Garmin / Strava / Power

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I’ve had a Garmin 800 since Christmas. It is kind of fun. But, I’m trying to decide if it adds to my enjoyment of the sport. I definitely like having a speedometer on my bicycle. I got one of the very first Avocet units before they became public for the masses. Since then, I’ve always ridden with something on my handlebars telling me my speed and distance.

The Garmin does more. It tells you how much climbing you’ve done, the current and average temperature and lots of other fun things. And when you get done with your ride, you can download the information and look at it at Strava, Garmin Connect, and probably other places I don’t know about. Garmin provides absolutely the worse user manuals for anything electronic I’ve ever owed. I don’t know if they expect you to go onto the internet to figure out their products, but they have completely missed the boat trying to provide any kind of usable information in the box.

There are a few problems doing all this. For one, it’s a hassle. I’ve got a lot of stuff to do all day and remembering to take the Garmin off my handlebars and plug it in to recharge it is something that hasn’t become habit yet. And the thing runs out of charge way too quickly. Max a couple days on one charge. I don’t know how many times I go out for a ride and the Garmin is out of juice.

Second, it’s a hassle. Plugging the Garmin in and downloading the information doesn’t take that long, but it is something that I have virtually no interest in. I did the ride, I know what I did. I could see how much I climbed and what my average speed was and everything else that it records when I was on the ride, so I don’t feel the need to go and look at it again.

Third, it is frustrating when the thing doesn’t turn off after the ride and your bike keeps moving. I’m probably missing something in Strava or Garmin Connect, but I don’t see a way to edit the rides to remove extra movement. Strava has this part of it’s deal that they compare your times and speeds to other people that have downloaded their rides. So there are all these segments that riders have created and everyone that rides that segment has his ride compared to others. The problem is that anytime anyone drives the segment with their bike on the car, with their Garmin on, it screws up the segment for everyone.

And when you don’t turn your Garmin completely off after the ride, with the auto start function on, your ride just continues. So then, something that I think might be mildly interesting at the end of the year, your total mileage for the year, is completely wrong. Strava needs a way to be able to erase the extra part of the ride that wasn’t riding. Like I said, maybe it’s there, but I just haven’t spent anytime looking for it. But, I’ve already miss a ton of rides because the Garmin wasn’t charged at the start, so my yearly number is just wrong from the start.

This all makes me wonder if I really want to get a power meter also? I am a numbers guy and I can see the many benefits to be able to download your power numbers, especially in races. But it all detracts from what I really enjoy about the sport, the simplicity of it. Racing bikes isn’t simple anymore. I’m not sure complicating it more is in my best interests.

A fun fact – The Oreo cookie is 100 years old today. Who would have thought?

This is the data from Sunday's Lago Vista race. I was wondering what that beeping was.

I have a box of these in my basement. It is probably all I really need.

Today is the cookie's 100th birthday.

18 thoughts on “Garmin / Strava / Power

  1. Ryan W

    Steve, at the conclusion of each ride, just remember to hit the Start/Stop button on the Edge 800 to stop the activity, and then hold down the Lap/Reset button for 3 seconds.

    I’ve found the most valuable aspect of the 800 is being able to draw routes ahead of time on the Garmin Connect website, send the course to your device, enabling you to have turn-by-turn directions. Comes in very handy when you are riding out of town or in unfamiliar territory.

  2. craig


    In strava you can crop your ride. You can find it in the “actions” menu button next to the “edit ride” button.

  3. L

    Garmin, meet Kodak.

    I just carry my Android phone (HTC) with me, use Google My Tracks, and upload to Google. Same data you get. Total cost: Included with my phone.

  4. Sean YD

    Did you know the BMC Racing Team has one person who handles the team’s SRM units? He collects them immediately at the finish line, downloads the data, charges the unit and returns it to the rider the next morning. That’s what you need, Steve…


    ” I did the ride, I know what I did” – Steve T.

    made me think of- (I may be butchereing this, but from memory it goes)-
    “when the cyclist rides freely on his steely steed, in the Godly world of Nature, his heart Soars and he bewonders the splendor of Creation.” Whilhelm Wolf 189something (read it in the quotable cyclist some time back)

    I believe that a lot of cyclist worry too much about measuring up, and should just enjoy the ride. Heck maybe this is a life metaphor.
    But, this is your job and any tool that can make you better (other than dope) is a good thing.

