Going Local!

The Real Starky, aka TRS Triathlon published a follow-up I wrote on my TBI blog, growing triathlon professionals.

I wrote it a few weeks back.Originally it was almost twice as many words with a lot of background and overview material to some of the key points. I got a friend, Sandara, who is a professional editor to help me cut and clean it up, it was a great investment.

Goodbye 310XT hello Fenix 3 - more software woes

As if by magic, having complained about the latest Garmin software required for uploading data from the Garmin 310 XT watch, I raced Lake Pflugerville Triathlon on Sunday, and as I came out of the swim looked down to press the lap button and the watch face was full of water...

Garmin have a pretty decent exchange program(see my earlier entry), for both in warranty and out of warranty devices. For in warranty, it's a flat fee of $50, so if you drop it or crash on a reasonably new device, $50. I've had the 310XT since I think about 2010. I've exchanged it twice already. Once a couple of weeks after getting it when I dropped it and the glass broke, and a 2nd time when it died. A 3rd exchange would cost $99.

I briefly considered other devices, I especially like the Polar V800, and I ran through numerous uses of the outstanding DC Rainmaker product comparison grid before deciding to follow Chris Rains suggestion to get a Fenix 3. Right about the same time, Blake txt'd me to point out that I could get a 40% discount from Garmin.com. Done.

The Fenix 3 is a big watch, the face is huge and it's heavy to wear, but I love it. I may get around to doing a review, but its probably not worth the typing time now since the web and youtube are full of them.

So, excited as I was to actually go to the pool and try the Fenix 3 out this morning, I was disappointed to find out that there seems to be no way to get the data off the Fenix 3 except through the aforementioned Garmin Express which upoads to Garmin Connect. Garmin sell software developers a key to allow them to sync data from the Garmin cloud into their application.

I really only want the data in Sporttracks desktop Windows app that I've been using since 2009. In the old days you just imported it directly from the device, no more. Get to the data into Sporttracks desktop app, it now goes from

device > Garmin Express > Internet > Garmin Connect > Internet > Sportstrack.mobi > Internet > Sporttracks desktop

To get data from a device plugged into my PC the data has to transverse the Internet 3-times. As a software architect, thats simply just mad and terrible design. It's also bound to fail regularly, and suffer from availability problems. It also requires me to have a paid subscription to sporttracks.mobi for no other reason than to sync the data from Garmin Connect to the sporttrack desktop app.(if anyone from Zone Five Software ever reads this and wants to comment, I'll happily tell you why I didn't renew my paid subscription to sporttracks.mobi).

I checked on Garmin Connect, and they do have a export option. So figured maybe I could just download and import, and even though I'm logged in, I get a 403 error, not authorised from garmin.com. Sigh. My bad after all for buying a Fenix 3 without checking first. Or maybe I just need to stop using Sporttracks?

I've asked on the sporttracks forum, and posted comments on the DC Rainmaker reviews in hope of another solution.

3-signs you are from another era

1. your backpack is from an organization that doesnt exist anymore(Triathlon America)

2. your swim cap is one of the last of a batch you bought for the GB Team at the 2004 European Championships

3. and finally, your speedo is a genuine Speedo Triathlete model with a pad, dating from 1999

The trouble with Garmin and your data

I've had endless trouble over the last month since updating Garmin Express and the firmware on my Garmin 310XT. My advice, if it's working, don't change anything. Sadly my 310XT has been taking longer and longer to detect the satellites in my start position, and from time to time it wouldn't even actually get beyond the logo, so I decided to hard reset the device and load the latest firmware. The watch seems to work now, its the rest of the Garmin ecosystem that I've been having trouble with. A few lessons.

1. If your workloads are not showing up on Garmin Connect, check their system status

2. Check the Sync status of your devices, if they've worked they should show the latest date which will be the day you synced them after the activity

3. The first place to start with trying to get it to work is to start clearing out the workouts waiting to sync via the two little arrows on the top left of this https://connect.garmin.com/modern/settings/userprofile
Click the X for each item in the queue to remove it, then Remove to confirm; try to sync again in Garmin Express

4. If its still not syncing, start Garmin Express and remove the device, watch, etc. try to follow through these steps which include updating Garmin Express software, and removing the device from Garmin Express

Finally, if you get to this point and are still having problems, please formally report this to Garmin. Their product support can be reached via this form. If Garmin get enough problem reports perhaps they'll realize what a mess their software is.

