Simplifying Continued, now with Reasons

I forgot to mention my rationale for the ideas I mentioned in yesterdays post.

There's no doubt in my mind that using the type of hardware and software I'm using now for training is state of the art. I think my heartrate monitor is the absolute best, but my bike powermeter could be improved. The software I use is the best, period, but it is hopelessly Windows dependent, and while they've talked about making a Mac version of WKO+ on the private Wattage Google Group, the conclusion was that there wasn’t a business case for it. They only have Device Agent running on Mac for now.

Being a triathlete further complicates matters, as I can't use the same heartrate strap for my Ergomo as my Polar RS800, they use different frequencies, so in races I have to compromise one way or another. And I don't like to compromise.

There's a silver lining though. It seems several manufacturers are now starting to use the ANT+ protocol for wireless communication, so by the end of this year consumers will have a choice between the Garmin Edge 705, SRM PowerControl VI and Quarq Qranium cycling computers paired with either the latest SRM or Quarq CinQo cranks, with the Cycleops Powertap hubs following suit and gaining ANT+ capabilities sometime next calendar year it seems.

On the heartrate monitor front only Garmin makes their basic Forerunner 50 and advanced Forerunner 405 that are ANT+ compatible. I could certainly live with the Forerunner 405, at least as soon as Garmin finish their Mac drivers for it, because it use an ANT+ USB dongle for downloading data, instead of being a USB Mass Storage Device like the Edge 705 is.

Besides, Garmin have a useful developer website, unlike Polar and their rather awful Software Developer License Agreement; be sure to read “2. Grant of License”, that’s the unpalatable part for me. Polar have useful file format documentation though.

So if I was to start purchasing a heartrate monitor and bike powermeter for triathlon training again, I would buy an SRM Pro Solar crank, Quarq Qranium computer, which I like a lot, and a Garmin Forerunner 405, and then get started writing software that can merge powermeter and heartrate monitor files from a triathlon or a bike-run brick workout without so much hassle, and doing it all from Mac OS X (or any other OS preferably) and having a training blog to upload to.

That would rock, but it would also be a lot of work to make, and that was why I started thinking about simplifying as much as possible and using Suuntos “Training Effect”, but I think I’m mistaken in thinking that Training Effect is like TRIMPS, and Suunto seem to be even more closed, proprietary, everyone-runs-Windows-don’t-they? types than even Polar, and that is quite something.

There’s another alternative: keep using my Polar RS800 and change to a Polar CS600 bike computer, they both use Polars proprietary W.I.N.D. communication protocol, and will work with the supremely comfortable Wearlink+ chest straps. Then write the software to parse the files and calculate TRIMPS scores (I have some good ideas for a better TRIMPS score, but that’s another blog post), merge data etc. This plan hinge on somehow making the open source RS400 Tools work on Mac OS X with some sort of external IrDA port (really hard to find for Macs) and then hope that the Polar RS800 and CS600 devices use the same communication protocol as the RS400, which is not unresonable, but you never know.

I think I’ll have to suffer on as usual for a while at least, and then see if I can’t somehow get a fully ANT+ capable triathlon training suite of electronics that Just Works™ with Mac OS X, or go the Polar RS800/CS600 route, which is less optimal but much cheaper, probably financed entirely by selling my Ergomo.