Time Series Errors in Garmin Activities

The short guide to fixing time series errors

When uploading to Strava you may get an error that the “time series” is missing and your workout cannot be uploaded. This can even happen after Garmin Connect has successfully loaded from the same device; but the strange time and straight-line graphs hint that something wasn’t right.

You can export the TCX file and edit it to remove the error and then upload the corrected version.

The TCX file is in XML format. It may look scary, but there is a simple pattern: each data point is enclosed within a “Trackpoint” tag.  Your recordings will have more or less tags depending on the sensors being recorded.

<Trackpoint>

<Time>2014-03-10T02:36:23.000Z</Time>
<Position> <LatitudeDegrees>-35.30690263956785</LatitudeDegrees> <LongitudeDegrees>149.08046174794436</LongitudeDegrees>
</Position>
<AltitudeMeters>579.5999755859375</AltitudeMeters> <DistanceMeters>59299.0</DistanceMeters>
<HeartRateBpm> <Value>171</Value> </HeartRateBpm>
<Cadence>77</Cadence>
<Extensions>
<TPX xmlns="http://www.garmin.com/xmlschemas/ActivityExtension/v2"> <Speed>5.556000232696532</Speed> </TPX>
</Extensions>

</Trackpoint>

But how do you find the time?

The “Time” tag has the date and time. Sometimes the date can leap into the future. (I’ve never noticed time jumping.)  For example, <Time>2014-03-10T02:36:28.000Z</Time> leapt ten years ahead at the next recording point <Time>2024-05-20T02:36:38.000Z</Time> on one of my rides. It took me 18,000 hours to cross a 100m long bridge, which was the first sign of trouble. 

Fix it

  1. Open the file in Notepad (or similar text editor)
  2. Scroll to the end of the file and look for a time tag and copy the dodgy date.
  3. Scroll to the top of the file
  4. Find (CTRL + F) and paste the date.  Click find to look for the first instance of the dodgy date.
  5. Replace (CTRL + H) the dodgy date with the correct date and replace all.
  6. Save As… select All Files, amend the filename, but keep the TCX extension.  (If you don’t deselect “Text (.TXT)” you’ll get a text file that will not upload to Strava.)
  7. Upload the file to Strava.

Does Garmin Express and Modern Garmin Connect suck? Then this might help

I’ve been using Garmin Connect for several months; firstly with the Garmin Fit iPhone app and later with a Garmin Edge 500.  I have been logging in to Garmin Connect and connecting the 500 by USB for upload.  And then repeat to upload to Strava.  (The 510 and 810 can connect by wi-fi to a phone and upload from there.)

Garmin recently updated the Connect website with spiffy, new features and a clean, new look.  However, it thought best to remove the upload button, apparently to reclaim valuable screen space.  To upload (or sync) to the Modern Garmin Connect, one must install the Garmin Express application.  Since Garmin Express works for my Nüvi navi and handles syncing and software updates in one place, it seemed reasonable to use instead of the old MyGarmin dashboard.

But the 500 worked once with Garmin Express, syncing to both Connect and Strava.

The next time I tried Garmin Express, the time zone software update appeared for installation, even though I had installed it the old-fashioned way with MyGarmin after it had failed.  Sync failures would be explained as the PC not finding an ANT+ adapter, which is applicable to the Forerunner range.  Since the 500 was connected by USB, an ANT+ Adapter is irrelevant.

The workaround was to temporarily revert Garmin Connect to its ‘classic’ view with upload button.  But the classic view won’t last forever.

Was the Garmin Communicator browser plug-in clashing with Garmin Express, as some forums suggested?

The solution came by installing the ANT Agent from Garmin, which made Garmin Express happy.  The ANT Agent will display a warning that it can’t find the ANT adapter.  Ignore this error, since now your Garmin Edge 500 (or other device connected by USB) will be recognised.  Possibly.

Syncing from Garmin Express will upload to Garmin, just as nature intended.

I hope that helps.  I hope it works.

UPDATE: July 2015

Forget all of that.  Uninstall Garmin ANT Agent and any other Garmin plugins and whatnot.  The latest versions work.  Since a few updates ago, the Garmin Connect and Garmin Express combination appear to be working according to spec.  Sometimes it takes its time to recognise my 500, sometimes it forgets to auto-upload to Strava and sometimes it auto-uploading everything twice, but it is working.

