Week in Review–April 27th, 2013

Week days signpost

The Week in Review is a collection of both all the goodness I’ve written during the past week around the internet, as well as a small pile of links I found interesting – generally endurance sports related. I’ve often wondered what to do with all of the coolness that people write, and while I share a lot of it on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus, this is a better forum for sending it on to y’all. Most times these different streams don’t overlap, so be on the lookout at all these places for good stuff!

So with that, let’s get into the action!

DCRainmaker.com posts this past week:

Here’s all the goodness that ended up on the main page of DCRainmaker.com this week.

Sunday: Week in Review–April 21st, 2013
Monday: Cycling up (and down twice) the legendary Mount Ventoux
Tuesday: Initial thoughts on the newly announced TomTom GPS Triathlon Watch
Friday: A really cold swim in Seattle

Woot, check it out!


I was interviewed by Living Healthe this week, along with the founder of Training Peaks.  Good stuff, enjoy!

Stuff that I found interesting around the interwebs:

Here’s a not-so-small smattering of all the random things that I stumbled on while doing my civic duty to find the end of the Internet:

1) Withings Delays Fitness Tracker (FitBit like thing) till summer (or later): The title pretty much says it all.

2) Understanding heart rate zones while swimming: A bit of a paper on how to calculate heart rate zones for those wishing to train by HR in the water.  There’s of course many technical challenges today in doing so, with differing levels of success in various gadgets.  In related news, I ordered one of the Poolmate HR units and picked it up while in Seattle.  I won’t have a chance to really play with it for a bit longer, but it’s in the pile.  My primary concern will however be the same as always: For guys, swimming with a HR strap generally sucks.  In my experience thus far, it constantly slips down when you push off the wall (open or flip turn).  That said, I’m always willing to give this a fair shake.

3) Downhill descending craziness: I can never get enough of these crazy downhill descending videos.  They continue to be awesome no matter how many times I watch them, sorta like ice cream. (via CyclingTips)

4) How to get your most photogenic photo during a race: Best line of the article: “grab some excess Body Glide from under your pits and use it as styling gel.”

5) The Sports Bra Drying Times Experiment: This is a bit of an older post that I stumbled to linked off of one of her newer posts, but for those science geeks of the womanly variety – you might enjoy this.

6) Toasters and power meters: Ahh yes, building a power meter with a toaster oven. Not quite Pop Secret.

7) How big is your chainring?  Big enough to go 100MPH?  Well, that’s the goal of this bike. Full gallery at that link.


8) Understanding the Triathlon Ecosystem: Interesting post from Dan at Slowtwitch. I actually don’t agree with a fair chunk of it, but, I still think it makes for good reading.

9) Life as a cycling race photographer in Asia: Cool behind the scenes post.  And most of this also really applies to other regions as well, but this breaks down the daily grind of being a pro photog alongside the peloton.

10) The Annual Best Baguette Competition: For those of you not living here, you may not know that the annual competition for best baguette is taken quite seriously.  Here’s a really interesting behind the scenes look at the whole process, written up by one of the judges (in English).

11) Blinking Man – A Vegas Critical Mass Ride: Neat little video on a bit of an eclectic event that occurs in Vegas with hundreds of well decorated bikes (and people) taking to town. (via Bike Hugger)

Blinking Man – Up in Spoke from Dalton Campbell on Vimeo.

Random new product item of note:

Garmin quietly releases updated heart rate strap: A number of you asked me about this over the last day or so.  The HRM3 is the latest variant of the Garmin soft strap.  It’s easily identified by a small chunk of different colored fabric off to the side, which aims to reduce some of the spike/dropout issues.  Here’s a photo of it:


I’ve actually been using this strap since all the way back in December.  It is no doubt better, but it’s not great.  And certainly not perfect.  I find that I still get issues early in a run – primarily within the first 8 minutes.  Beyond that it’s very stable (though the Paris Marathon was the one case where it went 25 minutes before being happy).  So basically, if you get past the 8 minute marker, you’re good to go.  Now, that’s not to say I have problems every time, as I don’t.  Just sometimes.  And there’s been no pattern to the days that I do have problems (dry days, rainy days, hot days, cold days, etc…), nor pattern with the strap wetness (dry, soaked, sorta-wet, etc…).