Garmin data uploading(from devices) used to be so simple, especially for those us that used 3rd Party Apps, as I have since they very early days of the Garmin Forerunner 305(2006?) when the software was very simple, as was the connection via a cradle and USB, at least until the connections got dirty. I use SportTracks, their tech support reminded me the other day that Garmin no longer supported direct access to the data via the device, and you had to load the data after it had been offloaded by Garmin Express. And, there's the rub. If Garmin Express won't offload and sync with Garmin Connect, you are stuck.

This SportTracks blog has a description of how you can process the data with 3rd party apps. DC Rainmaker has a good background on the changes and software from June 2014, here.

Lance and "that ban"

The questions and articles about Lance Armstrong and his ban, continue unabated, the latest round exemplified by the US News and World Report write-up that proclaimed "WADA's Howman says it's 'almost too late' for Armstrong to get his ban reduced."

I keep hearing people say "let him race". But why? What is about letting Lance race again people want and what would it achieve?

While for the most part its fair to accept that most of his peers were doping, as far as I'm aware Lance doesn't want to go back and race 40-something ex-doper cyclists. He wants to race mountain bikes, triathlons, and have a crack at Ironman racing where he left off with an attempt to qualify for Ironman Hawaii, aka Kona.

Not withstanding what a disruption and media storm that would create, irrespective of his result, even if he finished out of the top-10 it would deprive the winner, and the podium finishers of their moment of glory, they'll become also-rans in another Lance show. Ultimately though, even if he was given one of the "celebrity" slots, if he is able to race again in anything, even age group triathlon or running, how is that fair to his peers?

A man who benefited physically from a decade or more of drug use, through which he was able to buy the best medical and training advice, would be allowed to compete again against guys who've had real jobs, struggled to find time to train, and raced when they could rather than when they wanted, now have to compete on an even ground with Lance. What do people think letting Lance off his lifetime ban would let him do that is anyway useful?

If he wants to comeback to competitive racing, let him start volunteering, show up at races at 4am to park cars, work with kids to get them into sports and tell them all the mistakes he made, become an ambassador, help organize local races, sit through endless meetings to get permits, in fact all the things he never did on his way up, because his success by breaking the rules afforded him the ability to bypass them.

Lances' time as a competitor has come, and gone. If Lance 2.0 wants to race again my advice is to re-invent yourself as a grass roots activist and work his way back.

Professional Triathletes, local heros

Big prop's to Triathlon Business International for publishing, unedited, my blog on professional triathletes. If nothing else I expected it to appear edited, but in the wisdom they've published the whole thing even though I inferred many of the members were exhibiting cartel like behavior, and their President had misunderstood the role of teams and team sports in generating media impact.

Professional triathletes find coaches, they find endemic sponsors, and some even convince Mom and Dad to help out with some of the admin side. Increasingly, it's incredibly hard for them to make money. Local bike shops are finding it hard and harder to compete, few can afford to really support teams, or more than just a few athletes anymore. Other sport-specific companies won't do it. Why should they, effectively they are a cartel. None pay more than they have to, and athletes can't live by blogging and tweeting for free stuff.

You can read the rest of the blog over here. Feel free to post comments here, or submit them via TBI.

Cooke, The Guardian and the problems at the UCI

cooke guardianOver the past few days I've had a couple of heated arguments with people about drugs in sport, one even went so far as to hint, or maybe I was just too tired, that even I "must have taken something" while training for Ironman because thats "not normal".

That I'm sure was prompted by Mondays article in the Guardian, claiming that ‘Middle-aged businessmen are winning amateur cycling races on EPO’. There are lots of news reports on the CIRC report, a few of them a good insight into the culture and organization. This response by former female Pro Cyclist Nicole Cooke, is though by far the best.

For the record, I've never knowingly taken, injected or otherwise done any drugs. For the most part you can tell thats the case by looking at my results, especially long distance. The subject of age group cheating, especially men in the later age groups is a serious one though, but not one to be rushed into. I've voiced my objections many times, and guess it's something I need to write long-form to explain.

  • Current Location: madison, WI
  • Current Mood: At a hackathon

[and finally...] HITS Austin Duathlon

Yesterday was my last race of the year. It's been a long year, I've raced 18 running and triathlon races this year, and trained for the run with Erik Stanley like I never have before, ever.

