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Cycling, my new addiction...er...hobby (or, I finally am taking my doctor's advice)

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Carlo Medina, Jul 16, 2019.

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  1. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    Nelson that's awesome to hear! I very much appreciate my Apple Watch's cycling functions. I know I could spend $500 on a Garmin 830 bundle that would give me a GPS turn-by-turn, cadence and speed sensors on the bike, as well as a heart rate strap...but that's $500 I could spend towards carbon wheels...and boy am I tempted to pull the trigger on a pair.

    Today I took on a new challenge: to go on an unbroken ride of some length--for me, I realize there are others who do century rides, I'm not there yet. Riding around the city, I can push myself and yes, LA where I live has some wide streets with some lengthy straightaways...but there are no shortage of stoplights that I obey.

    I parked at Solimar Beach (essentially the very end of where Ventura hits the Pacific on the 101) and rode north to Carpinteria. It's approximately 12.2 miles one way, on a mostly separate path that runs along the beach with one half-mile stretch that does force you to join the 101 freeway for just a little bit. You can double it by going to Santa Barbara, but I got a late start today and with it starting to get a little warm, I decided just to do Carpinteria, short break for National Ice Cream Day, and then back to the car.

    I got an object lesson in what a coastal headwind will do to your time. My average MPH on the way there was 15.2. On the way back it was 17.6. Like I said, it's largely unbroken, and relatively flat. There is one short but wicked uphill on the way to Carpinteria, which of course means it's also an awesome downhill on the way back, but that shouldn't have accounted for a 2.4 MPH difference in speed over a length of 12+ miles. It wasn't an overly windy day, but northbound the natural ocean breeze pushes against you slightly and on the way back it helps you. So I'll split the difference and proudly claim an ability to maintain a 16.5 MPH average over a 45-50 minute ride. Not bad for someone who was largely sedentary until two months ago!

    IMG_2127.JPG
    The beach scenery was nice.

    After dinner for whatever reason I was still in the mood to ride, so I did my quick jaunt to Santa Monica and back, so I tacked on another 8 miles before bedtime, for a PR total of 32 miles in one day. I didn't push too hard, so my heart rate only was about 75% intensity, vs. the earlier ride when it pretty much was at 85% the whole way, and during the short wicked climb probably was around 90-95%. I just measured it now, 60 minutes after the ride, and after a shower, and it's back to my normal RHR of about 65.
     
  2. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    Also pulled the trigger on some carbon wheels for the Cannondale. Should be installed later this week just in time for next weekend’s ride! G.A.S. (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) strikes again. Going with Bontrager Aeolus Pro 3 TLR discs. Will stand pat with my Continental Grand Prix 5000 tires but when those wear out I think I’ll go tubeless.

    Took the Trek FXS6 out for a spin tonight. I lowered the tire pressure to 60 (it’s got a broad range of 55-100psi). Yes you lose a little efficiency, but man does it smooth out the ride. I used to ride it at 75psi. It absorbs the road bumps much more than the Cannondale which is built for speed.

    Since it requires more effort to pedal the Trek, I think I’m going to “train” on it around the city and get stronger, so that when I hop on the Cannondale I’ll be surprised at my speed increase.:rolling-smiley:
     
  3. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    Hi Carlo, great to read about your ride up the coast. I was going to say, woah, better pace yourself. But I understand because when I started to ride, I was riding a lot too. And spending a lot too.

    Of late, I just don’t have as strong the desire for the upgrades. But I totally get it as I did that myself. When I got my 2010 Tarmac, I read the reviews that the wheel could be replaced with lighter ones, but I thought, it’s not enough to make me a better rider. I figure those few grams would be ok to help me train. ;)

    I just checked, as I thought your Continental tires sounded familiar, I have the Grand Prix 4000 on my bike. I guess they upgraded the tire.
     
  4. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    I forgot to add, congrats on your new wheels! I’ve never ridden on carbon wheels, so I’ll be curious what you think. I remember back in the olden days when carbon wheels first came out with an aero cross section and 4 carbon spokes.
     
