Activity trackers are the latest ‘Big Thing’ for fitness enthusiasts, runners and those looking to record and improve on their health. So far though, they don’t really seems to have been considered that useful to cyclists. I think it is time to prove that assumption wrong…
Over the last month or so, I’ve been testing out the Fitbit Surge; one of the leading activity trackers on the market. Like many activity trackers, the Surge has the ability to measure your daily steps, floors climbed and calories burnt. However, it also has the ability to GPS track your activities, to constantly monitor your heart rate and to even monitor the quality of your sleep. It is these latter features in particular, which make it of a particular benefit to cyclists.
Constant heart rate monitoring
The Fitbit Surge uses an optical heart rate monitor, to take the pulse at your wrist and translate this into an accurate heart rate reading. Optical heart rate monitoring is hassle free, and means you do away with those annoying chest straps; the added benefit, is that you can monitor your heart rate constantly, even when you’re asleep!
Constant heart rate monitoring provides real insight. Not only does it allow you to accurately track your activity levels, but it also provides interesting feedback on your rested state. An elevated heart rate when you are resting (sleeping), suggests that your body is working overtime to fight infection or to repair itself; it is one of the best indicators that you should probably back off your training, and that’s an incredibly useful insight for cyclists and other sportspeople alike.
Sleep is essential to proper recovery. Using the optical heart rate technology and the Fitbit app, the Surge can also provide valuable insights into your sleep quality.
You can quantify how long you have sleep for, how many times you were awake, and how many times you were restless. The daily report is posted on your Fitbit dashboard, when you sync the Surge with your phone or tablet; it then allows you to identify when you are not sleeping well, as well as set target a sleep quota, to help maximise your recovery.
Cross training tracking
Many cyclists are data fanatics, and enjoy analysing their cycle computer reports on sites like Strava and Garmin Connect. When it comes to winter cross training though, it can be difficult to have the same number driven feedback.
The Surge overcomes that, and the GPS tracking allows you to track pace, distance, elevation and heart rate; on runs and walks, as well as cycle rides. The heart rate tracking can then also be used to track the intensity of indoor sessions, like those in the gym or on the rowing machine. The data will sync wirelessly with accounts like Strava too, so as well as having the numbers in real time, you can keep a record of your activities all in one place. For the data obsessed cyclist, it’s a dream.
Don’t shun those activity trackers if you’re a cyclist; they’re not just for gym goers. In fact, I think the Surge has proven to be as useful as my on-the-bike computer; providing insights into other key areas of my training and preparation. If you like looking at the numbers, and gain motivation from doing so, then this could be an awesome investment or gift.