Monday, June 02, 2014

The view from my handlebars

Call me an inveterate idealist, but I believe in the power of technology to enhance the way we lead our lives.

The cycling side of me has long embraced this world view, and one of my earliest geek experiences was attaching a bike "computer" to my handlebars. As laughably limited as that old Cateye Vectra was, it allowed me to know how far and how fast I had gone. I think the thing captured 4 or 5 basic metrics, but it was more than enough for me to grab the data after every ride and toss it into a spreadsheet.

Over time, that spreadsheet grew, and it served as a roadmap of the season. It made me want to ride more. It got me out the door on days I probably would have otherwise kept the bike parked. Because the numbers - and the technology that captured them - mattered.

Fast forward to today and the technology is a little more up-to-date. The Vectra is gone, replaced by a GPS-capable unit that records my rides in real-time, then syncs to a cloud-based service afterward so I can see where I've been and build a portfolio of routes.

Of course, if one doodad is good, then two of them would be even better. So last week I added a GoPro camera to the mix because rides are always more fun when you can return home and share them.

Sunday morning's ride was a proof-of-concept of sorts. Stick it on, get a feel for it, see what it'll do, learn the limits. I started with this short spin down a lonely stretch of London's bike path. If it makes you as nauseous to watch it as it does me, then we're onto something. Yet, I find myself looping it again and again - because being able to experience the moment again is a pretty magical thing.

In many respects, I'm right back to where I was when I was just starting out on two wheels: Capturing the data, sticking it into a spreadsheet, trying to remember what it felt like. The tools, courtesy of a wife and kids who know what moves me, may be far more sophisticated these days. But that relentless force that pulls you out the door when most sane people would be lounging in bed is, to put it none-too-subtly, burning as brightly in me now as it did then.

Let's ride...


Margie said...

That is so cool.
My husband is an avid bike rider, I must show him this post.

sisterAE said...

I like it. Except if I watch the clouds. It does something odd and jerky with the clouds.

Carmi Levy said...

Margie: Would love to hear what your husband thinks!

SisterAE: I think I fixed it. YouTube added some image stabilization processing that made some elements do strange things (the bar end, which should have been stable, ended up jumping all over the place, and the clouds at the top corners became wonky.

So I deselected the image stabilization and reprocessed the video back to its original form. It seems to look normal now.

Note to self: no more image stabilization. Thanks for letting me know!

Margie said...

He's been very bust with work and has not had a chance to look at it yet, soon though.

rashbre said...

Nice circuit and lovely conditions!

Just for fun, here's one of mine (less sunny!) :