More boxes, more gadgets to test

I got back to Paris late last week from my trip to Seattle, and found myself amidst even more boxes – despite the fact that the movers had finished arriving weeks ago.  Now granted, one of the boxes I had taken with me from Seattle – my new sub-$800 bike (remember this series?)!

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But yet, I don’t want to get ahead of myself on the bike front, so we’ll save those unpacking details for later in the week.  Oh, and that other box?  Well, that’s this bit of flying brilliance.  Yes, pure awesome.

Anyway, upon arriving home, I found quite a queue of boxes.  First, we had the Tacx Genius VR trainer from…well…Tacx.  This is similar to the Tacx Bushido trainer I reviewed last winter, but with more ‘virtual reality’ capabilities.

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At the present, this trainer is in behind another trainer for reviews (the LeMond Revolution), which I aim to have done ahead of Eurobike.  My overall goal here is to get all the trainer reviews done by mid/late-September, so I can give you one bike comparison chart going into the winter cycling season. Plus I also have a few others, like the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine that I bought last winter, which I’ll review in conjunction with TrainerRoad and their VirtualPower function (since they recommend that trainer specifically).

Next on the big bulky item list is the MyTriRack.  This is ideally designed for a small group (or a team) to be able to practice transition items.  You may remember when I made my own transition rack a while back.  This solution appears to be far more elegant, and probably a bit more stable than my rickety solution (which, I left behind in DC).  Now I haven’t unpacked this quite yet since I want to do it in conjunction with actually setting it up somewhere.

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Ok, enough of the big bulky items (bikes/trainers/racks) – let’s move onto something smaller.  Like, a heart rate strap that’s also a power meter.  The CycleOps PowerCal.  This was announced over a year ago last June, and then I got a beta unit in September.  Well, the final version of these came out, and the folks at Clever Training sent me out a final unit to play with.

The PowerCal is an ANT+ heart rate strap that also generates an ANT+ power meter estimation, based on your heart rate data.  Previously in the beta, you calibrated the strap with what was essentially an FTP test (functional threshold power test).  The new version though requires no calibration – it just…works.

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Previously in my testing, I found it surprisingly accurate in average, less so in instant peak/maxes on sprints.  But overall, pretty darn close.  For a product that’s $99, it does a fairly impressive job for someone not willing/wanting/planning to invest in 8-20 times as much for a direct force power meter.  Now, there’s certainly a segment of the power meter population that really doesn’t like this product – despite one example after another to the Wattage forum of folks being generally surprised with how accurate at averages it tends to be (again, high max power peaks, not as quick to pick up).  In my opinion, this continues to be a great product for folks looking more for ‘over the course of a ride’ power averages.  Not great for measuring something like 30×30’s, but fine for saying “I went out for a 2hr ride, and averaged 183w, and last week I averaged 160w.”

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At any rate, I’ll be testing out this final product going forward, and doing a whole bunch of direct data gathering and comparisons.  I’m really jazzed that with an Android developer putting together a quick multi-power-meter Android app for me, I’ll be able to easily collect data cross tons of devices.  Sweet!

Next up, is my poke at the non-child version of the non-branded Chinese GPS tracking watch:

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I got the children’s version a few weeks back, but the adult version came in.  The children’s version used GPS-A (basically cell phone triangulation), whereas this uses a legit GPS receiver.

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I’ve been playing with it but so far I haven’t quite figured out how to get it to do much besides charge (which, looks kinda cute with a bicycle pump).  I’ve swapped the SIM card out, and it looks at me, and I look at it…and nothing magical happens.

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Though, to be fair, I haven’t cracked open the manual yet.  Look, it’s a guy thing.

What is clear however is this unit probably takes the cake as the only watch to have worse waterproofing than the Motoactv.  It definitely wouldn’t hold up in the pool, let alone a heavy rain.  But, perhaps I’ll be proven wrong.

Ok, with the gadgets aside – the rest of the weekend was spent watching the Olympics.  In French of course.  So I have no idea what things meant – but, we got the general spirit of it. (P.S: Question for my France friends – what is my best option for watching the Olympics with the Freebox I have, just channel 2/3/4?)

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And finally, we took a short wander/walk around the Paris beaches.  They set these up from July 20th to Aug 19th, and they go quite a ways.  You can see the roadway that’s normally underneath them.  I’ll dive into this whole thing on the Paris Blog someday.  Though, that day will actually require it to get warm out.  Since, as you can see below, people aren’t exactly in bikinis and speedos.  Rather, in jeans.  It’s cold.  Really cold.

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With that, hope everyone had a great weekend and has a great week ahead!  Thanks for reading!

18 Comments

  1. You serously need to think about getting Eurosport on your TV. It has HT channel, the usual one and Eurosport2, which comes in need when important events overlap.

    Will be waiting for CycleOps PowerCal review.

    Reply
  2. to watch JO on mobile device, french TV channel has an app to broadcats all their stream,

    link to itunes.apple.com

    On TV it is also on eurosport

    Reply
  3. Thanks on the App tip!

