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Strava Activty Search is disabled and that sucks :-( #STRAVA

February 3, 2018 Leave a comment

So there was a lot of news about Strava this week and the fact that if you post your rides to Strava and they are public other people can find them, which is more or less the MAIN feature of Strava. It’s an open community for folks to post and compare rides. You can turn it off if you need to, but if you do you probably don’t need Strava.

However, some of the super smart military types, who go through extensive training on how to evade detection, didn’t quite pick up on this.


Ok Soldier, run down this path here, then turn right, then turn right, then turn right…

The recent Strava heatmaps crisis highlighted this but it was super easy to find this out without the heat maps. It’s just that the heat maps were fired out with a lot of PR so people started poking at them. So now that it’s super super easy to see activities instead of just super easy, all heck broke loose.

Maps of lots of bases and hotspots showed up. A few things we can glean from these heat maps, 1 it’s extra boring to run on a base and 2 nobody goes outside of the base.

While US-based troops really love their Strava, you can see heat maps for pretty much any military unit, Russian patrols are popular.

And this isn’t just Strava.

There are probably about 600+ apps that track by GPS and allow you to share activities but Strava is the most popular so they have the most data and thus it was more evident in their search. However, a lot of apps have a large core of users so any number of them could have been used as the basis for this concern.

For example Garmin Connect works too…

AghanArmy 10 Miler

Anybody wanna try the Afghan Army Ten Miler??

Unfortunately, for those of us not on Seal Team Six this has meant, at least for now, a diminished experience within Strava, which some of us pay quite a bit for. Despite there not seeming to be any notification Activity Search is now gone. There was nothing about this in the corporate comms about the heatmap issue, and nothing on the site, it’s just gone.  Unless it’s been moved somewhere I can’t find it…

Which sucks for those of us that rely on it. Recently I discovered a new mountain biking trail near to my house, and seeing the recent activities there gives you a good sense of what routes people use, what is open etc. But I couldn’t find the activity search. Its one of the things I love about Strava. I explore activities when I travel as well, that’s how you know what the locals really ride instead of the local tour maps that always put you past that one souvenir store for some reason. Gone now and I don’t see anything about why it’s gone or when it comes back. If it does come back I can only assume there will be some sort of “don’t log rides/runs here” mapping blackout, but that will also mean that the militaries of the world will have to send out pre-notices.

“Dude…before we set up this black ops site, did you im strava to let them know, I’m totally doing a 5k tomorrow am”

Segment search still works and you can glean a lot from it, but it’s not the same as a full on activity search.


22 people attempted to rush the gate at Kandahar airport…which must be interesting for all persons concerned

So thanks, Seal Team Six, I would get super mad at you but I think your square runs in most likely the worst heat ever is punishment enough.


Categories: Musings

The absolute cheapest way to get on Zwift, and still have fun! The $120 solution.

January 20, 2018 Leave a comment

Ok, so you are ready to jump on the Zwift bandwagon. If you are willing to say, spend $1500 or more you can get yourself a pretty sweet pain cave with any number of direct drive doodads then this isn’t the post for you. But if you have no idea if you will like Zwift this is how to try it out with the least outlay of cash.

How little? Let’ say you have $120 bucks, an iPhone and a gym membership? Is Zwift doable? Indeed it is.

First off get the CycleOps PowerCal Bluetooth HR strap. You will need an HR strap anyways and this will work fine as one outside of Zwift. For a bit of a premium over a regular HR strap, you also get power. Now the power brokers of the cycle world will gaffa and look down on you, but that’s because they paid for an expensive power broadcasting trainer at home and also an expensive power meter for their bike, so they are poor and grumpy. Yours will work on both!!


PowerCal.. in this case, the Ant+ one

I wrote about the PowerCal HR Strap way back in 2012. There are other reviews online as well but basically yes it works. Not as exact as a meter 10x more expensive, but enough to have fun on Zwift. And you have an HR strap for when you need one anyways and it will broadcast power for your cycling computer as well. And it transfers to any bike any time. I’m not sure why more folks don’t start off this way but power meters aren’t cheap so I always recommend folks try this out first.

NOTE: Just found this out, its possible the PowerCal HR Bluetooth doesn’t work in Bluetooth mode on iPhones above 5s? Since I don’t have such a device I am not sure. In that case, you will need to use the Cable method below. I will update once I find out more.

