Gibraltar Santa Barbara

iPhone Bike Computer: Wahoo RFLKT+ Product Review

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 pretty much flawless 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 flawless so far.

Summary:

All in all I very much 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.

Key features:

  • 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.)

Highlights:

  • 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?

Santa Barbara Hikes: Arlington Peak

Santa Barbara Hikes: Arlington Peak

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.

Chumash Wilderness Camping

Best Duffel Bag – The North Face Base Camp Duffel

The North Face Base Camp Duffel Bag
The North Face Base Camp Duffel Bag

I recently purchased a North Face Camp Duffel Bag (Large) and absolutely love it.

Key Features:

  • 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

Highlights:

  • Our rating: 
  • Very durable and water resistent
  • Simple and lots of room for your gear

Where to buy?

Bar in Sölden

View height of mountains on your iPhone with Peak.ar

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 ScreenshotPeak.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!

Highlights:

  • Our Rating:
  • Price range: FREE
Chumash Wilderness Backpacking

Backpacking Boots – Salomon 3D Fastpacker Mid GTX

Salomon 3D Fastpacker Mid GTX
Salomon 3D Fastpacker Mid GTX

I recently purchased a pair of Salomon 3D Fastpacker Mid GTX hiking boots at our local outdoor store, Real Cheap Sports in Ventura, CA.

I tested them on a hike to Inspiration Point in Santa Barbara, CA. It rained quite a bit the week prior and the terrain was slippery and muddy. The boots offered great traction on the wet ground.

My ankles tend to get tired quickly and the slightly raised boot offers great support.

One of my considerations for purchasing the Salomon hiking boots was that I could wear the in the snow (water protection), but also during the summer (light weight).

Unfortunately after using the boot on several hikes, I don’t find it very comfortable. On multiple occasions, the boot gave me some severe blisters and that’s why I cannot recommend it.

Key Features:

  • Water resistant. Full GORE-TEX® construction to keep your feet warm and dry.
  • Weight: 16 oz.
  • Gusseted tongue to keep debris out.
  • Heel foam for cushioning.
  • Protective rubber toe cap with mud guard.
  • Molded EVA midsole provides cushioning and support.
  • 3D Advanced Chassis™ construction provides maximum stability and protection over harsh terrain.
  • Ortholite® sockliner cushions, is breathable, and is anti-odor/anti-microbial.
  • Contagrip® rubber outsole is a mix between density, compounds, and geometry in order to optimize grip and durability.

Highlights:

  • Our Rating:
  • Lightweight (16 oz.) and water resistant
  • Price range: $102.98 – $150

Where to buy?

Winterpark Colorado

Warren Miller’s Wintervention

A few weeks ago we saw the 61st Warren Miller movie: Wintervention. I very much enjoyed watching all the skiing and snowboarding scenes, but I thought the story -  winter/ski addiction – was rather lame.

My favorite part of the movie though was the Southern Utah scene with Zach Crist. Skiing and snowboarding in that kind of terrain looks absolutely phenomenal. Below a short clip from that scene to get you amped up for the season. Enjoy!