And so yesterday it was the HITS Running Festival over at the Circuit of the Americas Formula 1 track (COTA). Interestingly they had a duathlon to close out the festival, it started at 2pm, #cozwhynot. I won my age group at the last duathlon I raced, the last Austin Duathletes Bizarro duathlon.

I got Lee Buckley to enter and after a lot of messing around with my race wheels, that I abandoned and went with the Mavics, I arrived late and met Lee, put my bike together walked over to transition which was right in the F1 start area, racked bikes and as they announced transition was closing, removed my t-shirt an jeans, picked up my race belt and number, Garmin and hat and walked over a listened to the race briefing, while finishing getting ready.

It was pretty straight forward run straight up the hill at the end of the home straight, turn and run 1-mile to the turn around, run back, into T1, back out onto the course, 3-laps of the circuit and into T2, run shoes on and repeat the run. Giving a 2-mile run, 10-mile bike, 2-mile run.

20141215_082318I started pretty well made it up the hill and around the run pretty well; up the hill on the bike and to the far turn on the course was pretty good, and then into the wind, the other 2-miles on the bike back to the start line was hard going in the wind. I must admit, going all the way back to 2006[see this video of me racing in Montreal on their F1 track that year]. I do love racing on car racing tracks, you really get to exploit bike handling skills. This video has a loop of the course for a ride I did up at the track a couple of years ago.

Soon enough the 3-bike laps were up, a quick transition and I was heading up the hill again. Only this time it was much harder and I was reduced to a walk for the last 50ft, down towards the turn around and back. I'd underestimated how hard the run back up the hill would be, was passed by my age group nemesis, Gary Osborne, who was maybe 2/3 of a mile ahead, I pushed on and hammered down the last hill.

Liz Kreutz was taking photographs of the race, I'm sure she'll have a few great ones. Congrats to Gary for winning our age group, I got 2nd, off not a lot of recent bike training, but was well beaten.

The official results didn't include splits, but here are the age group and stats I took from their results. I didn't look at my Garmin yet for splits.
HITS AG 55-59 Results
After that, I was 68th out of 171 overall. My time was good enough to have won the 60-64 age group; placed 5th in the 50-54 age group and 10th in the 45-49 age group. So although a small field, and my lack of recent training, I'm pretty pleased with the result.

Congratulations to Mark Wilson and the HITS team. It was a fun race, well organized, simple yet hard.

Here are some amateur pictures behindLivejournal cut [Read more...]Collapse )
  • Current Location: COTA, Austin
  • Current Mood: And on
  • Current Music: Hisham Zahran - Year Mix [2014]

Ironman Woodlands uncertain future?

Ironman Woodlands aka Ironman Texas is the big focus money and points event for pro's in 2015,  it will likely attract more people,  more spectators and I'm sure the WTC are hoping,  more media coverage.

It is interesting to note then,  that the hosting of the race and the local disruption and economic impact are so serious it was one of the questions put to candidates in a recent debate

The question put to the Position 3 candidates for the Woodlands Township Board of Directors  was:

"Given the community’s divided position regarding The Woodlands hosting the Ironman triathlon, what would your stance be when the item comes up for contract renewal again in five years? And, meanwhile, if you think the Ironman triathlon is ultimately an asset to the community, how would you communicate this message to the public? If you think, ultimately, it is not an asset, how would you communicate this message to the public and how would you campaign to abandon this contract in the future?"

As always,  the politicos did their best not to answer the question,  to avoid being seen to commit either way,  so as not to suffer the fallout. You can read their responses here, the most interesting is that it's that controvertial.

little red 1.5 rebuild

after a season of component failures,  I've finally got LR back from some extensive work by master mechanic James Ballentine at Jack and Adams.

Failures this year were rear shifter, the rear Zipp 101 hub and then finally, the seat post snapped off and was a bear to remove.  I've had two Zipp 101 hub failures,  I was offered a cheap Zipp wheelset replacement,  but declined them.

The rebuild included a new Shimano Dura Ace shifters,  a Paul polished seat post,  and a custom wheelset consisting of polished Velocity A23 rims,  and White Industries T11 hubs.

I've done nearly 4000 miles on the bike since I had it built,  so not bad for lightweight components.