I don’t really have much more detail or opinion beyond that.  Just a LOT of workouts (5-7 workouts per week now for 20 weeks), so I have a lot of data but it’s just ‘blah’ at best.

Crowd Funded Projects of Athletic Note:

This is a bit of a new section. Most of this content used to be found within the main section, but I figured I’d just call it out up here and make it easy to find.  I regularly sift through Kickstarter and Indiegogo (plus a few others on occasion) looking for sports projects.  Note that as always with crowd funded projects, assume the project will be late and will under-deliver on features.   Thus far, on the numerous products I’ve helped ‘fund’ (except a leather bike handle), that’s been the case.

Siva Cycle Atom: USB power charging accessory using pedal power.  This will utilize the power generated off of your rear wheel to give you a USB charging port on your bicycle.  Cool project, but ultimately the unit looks really darn big for my tastes.  But for those doing long-haul bicycling (i.e. cross-country), I could see the significant value here.

Instabeat: This is a heads-up display that monitors your heart rate, calories, laps and turns during your swim.   The founders reached out to me, and hope to have a prototype at some point in May that I can get hands on with and give some opinions on.

Sports Technology Software/Firmware Updates This Week:

Each week I quickly highlight some of the new firmware, app, software and website service updates that I see go out. If you’re a sports technology company and release an update – shoot me a quick note (just one liners is perfect, or Tweet it at me) and I’ll make mention of it here. If I don’t know about it, I won’t be able to post about it. Sound good?

Site/Firmware Updates:

Garmin Fenix Firmware Beta: Version 3.16 builds on the skiing beta version, and a version 3.20 is the production version including the  skiing pieces   (3.16 was there for beta, 3.20 as well for production)

Motvio Training Update: Motivo Cycling v1.1 out now. Updates include new audio alerting for interval changes.

iPhone/iPad App updates this week:




Android App updates this week:


Windows Phone app updates this week:

(There were no WP updates this week that came across my phone)

Thanks for reading!


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  1. Swimming with a heart rate monitor isn’t that bad, but you need a close-fitting rash guard to keep the strap in place. I picked up a Polar unit that was listed as working under water (there are a few, and they are not very expensive) and I picked up a quicksilver rash guard from swimoutlet and it just worked, in combination with the uncoded strap (which was recommended for this application). Plus there’s nothing better than SPF Fabric when swimming, really, right? The only thing I’m not happy about is that there is no recording and download. Nirvana would be if the 910XT also had a Polar HRM chip in addition to ANT+ so you could have all the 910XT swim data time synched with recorded HR. But I’m dreaming.

    • Kevin

      If you really need the swimming heart rate recorded, then you can use the polar rcx 5 with their combo strap. So you can see it and record it.

      Also the suunto memory belt will record it for you, of course you can’t see it as you go with that one.

  2. Brian

    So if the new Garmin strap is “blah”, which one is not? I know you said the Magellan at one point, but I can’t find that one. Is the Wahoo ANT variant any good? Can you throw a link to a better one at Clever Training? Even using the polar strap with the Garmin sending unit, I still have the issue where the first few minutes of a workout are a warmup for me and my HR monitor.

  3. Emil Holt

    Let me second Brians request there.
    I have the original Garmin strap, and while I’ve always had issues with spiking during the first 10-15 minutes it’s now taken a turn for the worse, to the point where I during the entire workout (30 min – 3 hours) get heart rates between 220 and 240 bpm while in reality it should be around 130-150. Conditions don’t seem to matter either.

    • I contacted Garmin support with a complaint about my Garmin strap and attached data screenshots. I used to have very erratic results, just like Ray, at random and without particular reason. Things got worse over time, it looked like my strap would always fatigue after 30 min or so, recording beats between 50 and 250. They sent me a new strap, but I didn’t even open it because I find the Polar strap with the Garmin ANT unit to be working just perfectly. I’ve had this combination for the past 6 months now.

  4. gunnar christensen

    Emil, Brian.
    I found the Magellan strap through the heart rate monitor watch company. I’ve tried many straps (Garmin hard strap, polar strap modified to fit ANT+ hrm and Garmin soft strap) and per Ray’s advice I find the Magellan strap works the best by far.

