Setting up your cycling computer

Click here to see Coach Brig's original post in the Facebook group.

Let’s talk a little about setup on your cycling computer. Seems basic, I know, but worth some thought. I use Garmin computers (only because that’s what I’ve always used), so I’ll mostly be coming from that angle, but this post should apply to other brands as well.

Basic setup guidelines

  • Set average power to include zeros and cadence to not include zeros

  • In a perfect world, we don’t stop on our training rides, at least for extended periods of time. But if you do stop, make sure to stop the timer. The autopause feature is less than ideal, but if you find yourself forgetting to stop (or start) after stops, it’s a viable option.

  • Chirps and beeps. Always riding alone? This might be why. If you want riding company, consider reducing the number of alerts the nerd box emits.

  • Make sure you're recording data at the highest possible resolution. For Garmin this means disabling smart recording and switching to a 1-second sample rate. This is different from how the data is displayed on the screen, so if you like to have power smoothed for 3 seconds average, that’s fine.

  • Most importantly, calibrate your power meter before every ride. Every manufacturer has a different procedure on how to do this, so make sure you’re familiar with yours. If there’s a big temperature difference between your garage and the outdoors, then calibrate after a few minutes outside. Also, make a mental note of the value it displays after calibration; it should be consistent across most calibrations (most power meter companies will provide a reference range).

Screen setup

Yes, you can have eight screens with twelve data fields on each page….but is that really what you want or need? The fewer screens you have, the less scrolling you'll do, which means more time looking out for potholes, cars, and Rottweilers. I recommend paring it down.

I personally have three screens, each with only a few fields, because I like big, easy-to-see numbers. My first screen is dedicated to important overall ride data; for me this is distance, time of day, ride time, current power, and heart rate. My second screen is dedicated to current interval data (lap heart rate, heart rate, current power, lap power, and lap time). This allows me to stay on a single screen when doing intervals. My third screen is my slop screen with fun but certainly not critical information: altitude, kilojoules, heading, vertical gain. If I’m just riding, I use page 1, if I’m doing intervals I use page 2, and if I’m waiting for Tim Cusick at the top of a climb (see what I did there) I might peek at page 3. Obviously the data fields you choose to display are up to you; however, I’d suggest organizing the pages into overall ride data and interval data.

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