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Polar Vantage V + Wahoo in the Pyrenees the5krunner Cycling, Tests & Experiences

Polar Vantage V + Wahoo in the Pyrenees the5krunner Cycling, Tests & Experiences

I can’t even blame an alcoholic stupor for inadvertently reserving onto a biking expedition throughout the Pyrenees. I simply merely forgot that I don’t like going up hills that a lot and received starry-eyed and blinded by the considered being the first individual to cycle from the Atlantic to the Med throughout the Pyrenees.

OK. Let me make clear that.

  1. I don’t drink. Besides on particular events like biking up the Tourmalet
  2. I may need been the first individual to cross from coast-to-coast that week. Although in all probability not.
  3. I actually don’t like biking up hills.

I went with a pal or two on an organised journey. You can fairly simply organise the similar journey your self however I figured that it was WAY simpler to have somebody carry my stuff in a van. There are many organisations doing very comparable journeys together with Raid Pyrenean, Exodus and Marmot Excursions. The previous appear to need to full the journey in four days and four hours. I took longer than that and wish to assume that my route was more durable, larger and concerned extra alcohol than theirs.

I’m match. However it was robust. I did, kind of, practice for it by way of HIM coaching.

In hindsight the Pyrenees just isn’t as onerous as you may assume whenever you take a look at a few of the elevation profiles additional on in the publish. Most leisure cyclists would comparatively simply have the ability to full the sea-to-sea journey and throw in a number of well-known TdF cols in 6 or 7 days. IMO it’s NOT as onerous as an Ironman, though it’s robust in a special method eg while I’ve finished many comparatively exhausting rides of over 100 miles I’d by no means completed them on back-to-back days.

Sufficient of me. This publish is about ‘Gadgets on Tour‘. As, once again, the Magnificent 7 of Wahoo, Polar, Garmin, Humon, Shimano and Favero explore places new. OK. OK. It’s 6 I do know. 7 sounds higher.

Package Listing: Inappropriate Cervelo S3 street bike (R3); applicable Wahoo Elemnt; Polar Vantage V + Polar H10; Garmin 935 + HRM-TRI; Humon Hex; Shimano Di2 + different Shimano Bits; Specialised Evade + Saddle; and plenty of bits of lycra together with some new Boratesque bib shorts from ASSOS (birthday current, thanks). The Shimano wheels have been in all probability not as inappropriate as you assume as there have been many sections that weren’t hilly – I did have a tubeless climbing wheel choice however didn’t fancy the faff of getting a non self-sealing puncture.

Ocean Listing: Atlantic and Mediterranean.

Col Listing: d’Osquich, d’Aubisque, du Soulor, du Tourmalet, d’Aspin, de Peyresourde, des Ares, de Portet-Aspet, de Pailheres, and a few others that I can’t be bothered to record as I feel I’ve included the ones which may impress you already ? …or not. The climbs added as much as 1.5x the peak of Everest…or so somebody in my group stated.

This illustrates my aggressive streak while successfully on vacation.

  • Not falling off or breaking something.
  • Not dropping something.
  • Sometimes (however not typically) beating a correct bike owner to a, often secret, random level of my selecting on the route.
  • Prime #1 Strava phase (climb)…for someday. We began early and I made positive I instantly uploaded the stats at the prime of the col after which logged into STRAVA for a display shot as ‘proof’ of my awesomeness. I assumed I had completed notably nicely on that day and noticed no level in logging in to Strava later in the day as I couldn’t think about anybody going quicker. Hmmm.
  • One prime 10 Strava phase place…all time. Yay…I now have 2 Prime 10s.
  • Doubling the quantity of energy I usually eat and never placing on weight.
  • Not getting cramp.

Hey! All of us do it.

