Fitness band review: fitbit surge

surge with bikeI wanted to do a really quick post about my relatively new toy, the fitbit surge. I have tried out a few fitness type apps and gadgets along with my bike over the past few years as I’ve battled with my weight and like all tech geeks whenever a new one appears I get all excited over it and then decide it wasn’t quite what I was expecting.

My most recent acquisition is the fitbit surge. It has GPS tracking so can be used to track bike rides, where as other gadgets I’ve tried haven’t had that option so I’ve tended to use a combination of gadgets and apps to get the overall picture.

So what does the fitbit surge do?

Like most of these wearable tech things it is a pedometer, it also has a built in heart rate monitor so you can track heart rate and zones while you exercise and it all syncs with a phone app so you can see details about how many calories you’ve burned, steps taken, minutes active etc.

It’s a general purpose gadget for encouraging lazy folk like me to make a bit more effort.

I’ve been wearing it everyday for a few months now and using it to track my cycling and so far I’ve been quite impressed. It’s absolutely not a training tool for serious cyclists, more for folk who cycle to try to get fit or lose weight as the stats you get are not super fancy. I’ve found however that not having to use a heart rate monitor to get my calories burned and then plug that into an app with my food diary and then have that all syncing with a cycling app is a good thing. I’m now just using the fitbit app and I’m finding I like the joined up nature of it.

I know that the built in heart rate monitor will not be as accurate as the chest strap but for me the convenience wins out.

I’m happy too with how accurate the GPS seems to be, and the calorie count seem to be on par with most of the other gadgets and apps I’ve tried.

Would I change anything design wise or feature wise?

More of an annoyance than anything else but it’s quite big. I have smallish wrists and hands and this is quite a big smart watch, there’s no way to make it look elegant.

huge surge
Also of I was being really picky, I wanted the tangerine coloured one but couldn’t get one anywhere. But I’m just being super picky.

If there is one feature I think could improve it though, the Garmin version of the fitness band alerts you when you’ve been inactive for too long. The fitbit doesn’t do that which is a shame. I found that a really handy tool for people like me who sit at a desk all day.

Apart from that though, I’m really happy.

Bike luggage – or carrying stuff on your bike

I never used to even think about carrying stuff on my bike. If I needed to carry anything it went in my backpack, if it didn’t fit in my back pack then it didn’t get taken on the bike. That was until I started cycling on the cycle path. Then the idea of carrying stuff on my bike didn’t seem like such a big deal, not a danger or drama as I had always thought it.

Once I settled into cycling on the path, I think I became a different type of cyclist. Before I think I felt more like a road user. I was on a bike but in reality I was just a road user getting to and from my destination in my chosen vehicle. Now however I actually FEEL like a cyclist. I know that sounds crazy but that seriously is the change I feel now I’m on the paths. I don’t look at bikes now as;  how fast is it? How light is it? Will it make hills easier?

Now I think “oh that looks nice, I could get my cake box on the back”.

I think the change is that when you are on the paths you can actually enjoy cycling, enjoy using your bike as your method of transport. On the road you can’t think about anything except safety, your road positioning, other road users etc you don’t get to take a deep breath and smile.

That in turn has changed me and my perceptions, I still choose to wear a yellow jacket when the light isn’t sunny and bright, I still wear a helmet because I do think it is sensible but I understand why other people don’t and I do enjoy seeing the things other people wear.  So I thought I’d honor some of the best bike clothing and luggage use I’ve seen.

This is Harry and his boom box

Harry rides a “priest” bike, a dutch style bike built for everyday use including carrying your shopping etc. This picture was taken at the recent Pedal on Parliament event here in Edinburgh. Harry rode at this event with a group called Critical Mass which he organised and…. he provides the sounds for. That is a serious boom box you see strapped to the rack on the front of his bike.

Before I enjoyed path cycling I would have been appalled at this but when you are on the path it’s all about the pleasure of the actual bike ride and I did love cycling behind him.

 This is my brother Arlen and his wife Diane

They live in Boise, Idaho and Arlen is a keen cyclists and cycle luggage user. This photo however I think is fantastic, this is from when they took part in the “tour de fat” which is a cycle ride event in Boise and looked like great fun.

I am secretly envious of Diane’s basket but I think I’d be laughed of the path if I had a cycle basket on my racer.

Tour De Fat video


Dad and his huge amounts of luggage

This next one probably shows what a cycling family we are, this is my dad.

My dad is probably the very reason why I’ve always had such an issue with the whole carrying loads of stuff on the bike thing. When my dad goes for a cycle, even just a short cycle to work and back, he will be packed with so much stuff that he could survive a tropical storm. Hence the massive bike trailer.