For this to work you need an iPhone or iPad that can run Zwift’s apple app. That can be as far back as an iPhone 5s or any number of recent iPads. If you are in the apple sphere you will have something that can work. Unfortunately, Zwift still doesn’t have an Android app but it’s coming hopefully in 2018. I used an iPhone 5s, without a SIM card, using the wifi in the hotel etc.

I do have a pain cave at home but I travel a lot and use this for the Hotel gyms. It can certainly be used at home or at your local gym. At home, you could use any of the decent $70 trainers on Amazon (here is one).  So maybe you are up to $200. If you have a gym membership use the stationary bike they will have in their gym. They always have a bike.

cheap setup for zwift

Now in the unlikely event that you already have an older PowerCal that is ANT+ only you will need the Cable from NPE.  It will set you back $60. The PowerCal ANT+ is $75, so if you do go this route you are looking at $135 but you get a cool device that will help down the road. It allows you to broadcast ANT+ sensors over Bluetooth for phones that don’t support ANT+ (which at the moment seems to be about 100% of them do not). The ANT+ strap will work with any cycling computer from Garmin, Wahoo etc.

Now if you have the Cable you will need the CableConfig App so download that.


Cable by NPE

Ok so you have you PowerCal, you have your old iPhone. You found the stationary bike at your local gym or in the hotel you are stuck in. Let’s get going.

Install the Zwift App on your phone. There are two Zwift apps, the Mobile Link is for in ride chatting and interfacing but unfortunately, you can’t run both. You only really need the main Zwift app, but maybe load up Mobile Link for future use?


All the apps a poor Zwift rider needs. What’s Strava you ask…oh my let’s leave that for another day

Select the Zwift App.

You will have to sign up for Zwift, but you can start with a free sign up for a 7-day free trial to give it a whirl. If you go for a subscription it $15 a month so then you can apply your savings from this method.

Pair your PowerCal to your iPhone either via bluetooth or Cable.

Now the PowerCal takes about 3-5 minutes to calm down and give consistent power readings, so while you get things going make sure the bike is on and bike slowly for a bit.

While you are warming up login and click on your account to get to the sensor connection page.

You should see your power and heart rate. You won’t have cadence. Cadence isn’t needed at this point and I haven’t noticed much difference without it. Pairing Zwift

If both Power Source and Heart Rate are blue, select Let’s go. You will then get to the Ride page, select Ride and start riding!

Ride Zwift

It won’t be a perfect experience, but it will work and it will be fun. I have been able to do group workouts but other types of rides are problematic due to the power change latency. I find that if I warmed up the power will be even and consistent in general. If you up the effort it will take a while to catch up (5-15 secs) but for a beginner you will get the whole experience.

Here is a recent hotel ride with this on Strava.

Strava Hotel Zwift



Working just fine…19kms in

Zwift isn’t for everyone so you can use this method to try it out. If you don’t have an HR strap you at least will have that at the end of this process. That’s way better than trying to sell your Tacx Neo on craigslist.

I know a lot of people are daunted by the seeming high entry point for Zwift. Hopefully, this method will let you try it out, get a feel for it and see if you want your own pain cave after all.


Categories: bicycling, training, Travel

TACX Satori Smart

January 15, 2016 5 comments

When I jumped on the Zwift bandwagon a while back it was pretty clear that you needed a good trainer to match it up with. Based on DC Rainmakers 2014-2015 recommendations I soon began hunting for a TACX Satori Smart and found one on Amazon shortly thereafter.

With Tax and shipping mine ended up being almost exactly $500 Canadian so it was within my budget overall. Pricing has probably gone up a bit since I bought it due to the downward spiral of the Canadian dollar, but still those with a smaller budget will find this is a great gateway drug into smart trainers.


This is only the 2nd trainer I have owned so it is possible that many of the features that I liked about this trainer are found on others as well but to me they were unique and very helpful.

What does it do

This is a very capable Ant+ and Bluetooth enabled power trainer. It measures speed, power and cadence. I wasn’t aware that it did cadence, and it does cadence without any additional hardware mounted to the bike, but it worked right out of the box. Satori doesn’t really do a good job of letting you know this trainer does cadence as well but it does. You can change bikes and the new bike shows cadence as well.