  • My common reader will know that my bike dealing with expertise depart one thing to be desired. So taking place a typically bumpy mountain street and topping 85kmh was scary (knowledge verified by ALL my units and moderated by STRAVA). If I had the proper gearing and will take my velocity via the hairpins at greater than 5kmh I might see how it might be attainable to go rather a lot quicker. #Scarier
  • Arriving with out charging up my Di2: As DCR is aware of, I modify gear a LOT. As a result of I can. Fortunately I had the foresight to deliver a charger for the whole lot, together with Shimano Di2.
  • Charging the whole lot. Each night time. I maintain the foremost units recording all the time throughout the day, even throughout stops (it’s what I do). So every little thing wanted charging to make sure it might full the subsequent day. The idiocy second was solely bringing one worldwide adapter. It was all advantageous, though I feel the 935 ran out of juice in the direction of the finish of in the future nevertheless it didn’t miss something of word.
  • Having the Humon Hex ‘Interval’ CIQ knowledge subject on show for the first day #Sigh. Modified to Endurance knowledge subject.
  • Not having a particular web page filled with climbing stats on my Wahoo. Although I did treatment this after a few days. I’d beforehand by no means actually noticed the level of getting to point out ‘grade’. Lastly. I perceive.
  • Consuming alcohol most evenings
  • Doing a Polar Orthostatic check each morning (ish) once I didn’t actually need to and being sceptical that it appeared to all the time say that my Cardio system was good to go. I completed the journey, so I assume it was good to go.

Aside from the unexpectedly good climate listed here are some photograph highlights and related gadget insights and feedback. Listed here are some phrases and pictures about the journey with a distinctly gadget and package focus

Day 1

Beginning out at Hendaye you might have a pleasant seashore with the sea in your left. With some trepidation you already know that in a number of days time you’ll be at a unique sea and it is going to be in your proper. Identical to on the maps.

However the maps and atlases of faculty days quickly give option to the full glory of STRAVA which concurrently offer you a fowl’s-eye view of the route in addition to the devilishness of the climbs to return.


We begin in Basque nation. They both have their very own flag or their youngsters are very poor at colouring in the British Union Flag. You possibly can see, under the flag, the compulsory Garmin Edge units already on the desk earlier than we had even began. There have been additionally a notable variety of Wahoos on the journey as nicely. The occasions they’re a changin’ Mr Garmin. However what struck me most was that after every day’s experience we might all use STRAVA. Clearly I’ve used STRAVA earlier than however by no means fairly in this manner the place everybody sits round a desk and tries to discover a specific angle on STRAVA the place their efficiency was in a way, some how, higher than everybody else’s. Such competitors was all good-natured however the means that STRAVA was getting used was shocking to me (and clearly helpful as all of us had it to match like with like).


In the Alps a number of weeks in the past I appear to keep in mind that I found out depth-of-field. However I’d forgotten once more when it got here to the Pyrenees..


So; I discovered it a lot simpler to cease making an attempt to be a intelligent photographer and resort to primary photographs like this to show the place I’d been. 500m a.s.l. ! Pah. Nothing. as we will see.

The stats stated that day 1 seemed one thing like this

However my reminiscence is NOT having fun with the lovely surroundings and watching the street. The view was principally like this however from a barely totally different angle

The stats nonetheless hang-out you although at each flip and at each pint of beer. It felt like I would wish greater than the 33 hours proven under however Garmin  stated ‘No’. By the finish of the week I had just about broke Polar Vantage V’s coaching standing measure. Extra on that later.


Day 2

All the pictures won’t be fairly in the proper order. You’ll get the drift of issues…Flat bit…lengthy uphill bit…tremendous speedy downhill bit. Every one blurs into the subsequent. Every one sometimes concerned at the least one bloomin’ nice huge hill. Like this on day 2

A few of these travelling with me knew my ‘secret identity’ and some others kinda realised that the ‘idiot always taking pictures of a watch‘ had an ulteria motive. Anyway I promised AB his moment of fame and here it is. He was/is one of the proper cyclists on the trip and this was the sun tan to prove it – BEFORE we even set off. AB probably trains as much as me per week but JUST at cycling AND he also has better genes (and a better bike, Cervelo R5). Although I’m unsure his legs look higher than mine…

One factor I like about France is that there are wall murals (indoors and out) that look cool to me as a Foreigner. Perhaps London is the similar to somebody from France? Perhaps, however I don’t assume so.