    • Eli

      Through pics I see of of it looks very similar to the timex heart rate strap from the global watch

    • Wendy

      I’m impressed you were able to just purchase the Magellan strap without buying the entire thing. I contacted customer service via their website about how to order it, and at first they said , sure no problem. But when I asked for what the price was/ what the id# for the product was etc., they asked me for the serial number on my Magellan product. I gave up and just ordered the $20 strap from Wahoo instead with no extra efforts to have to talk to customer service. Have had no 200+ hr problems that I had previously, but maybe 1 out of every 10-15 workouts, I’ll get a 170-180 spike in the first few minutes of a run/ride.

    • DC Rainmaker

      I’m working with Clever Training to get the strap listed individually (properly). They’re cooking on sorting it out. Hang tight!

  5. DC Rainmaker

    Indeed, I really like the Magellan Switch strap. Let me see if I can get Clever Training to sort out the current inventory listing (it’s in their system, but with a wonky date: link to clevertraining.com). I’ll circle back here early next week when the right folks are in the office.

    Just another data point, used the new Garmin strap as I have been for the last few months. Saw the same 8-minuteish items again today…

    • Tisztul_A_Visztula

      Just as a curiosity. I used my Magellan HRM with its own strap, but the strap started to go off. I’m not sure whether it is the right English term, but the plastic sensors of the strap were gradually peeling from the strap itself. 4 months after I bought it.
      I did not wish to apply any glue, so I decided to have my Garmin premium strap “married” with my Magellan HR sensor. It works perfectly.

    • DC Rainmaker

      Yeah, there was an issue with one of the earliest batches that had this problem (one of my straps was fine, one of mine did this). They said it was a simple manuf error with the wrong strap type being ordered in some batches. You can (or could of) simply rang them up and they would have swapped it out fre.

    • Tisztul_A_Visztula

      Thanks for the info. I am really curious whether they will ship one strap free from the US to Hungary.

      I will report it.

    • Tisztul_A_Visztula

      No, they did not help me. I wish to mention as a fair step that I bought my strap not directly from them, but anyway finally I opted for glueing.

  6. Dan Lipsher

    Nice post, Ray. But that’s an oversized chainring, not a cassette. A smaller cassette (and larger chainring) actually enables you to pedal faster. Something to do with gearing differentials. I know you know this and can probably provide the math behind it. I’m just a liberal arts major, but still.

    • DC Rainmaker

      Very odd, no idea why I wrote cassette. Teaches me to write posts half-asleep. Fixed! Thanks for the heads up!

  7. Christopher Lyle

    Instabeat seems like a very neat project but a little behind the time in sport technology. This device reminds me of Sportiiiis and will not spawn excitement to buy for most users. Being a competitive swimmer my entire life there would be a lot of features I would like to see then just my HR zone. Being able to see pace, stroke efficiency, and splits “live” on in my goggles would be a huge bonus. I couldn’t tell you how many times after a race in college I would look at my splits and be pissed that one or two could of been faster. However, there is no way to tell what your splits are while swimming. If I could of tracked my splits at each 50-100 yards and see my swim stroke efficiency (strokes per length or distance per stroke) I wouldn’t of never felt like that at the end of a race.

    I really like where this product is going but it needs some additional features to appeal to tech/data endurance racers and competitive swimmers. Don’t get me wrong HR monitoring is great for training and something we have never had while swimming but just a little more features would be awesome. If they could add these feature and a similar display such a google glass to display all the data in my goggles….I would throw away my 910xt that I use for pool training and buy Instabeat in heartbeat.

  8. Eli

    For those interested the new Garmin strap is named HRM3 (the one right before it is HRM2) with the primary difference being the different colored material on front as Ray mentioned. Also worth nating is that gray material is conductive so looks like they are grounding out the front of the strap to the left side of the body. That brings up another difference, the strap is now marked left and right, my only guess is with the heart more towards the left of midline they want to ground out the strap towards the side with the strongest heart beat signal. (other then orientation of text the electrical unit has no left rightness to it so easy to install upside down.

    For those doing Ant+ programming the electrical device itself has the same fcc id and seems the same (there is a new marking for the battery type needed and the removal of the PC certification logo (have no idea what that means) Going by the ANT data pages the HRM2 strap is hardware version 4, software 4, model 5 and the HRM3 is hardware 4, software 20, and model 7.