This is the testing dashboard that shows each of these three values.


Slap on a heart rate monitor and you have the four basic and needed metrics to take on any training program.


I didn’t take any pictures during setup and in general I don’t really remember a lot about it. A lot came already assembled and it was about 30 minutes of effort. Then I had a bike mounted. Don’t expect much of a manual, but it’s fairly straight forward.

Next make sure you download the TACX apps. There are two that I found useful. The Training one is the general one that helps you use it for working out, but the Tacx utility is very helpful, easier and simpler to use and allows you to do the calibration and firmware updates.



Before you use the trainer you need to calibrate, which is pretty easy using the Tacx utility, although you can do it via the button on the trainer that is a bit of a pain, while with the utility it is fairly painless. There are visual guides as to whether or not it is working and once calibration is finished you are ready to ride.


General Use

It is very easy to fit a bike to the trainer and I have switched bikes in less then a minute. The adjuster is very beefy and I haven’t had any issues with it. Even when sprinting this trainer is planted.

To get started there is a very small button, which is also the same colour as the bike, on the main body of the trainer. If your training area is dark its a pain to find it sometimes but once you do press it and a red light will start to flash. I only use it in ANT+ mode but the Tacx app uses Bluetooth and that has worked well too.


This means that the trainer is now broadcasting and will be picked up by whatever device you are using. I have used it with the Tacx apps, my Garmin Edge 500 and 520 and naturally Zwift with an ANT+ dongle and never had it not be picked up.

The Fly wheel has a very convenient method to pull the fly wheel back from the wheel. Pull it back, adjust with the knob underneath, push it back on.

IMG_1079             IMG_1080

It is quiet, but not silent. And if you do sprints (which are common in Zwift) it does whine somewhat. It’s much better than the last trainer I had but still not quiet enough to not be noticed upstairs. If I am doing something at night generally I do a more mild ride watching something at about 135 watts and that is pretty quiet. If I do have to go higher I find if you gear down to a smaller cog the sound gets worst, but if you adjust resistance on the bar, the sound is about the same but you can put out a lot more wattage. So that is what I have been doing lately.

Also the metal flywheel gets hot, like painful minor burns hot, after a longish ride (30 minutes or more). Do not touch the flywheel!!

The resistance control I have found hard to fit my handlebar, had to shove some old bar tape to make it not move around. Lately I have been finding that the standard sizing on these mounts, regardless of vendor, tend to be on the large size, while handlebars are getting smaller? Once I got it to stay on it is very easy to change resistance. There is a moment for the resistance to change but it is very effective. If you are doing zwift, I find that for the large hills if you set it to 5 or 6 you get pretty much the right level of resistance to keep up with most folks (if you can put out the effort).



Use with TACX software

IMG_1092 - Copy

I only wanted to use the Free software and only have an iPhone so this is a look into those options only. There is an Android version and a more sophisticated and paid PC version. Unfortunately this part is going to be very light. The training is pretty basic. It’s free but amounts to a workout graphic with a few prompts. The PC version is probably a whole lot better, but honestly use Zwift. I used it once then never went back.

The utility is the one that I do use a lot and if you have any problems or just want to make sure you on the latest firmware that app works great.

Use with Zwift

This was the main reason that I purchased this trainer and it has served that purpose quite well. The Satori Smart is an officially supported Trainer in Zwift as per their web site.



zwift supported

In order for Zwift to really effectively figure out your “real world” speed etc you need to broadcast power. When I was using Zwift without real power (well, I was using the PowerCal heart rate monitor and that just confused the heck out of Zwift) my speed was all over the place. I did try not using power at all and that was worst. Once I started using this trainer my speed settled down and I was able to fully enjoy the experience. With the most recent workouts the trainer is certainly capable. I have joined a few group rides online and it’s very cool.

As I have stated it also provides Cadence, I’m not exactly sure how, but it works perfectly well. So with a heart rate monitor and the trainer providing power, cadence and speed you are all set. There isn’t automatic resistance but Zwift is very good at making you sense that you are heading up a hill so you do have to push hard to get up steep inclines of Zwift will simply stop your bike. It’s very effective and I think negates a portion of needing an automated trainer.