In reality he doesn’t need half the stuff he carries, but that’s just his way. He never goes anywhere without waterproofs and a jacket and a whole heap of other stuff.

I see things on the internet now and think – cool. Like this beer growler carrier.

My cake box

Lastly I suppose I should tell you of my journey into the world of carrying stuff on your bike.

We have a thing at work where we all take turns baking and I was getting really frustrated with having to get the train each time it was my turn. That along with the fact that I sometimes pop into the home-brew store on my way home from work and pick up grain (which has to fit in my bag) meant that I finally  took the plunge and fitted a rack to my bike.

It’s not perfect cause my road bike isn’t designed to have a rack on it, but I can now bungee my cake box onto the rack when I have baking and I can then cycle to work with my cakes.

One word of warning though…. gluten-free cakes don’t survive the journey. I got to work with a cake box full of gluten-free dust one time.

The new cycle to work – the innocent cycle path

I promised an update of my cycle to work so I guess I should oblige.

For years I have been a road cyclist. I’ve used cycle paths maybe a handful of times, always finding them crowded with too many dog which are off the leash, unmaintained, littered with glass and worst of all taking very indirect routes. Therefore I’ve made the conscious decision not to use them for my daily commute and instead used the public roads. in all honesty though, I have had very little bad experiences on the road. I found most of my journeys go without issue and because the roads are maintained, I’ve been able to cycle right through winter without worrying too much about ice.

Recently however, I joined the group of cyclists traveling from Portobello in Edinburgh through to the city centre for the Pedal on Parliament event and they used the well known cycle route called the Innocent cycle path. So called because it uses what was the old Innocent railway and tunnel.

I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised.

My normal route to work is 6.9 miles of road traveling through Niddrie and up the Dalkeith road hill through to edinburgh centre. It’s not a bad route and most of the roads are pretty wide and there are a few bus lanes and cycle lanes. Mostly I have enjoyed this route (ok maybe not the hill). Now I am almost completely off road, there is a 2 or 3 minute on road journey at the start and again the same at the end. Apart from that traffic free. The route seems to be well maintained and is lit along a lot of it, although if these lights work I am not sure. I know the lights at the first part of the journey have not worked in more than a year. There are dogs of the lead but not a huge amount and so far I have found all the other path users to be very friendly and polite and it’s only about half a mile more than my usual route.

So much to say I am a convert and have made this new route my permanent one. there is still one hill, the actual lead up and through the tunnel but it’s no worse than I had before and the rest of the journey is very flat and pleasant.

It will obviously be interesting to see how things go later in the year when the weather is not so good and we have darker mornings and evenings but i will do another update around that time with my findings. Until then though, if you are considering cycling but are afraid to use the road, try this path. It is a very pleasant and very safe cycle.

I took a bit of a video last week to show the route for anyone who is intereted. It’s just short snippets of the different parts of the road and recorded on my phone so not a Hollywood standard production but it gives a good idea of what to expect.




We got a new house

Kate and I are finally moving up in the world and moving out… look out suburbia, here we come.

We’ve got a new house out in Musselburgh which is a wee town on the east coast of Scotland, not far from Edinburgh. It’s dead exciting.

It needs a wee bit of work, but nothing big, just some sprucing up and it’ll be nice to be able to make our mark on things, rather than just move into someone else’s tastes.


This is the front of the house, it’s on a quiet wee cul de sac and all the neighbours seem lovely.


This is the back garden which is something I am excited about. I’m looking forward to creating a garden where I can try my hand at growing veggies and Kate is excited about growing flowers (she had a dream about hanging baskets but don’t tell anyone she’s dreaming about flowers shhhhh!)

There are two sheds, both of which need a fair bit of love, but I plan to replace one with a greenhouse mwah ha ha ha ha!!!!

We have named the house “Ar Bruidair” which is Scottish Gaelic for our dream.

About us

We are Kate and Eli and we love gardening, growing veggies and cooking. A great combination. We live on the East Coast of Scotland and tend an average sized household garden.

Our house is called Ar Bruidair, which is Scottish Gaelic for “our dream”, the house and garden very much are, our dream. So we thought what better name for our blog. Since then, of course, the blog has grown and now incorporates a youtube channel too. Pop along if you like videos of garden and food nonsense.

We hope you’ll enjoy tagging along on our adventures, and please feel free to drop a comment or two if you want to get in touch. We want this space to feel very much like a community, sharing ideas, lessons and thoughts.

much love,
Eli & Kate