    • so the new heart rate strap is $60 for just the strap or does that include the sensor? Seems crazy expensive. I was thinking about replacing my strap as my readings have been off more lately and thought the strap maybe going bad.

      I have been a long time polar user and made the switch about a year ago as I was tired of waiting for a unit that had built in GPS so have a 910 now. I have the same strange drop outs and overruns where I tell people that I am running with that either my heart rate monitor is going goofy or I am about to have a medical event as my heart rate hits 210 or 30. It gets very frustrating when the heart rate is screwy plus the pace calculation (even with the foot pod) is way off.

    • DC Rainmaker

      It’s for everything (pod + strap).

  9. Eli

    Garmin has a $100 mailin rebate for the Edge 800: link to garmin.blogs.com
    (my guess is trying to get rid of their 800 stock)

    $50 rebate on FR210 and FR610 for students: link to garmin.blogs.com

    $50 FR tradein: link to garmin.blogs.com

    • DC Rainmaker

      Nice, I’ll list these in next week’s post. Thanks for the heads up! (And yup, working my way towards your e-mail as well).

  10. Ekutter

    Is it just a new strap, or new transmitter too? Either way, I assume the straps and transmitters are cross compatible, correct?

    • Eli

      The HRM3 garmin strap? Both are different, with the external case of the transmitter the same except slightly different labeling and it broadcasts different version info over ant+. Not sure what changed about it though.

      Seems like all straps use the same snaps to attach to the transmitter and the distance between snaps is the same so they are cross compatible.

  11. Mil

    Hi Ray, just wondering if you have any news on the Rotor Power meter? Any chance you’ll get your hands on one soon??

    • DC Rainmaker

      I’m on their list, and they’re on my radar. I hear right now through the grapevine of folks that have it, that it’s going through some teething problems. Likely the reason they keep delaying getting me one…

  12. Jan

    Your mention of the baguette competition reminds me of the documentary “Kings of Pastry” about a gruelling competition for a French pastry decoration. Ever seen it? It’s very French and in my humble opinion a ‘must see’ for The Girl.

  13. tiramisu

    The heads up display and heart rate from temple is a very nice idea. As was already said it could use a few more features on the display side / stroke rate/heart rate but hopefully that’s simply software. Make it ant+ and figure out how to use it with a pair of oakleys on the run and it would be even cooler.

  14. Charles Jessee

    I’ve given the new PoolMateHR two swims thus far and find they have almost solved the strap problem. The new aero (or hydro, as it were) design results in very little lift on push-off. The strap has a loop on one side for size adjustment and the outer portion of that loop lifts when I push off with that side deep. If I push up with that loop side shallow (as in not a flat push-off), I get no lift. I think a safety pin will solve the remaining issue. I get very quicj pickup of HR and no dropout like I got with the Polar strap (which failed completely after 15min in pool water). This new unit work very well! Now to do my HRmax tests in the pool to see if the predicted deduction is accurate.

    • DC Rainmaker

      Now that I’ve gotten through the Ambit review (and wearing two swim watches at once), I’ll be tackling the Poolmate HR next I think. As in, next in the swimming review queue. I try and minimize how many devices I have to wear at once in public settings…

  15. Charles Jessee

    Brilliant! I also see RaceDay2 (PhysFarm) now uploads Garmin 910XT swim files for SwimPower calculations. Wearing techno-gizmos in the air and water, day and night, and 24/7/365 – our days are truly numbered! What all the numbers mean? That’s harder to say ;-)

  16. Mans

    Will you be able to post a verdict of the instabeat before the funding closes? This because, I do want one, but not gonna back it unless its working as it should

    • DC Rainmaker

      Yup, if they get it to me ahead of their funding cutoff timeframe, I’ll definitely post on it. Obviously, if it arrives the night before and I’m 5,000 miles away – that might be difficult. But otherwise, definitely.

  17. griz

    I want to get a HRM for my Garmin 910 and I’m combing through all these posts to try and get the best setup the first time around. Here is my question: If I get the HRm2 or HRM3 and it goes squirrely on me I can always switch to either the Magellan strap or the Polar strap and end up with good results. Right?

  18. He5x

    Any update on Instabeat? I heard about it via link to techcrunch.com

    Looks like it’s getting some more press. Hope to hear your review soon!