Anyway, regardless of that wanting fairly cool that coolness was not how I felt at the prime of the Col d’Aubisque. This surroundings was comparatively uncommon for the Pyrenees and extra ‘starkly stoney’ than elsewhere. Lovely, however.

The good factor with the Col d’Aubisque is that there are not any youngsters BUT there’s a youngsters’ playground…aka some bike statues (to the left of the picture). The ‘grown ups’ can have hours of enjoyable taking pictures of themselves climbing on them. Because it’s France there are: no well being and security warnings; no-one to shout out at you, or tut-tut; and nothing is fenced off.

like this

I additionally love the signage each at the prime and at the backside of the climbs. I suppose the stickers are graffiti or vandalism however they DO appear so as to add one thing to the visible expertise,

Then it was on to the Col du Soulor. This chart might be how Garmin’s ClimbPro would look if I had managed to get it working. ClimbPro in all probability would have helped the professional’s however I think that, if something, I might have discovered it just a little de-motivational to know that there was a lot extra climbing to do each time I checked out the Garmin Edge.

Day three

There was no such factor as a simple day. It began out at breakfast. I needed to eat about three or four occasions as a lot as I usually would. Positive; in the event you like consuming. However day after day it received progressively more durable. Nonetheless, perhaps these additional energy have been why I didn’t cramp up? #NotABadThing

The outlets have gotten in on the “somewhat morbid-looking climb monuments“. They look live gravestones. but in a nice way. This bike shop seemed to be doing good business. Whilst the signage advertises the ascent it doesn’t always tell you how far you have to go. With the Tourmalet it was something like 19km of CONTINUOUS climbing probably mostly at a 7-9% gradient on a good road surface. Trust me, it’s going to take you more than an hour even if you don’t stop. Probably WAY more than an hour for some of you. And then you will have AT LEAST another 4 hours of other cycling later that day too which, as you can see above, involves yet another non-trivial climb for a mere mortal.

When you do finally get to the top of the Col du Tourmalet the staff at the local cafe are very welcoming. Unless, that is, you are a member of Team SKY.

The Tourmalet is the famous place with that statue that some of your friends have had their pictures taken in front of and posted on those Facebook pages that you were never too sure about. Yet, when you get there you will probably do the same thing.

I didn’t.

Instead I took a picture of my Wahoo Elemnt and my lovely Speccy helmet. It’s what I do. I’m happy. Leave me alone. I don’t hurt anyone else ;-). The pretty Polar Vantage also photo-bombed this one

One of the great things about having the Wahoo was that it just did precisely what I wanted it to. It’s vaguely nice to look at but the screens/controls have been thought through by someone who understands cyclists rather than an engineer assigned to a UX/UI team. You can just see in the picture above the final part of the climb on the Wahoo (it’s the way the device is facing as the picture was taken). Trust me. When you are going down the other side at 40mph you REALLY want to know what is coming up after the next blind corner or you want to know how steep the next bend is. Most other CycleNav devices have prettier screens but they kinda over-pretty the info you really need to know ie the stuff that could kill you at >40mph. Red lines, blue lines overlaid with an as the crow flies line…c’mon I just want to CLEARLY know how steep the next bend is. It’s not so bad in the UK as normally road signage is good and, for example, the black/white chevrons on tight bends indicate the severity of the bend…that REALLY is NOT the case in France.

Suunto gave me a ‘snood’ a while back (thank you [email protected]). I was never quite sure what to do with it. I now know that it is great to put under a helmet to drain away the head sweat. It’ll probably add some warmth in winter too. Here’s the payback…Suunto on the Tourmalet..covered in my stinky head sweat. Livin’ the dream.