Some Conclusions

I am writing this almost 8 months after I picked the Satori Smart up, just haven’t been updating my blog as much, and it is still working great, I haven’t had a single problem with it, it works great with Zwift, it’s reasonably quiet. So a great and satisfying purchase.

I think I am a little bit disappointed I didn’t get a trainer that automatically set resistance, I have found that there are a few times while using Zwift that I would have liked that, but then again I don’t think I could have afforded it. Otherwise it has been a flawless awesome purchase.

Categories: Uncategorized

Garmin Edge 520 and 25 make a good argument to finally retire your 500.

November 2, 2015 1 comment

Garmin 500s For the last few years I have relied heavily on Garmin devices and web sites like Garmin Connect and increasingly Strava and related sites like Veloviewer. This was mostly as I wanted to understand how I was riding but in general also I enjoyed the devices and what they gave to me. When I say Garmin devices I mean Garmin 500s as I had two for years. In 2014 for my birthday I added a Garmin Fenix 2 to the stable but that was pretty much it. The Garmin 500 will be seen as a classic over time and was one of those devices that just got it right. So right that it is still sold today while quite a few of the devices that came after it have come and gone. Hopefully they will keep selling it as it’s pretty much prefect for somebody who is looking to get in on some GPS action for their riding and it has 99% of the core metrics you are looking for, and sites like Strava can fill in a lot of the gaps. Prices are dropping too. I have seen new ones as cheap as $150 USD.

The Fenix 2 has been everything that I wanted it to be as well and it’s basically my back up device that is always with me. If I find myself all of a sudden able to get a ride, run or swim in I can just turn the Fenix 2 on and away I go and it has been great for Triathlons. I haven’t been tempted to upgrade to the Fenix 3 yet as as these devices are pretty pricey so probably will have it for while.

That being said at the end of the summer I found myself with a totally new set of goto devices for my GPS fitness needs. Still have the Fenix 2 but now supplemented by Edge 25 and Edge 520.


The Garmin 510 didn’t quite add enough and the 800/1000 series are just too big for me. But I was open to upgrading if a device popped up that intrigued me.

Garmin Edge 25

I was actually looking at the Lezyne Super GPS as I was looking for something small but still powerful. I don’t use Garmin connect as much as I do Strava so if Strava connectivity works it fit the bill.

Then I heard that the Garmin 20 and 25 were coming out. The Garmin 20 not so sure about, the Garmin 200 may be a better device in that instance, but the 25 had Ant+ and Bluetooth and most importantly can show texts. I get a lot of texts (mostly from my wife) and when I am on a ride I feel a tiny bit apprehensive if I miss a text. I was using the Fenix 2 but it’s font is super small and I always had to stop just to see if I can ignore the text and ride on. With the Edge 25 seems like the Font would be large enough. And the price was right, with a store discount I bought mine for under $200 CAD. IMG_1028

Almost at once I was pleased with this device. While there isn’t too much to customize all the data is pretty much there and it scrolls through the pages pretty quick if you set it up that way. The only glaring lacking metric is power, which I am hoping they add in a later update but it handily does heart rate and cadence.

One thing that is a bit of a concern with Garmin devices is that all the connectors are getting different and the 25 does have it’s own cable which I have misplaced a few times and been frustrated as my battery was low. But the battery does last pretty long and even at 15% I was able to finish all the 1-2 hours rides I was doing.

Connecting to a phone is super easy (especially considering how difficult the Edge 520 is) and once paired as soon as you turn it on it will connect to your phone. Texts are very clear and will stay up for long enough to get the gist of what the text is saying. If its important you can stop (it has auto pause) and if not..ride on. And when your ride is done it uploads scary fast.

I found I use this a lot for mountain biking and cross when I don’t want a bigger device. Frankly it takes up less space than the mount. I often linger over the Edge 25 when I am choosing which device to use and am surprised that often I grab this one instead of the more “powerful” ones.


So was pretty pleased with the 25 and probably would have stuck with it and one of the 500s for when I needed power.

