The SUUNTO SPARTAN SPORT WRIST HR BLUE

I have logged 799 activities with my Suunto devices. This includes hikes, via ferrata, climbing, swimming and scuba diving. I like Suunto devices because their battery life is good enough to last through entire days of hiking and the battery lasts for weeks between charges when used as a simple watch.

Spartan HR

I like to track my heart rate but I often feel self conscious about putting the heart rate monitor belt on. With the latest Spartan watch I no longer need to worry about the belt. At the same time as I start the activity I will be able to keep track of the heart rate. This is especially good for group activities when you do not want to keep people waiting and in winter when you’re wearing layers of clothing.

I like that devices like the Fitbit Charge 2 can be worn at almost all times and track heart rate effortlessly when at the climbing gym and during other activities. I look forward to the same simplicity with a Suunto device. I especially like that Suunto devices survive swims and showers.

I like that the Suunto Ambit 3 tracks how many steps I take during the day. It’s a shame that the step count is not logged and visible on Movescount. I like to see how energetic or lazy I have been on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis. It’s not unusual for me to go from a 21,000 step day to a 6000 step day. It depends on weather, work and other factors. If you go for a bike ride your step count will not be high.

I will wait to see whether they apply this technology to the Suunto Ambit watch collection. If they come out with the Suunto Ambit 4 Wrist HR then I will be tempted to upgrade. With 799 tracked activities I believe Suunto devices have demonstrated that they are reliable.

Strava now has rock climbing, hiking and more

Strava now has rock climbing, hiking and many more sports. Sports tracker, movescount and other applications already allowed you to do this but it is nice to see one more network provide us with this option.

Strava expanded the number of sports you can track
Strava expanded the number of sports you can track

Up until now I had to make sure to go for a bike ride or three per week to keep people updated on what I did. During week days I am likely to go for bike rides. On two to three evenings per week I may go climbing and on the weekend I may go hiking or for a walk. As a result I can track the diversity of my activities.

Strava has updated the list of sports
Strava has updated the list of sports

With rock climbing I would like them to add two or three more fields. I would like them to add an option to add the grade of the climb we did. This would need to use the European and the American systems. It would help us track our progress and even track how hard we worked if we’re wearing a heart monitor as we climb. In effect it could provide us with a way of seeing who else is climbing and whether we match their skill level. In the long run this could contribute to new groups. I have created a group for Swiss Via Ferrata in anticipation of via ferrata practitioners joining the network and sharing their climbs.

Until recently I would only track cycling and running. Now that walking, hiking and climbing have been added I can track a number of new sports. It should result in people using the app more frequently.  It could be fun to see climbing and hiking heat maps. We will see how they adapt the input section to match the sports.

 

Critical Mass in Geneva

For those who like to cycle in a group of people there is a critical mass event organised for the 29th of August from 1830 onwards in Geneva. The meeting point is the île Rousseau. From there they will cycle around the city of Geneva. At the moment of writing this post the weather is meant to be good with sun and 29°c.

When I cycled with a group of people in London I had fun. I found that the city of London was much smaller than I had thought. If you don’t know a city it is an opportunity to discover new cycling routes and if you do know the city it is an opportunity to meet new people.

The group cycles at a speed that is comfortable for everyone. Those who are confident have time to stop and take pictures or place ingress and Pokemon Go and those who are not as fast are not abandoned.

Although not a critical mass bike ride when I met with a group to cycle in Geneva we travelled about 40km. The advantage that I have when I cycle in and around Geneva is that the landscape is flat compared to where I cycle in the countryside.

Geneva has bike and bus lanes in the centre and when you get out of the centre you have cycle paths that are separate from road traffic and pedestrian traffic. When youn get to the Geneva countryside the roads are relatively quiet so you do not have to worry about cycling in traffic.

There is a critical mass cycling app to make finding the group easier if you meet the group after it has started cycling.

Cycling Trip to Lausanne and Back

When I set off on my cycling trip to Lausanne and back I thought that the strong wind would force me to turn around and that I would abort the attempt by the time I got to Rolle or Morges. As I continued cycling I fought the wind and I made slow progress. When I was in the dips or along certain walls I had a break from the wind. I continued on with the effort.
A nice portion of this route is on cycle paths so you are protected from traffic. Sometimes the cycle path is on the side of the road and at other points it is on a pavement at the side of the road. Near St Prex the route bifurcates from the road and goes through a 30km zone. You rejoin the road a few minutes later. Around Ouchy the roads were relatively quiet.

I stopped in Ouchy to recover
I stopped in Ouchy to recover before cycling back.

The air temperature when I set off was about 20°c with wind. As I cycled I never felt too warm. It was a great temperature in which to cycle over a long distance. For the first hour I was drinking Jura water before switching to electrolytes for the route back. I usually carry enough water or snacks for part of the journey and when I feel the need for a rest I stop and pick up more supplies. It keeps the weight down.