I have Garmin Communicator Plugin 32-bit and x64 v4.1.0, Garmin Express 4.1.3.0 and Garmin USB Drivers v 2.3.1.0 (to support a Garmin USB ANT+ adapter).

Keeping track of cycling and training

I’m starting to get a bit serious about cycling.  It’s one thing to ride every weekend (regardless of weather) and put down the k’s, it’s another to establish a training program.

(Spoiler alert: I do not have a fully-fledged training program yet, but I’m getting together the pieces.)

Tracking

A fairly simple step is to track activity.  I’ve used MapMyRide, Strava and now Garmin Fit to keep track of my rides.  My current preference is Garmin Fit because it is easy in Australia to find accessories that are compatible with it, whereas both MapMyRide and Strava work with proprietary adapters. (That’s probably true of the Garmin too, but at least I can get Garmin stuff.)

Sharing with others is not essential.  Websites will not compare your times to others if you mark your rides as ‘private’, so you won’t know where you sit in the pack.  I suggest that you keep rides public.  If you are at the back of the pack, so what!  I tend to be at the rear for climbs, but nearer the front on flat or downhill sections.  What does that tell me?

Recording

The parameters that you record will have a big impact on what you can analyse.  The combination of parameters may even influence the accuracy of the analysis:

  • Speed, distance and time can be recorded on a classic cycle computer for a few bucks.  You could fiddle and produce an upload file for analysis, but just buy a GPS device instead.
  • Using GPS gives position at a given time and therefore speed, distance and time second by second.  You also get elevation over time, which means slope or grade. With grade and distance you can see climbs in terms of category.
  • Cadence is the rotational speed of your pedalling measured in revolutions per minute (rpm).  Most cheap cycle computers have cadence.  Knowing your cadence on a road bike is especially useful when attempting endurance rides, where a high cadence usually means longer endurance.  On a mountain bike cadence is trickier to maintain because of the variation in terrain and speed.
  • Knowing your Heart Rate is very important for training.  Understanding which heart rate zone you are in will have a big impact on the effectiveness of your training.
  • Power is useful, but very expensive to monitor.  Some indoor trainers can be used to measure power as a function of speed, load and cadence.  But to measure on the bike, you are looking at $1600-2000 for pedal, crank or hub sensors.

Analysis

If you rode the same route on a few occasions, then your best time would mean the fastest and the best ride, right?  But what if one day the traffic light faeries were smiling, the traffic was light and you didn’t have to stop or even slow down.  The total time taken is not a reliable guide.

However, your times on a defined section of road (or track) are comparable and often give a good indication of performance.  As you improve from fitness or technique, you’ll find yourself beating old times or matching old times with

MapMyRide, Strava and Garmin Connect all have graphs and averages and maps and stuff.  It is up to your taste which one suits you.  I liked MapMyRide, but the website was clunky (since improved).  I used Strava app on iPhone until I bought the Garmin ABT+ adapter that it wouldn’t recognise.  So now I use Garmin Fit on iPhone and upload the GPX files to Strava with premium membership.  The extra features are just about worth it, especially if you have a heart rate monitor and/or power meter.

BTW, using Garmin Fit as my app means that I can’t see live Strava segment times.  Probably for the best that I just ride steadily and not try to beat a particular time.

Yes, but how did you feel about that?

I’m starting to record how I felt during the ride as a score out of 10.  This can be more useful than time.  If you feel crappy, then there may be something wrong with your training, position on the bike, clothing or general mental well-being.    Some days you should stay off the bike and some days being on the bike can make it better.

Hint: I get cheered up whenever a warm breeze blows, as one did on an otherwise cold and calm Canberra morning last Tuesday (scored 9/10).  The trick is to keep up there even when the breeze turns cold.

Recently I’ve been up and down in how I’m feeling but my times have been my best or close to my best.  And I’ve re-based the score so an old 10/10 is now 7.5/10 to give me a bit more room at the top.

Coach

As luck would have it, my boss is not only a racer on- and off-road but also a level 2 accredited cycling coach.  It has been great to discuss my weekend’s riding and get expert analysis.  Every week I’ve been able to make a little change or notice a subtle difference, whether it be maintaining high cadence or knowing what part of a climb to attack.

I also subscribe to http://www.cycling-inform.com for tips.  I haven’t bought any of their training packages yet, but the combination of a Kirk Kinetic indoor trainer and training DVDs seems a good way to learn.