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  5. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    Thanks Nelson! Yeah the carbon wheels have come a long way since they've been introduced. The new Bontrager Aeolus Pro 3 and 5 set a "new standard for affordable performance in carbon wheels" according to one review. They're still pricey but nowhere near the $2K - $4K you can pay for ZIPPs, Reynolds, Enve, or even Bonty's own top of the line XXX models. The main difference is how deep they are, with the 5 being deeper than the 3. I opted for the 3 because, while the deeper wheel makes you more "aero" head-on, you are more susceptible to crosswinds. Living near (and riding) many beach paths, I am regularly hit by crosswinds. A couple of reviews:

    https://road.cc/content/review/249713-bontrager-aeolus-pro-3-tlr
    https://www.bikeradar.com/reviews/components/wheels/wheel-sets/bontrager-aeolus-pro-3-disc-wheelset-review/

    Here's the Pro 3 (no tire)
    [​IMG]

    And the Pro 5 (no tire)
    [​IMG]

    And the Pro 3 with tire installed--I'll be getting the disc version on the right, rim brake version is on the left
    [​IMG]
     
  6. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    All right I think I'm done for a while. No more spending. Only riding. :laugh:

    My final upgrades arrived today: carbon saddle (which shaved about 100g of weight), carbon wheels and tubeless tires. The ride is amazing. The stiffness of the wheels is noticeable in both acceleration (especially when you leave the seat to pedal hard for either a fast start or an uphill climb) and in cornering. The tubeless tires and carbon saddle (carbon fiber frame below the cushion saves weight and gives flex, as does the carbon fiber rails it attaches to the seatpost with). The bike has managed to become simultaneously both stiffer (for speed and handling) and more forgiving of road imperfections.

    IMG_2149.
    The original bike and saddle, being taken into the shop.

    IMG_2155.
    The new wheels and tires. Yes those are kids bikes behind them, they're not five feet tall. :rolling-smiley:

    IMG_2162.
    The new wheels installed, as well as the new saddle

    What surprised me too was that the total weight, as you see above, with the pedals, two water bottle cages, and portable pump came in at: 18.01 lbs. Which means without the pedals and accessories, this is a sub-17 lbs bike. :cool:

    I want to ride so bad right now but it was hot today. Hoping the marine layer comes in at dusk to cool us down, because:
    [​IMG]
     
  7. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    Congrats on the upgraded wheels and saddle! I’ll be interested in more of your impressions from more rides.

    I think for my next bike, I’ll have to look into the disc brakes and carbon wheels.
     
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  8. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    I cannot recommend hydraulic disc brakes, carbon wheels, and tubeless tires highly enough! It literally transforms the ride. Be sure to get carbon wheels that support going tubeless. The Bontragers marked as TLR (TubeLess Ready - dumb acronym I know since Tubeless is technically one word) make it even easier. Whereas normally you have to carefully apply rim tape to the inside of the rim to plug up the holes, the Bontragers come with a plastic rim strip that takes the guesswork out of it. The only downside is that the plastic rim strip weighs like 50g more than rim tape. So your bike will be a little heavier (100g for rim strips minus whatever rim tape weighs, probably a resulting 60-70g net added weight). But for not having to apply the tape...priceless.

    Hydraulic disc brakes: I admit my two bikes have been discs so that's all I've known. But recently I've just been test riding a lot of 2018 bikes on super-clearance. A lot of $7K+ bikes being discounted to $4K. I am starting to gather that 2018 models (meaning went on sale late 2017) was the "turning point" for rim-to-disc conversion. Quite a few high end-ers that year were still rim brakes. If you look at 2019 and 2020 model years, it's hard to find rim brakes. So here I am riding bikes that 2 years ago cost nearly $10K with rim brakes, so presumably some of the best rim brakes available at the time, and even my middle of the road Tektro 160 hydraulic discs on my FX Sport 6 stop the bike considerably better than the best rim brakes on these "superbikes" from just a couple of years ago. And no, there hasn't been a magical jump in rim brake quality since then. The extra distance that I don't travel because of these brakes' power has already prevented 2 accidents between me and drivers who are unaware of cyclists. Both times I jammed on the brakes and came to a stop less than a foot from the car.

