It is hard to explain just what an amazing feeling it is to start paddling away off on a long easy paddle. More than the thrill and challenge of a race or the good feeling of accomplishing a hard workout, just the feeling of strength and power and accomplishment, it is what keeps me going out day after day. It’s a very zen state when your technique is good and the boat is moving effortlessly.
You know, there were a few times in my skiing and orienteering lives where I was in a state where everything was coming together effortlessly and it seemed like I was just a sponge for sensations. I’ve heard it described as “flow state”.
I can think of very specific days when it happened, like an orienteering meet at Hilton Falls where I felt like I barely had to look at my map, I just knew where I was and where I had to go. Frank Farfan was taking pictures at one of the controls and he said I was the only one who ran straight in and straight out of that control without a moments hesitation and the whole race was like that. I believe the picture he took of me ended up in the International Orienteering Federation newsletter.
Another time was on the second day of one of the Canadian Ski Marathons I did. It was a gorgeous day and I remember double poling down a gentle incline and passing a guy who said “Il fait beau, eh?” and that just summed up the entire day for me. Perfect skis, perfect wax, perfect snow, perfect day and a real feeling of being one with everything.
I was watching some YouTube videos the other day from a guy who had a v12 surfski with hatches and bulkheads that he was using for kayak tripping. I’d be damn tempted to go travel the waterways of Algonquin Park again like I did 40 years ago if I had hatches and bulkheads in my V8 Pro. They probably have sleeping pads that don’t hurt by now.
Garmin replied to my support ticket to say that they were working on a patch to fix my problem and they’d inform me when it was ready. Then yesterday when I plugged my Fenix into the computer it did install an update, but I wasn’t sure if it was “the one” because they didn’t inform me. I decided to take both the Fenix 6X and the Forerunner 920Xt out on the canal to make another comparison.
My impression while paddling is that I didn’t see any ridiculous speeds this time, but the Fenix was reading a little higher than the 920Xt much of the time. Also, by the middle of the paddle the Fenix had the distance about 20 meters further, and by the time I finished it was nearly 40 meters.
I threw both FIT files into DC Rainmaker’s Analyze tool and found a few things.
The first thing you see is that both tracks go a bit wonky around these bridges (and others not shown here). The purple line is the Fenix, and the blue line is the 920Xt. When I paddle downstream I tend to stick towards the middle of the canal (the upper lines) and when I return I tend to hug the inner shore. I can assure you I didn’t make a sudden jog to the left bank at Monroe Avenue as shown in the upper Fenix track or a sudden jog to the right shore as shown on both tracks. Same with the bridge at Schoen Place – the Fenix track shows me way too far north and the 920Xt track shows me making a sudden jog to the south, neither of which are correct. Overall the 920Xt seems to do a better job of showing my actual track, but the Fenix isn’t terrible.
Overall, it looks like the Fenix speed has been more aggressively smoothed, or maybe it’s not sampled as often. There’s a weird peak at the 16 minute mark where the 920Xt is showing 10.1 km/hr and the Fenix is showing 12.6, but otherwise they’re close. And not surprisingly, the spike occurs while passing under another bridge, State Street, which is also a steel bridge with big trusses.
When I zoom in you can see that the 920Xt speed is changing much more frequently than the Fenix. Come to think of it, I remember setting my 920Xt to sample every second – that might be something I need to do for the Fenix as well. You see a similar smoothing effect (or lack of sampling frequency effect) on heart rate even though they’re both paired to the same Wahoo TIKR heart rate strap.
One thing everybody should know about GPS watches is that their altitude information is terrible. And these two watches are terrible but different.
The Fenix is consistently higher elevation that the 920Xt, but with similar shape of ups and downs (on a practically flat canal). Only 3 or 4 meters elevation difference between them most of the time. I can’t find any obvious cause for the weird dip at around the 33 minute mark on the 920Xt as I’m nowhere near any bridges nor am I particularly close to the concrete walls of the “Washing Machine”. But that’s ok, I usually remember to click “Elevation corrections” on Garmin Connect and Strava after it’s uploaded. I think what they do is correct your elevation to what a digital elevation map says your elevation should be at each location point.
At this point I’m just about ready to declare myself ready to use the Fenix for normal paddling. I’ll do a few more head to head tests first, though.
For the last 3 or 4 years, I’ve attempted to keep fit over the winter by erging, but every year I get thwarted by a cold that turns into a cough that knocks me on my ass for 4-6 weeks right. One year I got the cough for 6 weeks, cured it, started to erg again, and two weeks later I got bloody whooping cough that stopped me for another three weeks or so, and by then it was paddling season again.