A little while later, a little hill later and yet another sign to take a picture of.

Whilst the descent down from the Tourmalet was a little hairy for my liking I soon gave up worrying about crashing and burning. The descent down from the subsequent Col d’Aspin, if memory serves, was one of the speedier and safer ones AND LOTS OF FUN. No time for photos

Day 4

Day 4 involved the mighty Col de Peyresourde as well as the Col des Ares and the Col de Portet d’Aspet. The mapped out plan looked something like this.


Day 4 had a good decent or two as well as the 3 climbs. I think this image was on the way up to the Col de Peyresourde after which the downhill would soon get bendier and MUCH faster than in this uphill segment. Pretty tho, huh?

Again!! It’s day 4 but I still haven’t learnt about depth of field.

The cols soon started blurring together in my mind. There were so many of them. There were also a lot of cyclists, even in September, who were celebrated and welcomed in equal measure throughout the Pyrenees. Errr….at least the thoughtful ones were:

Soon enough, a mere 800m hill almost seemed like a downhill section to look forward to.



By this point I’d spent quite a lot of time staring at the Moxy endurance data field on the 935 which was stem-mounted and facing the wrong way by 90 degrees…BUT green was still green (oxygen) and red was still red (much less oxygen) regardless of the way the Garmin faced. The Moxy seemed to detect quite well the point at which the going got tough. That was the point where it changed colour and seemed to get a tad harder (below around 50% SmO2), it seemed I could keep GREEN as a ‘forever pace’.

I also developed a technique that seemed to work for me when I could no longer spin sufficiently well. the technique was; every 5 minutes, or so, I would choose a slightly smaller cog and get out of the saddle for 30 seconds and perhaps spread the load onto some other muscles.

No doubt I’m not the first person ever to invent that. HOWEVER what WAS interesting was when I did that the SmO2 levels notably increased by, say, 5%. I took that either to be that I was recruiting other muscles or that blood flow to the thigh (RF) was made easier by my standing position. Or both.

There wasn’t much time to debate the finer points of getting up a hill before another one arrived.



A double whammy.

I did fiddle with my Wahoo screen layouts at some point during the week. I ended up with something like these which were taken later

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  1. Main Screen – this is my ‘general’ screen at the moment. The SmO2 automatically added itself and I haven’t yet removed it. As soon as I hit ‘lap’ on my left Di2 button, I tend to look at the lap screen as my main one.
  2. Lap – This is my current ‘lap’ screen and I probably use it most of the time. Be it for a lap of the park or just at some appropriate point where I decide to press lap. I’m definitely interested in instant power/HR and, less so, cadence. But the cumulative lapNP is useful when I am going for specific lap efforts – Lap NP is higher than Lap Power so it gives me a fuzzy warm feeling that I’m doing better than I probably am. Knowing what my last lap time was & last lap NP is a useful indicator for if I need to up the effort a little. Distance and SmO2 have crept in for no apparent reason that I can remember.
  3. Climb – This was the main screen that I added whilst in the mountains and, towards the end of the week, I used it a fair amount. The elevation profile at the bottom showed the upcoming hill (I was following a course/route) and it gives a decent indication of how far and high there is left to go as well as being zoomable. The grade data field is there to give me something to moan about to the person who is riding next to me and the gears at the top are a pretty cool way of confirming that there really are no more gears left, even though I would like there to be at least one more.
  4. The Map screen was most useful for pointing out the nature of the next blind bend. #Safety. But also for navigating assuredly through towns and villages.
  5. On the easier days and sections I thought I would try to rectify aspects of my pedalling (in)efficiency. My LR balance and right-side efficiency seem to have gone to pot and need to be improved. If anything, looking at the stats for extended periods made my technique worse. And I think the current imbalances were all caused by trying to improve my technique a couple of years ago. #LessonThereSomewhere



The Col de Port was followed by the Col du Chioula.