Garmin Edge 520

Then my birthday hit and basically I had some cash to spend. And that’s when I heard about the Garmin Edge 520 around the same time.  At first glance I was a bit “meh” but then the Strava feature grabbed my attention. I have grown to really love Strava and have a few Strava segments I have been trying to improve on. So the live Strava feature was a draw. IMG_0941

I ordered one through my local LBS and had to wait a couple and weeks and did have buyer’s remorse a few times until I got it…and then I was fine.

It’s not a perfect device. But it’s also going to improve a lot over time as Garmin goes through its usual firmware woes.

First off it can display a ton of data, more than I ever got comfortable with the 500 (6 was about the max there). I started with 7 data fields but now I have 10 on a single page. I don’t cycle through any as everything is on one page and it’s easy enough to read it all. It picks up GPS or Glosnass super quick and same with ANT+ devices.

I was able to get Strava segments to work right away and it helped me I think improve on two segments that simply I wasn’t super aware of where they actually started and ended and where I could make up time.

Here are a few things it sucks at still. First off Bluetooth is horrible and super hard to set up. Every time you want to use Bluetooth you have to do a combo of setting up the Bluetooth on the device, making sure you go into Connect on your mobile device and even then I don’t fully trust it.  Also have to say that both devices only get texts and call notifications while my Fenix 2 gives me any alert, including emails, which I love as well. A few times I have done rides when I half expected an email from work so I wrapped my Fenix 2 around the handle bars so I get email alerts as well. Would be super nice to get email alerts on either the 25 or the 520.


Also I am not a fan of the start/stop button being on the bottom. When you have an aero mount there is very little space between your bars and the button. With gloves I have struggled to stop it off after a ride. No firmware update is going to help with that Sad smile The Garmin Edge 25 is in the more traditional upper right hand button position so no problems there.


So I was sorta pleased but also sorta unhappy after a while. I focused on using it for the massive data fields and the Strava segments but as I stated it can be upgraded so expect it to get better. And later this year or early next year Garmin 520 will support ConnectIQ and this is super cool. ConnectIQ is basically apps you can run on your device. For Fenix 3 it’s mostly super cool watch faces but with ConnectIQ coming to the Edge1000 and 520 hopefully a new wave of Ride specifics apps will come out? May even try to put a couple of these ConnectIQ apps together myself.


So a few conclusions. First off the Edge 25 is an awesome and cheapish device. Shop around and you should be able to get it at a decent price under list. Has most of what you need for most of your rides and general riding overall. In a lot of cases it certainly replaces the 500 and it’s a worthy upgrade.

The Garmin Edge 520 I would still recommend if you are thinking about getting a new device overall. In its current state is pretty good. A couple more firmware upgrades I think will make it awesome. Once they figure out and improve on the Bluetooth and the add ConnectIQ it’s a done deal in my mind. And it has a lot of stuff I haven’t found out about yet.

The biggest test for me is that I still have my two Garmin 500s in my door where I keep all my devices and while my hand lingers over them for a few minutes, so far I have always grabbed the Garmin Edge 520 and often the Edge 25 but can’t remember the last time I used either of the 500s.

Categories: Uncategorized

Some Mountain Biking

October 7, 2015 Leave a comment
Categories: Uncategorized

Getting back online

October 7, 2015 Leave a comment

So if anybody is actually coming over to this site they will have noticed that I sorta faded away. I lost a lot of motivation for a while, and needed the downtime. Then I got back on my bike and I have been busy mostly cycling. It has been a good year and I got some of my mojo back. I stopped doing Triathlons and by same measure running as that ended up mostly hurting me. Swimming was fine but still I also would rather be riding.

Jumped on Strava in a big way and that really seemed to have have given me a boost. If interested here is my profile:

A few things I am working on and will start to post again.

1st off upgraded my Garmin computers and got an Edge 25 and Edge 520. I will put up a comparison because they really aren’t that different and it’s been interesting when I have been using them.

Secondly I have started to work on a ConnectIQ app, more to just understand a bit how it all works. The 520 will support ConnectIQ and I want to see if I can get something up there. As I work it through will put some info up here. I think it has the ability to really add significantly to the experience of using any of the ConnectIQ enabled Edge devices, which right now is the 1000 and the 520.

So look for some updates soon.

Categories: Uncategorized

New Cervelo P5 Colours…hmmm

January 8, 2015 Leave a comment

New 2015 Cervelo Colour

Categories: Uncategorized