    Carbon wheels: stiffer, gets you off the line faster, transfers more power to the road, so acceleration and top speed are increased. I've ridden my "normal circuit" 3X now with the new setup. All 3 times my average mph has jumped from a range of 12.4-13.5 to 14.2 - 15.4. Now I know those three times I may have "gotten lucky" with stop light timing, but that 12.4-13.5 mph average is over about a month's worth of doing the same 12 mile ride near my house. The fact that I've done it three times and each time has been above the high point of my previous range tells me it's more than just "luck of the lights". I feel considerably faster and the 3 rides so far have borne it out. Cornering is also more sure-footed. I take turns tighter and at higher speeds without ever feeling like I might lose control. I'm nearly hugging the road.

    Tubeless tires: can run at lower pressure and still have as good (if not better) rolling resistance. Less worrying about flats, though they aren't invincible. Lower pressure also means more cushion for the ride. As I mentioned before, my bike has gotten stiffer, faster, more responsive, and at the same time more comfortable. Usually it's a give-and-take. Stiffer ride to increase speed but decrease comfort, or more supple ride at the cost of speed. I do think the carbon saddle (rails are made of CF) and the carbon seat post (Cannondale SAVE) have designed flex that, in concert with the tubeless tires, really cushion the blow of uneven roads and potholes. Also: major shoutout to Continental Grand Prix 5000 (clincher and tubeless versions). Both have super low rolling resistance, and it's evident when you first put them on. Go to www.bicyclerollingresistance.com if you want to really get in the weeds of rolling resistance.

    It's super hot this weekend so I may not be able to do my Solimar to Carpinteria ride again. But next time I'm able to, I'll be able to compare an unbroken 12.2 mile ride in terms of speed and comfort. Won't have to factor in stoplights, and I'm looking forward to tackling that brutal incline on the 101 offramp with my new wheels...
     
  9. Jim517

    Jim517 Second Unit

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    I've tried bicycling, but I just can't do it without getting "numb nuts".
     
  10. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    A12B73D8-59F5-4596-97AB-77E31E023794.
    Most bicycle saddles have been designed with the anatomical relief in mind. The other issue is the “sit” bones can get sore if you’ve been off the bike a while or are new to cycling and riding on these harder saddles.
     
  11. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    May I inquire what type of bike you have most recently tried that caused the situation, and also if you know it what type of seat? This will help us perhaps guide you on how to obtain a more comfortable riding experience.

    As Nelson mentioned, there are a few variables that make cycling "not what it used to be" when perhaps we last rode when were much younger. And this is not even to mention the effect on our bodies that time has. :eek:

    I know I had very much a similar experience to yours when I first started in late May this year after not being on a bike since right before I got my driver's license (that would be the late 80s). Variables that impact your ride comfort include:
    • Seats (saddles) in mid-range bikes try to straddle the line between performance, weight and comfort...often at the expense of some comfort.
    • Saddles in high-range bikes are all about weight and performance, because they assume that anyone riding these bikes is also wearing cycling clothes, where the padding is built in to the shorts.
    • Type of bike you rode: was it a road (drop-down handlebars) style? Those often are stiffer and built for speed, vs. a fitness or hybrid model (flat handlebars) which allow you to sit more vertical and often have some added cushioning effect from the bike design. Did it have shocks? (not a fan of shocks, they add a lot of weight, but some do like them)
    • As Nelson mentioned, you could get your sit bones measured. I thought this might be the problem with me, but it turns out that the saddle I thought was horribly uncomfortable on my Trek was really due more to the lack of padding because now I can ride that saddle with my cycling shorts for hours. In fact, on my Cannondale I have an even stiffer/less padded saddle that, due to my cycling shorts, I also can ride for hours.
    • Acclimation: if you haven't ridden in a while, it's going to hurt a bit because it's a new activity. The other night I went for a 30 minute "easy" ride and didn't bother to put on my cycling gear. Just normal shorts and shirt. I was on my Trek, with the original saddle (the one Nelson pictured above) and I came back just fine. This is because after two months of riding nearly every day, my body's now acclimated to the activity. If I had done this on May 25, my tailbone would have been sore and yes, my nether regions would be tingling. Related to this is probably your body learning what the "ideal" riding position is for you. I'm sure if you took a photo of my posture on May 25 and my posture today, it would be significantly different
    • Bike fit/seat height: these all play a huge role in comfort. Not just in your crown jewels area, but your whole body. My first few rides, the muscles above my knees were killing me. I had the LBS adjust the seat a bit and suddenly the post-ride pain went away. You need to be on a properly sized frame, and your seat height needs to be adjusted correctly to your body. There are a lot of online tools to help with this, but also if you're going to a local bike shop, they should be more than happy to get you the right frame and seat height on any bike you buy from them. In fact, they should make sure those things are all set on any test ride. My LBS did that even before they knew I'd be spending a cent.
    I hope your experience didn't turn you off of a great cardio hobby that's much easier on the joints than running, and also gets you to places faster (and has the added bonus of acting as a built-in fan while you're doing it!). Please let me know if you have more questions and I'm happy to help (or point you in the right direction) if I can!
     
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  12. Message #32 of 51 Jul 27, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2019
    Jim517

    Jim517 Second Unit

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    My son told me the same thing. He lives in Oregon and is a big biker.

    Thank you, but I will stick to walking and kayaking.
     
  13. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    @Nelson Au - so I did the exact same Solimar Beach to Carpinteria ride today as last week. The difference was the old Aksium aluminum wheels + Conti 5K tube tires (90psi) and Montrose Comp saddle for last week vs. Aeolus Pro 3 carbon wheels + Conti 5K tubeless (70psi) and Montrose Pro saddle (carbon frame and rails). With only a week between, and just normal 10mi riding sessions for 5 days (not pushing myself) in between, I doubt I gained much strength/endurance between the 7 days.

    I arrived about an hour earlier than last week (9am vs. 10am), but the weather was largely the same. Overcast with marine layer, light ocean breeze blowing in, high 60s temp. The ride to Carpinteria: 15.2 mph vs. 16.4 mph according to the watch. I shaved 5 minutes off of my arrival time!

    On the ride back, a different story. Here's where external variables may have kicked in.
    • Last week I rested for about an hour before heading back, ate an energy/protein bar. This time I rested only 30 minutes and ate a meal while there because I hadn't eaten much in the morning (had to fast for blood work).
    • The marine layer had burned off for the ride back to the car last week, temperature had climbed by 7-8F, and the breeze had largely stilled (or perhaps were even slightly at my back). I just recall the ride back last week feeling considerably easier due to the much lower feel of wind resistance. Today because I started earlier and rested less time, the ride back had the same marine layer, and inland breeze which I could feel at the same strength as on the ride up.
    17.5mph last week. 17.4mph this week. With the added resistance, plus with me being kind of bloated from eating the (yes I'll admit it) chorizo quesadilla, I'm going to count this as an improvement even though the numbers don't back it up. Eating it was delicious but it was a mistake, I could feel it sitting in my stomach the ride back. I would bet that if I had not had to eat due to fasting, and had followed the same regiment as last week, and if the weather had cleared up in the same fashion, I would have easily been over 18mph on the way back.

    I think the morning ride was the most illustrative of the improvement due to the gear I bought. All of the conditions and my body felt largely the same (although I fasted overnight for blood work, after my quick visit to the blood lab I did have my traditional iced coffee and energy bar while in the car driving to Solimar so I think my starting energy was about the same).
     