Over the summer, I’ve seen a allergist and a pulmonologist. Of course, it took 6+ months to get the first appointment with each of them so I wasn’t showing any symptoms. (By the way, anybody who says that only countries with full health coverage have waiting list problems can suck it.) But the allergist did a full panel and said I’ve got mild to moderate allergies to many types of dust and pollen and mites. So we took some steps to deal with mites, putting mite covers on the mattress, pillows and duvet, and some other stuff.
But when the erging season started in earnest, I immediately noticed that every time I erged I had a cough for a couple of days afterwards. It’s an unusual cough, because it doesn’t feel like it’s in my lungs or trachea, it’s more like I’ve got un-swallowed saliva at the back of my mouth. Ok, maybe it’s not related to the yearly “cold of death”, but it’s worth taking notice of. And my suspicions are pointing very strongly to how dusty my erg room is.
What clinched that diagnosis in my mind was Saturday, when I woke with a bit of one of those weird coughs from erging a few days previous, but then I went paddling outside, and that cleared the cough up! Absolutely no coughing on Saturday until this evening. Time to get serious about dust.
So I’ve revived the HEPA filter that we used to have in the bird room but stopped using because it would clog up so quickly with cockatiel dust that we couldn’t keep up with it. It’s now upstairs in the erg room, running at full blast hopefully clearing the air. I also tossed the old box fan I used to use to cool myself because the plastic grate on one side has completely disintegrated leaving a bare fan. I grabbed another box fan out of the upstairs guest room – it’s of similar vintage, but its plastic hasn’t completely deteriorated yet. And this evening I took the completely unprecedented step of vacuuming and throwing away a ton of junk. The room hasn’t looked so good since we moved in.
I guess now we wait to see if that helps. I’ve actually got a bit of the weird cough going on from stirring up all that dust while vacuuming. But tomorrow I’ll erg and see if it turns worse of stays the same. Fingers crossed.
Also, another paddler who makes YouTube race videos that I follow on social media goes by either “Szechung Kayaker” or “Chris Sze”. He lives in Bishops Stortford England, and I’m intensely jealous of how much racing they do there, even if it is on narrow canals in narrow little sprint boats. I was watching one of his recent videos and it suddenly struck me that
He’s paddling a pink KayakPro boat
One of Grayson’s videos is of a pink KayakPro boat in Bishops Stortford.
Hmmm. I wonder if Grayson just used on Chris’s video? I definitely had to try that route now. It’s only 5.6km, which means it’s pretty much an all-out sprint, but I did a couple of long distance workouts this weekend, so why not?
When I’m racing against my own videos, I’m the only person whose ever done them. Which is fine, but it takes out some of the competitive aspect. This one had a lot more people on it – I think it was 9? Certainly enough to make it a huge challenge.
Right off the gun, there were two people who jumped right out front – literally 100+ meters ahead before the first kilometer was over. There was one guy who was more like 20 meters ahead, and one guy who was 20 meters or so behind. Right, I thought, my work is cut out for me – just keep between these two guys and hope they tire before I do. Very much a familiar race tactic for me, except there was no wake to ride.
Like I said, I was treating this like a sprint, so instead of the 10.6-10.8 km/hr I usually make on the erg (and I don’t think it’s calibrated, because that’s on race courses where I usually average about 10.4-10.5 km/hr), I was making 12.2 km/hr. It was hard, but I was counting down the meters to the end, as well as watching those two names and the meters distance to each one. The guy ahead moved further out, reaching somewhere around 100 meters by the turn around, while the guy behind me got closer and closer, coming within 9 meters in the same distance.
But with about 3 km to go, the guy ahead of me must have slowed down to catch his breath or stopped to have a drink, because suddenly I was ahead of him, while the guy who was behind me dropped a bit further back to about 14 meters. I fooled myself into thinking they’d both gotten tired, but I was already giving it everything I could. The only thing that thought did was prevent me from slowing down, because I really wanted to slow down. But they both got their second wind or something and both of them passed me. I contested that sprint like I battling side-by-side with Dave W at a NYMCRA points race, but both of them beat me, the one who’d been behind most of the time beating me by 1 second.
I like this idea of doing shorter, harder sessions on the erg. I’ve heard there’s a way to use Kinomap for interval training, I’ll have to look into that as well. I know I work harder in intervals if there are other people with me, so maybe this will help.