    I was riding in the woods around KC some years back and ran into a guy that I used to run track with in high school. As we caught up, he told me that he was an engineer for Garmin and was working on this wiz bang computer for bikes that would change everything. I thought he was crazy, and that no one would pay for it, or need it. I hated the idea. He is no doubt very wealthy now.
    Guess I should buy a Rivendale and start riding in a hemp shirt.

  6. old and slow

    The wiring to the sensor on those old Avocets is what will go first- also you need four magnets at the hub if you don’t have their original ring pieces.

  7. channel_zero

    Most phone platforms have some kind of GPS logging application that works with Strava.

    GPSLogger is excellent and Free and works with Strava with the export function for a blackberry. Nokia has something similar. I’m sure iOS has something too.

  8. Justin Green

    Hey Steve,

    Stop the timer at the end of your ride and hold the lap button for 3 seconds. Your ride is officially saved now.

    With regard to power, I find power to be most beneficial for training. If you have a LT test done it allows you to be much smarter about threshold and interval training. It could also be beneficial to pace yourself in a breakaway situation in which metering your effort makes or breaks the race.

  9. Hobbs

    Went from my first computer, Pacer 2000 to my second, Garmin 800 about 30 years later. Now that’s an upgrade!. Nine months later I’m still learning how to use it but I like the info, gives me something to think/talk about when I’m out for a long ride. Would hate to see my power numbers though!

  10. joe

    You can flag a segment on Strava if it was likely driven in a car and they will immediately remove it until they further investigate.

  11. Touriste-Routier

    +1 on Garmin’s documentation; it sucks. At least the data it gives you is awesome.

    The frustrating thing with pre-programing routes is that unless you start your unit at the exact point the route starts, the unit wants to direct you back to the start.

    While this might be fine on a training ride, when starting a massed-start event, you might not be within 8 – 20 feet of the actual mapped start location, and might not know exactly where it is, or be able to start it when you are there (even if you know where it is).

    I reported this to Garmin reps at an expo last week, and they looked at me like I was trying to use it for an unauthorized use.

  12. Mr

    The 800 is pretty fredly and a waste of time, space, and energy consumption if you have any idea where you are going and can read a digital watch typeface. I have a Forerunner 305 which goes a good week or more of 5 hour rides and I can easily use it for basically anything else I find fun but swimming. The 500 is nearly as versatile and has just as long of a battery life.

    Or strap a phone, with a screen bordering on the size of a tablet computer, to your handlebars and further your distraction from riding with music and texting.

    Pretty much all electronics are made to be time consuming nowadays. I know some P12 racers that like the 200 for all of the reasons you listed but you cannot use a power meter with it. Replacing a $150 device hurts less too.

  13. Nancy

    I enjoyed my Garmin 500. I wish to have a 800 but I knew the map data is not that great when you are on the bike and I decided to save the money. I also enjoyed looking at the map after my ride with the computer because I am happy following wheels and discovering new roads and I can find them by myself later.

    I don’t really understand your issue but I think you will need to take the habit of closing the computer after the ride and don’t keep it on the bike while driving. Usually, it turned off after it detect no movement for a minute. It is easy to charge the garmin with a USB cable and I had one with me all the time and I charged when I had a computer at my disposition. I don’t trust enough the Garmin mount to keep it on the bike while driving.

    For the power meter, it is sometimes annoying to always look at the power number when you are riding and it is a worst feeling with a group of people. But it is also sometimes nice to see your power and fitness progression during the season and over the years. It is a small win when the weather is bad and you are stuck to ride the trainer inside and gives a bit of motivation to do it.

  14. Chris Cleeland

    You don’t have to be a slave to the numbers. I’ve had a powermeter for 7+ years, and have the corpus of data that goes with it. It’s incredibly useful to look for trends in previous years, planning for peaks, etc. You probably know all that stuff intuitively, and this would just make it objective.

    I rarely look at the computer during a ride or race except for the time–because I’m notoriously bad about looking at lap cards. The only times I look more during a ride is when I’m doing some sort of structured training, or a time trial.

  15. Scott M

    I feel your pain with the Garmin 500 instructions. As I ahve played with it though, I am starting to like it. Good luck and nice job at walburg and Lago Vista!

  16. WildCat

    Yep. Keep it simple. I just need the basics. Can get a wireless one at Wal-Mart these days for 12 bucks.


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