New toy – Polar RC3 GPS

RC3 GPS + sceneryI've been doing a lot of cycling recently in an effort to keep fit. In order to help maintain this new found momentum and add a further dimension to the stat-staring, I wanted to add heart rate data to my current GPS tracks.

Having read loads of reviews around different cycle computers and watch-type fitness computers I decided upon the Polar RC3 GPS BIKE (on Amazon). The bike version comes with a cadence sensor (for peddle RPM) and a generic watch mount for the handlebar. If this interests you, there is a really detailed review by DCRainmaker. This guy has also reviewed loads of other similar devices so well worth checking out if you're in the market for one.



Strava data graph Strava HR analysisI use Strava to track my rides. I've used others too but what I like most about Strava is the clean interface which has plenty of features even in the free accounts. Now with the new watch I not only have maps with distances and speeds but also cadence and heart rate data. I find it mildly addictive to look at all different stats from my rides particularly in the segments covered in the ride.

Segments are user submitted sections of roads/tracks that Strava then collates everyone's data and creates a leader board. From one ride to the next, it will tell you how you've performed informing you via achievements if you've got a personal record, 2nd or 3rd best time on a segment.

 How to get data from the watch to the likes of Strava?

Unfortunately Polar uses unusual file formats for it's heart rate data. From the Polar software you can easily export gpx and hrm files (thats the GPS route in one and everything else in the other). Everything accepts gpx files but not everything plays nice with the hrm ones.

After a little bit of search I found PC Thoughts blog on which the author has made a script which will combine the gpx and hrm to a tcx file which everything (specifically Strava) gets on with.

  1. Simply download the script (here)
  2. Plus the batch script (here)
  3. Finally "install" UnxUtils (here - simply copy contents to your x86 program files folder)

To use, put the script and batch in a folder with the gpx and hrm files and run the batch file... magic... you'll find tcx files for all your pairs of files.

If that sounds too tricky I did stumble across this website http://polarconverter.azurewebsites.net/ but have no experience using it. Looks like you upload your files to the website and it does it for you.

EDIT 13/1/14:

Since writing this post I have been using TcxCreator. This works really well for me... set a default output folder and simply drag/drop your gpx and hrm files and  it'll merge them together as tcx files. If you have done multiple rides it recognises this and keeps them as separate files. I found it also works with only the hrm part, I wanted to put my heart rate tracking info onto Strava as a stationary bike session. I was able to drag the hrm file and it was converted to a tcx and loaded seamlessly into Strava.

A reader has also brought my attention to ToGPX.com. This is web based, so no installation needed. However it merges the heart rate information into the gpx file, this is useful if your preferred tracking service doesn't like tcx files.

Cadence sensor RC3 GPS