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Profiles: Gaining the Competitive Edge in International Cycling with t

Profiles: Gaining the Competitive Edge in International Cycling with the HP 95LX!

This member of the Canadian National Cycling Team uses his 95LX to maintain his training diary, monitor his nutrition, manage team and personal finances, and send news flashes to the media.

By Blair Saunders

I have two professions. For half the year I work as a Management Information Systems (MIS) Consultant. For the other half of the year I compete internationally as a member of the Canadian National Cycling Team.

I bought an HP 95LX initially to improve my efficiency at such day-to-day tasks as managing and looking up phone numbers, scheduling appointments, and writing and organizing short memos. I found that the HP 95LX had many advantages over a standard pen and paper day planner, including its size, ability to set alarms and do quick searches, ability to easily modify data, etc.

As I computerized the basic chores I found more and more applications for this personal information system. I soon upgraded to a 1MB 95LX. I now have more than ten times the amount of memory I had with my old 64K palmtop organizer, and because the 95LX is fully DOS compatible, its potential is extensive.

Racing with the HP 95LX

Perhaps the most interesting use I have made of the 95LX has been as a member of the Canadian National Cycling Team. The automation of several important tasks have made me a more efficient athlete, allowing me to accomplish tasks that I just wouldn't have been able to do without the HP 95LX. The automated training system I describe below has helped me reach one of my biggest goals. I developed and used it this season to help me become an alternate on Canada's National Cycling Team.

To help me achieve my competitive cycling goals, I use my 95LX to accomplish the following:

  1. 1. Automate my training diary
  2. 2. Monitor my nutrition
  3. 3. Manage the teams, and my own finances
  4. 4. Communicate with the media covering our events

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Automated Training Diary

The automation of my training diary was my most pressing need. Since 1992 was an Olympic year, I took my training very seriously. I hate keeping a training diary, but I needed to accurately keep track and compare many variables. This necessitated automation, so I used the built-in applications of the 95LX to create an Automated Training Diary (ATD). To make my ATD most useful, I required three things of it:

  1. 1. It had to have a simple user interface to minimize key strokes
  2. 2. It had to be able to quickly and easily search the diary entries with any character string combination.
  3. 3. It had to be able to create many different training reports from minimal user input.

  4.  

     

The system I developed with my 95LX provided many advantages over my old pen and paper system. Perhaps most importantly, since I carry my 95LX where ever I go, I can easily update my diary whenever I have a spare moment. This makes this system's entries far more complete than the old pen and paper system.

Secondly, the ability to "automagically" analyze and summarize the data makes this system much easier to use than a tedious pen and paper system.

Many components make up my continually evolving ATD, all of which are implemented with the 95LX's built-in applications. Here's how I use the 95LX's built-in applications to help give me an edge in the highly competitive world of international cycling.

Appointment Book ADT Screen:  Graphic

I use a User Definable Function Key to load APPT with DIARY.ABK, my ATD diary file. (Please see page 41 of the March/April 92 issue or page 21-14 in the HP 95LX User's Guide for more on User Defined Function Keys.) I use each line, starting with 8:00a to record a one-line summary of each activity for the day.

 The entry on each line is made up of three components, each separated by a dash. These components are; 1) a code representing the activity (rr= road ride, trk = track training, mace = road race, etc.), 2) duration of the activity in hours, and 3) the number of kilometers ridden. In the screen above, 10:00a TRK-1-30 indicates that while track training for 1 hour I rode 30 kilometers.

I can press (F6) to attach a note to each entry, further describing my workout or race. The note portion of the entry may contain a number of different things, including:

  1. 1. A description of what was done that day, and the conditions it was accomplished under.
  2. 2. A description of what I learned that day. For example, I might record what strengths I saw in a competitor that day that might threaten me in a future race. This way, when I prepare strategy for a future race, I can press (F7) (Find) to query for a particular person's name. Then I press (F6) (Note) to read the entry.
  3. 3. An inspirational note that might help me psyche up and prepare for an event. (I put an asterisk (*) before such notes to make them easy to find.)
  4. 4. My split times from interval training for the day. I also include the weather conditions, gears used, etc. This helps to compare times from session to session and to my personal best.
  5. 5. Positive feedback I received and the initials of the person who said it. Remembering all the comments really helps with motivation through the dull times.
  6. 6. Heart Rate information such as: Resting heart rate, maximum heart rate during high intensity training, average heart rate during a specific endurance workout, etc..

  7.  

     

The one line APPT entry is used for quantitative analysis, while the note portion attached to each entry is used for qualitative analysis and to search on. All that is needed now is to summarize and present this information.

Using Lotus in Training and as Team Accountant

During the season I'm tired and impatient, so getting useful information in an easy way is important to me. I print my Appointment Book file to DIARY.TXT, a file without notes or many days per page. Then in Lotus, I generate a complete report by calling up ABKRPT.WK1 <ON DISK ICON>, a worksheet I have developed. I activate a special Lotus macro in the worksheet, which pulls DIARY.TXT into the Lotus worksheet and changes the data into a format that is useful to Lotus.