I was lucky when I cycled back towards Gland because the wind continued blowing in the same direction. The wind that I had spent the outward journey fighting was now in my back. As a result despite muscle fatigue the cycle back was comfortable enough and I still managed to get a good time. The challenge when cycling from the foot of the Jura is that you eventually need to spend energy to get from the lake uphill. It might be psychological but the place from which I like to climb from the lakeside is through Gland. There are a number of routes with reduced traffic or you can take the main road.
In this case I took the main road and when I was passing the train station I felt the rear wheel wobble so I stopped to check the wheel but it seemed fine. I then cycled a little further and then heard the rear tire flopping. A thorn had made its way in to the tire and punctured it.

I had noticed that there was a cycle shop on the lake road so instead of going to the two sports shop near the bouldering gym I went to this one. The owner was just about to leave when he saw me pushing my bike. He was very helpful. He helped me replace the tire and pump it up again so that I could continue my journey.

I had always worried about getting a puncture and I was lucky that it happened in such a convenient place. I had to walk back about two kilometres but in the end the inconvenience of the puncture was quickly resolved and I could head home. It provided me with time to recover before heading up the hill once again. I am amused that it was a thorn. I cycle around rocks, glass and other hazards on the road and nature got me with a simple thorn. To be fair I had cycled about nine hundred kilometres before getting a puncture.

Some of the landscape you see
Some of the landscape you see

 

In the back of my mind I was always ready to cycle to Lausanne and then catch the train back but my endurance lasted both ways so I skipped the train. My next challenge will be to cycle around the Lac de Neuchâtel which is meant to be about 96 kilometres depending on the route you choose.

Half way through to this year’s cycling goal.

So far this year I have been cycling for 680 km in 33hrs with a height gain of 6800 meters. In this time I have used my narrative clip 2 device to document the ride with a picture every 10-30 seconds as I want to focus on riding rather than other things. I like to have as high a moving time as possible so I usually stop once I get back to my starting point.

By cycling I see the landscape at a slower, more interesting speed. I see the roads, I smell the vegetation, I feel the heat and I feel the cold. I also discover small paths that I would not take in a car or on a scooter. In practicing this sport I get to know the landscape. I also get to see seasonal changes.

This year I have cycled in the rain, in the snow, in the wind and on days like today. Today it was sunny and there was no wind to fight against. It made the ride more pleasant.

The technology I took on today’s ride was my narrative clip 2 to take pictures of the bike ride, my Crosscall Odyssey+ phone, the Cateye Evo+ and finally the Suunto Ambit 3. I also took the Ricoh Theta S but never stopped to take pictures. For future rides I should fix it to the handle bars. I could bring you with me on my next bike ride. Of course I would keep just the interesting bits of the ride. I can throw away the rest.

The High Tech World is not making us weak and weird.

The High Tech world is not making us weak and weird. I believe that the opposite is true. According to Patrick Mustain in his article “Welcome to the Devolution: The High-Tech World Is Making Us Weak and Weird” for The Daily Beast he worries that modern technology and conveniences have taken the physical aspects out of our daily routine. We don’t need to clean clothes by beating them against a rock and we no longer need to clean dishes manually. We take the car from point A to point B and we take a lift to go up a floor or two.

“We find ourselves interacting with chairs and doors and walkways, and as a result, we get used to bending only forwards. Almost never backwards, never to the side, we don’t really rotate our hips very much.

This premise is false. This article ignores that there are a growing amount of climbing and bouldering gyms. This article ignores that there are an increasing number of via ferratas being built and that crossfit gyms are common. “But our evolutionary drive for acquiring cheap energy also makes us loath to unnecessarily spend it.” is a fallacy. Look at Strava, Sports Tracker, Movescount, Runkeeper, fitbit, Withings and other products. Each one of these not only tracks the effort that people are making on a weekly basis but congregates that data so that people can compare their workout to that of others. This implies that technology is encouraging people to move, to compete with friends, family or other sports enthusiasts.

strava stats 2016
Strava stats so far for this year

There is some humour in the article. “I think any change in the direction of just moving more is better. You don’t have to take off your shirt and go climb a tree to get value.” It is not simply about moving more but about moving more energetically, more enthusiastically. If you’re walking down the street increase your stride length just a little and you will increase your heart rate and energy expenditure. When I walk up to the base of the Val De Tière via ferrata and when I walk up to the base of the Tour D’Aï via ferrata I am usually the first one, leading the way. I love endurance training so I forget about the group and I enjoy the hike. Once I am at the base I relax, I look at the landscape and I take photographs.

As a camera operator/photographer I need to be at least as fit as everyone else and if possible I need to have more energy. By having more energy I can go ahead of the group and document their effort as they make their way up or down a mountain.

Since I owned the Nokia N95 8GB model I have tracked more than a thousand sports activities. I have tracked skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, hiking, cycling, climbing, via ferrata, indoor training, sailing and swimming. It is thanks to the high tech world that I can track my progress and assess how well I am doing. It allows me to set goals and exceed them and it allows me to evaluate when to take breaks and when to continue pushing forwards.

