Bill, I have had the odd workout where the GPS is all over the place. For mine (Garmin) it seems as though the GPS never really locked on initially and then was struggling the entire time for some reason. I try and give it a couple of minutes with a clear view of the sky to acquire the signal and number of satellites before moving. I put mine on the roof of the car while I am shoeing up etc, if absent minded this can lead to tracking the parked cars’ workout instead of yours. It would be interesting for you to try the same course again and see if that’s the problem or maybe it’s tree cover and/or switchbacks that are causing the issue.
Today I did a Z2 hike on the steepest local terrain I have – Mt Defiance trail – which has an average grade of 22% and climbs up a series of mostly short switchbacks up the nose of a ridge. The local grade is often steeper. And I ran into this weird problem… the speed tracked by my watch would alternate between zero and more than three mph, which wasn’t what was happening on the ground; I never stopped, maintained a fairly steady, if slow, pace and my heart rate stayed within a narrow band for the entire climb (happy about that!).
I am guessing that the GPS error was roughly the same size as many of the switchbacks I was on and so my watch wasn’t able to accurately track my speed. Not a big deal but not something I have run into before. Anyone else run into this or offer a better explanation?
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