  14. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    Hey Carlo-

    Thanks for the insights on the new gear and how it changed the ride for you. My average speed is far lower then yours! Though I have bursts of speed at times depending on the trail conditions with other people in front of me and the wind. I can get the bike up to 18mph for a stretch before I have to slow down. So thats impressive you can push the bike that fast for so long. If you fasted before your ride. then had your energy bar before the ride, it had to have affected your body's ability some.

    I might have to push myself to get my strength up to maintain that. I guess my heavy bike is holding me back. :) I did have an interesting experience one weekend on this ride where a blond passed me and I had to try to keep up with her, averaging 15mph. I passed her. then a bit later she passed me. And we did this two more times. I wasn't sure what was going on but it was great motivation to push myself. eventually she pulled off the path. I hope I run into her again.

    At any rate, sounds like shaving some weight from the wheels gave you a benefit. Something I'm giving thought to if I get a new bike.

    I took a slightly longer ride yesterday to a point for this shot of San Francisco to the right and the two planes are heading into SFO on the left. But I didn't feel as good as last weekend.

    point.
     
  15. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    Thanks for the kind words! Getting back into the habit though, you'll be up to my speed in no time. I would say I'm significantly faster just 1.5 months into the hobby than I was on day 1 and that's without doing any intense training, just riding. I will say the weight savings may have contributed some to the speed increase, but I also think the added stiffness of the carbon wheels did transfer more of my pedaling power to the ground, so to speak.

    One sad thing: I was running at 70psi this morning - the range for these tubeless tires is 65-94psi and I opted to go to the low for comfort. On a quick evening ride to a coffee house, I upped it to 80 psi. The rolling resistance dropped considerably. I think I'm going to run these at 80 or maybe 85 from now on and see how it impacts my speed.

    Now that I'm familiar with that route, I'd say the way to Carpinteria is slightly uphill (with that brutal half mile stretch of having to join the 101 freeway with two steep inclines, one to join the fwy and one to get off). And the ride back is overall slightly downhill with aide from that 101 fwy decline--I actually ran out of gears and was going as fast as I could on the highest gear, I'd estimate maybe 30-35mph for that short stretch.

    So I'm not as fast as the ride back, but I'm not as slow as the ride up, on straight flat rides. I'd guess I could probably keep 17mph up for an hour or so. Riding 51 minutes to Carpinteria I wasn't winded, so I could have kept going. When it's cooler and less sunny (to avoid burning) I'll try to go to Santa Barbara in the fall/winter time, which will be 25 miles each direction. Unfortunately the second half has more inclines but I hope to be stronger then to take them on.

    Regarding the blond, to quote Pedro:


    I will say that the Solimar to Carpinteria (and likely Santa Barbara) route is pretty popular with riders, and I'm proud to say that I'm usually the passer. But just when I get full of myself, there's always a peloton happy to make you feel like you're just starting out. :rolling-smiley:

    But the good news is, everyone who passes me...looks like they should be passing me: classic rider physique (which means they're probably 4"-7" taller than me, long legs, strong quads and calves) with proper gear, in terms of clothes and bike.

    Looking around to see what a range of average speeds are, I found this page:
    https://www.road-bike.co.uk/articles/average-speed.php
    So I have quite a ways to go before I'm considered a competent club rider, but apparently for short-medium range I'm in the 16-19mph range.
     
  16. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    Ha, ha, yes, I got passed once by a guy on a tall mountain bike!

    Regarding Pedro’s question. Well, maybe someday I’ll find out.
     
  17. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    Now that's motivation, right there! :cheers:
     
  18. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    My newest cycling gain, is the one I'm most proud of. And technically it's a loss.

    0.5" (actually a smidge more but I'm going to be conservative) off the largest part of my waist.

