I took this picture while skiing in Sölden, Austria. I love the panorama in the European Alps! One of my favorite winter pictures. Happy winter season everyone!
I recently started to get more serious about cycling. Last November, I completed my first metric century ride here in Santa Barbara, CA. As I really enjoyed training for the metric century, after successfully completing it, I treated myself to a road bike (I was using my commuter for the century ride) and I bought the Giant TCR Advanced 1 Ultegra. Since then, I completed more than 1,000 miles of cycling.
After I purchased my new ride, I started my research for bike computers. The go-to choices seemed to be one of the Garmin GPS bike computers. But what bothered me about going down that path, was the fact that I would carry my iPhone with me on most, if not all of my rides, and the iPhone has a GPS receiver and great cycling apps. It seemed very redundant buying another GPS device for several hundreds of Dollars if I already own a perfectly fine GPS device, my iPhone.
That said, I started to look for iPhone mounts. After checking out some bikes with mounts, I quickly came to the conclusion that I did not want to have a bulky iPhone mount on my brand new road bike. I also did not feel comfortable mounting my $600 iPhone on the handlebar of my bike.
So I was left to figure out an alternative to GPS bike computers and handlebar mounts. After doing a few Google searches, I came across the Wahoo RFLKT iPhone bike computer. I read through the RFLK+ product description and it exactly sounded like the solution I was looking for. I was stoked! After reading through a few product reviews , I went ahead and placed my order. DC Rainmaker has a great, very detailed Wahoo RFLKT+ product review on his blog which helped me a lot. Thanks Ray!
Below is a brief product overview video of the RFLKT, put together by the folks at Wahoo:
My first impressions:
When I first received the RFLKT+, the device was very easy to set up and get going. You can customize and configure the screens on your iPhone and then push them out to the RFKLT+. There are a lot of metrics you can choose from and you have a lot of different layout options. Depending on the layout and number of metrics displayed, you can set up up to 14 screens (and then browse through the screens by pressing the next / previous buttons). You can also customize the action behind every button.
I love the fact that the Wahoo RFLKT+ takes advantage of existing sensors from my iPhone, such as GPS, and adds additional ones like ANT+ and a barometric sensor to feed additional data points to the iPhone and my cycling apps.
I also very much like the Wahoo iPhone app. And they solved another problem that I came across. I love the social aspect of all those fitness apps out there. I can follow my bike friends on Strava and my buddies in Germany use Runkeeper to track their runs. However, I do not want to run all those apps during my runs and rides. What app should be my default app? Wahoo allows you to easily upload the workout data to a number of different apps with just a click-of-a-button. So during my run or bike ride, I track my activities with the Wahoo app and then easily send them out to the apps I am using (Strava, Nike+, Runkeeper). Well done Wahoo!
A few hiccups:
The device worked great for the first 2 months. But then I had to exchange the battery for the first time, even though I used the bike computer for less than 500 miles and just for a few weeks. I thought perhaps this was a result of me playing around quite a bit with it when I first got it. But it turns out that it was a software bug that was fixed a few weeks later with a new software update (the problem seems to be fixed for now).
Another few weeks after my battery issues, my screen started to show vertical lines permanently over all of my screens. It was very annoying as I barely could read the actual screen. I went ahead and contacted Wahoo’s customer support and explained them my issue and they instantly send me a replacement unit. It was a very pleasant customer experience. Nice work Wahoo team! And my new unit has been working with a few connection issues every now and then.
All in all I enjoy the Wahoo RFLKT+. It exactly does what I expect it to do. I hope in the next months, Wahoo adds some more functionality to further integrate with my iPhone, so that I can see a notification on my RFLKT+ when I get a new text message, for example.
I think some of the issues I experienced are due to the fact that this is a very new product on the market. And with that, some hiccups have to be expected. But kudos to the Wahoo support team that dealt very professionally with the problems of my defective unit.
That said, I do recommend the Wahoo RFLKT+ as a great alternative (and most likely much cheaper too) when compared to some GPS powered bike computers.
- Connects to your iPhone via Bluetooth
- Adds ANT+ connectivity to your iPhone
- Additional barometric and temperature sensors
- The Wahoo app allows you to share your data to your favorite cycling app (Strava, Runkeeper, Nike+, etc.)
- Our rating:
- Second display for your iPhone to preserve your iPhone’s battery
- Adds ANT+, barometric and a temperature sensor to your iPhone
- Fully customizable screens to display metrics that matter to you
Where to buy?
Are you planning on going backpacking outdoors? Here are my top ten backpacking tips for beginners. Lessons that I have learned on my own trips.
- Pack light: The less things you bring the less you have to carry and the further you can go. You will be amazed how little you need.
- Leave valuables at home: Just bring some cash for emergencies. That way you don’t risk of loosing your wallet on the trail.
- Let someone know about your plans: In case something happens to you, it is important to share your trip plans with a friend or family member. Let them know where you are planning to go backpacking and when you should arrive at your planned destinations.