Noticed anything?

In the past two months I’ve noticed a real improvement in my fitness.  I’ve been slowly improving my times since 30/12/2012, but the recent changes have been fairly dramatic.  Sections that used to knock me out are now covered much easier.  Climbs that had me redlining at 195 bpm (or higher!) are now peaking at 180-185 bpm.  On a very steep and loose section I briefly hit 199 bpm but my heart rate started to fall, even though I still had a few minutes left on that climb and averaged 175 for a very tough section.  And I rode the whole thing.

When I ride with my colleague, I can converse with little effort while he is struggling for breath and I spend most of my time in zones 1 and 2 (or 2 and 3, if you use the Garmin zones).

It seems that the endurance riding I did during Winter never allowing my legs to get lactic is paying off.  I recently completed some steep climbs nearby at a 95% effort and didn’t feel any soreness afterwards.  The theory is that low-intensity distance riding builds capillaries throughout the muscles and if you get lactic during that time, the capillaries burn and the effort is lost.  When your muscles have dense capillaries, you can feed and remove waste much more easily.  Therefore it is easier to push harder without the burn while you’re riding or the pain afterwards.

There’s still a way to go.  But seeing the green shoots of fitness and some further weight loss is more than enough encouragement to aim for longer and harder challenges.  Such as riding the 140km Canberra’s Centenary Trail in a day next weekend or attempting a 200km Audax.

Measure for measure

 

Garmin Fit (Yet Another Cycling App!)

I’ve moved to yet another iPhone app for cycling.  In my defence, Garmin has the best GPS (in general) and support and a free and comprehensive website, viz. Garmin Connect.

What to buy

I couldn’t quite spring for $399 for a Garmin 510 bundle:

  • I’d just bought a bike and spent all of my money;
  • I bought a DuoTrap integrated cadence and speed sensor for it;
  • A conventional speed and cadence sensor won’t fit on my MTB, probably;
  • I have a lovely Suunto M2 HRM, but it is ANT, which is not compatible with ANT+;
  • I really only wanted to interface a HR belt to my iPhone.

As luck (or design) would have it, the Garmin ANT+ iPhone adapter will not work with Strava or MapMyRide.  Forget interoperability!  I could buy a compatible adapter and belt from the Internet, but I wanted one that was locally supported.

Garmin Fit App

So, I bought the Garmin Fit app.  It happily detected my ANT+ Adapter (in fact, the iPhone switches to the Garmin Fit app when the adapter is plugged in), the DuoTrap and the HR belt.  The interface is simple and attractive and the display pages, while not configurable, are at least logically arranged:

  1. Map, time, distance and music controls;
  2. Time, distance, speed, calories;
  3. Heart Rate, Average HR, Cadence, Average Cadence;
  4. Power, 3s Power, Average Power; Lap Power;
  5. Max Power

Activities seem to be limited to Running, Cycling, Walking and Other, but that is only the simple app interface.  Once the activity is synced to the Garmin Connect website there’s many more options and sub-categories to choose from.  Changing location from Outdoors to Indoors will switch off GPS, which is useful for recording heart rate while on a stationary bike or cross-trainer.  Sensors are detected very quickly.

Garmin Connect

The matching website presents a lot of data.  If you have a cadence sensor the website will show the number of pedal strokes you did.  The analysis features compare similar rides that you have ridden; there’s no segments posted by others to compare to.  So I export each ride as a TCX file to upload to Strava for sharing.

I’ll write more about the website in a future post, including how to upload data from a Tanita scale.

Battery Fail – Garmin ecoroute HD

ScanGauge II
ScanGauge II (Photo credit: bikesandwich)

After being in denial for several months, I’ve finally bothered to check if the devices attached to the OBDC-II port affect battery life.  They do.

I have a Scangauge-e and a Garmin ecoroute HD attached by double adapter to the OBDC-II port.

The Scangauge sleeps when the car is turned off and wakes when the car wakes to pump up the brake pressure when the driver’s door is opened before being started.

The Garmin ecoroute HD is always thinking, according to the Garmin Knowledge Base.

Question:  Will the ecoRoute HD drain power from the car’s battery when not in use?
Answer:
The ecoRoute HD accessory only draws small amounts of the car’s battery power. There should never be any instances of the accessory causing the battery in the car not to function correctly.Note that ecoRoute HD will be powered and working even when not connected to a compatible Garmin device or application.
Last modified on:  10/10/2011

Well… small amounts of the car’s battery is significant when the battery is very small, as it is in the Prius.  At least the article points out that power is drawn at all times.