The sign below invited us to “Pick a hill. Any hill”. Truly it didn’t actually matter as we have been did them each. Right now was the Col du Chioula


This was my favorite day. Principally as a result of I used to be nonetheless capable of cycle and was nonetheless alive.

I felt capable of attempt arduous in the present day each on the Port de Pailheres, which I virtually loved, and in addition on the quick, downhill, down wind and freshly resurfaced roads to the coast which additionally handed by means of the intriguing Gorges de l’Aude.

With all the carbs from the earlier night time’s two pints of lager, I felt sufficiently fuelled to deal with the means up the Pailheres. By this level in the week I had developed a crafty STRAVA hill-climbing tactic for driving in teams. Right here it’s…

STRAVA Tactic: At the backside of a climb you must feign some kind of delicate mechanical or clothes situation. This ensures that you simply begin as much as 30 seconds behind everybody else. The remainder of the group will doubtless chat and usually faff round as they begin the climb and also you catch them up. The important thing factor to recollect now’s that, in response to STRAVA, for somebody to beat you on the climb phase they now need to beat you by 30 seconds. Once you get to the prime and are correctly drained then you’ll be able to slack off a bit of and graciously let another person simply ‘beat’ you by 10 seconds or so (aka they have been going to beat you anyway). You simply have to remain comparatively near them. Again at the lodge, the place it counts, stats and STRAVA will inform you that you simply beat that individual. Stats don’t lie. The opposite individual will even be completely happy as they technically beat you, albeit they have been slower. Hey. Everybody’s actually a winner.

There are two separate collection of twisting ‘Italian Job‘ bends on the climb up the Pailheres. I think these are the first bends.

And these the second lot. I could be wrong.

This bend, below, looked a bit like Box Hill. Then again, I suppose all the thousand or so other bends did too. I think this is taken from the point in the image above where you can just see our support van parked on a bend.

That’s me in second.

MOXY advised me I used to be ‘in the red’ while on a lot of the ascent to Col de Pailheres. My SmO2 dropped progressively from someplace round a cushty 50% to a scarily low 20+%, or so. I hoped at the time that was from climbing over a kilometre into thinner air however I assume the actuality was that I used to be making an attempt fairly exhausting to rise up a steep hill after 5 earlier days of doing precisely the similar factor..


In hindsight, making an attempt a bit more durable in the excessive 20s %age may need been sustainable for an extended interval.

Like me, the extra studious amongst you’ll climb the Col de Pailheres from the West and, having learn up on the climb, will realise that there’s a false ‘summit’ at the automotive park. ‘SMILE’ politely as your opponent grins and speeds away from you to the automotive park “summit” after which burns out. At the automotive park get out of your seat and dash to the actual summit. These individuals are your mates so simply THINK the phrase ‘LOL’ and DO NOT say it. By no means say LOL to a crushed bike owner, particularly if they’re almost all the time higher than you.

The beginning of the technical factor of the descent was nice, as proven under, I hadn’t but regained my mojo and didn’t actually take pleasure in it as a lot as I might. I’d been working towards leaning my bike into these bends and was informed that I ought to hold my bike extra upright and, as an alternative, lean my physique in. That made me nervous. And I REALLY needed to completely take pleasure in the super-speedy bit that was to return. Principally a time trial….and I DO know how you can do time trial efforts.


Lovely gorge. Blah blah. The place’s the time trial bit? I’m ready.

I haven’t acquired any pictures of the descent to the coast however it was really superior and quick as the entire group burnt each match we had left and labored collectively as a gaggle fairly properly.

If proof have been wanted, the Polar Vantage V informed me I had had a barely more durable than common week. Ahem…off the scale ..virtually…do I win a prize?


Disappointingly once we acquired to the different Sea I discovered it nonetheless to be on the left identical to once we began. #Confused. The extra clever amongst you might maybe clarify this geographical conundrum to me.