- Stay hydrated: Make sure to bring enough water and a water filter in case you run out of water. And remember to drink enough water while hiking. The general rule of thumb is that you will need 100 oz. per day for personal consumption plus another 10-15 oz. for cooking dehydrated foods. I own a water filter made by MSR that works great. Familiarize yourself with the area ahead of time and plan your route so that you can refill your water supplies from creeks or rivers along the way.
- Pace yourself: Do not waste all your energy in the beginning of the hike. You don’t want to find yourself out of breath in the backcountry and you might need some extra energy on hiking uphill the next day. Backpacking is not a sprint, it’s a marathon.
- Leave no trace: Respect nature and leave the trail and campsites exactly how it was before you got there. Nobody wants to see a trail covered in trash.
- Bring a map and compass: A physical map still works when you do not have GPS or cell phone reception.
- Bring a first aid kit: So you can respond quickly if you get injured. REI sells a great kit that covers the needs of up to 6 people for 8 days while traveling in the backcountry.
- Bring a cell phone: If you do have cell phone reception, you can call for help in case of an emergency. You will be amazed where you have cell phone reception these days.
- Familiarize yourself with the area before you go: Study the topo map and get an idea where your sources of water are. Try to find a trail description online. They might share valuable information on where to camp, what areas to avoid, etc.
I hope those backpacking tips will help you on your next trip. Do you have additional backpacking tips? Please share them in the comment section below.
The Arlington Peak Hike is one of my favorite Santa Barbara hikes in the front country. With about 3,000 feet in elevation gain, this hike is quite strenuous. And in the last portion of the hike you get to boulder through large sandstone formations. The combination of different grades of elevation gain make this hike very interesting.
To begin the hike, park near the water reservoir at the end of Tunnel Road and walk up Spyglass Ridge fire road. This area is a popular recreational area in Santa Barbara and it can be hard at times to find parking near the water reservoir. Make sure to not block the road and to park on the side well behind the line. Otherwise there is a good chance that you will get a parking ticket.
The first section of the trail is on a paved fire road. At the first junction, after the paved road, make sure to stay on the left of the trail. After about 0.75 miles you will see a creek crossing. Until this junction, the Inspiration Point Hike (or Jesusita Trail) and the Cathedral Peak Hike are identical. But in order to continue on the Cathedral Peak Hike, you have to go up the creek bed for about 100 yards and the trail continues on the left. This part of the trail is not very well maintained and the junction can be hard to find at times.
You will stay near the creek for a little while. After another mile or so you will hit the first sandstone rock formations. The trail is very primitive at this point and it can be very hard to find the right route up. But do not give up, the views from the top of the peak are breathtaking and make the bouldering through the sandstones totally worth it.
Over Memorial Day weekend, Dana and I did a 3-day backpacking trip in the Chumash Wilderness and hiked the Tumamait trail. We entered the Los Padres National Forest on highway 33 near Sespe Wilderness. From there, we drove through Los Padres National Forest for about 1.5 hours and started our backpacking trip near Mount Pinos peak at 8,300 feet elevation. I highly recommend taking the time and driving through Los Padres National Forest, rather than taking the 101 south and driving up the 5 freeway. The roads are empty and you will see some amazing scenery.
The first leg of our trip peaked at about 8,800 feet elevation (Mount Pinos). From there we descended for about 6 miles to about 6,000 feet elevation and set camp at Mesa Springs campground. The views at Mesa Springs were breath-taking.
The next morning, we started our journey from Mesa Springs in the west and hiked east to Sheep Camp where we set camp for the night. Unfortunately the only trail that goes back to Sheep Camp is the trail we came from. Therefore we bushwhacked east for about 3-4 miles to Boyscout Road (see trail map). It was fairly cold and we welcomed the hot chocolate from a boyscout group that we met at our campsite.
The last leg of the trip was a 4 mile hike from our campsite back to the car near Mount Pinos peak. It was a great adventure!
Backpacker Magazine has another great recommendation for a backpacking trip in the Chumash Wilderness (it inspired our trip).
- Length: About 18 miles
- 5,000+ feet in elevation gain (get ready for a workout)
- Don’t miss the amazing views from Mesa Springs
- Due to the high elevation, you can expect snow as late as in June (bring warm clothes)
- Overall Difficulty:
Below some pictures from our trip:
I recently purchased a North Face Camp Duffel Bag (Large) and absolutely love it.
- Solid D-shaped zippered opening allows easy access to main compartment
- Includes shoulder straps so that you can carry the bag as a backpack
- Most of the bag is made out of durable water resistent denier polyester
- Our rating:
- Very durable and water resistent
- Simple and lots of room for your gear
Where to buy?
While hiking through the local mountains here in Santa Barbara, I was thinking about how cool it would be to have an iPhone App that could tell you the elevation of all the mountain peaks.
I pulled out my iPhone and searched for “peak” in the App Store and voila, I found the free app Peak.ar from Salzburg Research.
Below a screenshot of Peak.ar in action, showing the elevation of some of the local mountains here in Santa Barbara, CA:
Peak.ar works pretty well and does exactly what you downloaded it for: Displaying heights of mountain peaks. The peak symbols on the display sometimes don’t exactly overlay with the image of the camera, but that’s pretty much the only complaint I have.
Go download Peak.ar and check out your local peaks!
- Our Rating:
- Price range: FREE