Last weekend I was staying in Sydney and I made a point of unplugging the OBDC adapter each time I handed the car over to the valet.  Even with using the car every day I didn’t want the risk of flattening the battery.

Only problem with unplugging each time is that the ecoroute HD has to reconnect to the GPS, a ritual that can only be completed when standing perfectly still.

So I’m trying with just the Scangauge attached to see what drain occurs overnight with a full battery…

Mt Stromlo – Lost and Found

Funny ride today at Mount Stromlo.  Beautiful day to have another go at Loop 2 to avenge my poor performance last time.

Lost – Granny Ring

Changing my old Sachs chain for a new Shimano seemed a great idea at the time.  Sadly, I forgot to compare the number of links with the old chain.  A sudden attack of chain suck indicated a tight link; not unusual with a new chain.  Then I realised that the rear derailleur couldn’t take up enough of the chain to clear the rear cluster when on the smallest front chainring.  I could only access the 2 lowest gears at the rear when on the granny ring at the front.

I didn’t have my chain breaker tool and I wasn’t sure that I could reuse the pins anyway.  (UPDATE: You can use any pin.  Just press them out far enough so that they remain attached to the other link. I took 4 big links or 8  links in total off the new chain.)

On the plus side, I should probably be using the middle chainring anyway; you just can’t get over obstacles when you are spinning the pedals.  Despite this the pedals took a beating (I really must pay more attention) on rocks, tree roots and the trail itself.  I saw a large chunk of a plastic pedal on the track after a rather nasty obstacle.  I feared that the studs I had extended would be bent and snapped, but all was well, if a little scratched.

Lost – XC Loop 2

Revenge postponed.  Loop 2 was closed from Red Rock Lookout, about halfway.  (This also affected Loop 4.)  So today Loop 3: rating Intermediate / Advanced with a suggested ride time of 60 to 90 minutes.

Found – mad skillz and power

I was surprised at how many sections I was able to clear.  Loop 3 is challenging with a lot of rocks right in the middle of the lovely track you’re riding. As previously reported, my new Shimano Saint flat pedals and my wider stance as a result has given me much better balance and somewhat better power from my legs.  Several times I was all but stationary on an obstacle and managed to get the power down on the right line and clear it.  I did plenty of walking (there are sections that defy belief) but I rode sections that I barely walked on Loop 2.

Found – Lost Garmin

At 14:40 I found a Garmin 500/510 on the side of the track on Shady’s, still running.  I’d let 3 overtake me and there was a group of about 8 riders that had left the previous junction just ahead of me.  It shouldn’t be too hard to find someone looking for a missing computer.  If I had to stand in the carpark and yell “Lost Garmin!” and see who came running.  Worst case I’d put a message on Garmin Connect.

At 14:50 I met a rider coming the wrong way, one who had overtaken me earlier.  Sure enough, it was his Garmin.  Shane then spotted my vintage Cannondale Super v 700 SX and then we chatted about his bike, a Specialized Stumpjumper and discussed what bike I should buy next.  (The 2011 Specialized Camber Elite XXL on special at The Cyclery.)  He answered a call from his friends with the good news.  After a few minutes and a good yak, we started the right way up the track.  Despite the track doubling back on itself, Shane was soon out of view.

Lost – Loop 3

The signposting on Mt Stromlo is generally good, if sparse.  Some loops share sections.  I’m sure that one day I’ll learn all the tracks.  This is especially useful when there are trail options… or if I need the fastest way back to the carpark for whatever reason.

I reached the end of one trail and there was no signpost to greet me.  I rode to a nearby trail end and found a sign for Loop 4 and 6; no mention of 3.

So I rode Missing Link (blue and unnumbered) until I found a sign for Dingos.  I had to ride some distance from the sign and turn sharply to enter the trail; 2 warning signs I shouldn’t have ignored.

Lost – all sense of direction

“Dingos” was great fun; tight berms, some drops, trees at my shoulders.  A good skills challenge.  However at the end of the trail the sign was facing the wrong way.  Or rather… I had just ridden Crimtrac the wrong way!