    As I think I mentioned before, if I use the traditional metric of BMI, I'm right in the average range. But if I use the (some doctors say better) metric of waist-to-hip ratio, I'm overweight. The goal being 0.90 (largest waist measurement divided by largest hip measurement). When I started, it was 0.935. As of today, it's 0.921. And even though I've been cycling seriously since mid-June, it's really been the last 3 weeks that I've done 2 unbroken distance rides over the weekends, and over the last week, started sprinting between lights in my normal 9 mile evening ride. I realized I was allowing myself to "play the victim" to stoplights as an excuse as to why my local rides weren't as rewarding or challenging as the unbroken ride. Some time last week I decided I'd use the shorter distances to improve my strength, and now I get up off my saddle and sprint from light to light. I finish my night rides quicker, but come back sweatier, due to the exertion. I'm fine with that. And I think it's been these last 3 weeks that have taken the 1/2" off my waist. I can only imagine if I ate better how much more I could have reduced it by.

    For the record, despite the waistline loss, I have lost no weight. But I feel healthier. I'm assuming with my shrinking gut that means I'm converting to muscle elsewhere to account for remaining at 150 lbs (5'7" for the record).

    Another added bonus: I had my followup to my doctor who put me on the lowest maintenance dose of blood pressure medication on Wednesday. He was surprised at my numbers and asked if I'd changed my lifestyle. I told him about this. He said in 3 months, we'll check in again, and if I continue on this trend we'd either halve the dose, or cut it altogether and see how my BP responds. I broke out my Omron home BP machine, brought it in to the doctor's office on Thursday to compare it to their machine (it was within +/- 1 on both readings, good job Omron!), and have been monitoring my BP in the morning and evening. Just one year ago my average was right on the edge of hypertension (140/90). Even with the meds, it was still a smidge above "ideal" (120/80) but my doctor prefers to get it close with less medication rather than break the 120/80 with more medication.

    In the past 3 mornings it's been averaging 107/76. In the late afternoons when it should be highest, I'm averaging 119/79. This, along with the waistline reduction, is motivating me even more to ride.

    Coincidentally. my Youtube account recommended this video to me this morning. Thought I'd share:
     
  19. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    That’s a great post Carlo, congrats. I have to go see the doctor. Last time I went was about 2 years ago and I was pretty normal. But I enjoy sugar a lot. Though I wasn’t told I was overweight, I’m not ripped. Not that I ever was, far from it. I’m trying to cut back on the sugar. I’m sure it is derailing my cycling efforts. My blood pressure was normal and on target. Though I’d like to monitor it. Hope Apple can make it work on the watch! I’ll check out that Omron BP machine you have.

    Speaking of the watch, do you or others have a way to record all your rides? I do it the old fashioned way now and write down the stats from the ride. I’m sure the stats are in the iPhone, but I’d be curious if The was a way to create a spreadsheet to see the rides. My intent was to take the data and manually record it into a spread sheet.

    That is a cool Ted talk video. I agree, some good exercise will be very healthy thing. Thanks for posting the video.

    I had a great ride yesterday, 14 miles and it was really tough going into the wind, but coming back I had the wind to my back and I was pushing myself to keep it at 19mph. My toes were a little numb. :)
     
  20. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    @Nelson Au I plan on buying a ride/cycling computer to track and share ride data. Either a Garmin 830 or a Wahoo Bolt Elemnt. I'll get the speed/cadence sensor + heart rate monitor as well, even though the Apple Watch does it, so that I can ride without the watch and have my bpm visible on my computer right on my handlebars vs. having to lift my arm up and look at my watch. It will also help get rid of the farmer's tan I'm developing. :laugh:

    I think most cyclists upload their data to an app like Strava, but I haven't done that yet.

    With regards to my blood pressure monitor, it's an Omron BP785. I believe it has been superseded by the BP786. Mine predates bluetooth, app compatibility, so I have to input everything manually into my Health app. If you decide to buy one and do home monitoring, be sure to bring it in to compare it with your doctor's machine for accuracy. Also follow his/her orders on how to take your BP. Mine advises 30m no exercise before, no caffeine or food. Be calm and at rest 5 minutes. Seated upright (not sofa). Arm at heart level (helps if you have a table at that height which I do). Take a couple of readings a minute or so apart and take an average. Some BPMs will have a mode that takes several readings a minute or two apart and provides an average automatically.
     

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