I have so far developed three additional worksheets that generate useful summaries of my training. These are:

  1. 1. An hourly summary report and graph HOURSM.WK1 <ON DISK ICON>.
  2. 2. A kilometer summary report and graph KMSUM.WK1 <ON DISK ICON>.
  3. 3. A trend line graph depicting the degree of over training as measured by heart rates TTT.WK1 <ON DISK ICON>.

  4.  

     

The Hourly Summary Report shows the daily, weekly, monthly and year to date hours of activity. By pressing (F10), a nicely formatted and labeled bar chart portrays the volume of work trend.

Training Hours by Week Chart:  Graphic

 I also do a Kilometer Summary Report that produces a stack bar chart similar to the hourly chart. In addition, it shows the intensity of the work volume.

The benefits of these analyses are threefold. First, I can try to correlate performance to training time or to training activity. Secondly, I can compare data, year to year, and adjust my training program accordingly. (For example, I can compare the total number of hours of weight training I did in Dec. of 1992 vs. Dec. of 1993.) Finally, the onset of over training can be better predicted (and thus avoided) by analyzing the third graph -- the resting heart rate trend line.

There is one place where I use Lotus for data entry. I wear a heart rate monitor that stores my heart rates during training and racing. These heart rates allow me to quantify how hard my body is being pushed. After the activity I recall the data and manually input the figures into one of my Lotus templates (TTT.WK1 <ON DISK ICON>). With the push of a button I see a nice line graph that I use to show my coaches.

Heart Rate Chart:  Graphic

 The statistical calculations performed by the template include a frequency and cumulative frequency distribution. This will tell me the percentage of time I spent over my anaerobic threshold and therefore how much lactate I produced and tolerated. Knowing these and other variables is very important for determining the optimum training program and race strategy.

Finally, I use Lotus as our Team Accountant. After each event a Lotus template spreadsheet is used to record each rider's earnings. Then our team's winning payout formula is applied to calculate how much of his winnings he will keep and how much he will share with his teammates. This template also generates a pie chart of each rider's contribution, and shows who the "Free Riders" (non-contributors) are.

HP CALC

Another part of my automated diary is a set of HP CALC equations. Most of these equations are used for the timed cycling events such as Track and Time Trials. For example, if I know somebody has posted 50 minutes for a 40 K time trial I can quickly see what average speed I should be looking for during my race (I have a computer that tells me average speed on my bike).

I use another equation in Track Cycling to solve for either finishing time or lap time. I then link the variables of this equation to another to calculate the average speed for this race. For example, if I want to do a 5 minute pursuit (4K), I enter this amount in for Time and hit space on Lap and see I need to do each lap in 29.7 seconds. Then I go to my Average Speed equation and see I need to be doing 48 K/hr after the start. Now I can pace my self two ways.

Since Track Bikes are limited to a single gear I use another equation to pick the best one.

PHONE

I use phone as a spare parts data base. I can keep an inventory of what equipment I have and how much each costs and where I acquired each piece.

COMM

I can use the built-in communications program to call the computer of our local newspaper with our Team's race results while we are away. This provides sponsors wider exposure.

Money Manager

My sponsors require a Profit and Loss (Winning and Expense) Report for each sponsored event that I attend. I use Money Manager to track winnings and expenses by setting up a "Project" for each event. I can then demonstrate the power of the palmtop by easily generating reports on demand. (See page 42 of the Fall '91 issue, and ad on page 19 of this issue for more on Money Manager.)

Personal Food Analyst

PFA not only provides tremendous insight into the foods I am (and should be) eating, it's easy to use. The program is customizable to user needs and graphically and numerically shows where you are with respect to your daily and weekly nutritional goals. After using the program I was astonished with how much fat is in my diet

I thought I was eating well. My protein consumption was also far below what it should be, as was my fiber intake. Pea's analysis showed that I was OK with Iron, which is important for an athlete's ability to transport oxygen in the blood. When I show people my 95LX, this particular program is a major attention getter.

I understand that the next version of Personal Food Analyst will be system compliant, which will make it even easier to use.

Conclusion

The above description of my ATD is another excellent example of how the 95LX's features and programs can be combined in extraordinary ways.

As you can imagine, not too many cyclists are aware of pocket computers. I always catch people's attention when I update my diary. When they ask me what I am doing, I first show them the speed and ease of the instant graphing and reports. The conversation quickly goes to what games I play on it and what interesting sounds I get my 95LX to make. Arnie's "I'll be back" which I play using SoundPlay <ON DISK ICON> is always a great hit.

I am enjoying using my 95LX and the ever-growing benefits it gives me.

iPhone Life magazine


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