Comparing my MapMyRide trace to the Loop 3 map it seems that I missed the Telegraph Junction and ended up on the wrong side of Crimtrac; and you don’t want that!)

Two riders were just about to enter Crimtrac the right way.  Keep them in my sights and I should be OK.  I let them pass (nice track stand in a wide part of the trail) and struggled to keep them in eye- or ear-shot.  At the end of Crimtrac I could see them climbing towards Dingos, so at least I’d ride that the right way.

Found – Loop 3

I was now on the downhill stretch.  There were small climbs and uphill berms to negotiate, but the vibe was “coming home”.  MapMyRide had me quite close to the carpark, but there’s an unknown number of twists and turns to get there.

Stats from the ride

I switched off the auto-pause feature on MapMyRide because I was concerned that any slow sections might be interpreted as pauses and may under-report my true times, putting me at the top of the leaderboard on any courses I rode.

I stopped a few times; to check the chain, deflate my tyres, take a “natural break”, decide whether I wanted to play anymore and handed back a lost Garmin Edge computer.  Riding the same track twice doesn’t help.  The track also stopped a km or two from the finish, for some reason.  My real time was probably just under 2 hours.

  • Distance 17.53km
  • Time 2:23:56.  Somewhat more than the suggested ride time of 60-90 minutes.
  • Climbs Cat 4 and Cat 5
  • Calories 2548
  • Heart Rate: Ave 177, peak 197, 62% was above zone 3.

Found

I’m really happy that those happy accidents happened. I found that I could finish Loop 3 without too much bother, negotiate gnarly obstacles (mostly), help someone and get lost and find so much.

 

ScanGauge e – and a big thanks to Jon

I read a Prius forum based in the USA, I’ve joined what seems to be the only Prius club in Australia, which is based in Queensland and apart from the white GenII with the Tesla sticker I see in Belconnen, there doesn’t seem to be a hardcore Prius scene in Canberra.  I see a few Gen II, Gen III and Prius v, but none seem to have been modified or tinkered with in any way.

So it has taken me from Australia Day until the end of September to finally meet someone who knows his LOD from his LHK.

Jon was visiting Canberra for Floriade (you really must see it) and took some time away from his family to meet me, talk Prius and sell me a ScanGauge-e.  Here’s the thing… the reason he had one for sale is that he had already reached the limit of 4 ScanGauges daisy-chained together and couldn’t fit any more.

Image
Jon has not 1, but 4 ScanGauges and a tyre pressure monitor in his Gen II. Every conceivable piece of data captured.

As mentioned, I already use a Garmin 2460LT GPS and Garmin Mechanic with ecoRoute™ HD.  The ecoroute captures data from the OBDCII port and transmits them by Bluetooth to the GPS for display.  It is even clever enough to store capture data until the GPS is connected.

In my short time of using the ScanGauge-e I can say that there’s a fair degree of overlap with the functions in the ecoroute.  However, there’s a difference in how data are presented: The Garmin has separate screens for Fuel Consumption, ‘eco score’, 5 gauges (out of a choice of 12) and of course the map.  ScanGauge-e has a 2 line dot matrix display that can display two parameters from a choice of 19 and a fuel consumption graph.  Both have a method of recording fuel used, but whereas the ecoroute records each fill up on a spreadsheet, the ScanGauge uses the data to calibrate and calculate Distance to Empty and similar functions.  Since the DTE function on the Prius is incredibly conservative (I drove 35 km beyond the DTE = 0km mark at freeway speeds and still had 4 litres of fuel left) having an independent DTE is a boon, especially if I want to hit my first 1000 km tank in relative safety.

Jon helped with the initial set-up and calibration.  I even had to fill up, which is the time to start the calibration.  Only problem was the fuel price set at $75.0.  Despite holding the button in, the value took a long time to change.  Of course, the hidden cents value was dropping rapidly, but only the tens of cents value was displayed.  Today I used a handy clamp to wind the price back to a more realistic cost per litre.  Only took 20 minutes to reach $1.46.

Image
My clamp-based, button-holding, value-reducing solution.  Halfway there

Makeshift installation was a bit wiry.  The OBDCII splitter worked fine (you can’t always feed OBDC data to two devices). The main issue was the amount of cable to conceal and devices to place.  Today I re-installed all of my devices in the interests of safety and efficiency.  I routed the cables under the steering column, using some unused switch blanks to enter and exit the dash.

Image
Neat. In a fashion

Nice.