    I am able to add Eurosport to my Freebox? I can't seem to find the option (either online or in the menu). Though, it's likely I'm simply missing it.

    Reply
  4. i don't use freebox (i work for a competitor ;) but after a quick google it seems that on freebox network, eurosport is only available through "canalsat" payTV...

    Reply
  5. you can add eurosport and a lot of channels in your freebox with the canalsat option.

    you will find more information here :

    link to free.fr

    Reply
  6. You have the Oly on TF2 and Eurosport. Unfortunately all with french commentary. Even if you buy internet access to Eurosport, when in France all you can have is a french commentary.

    One thing. Eurovisionsports.tv. All sports are live (12 channels max), without commentary. Just original sound. In France it will throw you onto french TV network (doh), however, you can click live transmission there, and you are ready to watch all the channels without commentary. On the original eurovisionsports.tv you can watch any channel in Europe, that has the transmission. In France, as usual, this doesn't work :-(

    THere is also Eurosport in Teletube app for iOS. (its a free app). Quality is great (when it works)
    link to itunes.apple.com

    Reply
  7. Hi Ray, very curious to learn more about this CycleOps PowerCal... Ok, no good for sprints/short efforts, good for averages... But what about as a pacing tool for Olympic to Iron distance races?... Good enough?
    Bonne chance in France, enjoy the summer, bcs later... :-)

    Reply
  8. ekutter

    If the CycleOps powercal is only good for average power, what's the difference between this and a software only solution that computes it after the fact? Without accurate instant power (at least 30 sec avg), it seems like it would be more of a distraction than a useful tool while on the bike.

    I'm looking forward to your full review.

    Reply
  9. Anonymous

    Your TV situation: I don't know if your living situation allows it, but if you can set up sat dish you can pick up all bbc, itv, channel 4 and five channels free of charge with a cheap free to air sat receiver and a smallish dish. No subscription necessary. Point the dish at astra 2, or pay someone to do it for you, et voila, all the uk tv and olympic coverage you need (in HD).

    Reply
  10. Anonymous

    Get yourself a British ip address then you can watch 24/7 Olympics via the BBC's iplayer

    Reply
  11. Kev

    Like someone else above if you can get hold of a UK Sky box and if possible move the dish so its pointing to the right Satellite, then you should be able to pick up the channels. This is what my partners parents do with their house in France.

    Reply
  12. zom

    hey ray, about the powercal, it says it just calculates power from heart rate, but there must be some sort of configuration, because obviously my power at a hr of 150 is different than a pro tour rider's power at 150 hr, so how does it do that? Does it take speed into account or something? I've yet to see any clear indication of how it gets the baseline power from which to calculate?

    Reply
  13. Happy Runner

    When you test the mytrirack.........

    Couldn't this be cheaply duplicated with PVC purchased at the local Home Depot (or MaIson Dépôt)?

    And if the point is to get repetition memory on T1 / T2, doesn't the whole "lock your wetsuit" thing sort of defeat the purpose?

    Reply
  14. Oh, absolutely. I built one myself back a couple years ago. It just depends on the person and the use case a bit.

    On the locking side, it's more if you're training in a less secure area and just want the piece of mind - no specific need to use that functionality.

    Reply
  15. Ray,

    On the house hunting, you forgot to ensure a south looking view in order to be able to install a satellite dish. I just pointed mine into Astra at 28.2 E and I found 16 channels FTA called something like BBC Olympics 1,2,3... etc. That is the absolute winner everywhere in South Europe. Right now, the channels are broadcasting tomorrows schedule including which channel they will be on, out of all the FTA ones. As for the Freebox, Eurosport is included in the Canalsat pack, as already stated, you allways get a cheaper deal on your first subscription. Other than that, channel 19 on your freebox (France Ô) has some Olympics every now and then.

    Enjoy life.

    Reply
  16. Anonymous

    Hi Ray,
    Ive read all tours reviews you made so far, and Im really curious about your test results on PowerCal.
    Are you any closer with posting that test?
    I know 99S isnt a huge investment although i dont want to spend money on another useless gadget. I already finished 4 70.3 and prepering fot long distance,
    I really care about your opinion if I could improve my performance using this device im my daily training sessions?
    All the best
    Pshemek

    Reply
  17. Brian Copeland, Atlanta, GA

    Thank you for your great reviews. I'm considering buying a CycleOps Powercal. I can't find an in-depth review of this device anyplace and would love to see one here. What I'm wondering specifically is this: I understand how the Powercal can estimate power based on heart rate (with algorithms created from historical data, etc.) What I don't understand is how the powercal could show an improvement in power. Wouldn't the same heart rate always compute to the same power output? Wouldn't I want to see my power level go up for the same HR over time? How does the Powercal tell me I'm improving? I'm betting you can explain this if anyone can ;-) Thanks, DC!

    Reply
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