stimulate sportive. You need to get use to being tired when riding up hill.
Learn to spin your legs down hills, not necessary at 70 revs per minute but 10-20 revs keeps the blood flowing and saves your legs.

3 sets of 10min standing (I can barely turn the pedals sat down so I guess high resistance) at a cadence of between 58-65. Rest with about 4/5 mins in between of very low resistance spinning at 95-100 cadence.

Think my heart rate was too low although I know this is strength training rather than cardio …

hills yellow - squat jumps at end

Bryton Cardio 30 Review (via Andrew Birkett’s Blog)

Thinking of getting one to combine my cycling and hrm training – and to replace the Suunto T6C ……

Bryton Cardio 30 Review This GPS sports watch is the smallest on the market and that’s the first advantage of this unit, many people find other large bulky units irritating for running so. I played around with the Cardio 30, took it for a run or two before using it in a race. It was very easy to learn how to use the unit, with a very simple and uncomplicated interface. What is probably the best thing about the Bryton Cardio 30 is it provides you with all the essentials … Read More

via Andrew Birkett’s Blog

Trail running in the appenine mountains

Been based in Frassinoro this break which is 1110m above sea level. Been doing lots of hilly runs and wishing I had also brought my mountain bike and road bike as there are amazing rides all around.

altitude run profile

The quick 10km run I did this afternoon/ evening was over a mountain bike trail over 300m of climbing and quite a bit rougher than my normal runs … For once I thought I needed trail shoes. Not sure what altitude does to pace as I can’t judge how much slower I am as the trails are so much rougher. I will have to look up the effect of altitude once I get a decent data connection. I don’t feel like I am struggling muscle wise although heart rate seems high and pace is slow…

Frassinoro is a bit famous for their cross country skiers – part of the trail is apparently an important training area for them summer and winter. Passed a girl this evening o the trail walk/ running with 2 poles and buns of steel – maybe she is the world champ?

Running on automatic

Went for run this morning after 7am and it was already mid 30’s …. decided just to do a nice 8km+ easy run as I was flying later and didnt want to miss out on some exercise today.

I was running around one of the lakes almost on auto plot – the first and last km are on dirt so that slows things down. I looked down as my HRM beeped (I set my Suunto T6 to autolap every km when running on gps) it said a slow 4:52/km so I just relaxed and carried on. When I finished I was washing some kit then looked through my lap times … amazing in that 5 of the km laps are within the second. That really is cruising on automatic … if I tried to do it that steady there is no way I would manage.

look at the laps

Suunto (and Polar) needs to become fully ANT+ soon or be left behind.

Currently there are four major data exchange protocols used by fitness peripherals: Nike+ANT+ ,Suunto ANT and Polar WindLink. There may be more but these are the ones that I know of.

When it came to Heart Rate Monitoring Polar was the name that everyone wanted to replicate and copy. Polar  had a grand four data transfer standards (Polar Analogue, Polar Coded Analogue, Polar FlowLink and Polar WindLink). Sigma and Suunto where also available but nothing had the software power that polar had.

But then combined GPS running came together and Garmin grew. Other HRM like Timex released early GPS units with separate monitors and GPS units that paired. Then Garmin stole a march with early Foretrex / Forerunner units that allowed you to upload to a PC (the lack of Mac compatibility esp with Suunto and Polar is a reason many chose to desert them)

Then in  2008 Nike introduced Nike+iPod for the Gym. With an semi-open standard (Nike+) it allowed for cardio-equipment (treadmills, bikes, and cross-trainers etc.) to exchange data with the Nike+ and iPod (and now also iPhone). How cool was that? Moreover Nike and Apple provided free assistance for companies on how to integrate their protocol into equipment and suddenly several large manufacturers of cardio-equipment like TechoGym and Star Trac was compatible with an iPod/ iPhone. (cleverly capturing the wanted 17-40 age bracket)

another ANT+ adopter

In the meantime Garmin was on its heels, keeping it’s ANT+ for it’s serious use, and Polar, Sigma, Suunto, and the others did the same. Now the funny thing is that most semi-serious and serious running- and cycling-entusiasts keep at Garmin, Polar, Sigma and Suunto, although there is no free training software that allows input from all of them.

But then Dynastream Innovations Inc (part of Garmin) who controls both the ANT underlying network standard(which is in fact used by both ANT+, Nike+, Suunto ANT and WindLink) and Garmins own ANT+ data transfer standard, created the ANT+ Alliance and opened up the ANT+ protocol. So then ANT+ wasn’t limited to heart rate, GPS and cadence monitoring but a lot of fancy things, and the alliance is now joined by AdidasCycleOpsiBikeMcLarenMicrosoftTexas Instruments,Timex and Trek amongst others. I wonder what made this happen…

Suunto and Polar are in danger of being left out cold (but being Finnish maybe they like the bracing air) I have Garmin on my Bikes, as well as Suunto T6 for running (with a speed pod on one bike) but they dont talk to each other ….

So what happens next? Well since all these products are using similar hardware the obvious answer would be: They all now change to the complete open ANT+ standard, allowing for exchange between all equipment in every conceivable fashion. I doubt this is ever going to happen, but I think that something is going to happen. Because in the end people want to combine their cardio-watches, treadmills, maybe their music-devices and training managers in their own way. And these should be able to exchange data, and take input from all areas.

Stepping Out of my comfort zone

So I bike, Run, Surf, Kite  and Sail …. but recently been going to an hour long step class

Surprisingly I am enjoying it too – an hour to find my rythm use different muscles and join some pals. Wore the HRM and it seems to be quite a good workout too.

Step class Heart Rate through class


Worked it harder yesterday