Garmin, GPS Satellites, GLONASS, GALILEO, And Why Your Garmin is Sucking Power… The Quick and Easy Explanation (And What to Do About It).
I’ve got a Garmin Edge 520 Plus and I just bought a 530 Plus for my wife. Whilst she was setting her Garmin up, she came to a screen that offered to use “GPS”, GPS + GLONASS, or GPS + GALILEO. Obviously, being the all-knowing velorishi of the household, my asked me what all of that meant. I tried to make my blank stare look less like a blank stare. I was stuck. And so, with all of the confidence in the world, I let the cat out of the bag. “I have no idea”.
So, I started looking through my Garmin and sure enough, I had “GPS” and GPS+GLONASS options. I clicked on the GPS only option for both of my outdoor cycling profiles. My wife read that using both eats up battery life a little faster.
Now, this is interesting. Some time last year I noticed that my battery life was draining faster than normal. It was an all of a sudden thing. When my 520 should have lasted seven hours, I was getting six. I put it to the battery getting older, though I have taken special care to discharge and recharge it properly so it didn’t develop a memory.
Now it all makes sense.
The GPS + GLONASS option is automatically selected, so I had to go through my Activity Settings and change it to GPS only so I can get back to my seven hours of battery life… and then I had to investigate exactly what I’d done to make sure I didn’t mess up my GPS device!
So here’s the quick of it: GLONASS is the Russian equivalent of GPS. GPS has 31 satellite in use and GLONASS 23. The idea is, for accurate location data, you need three satellites at any given moment. You need four for accurate elevation readings. Having GLONASS or GALILEO enabled simply gives your device more satellites to choose from so you have the necessary number more frequently.
How necessary are the three? Well, as it turns out, apparently not really. According to this page, if you’re in the mountains or in a city where buildings can block a GPS signal, having the extra satellites can be useful. Otherwise, it’s kind of a waste. Well, you just have to pick your poison, I guess. Extra-accurate GPS, or battery life. For me, it’s absolutely battery – though I’ll be switching that when my wife and I head to Georgia later this summer. And, if you want to know how to do that, click (here).
The Noob’s Guide to Cycling: Springtime Cycling Training and How It Works: You Can Pay Now Or Pay Later. Either Way, You’ll Pay.
Spring is a tough time of year that provides the dedicated a chance to get fit early – if you’re willing. It’s a difficult time for many. The roads are often wet, sometimes salty, and the temperatures aren’t usually conducive to cycling enjoyment. I have friends who struggle to get out in the “pre-spring” month of March, then April. It is cold up here in Michigan, usually well into May.
I and many like me, on the other hand, can’t wait to get outside to get some fresh air and stretch the legs. Low to mid 40’s (4 to 6 C) is just enough to get me fired up and out the door. If we have some sunshine, I can hardly contain the enthusiasm! I have no problem cleaning a little schmutz off my bike after a ride. To feel the ground passing beneath me and the speed of my road bike is enough to make me forget about the chilly air temp – at least for an hour or two.
With early starts and long, slow miles, fitness comes fast and easy (I can’t believe I wrote “slow”, but it’s true – it works for spring miles). On the other hand, if you’re sitting it out, you’ll struggle to catch up – sometimes all season long. I’ve seen it happen and it’s a bummer to watch a friend struggle to keep up.
With early spring training, the formula is simple; pay now or pay later – one thing is certain, you’re going to pay.
I really feel bad for those who struggle to get out early in the season to ride, and I get it. I have a friend who has the ability to enjoy riding in absolutely the worst conditions. 7 degrees F (-13 C)? No problem. Snowing? Not even a worry. I can’t do it. No matter how hard I want to, I just can’t get out the door in those conditions (and I have the right clothing to do it – I just completely lack the want to). So I spend a couple of weeks catching up to him in the early spring. I do, however, possess enough want to to make my trainer miles count, so I’m not completely pooched. If you’re like me, though, and have a hard time shutting off the eating over the winter and you’re carrying some extra wattage weight and you can’t ride outside until it’s 55+ (12 C) and you hate the trainer… well, if you’re riding with the fast crowd, you’re done before you finally wheel your bike out the door for that first ride of the new year. You’ll be struggling to catch up much of the summer.
I have to pick my poison, because I am going to ride with the fast kids, so I’ll pay now, thank you kindly.