I love technology but I still walked up five floors to get to my office. I almost never sit in public transport and I usually take the stairs or walk up escalators rather than stand around. Movement is an integral part of my daily routine so I do not accept the premise that high tech world makes us weak and weird.

 

Cycling in Winter

After cycling over 1100 kilometres in 2015, I aim to cycle 1200 kilometres in 2016. This goal is an easy one to achieve. It’s the 21st of January and I already have 100 kilometres logged. The weather over the last three weeks has been cold and wet. We have had rain almost every day and it recently turned to snow. As there is a lack of good weather there is no choice but to go out in the bad weather.

Cycling in these conditions is messy. Your clothes get soaked from the rain and as I cycle in the countryside I come home covered in mud. When I get home I change into dry clothes and I recover quickly.

Rain is easy to deal with once you’re ready to feel wet and dress for the cold. What is more challenging is cycling on slick tires on snow. Some of the roads I cycle on are salted and cleared but as I also use agricultural roads they are covered in snow. Safety takes focus and concentration. The rear wheel skids if you apply too much force to the pedal and the bike can skew if you are not careful.

Cycling in such conditions is not ideal. It demands resistance to the cold, stamina to continue making the effort and determination to set an achievable goal. I will continue towards 200 kilometres by the end of February. Cycling consistently now will make summer all the more pleasant and rewarding.

 

Fribourg was liberated by Fribourg, Lausanne and Geneva Ingress resistance fighters

This weekend teams of Resistance Ingress agents from Fribourg, Lausanne and Geneva met in Fribourg to neutralise and capture all Enlightened portals. Some teams were on foot to liberate portals from the centre of the city. I was with the bike team and we took care of liberating all of the portals on the outskirts. It involved cycling up and down hills, a thunderstorm and being rained on.

I really enjoyed being part of the cycling team. It’s a fantastic way to get around and it’s a good way of seeing a big portion of unfamiliar cities with a minimum of effort. My team members were on electric bikes and I was on a mountain bike. This was great for me. I had to work hard to keep up with them. This was a good workout. There were moments where I generated up to an estimated 1300 watts of power for very short bursts and got the fifth best time on a segment.

I enjoyed this experience so much that I would love to do this again in other cities around here. Cycling gave me a workout and playing Ingress gave me time to recover. It seems that if you’re creating fields having a bike is ideal. You can get almost anywhere from anywhere within a city within minutes with a minimum of effort. By car this would be dangerous and impractical and on foot it would be slow and impractical.

The Bulle Slowup

Bulle is a city by a lake in the Canton De Gruyère in Switzerland. Last weekend they held their annual slowup event. A slowup is an event where roads are closed to motorised transport in favour of cyclists, roller bladers, skate boarders and other self propelling sports. The loop is around 26km long and there are ares to stop and enjoy food every few kilometres.

At this event you can also get your bike maintained for free except for parts that need replacing. It’s a great opportunity to take an old worn out bike and have it reconditioned. As I spent several days getting mine back in to condition I did not abuse of this opportunity.

The first climb
The first climb

The landscape around Bulle is nice. As you cycle you can see the Moléson mountains in the distance, and without clouds for a change. You can also enjoy a few climbs and descents. The gradients are not steep and the climbs are not long. A friend of mine was on rollerblade and it impresses me that she did around 30km.

Father and daughter
Father and child

The best feature of slowups is the ability to enjoy a wide road and cycle anywhere you like without the usual cars overtaking too close and too fast. As a result parents and their children can enjoy this beautiful landscape.

BYOB, not bring your own bike or beer. Bring your own barbecue
BYOB, not bring your own bike or beer. Bring your own barbecue

It’s amusing to see someone take a cool box and barbecue for such an event. I didn’t see them stop and start preparing food though.

 

France Télévision Coverage of the Tour De France

The Tour De France is a 3600 kilometre race over 3 weeks with one independent race each day. They start in an international city and then make their way to France within two or three days. The programmes are built around three specific shows. There is the pre-show Village programme followed by the first part of the race before the depart until well after it. The last segment is moved to France 2 for peak viewing and audience.

During the first of these programmes you learn about the city the tour de France is leaving. You get artist interviews, food preparation and other small animations. During the second programme, the first part of the race you see the cyclists and the landmarks and places worthy of note. You get landscape shots of the countryside, aerial shots of castles and learn about where they are cycling for future tourist visits should you be in one part of France or the other. You also get to see the cycling.

Today they’re cycling through the Pyrenées so you will see the cyclists face the challenge of climbs at the same time as working on making their endurance last long enough.

There are a lot of sports on television but very few of them have the intensity and landscape of cycling. Tennis is in a court, Football is in a stadium, golf is in a park. Only Cycling provides television audiences with a journey, a voyage. I love this voyage and love the “French Landscape programme” as I like to call it, for this very reason.