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Wolfville, Nova Scotia


Time for More Biking

Chris Campbell

I love riding my bike. It's fun and great exercise as well. Last year I rode 1325 kilometres and my goal for this year is to get over 2000 kms. It should be possible and one of the trends I've seen is to ride a bit less, but each ride is a bit longer. While there are routes that I love to do, last year I tried to not repeat a route too often, but to explore some new routes, which is a lot of fun. The other thing that happened is more solo riding, which is a different experience from riding with other people. There is a contemplative and meditative aspect to that type of riding that I love.

Before going for a ride I'll think about where to go and how far. I'll look on a map to seek out new routes which sometimes works out well and sometimes does not. What looks good on a map may not be good on the ground with some roads being in pretty bad shape (which is how I got a flat last year after a stretch on a dirt road at the 25 km mark of a 50 km ride). Loops are fun and retracing steps are not as fun for me. Figuring out the best route to fit distance goals is a nice challenge.

This year I want to get around Nova Scotia a bit more and New Brunswick too. Riding along the trails in the Annapolis Valley from Wolfville up to Berwick was fun last year and I want to keep exploring that (and it looks as those they're connecting more this summer too). The trails on the South Shore are fun with the wonderful Aspotogan Loop as a route I want to get back on. In New Brunswick there are a lot of bike trails to explore too. Fredericton has an amazing collection of trails with many of them paved, which makes the riding smooth and comfortable. Beside Sackville, NB there is a trail that goes to Port Elgin which has been a goal of mine for a while.

While riding I keep it simple without a mount for my iPhone or with a cycling computer display. The only thing I see regularly is the heart rate display of my Polar heart rate monitor on the watch that lets me know if I am in the zone or not and the time of day and the time of the ride. It's great to be present and in the world while riding and keeping it simple is important to me. But while I'm in the moment for most of my ride, there is a lot of data that I collect on the ride to look at later.

My analytical toolkit keeps expanding. Over the past few years I've been using Cyclemeter to keep track of my rides. It uses GPS to keep track of the routes I follow and after each ride a summary gets emailed to me and the data shared with Strava. With a Wahoo Bluetooth Speed and Cadence Sensor there is more accurate speed data as well as a recording of the effort that I'm making while pedalling. I'm augmenting my Polar FT4 heart rate monitor with a Bluetooth H7 that will record my heart rate as I go which will be interesting to see.

The simplest way of tracking my rides is by distance and for years I've been using Your Flowing Data to keep track of that and still do. I'll send a DM via Twitter to record the kms I've ridden. But with the more detailed data collected by Cyclemeter, I can see my route on a map along with the altitude and with the Bluetooth sensors for cadence, I can see the effort I'm making in pedalling. By sharing the data with Strava there is a more social aspect to my workouts, and that feed goes into Day One as an entry and also gets saved in Zenobase.

My weight visualized in Zenobase

The other part of this journey to a healthier and documented life is that I've also been keeping track of what I eat along with the calories burned with the Lifesum app. My Fitbit is my constant companion to keep track of the steps I take and that syncs with Lifesum and I use the Sync Solver app to bring the Fitbit data into Apple's Health app. I weigh myself every morning with my Wii Fit balance board and by keeping track of my calories and exercise I've been able to lose 25 pounds since November. With all the data I'm collecting it's relatively easy to see how all those parts fit together, and that makes me happy and healthy.

Eating healthier and losing weight means that I'm in much better shape beginning biking this year than I even was at the end of last year. Yesterday I was feeling ambitious and took a 100km ride. In the first part of the ride I had some of my best times for some of the sections which is great because my goal was distance, not speed. The route that I took started out by going up a mountain and then it becomes mostly flat with a combination of back roads and trails. The highlights were a nice lunch at Tia's Kitchen in Aylesford (a tasty veggie breakfast burrito) and getting a growler refilled at Bad Apple Brewhouse with some tasty and rare Mosaic Double IPA. Having little rewards along the way make every bike ride a bit more special.