    • DC Rainmaker

      A unit hasn’t been sent to me yet unfortunately. As I mentioned to them, I’ll need more than just ‘the day before’ their campaign ends to check it out. As of yet I haven’t backed it, sorta want to see it in real life.

  19. Jlm

    So for the magdalena Hrm it’s just the strap but the whole unit including the module eh?

  20. Sandra Cabrita

    Thanks for writting! I received a garmin forerunner 210 in past october (a gift from my husband – a cycler for me as a runner). After 2 months using the strap it started the problems you’ve mentioned. Due to the warranty and 1 month without the gadget they swaped for another and after 2 months the same… I’ve complained again directly to the garmin site and received past week the new strap HRM3 (I didn’t try it yet) but I’ve done an experience that seems to work out and I’m going to try again tomorrow, I’ve just finished discovering your post right now :-), But it seems that with more than a week of registers in the memory it starts freeking out. After I deleted the activities in the gadget (after downloading) it seems to work fine… We will see :-)

  21. Frank

    Thanks for your notes on Garmin HRM3. Is it possible that your t-shirt causes the disturbance? I have the same with some of my T-shirts (fabric might cause disturbance). That’s why I use a tight shirt, which reduces friction = electricity. Maybe, just maybe

    • Absolutely, fabric can definitely change it. However, many people don’t like running in t-shirts (including myself), so it’s a bit of a tradeoff.

      That said, since July 2013, the HRM3’s have new firmware which has pretty significantly changed things for the better.

  22. Kathy J

    Found this post and comments while looking for a replacement HRM options to use with my 910XT. I have the Garmin HRM2, which records accurately about 90% of the time. I get random spikes of 220+

    Ray, from what you’ve seen in the past year, which strap would you recommend? The Garmin HRM3, the Magellan, the Polar or a combination of the Garmin sensor with a different manufacturer’s strap? I don’t mind spending a little extra if I can get something that is reliable.

    • Garmin changed the HRM3 in July with new firmware (July 2013). So it’s pretty much the best ANT+ strap out there these days, from what I’ve seen. The HRM-RUN contains the same firmware (+ Running Dynamics metrics for the FR620/Fenix2).

    • Kathy J

      Ray – Thanks for the quick reply! I’ll give the HRM3 a try.

  23. Dirk

    I’ve been using the HRM-3 and noticed that it’s chafing my shirts (not my body) pretty badly in 2 places. The stitched seam that joins the black and grey portions 1. on the opposite side of the R or about 1 inch from the edge of the pod, and 2. further around the chest on the left side) snags on my technical shirts and ruining them.

    Anyone else notice this and have a fix for it? Band-aids as were used for body chafing?

  24. Eric

    For what its worth I’m now on my 3rd HRM3 strap with my 910xt. The first one lasted several months, until I left it hanging to dry and forgot it in a hotel. So that one is on me. The second one failed after a few months. The rubbery electrode delaminated from the elastic then I lost signal during one especially sweaty run. The most recent one I purchased only lasted a few weeks and the rubbery material is misaligned and hanging off the elastic a bit. It worked fine initially but my sweat overcame it near the end of a couple of interval workouts and now doesn’t register a signal at all. With that I guess I question the build quality. Between that and the many frustrations I have had with garmin connect/express when it comes time for a replacement device I’ll likely be looking elsewhere. In the meantime I might try the old style nonfabric, it seems like some users don’t have issues with that one.

  25. Kathy J

    I purchased the HRM3 back in March and at first it worked great. I was diligent in rinsing it off after every use and tossing it in the washing machine with workout clothes once a week. It *only* took three months for that strap to start giving me erratic readings, so I gave up on the Garmin strap.

    I purchased a Polar WearLink+ Soft Strap and have been using that since (with the same rinse/wash program) with no false readings. The only problem I’ve had is that the connectors on the strap seem to be a little too far apart, so the strap buckles behind the Garmin sensor and causes chafing.

  26. SPR


    I gave up on HR a while back (did not like running with strap, and was getting spikes all the time with my Timex Race Trainer watch) but recently got a FR220 and I’m tempted to get the a HR strap to go with it. Is the HRM3 still the pick of the straps, and how comfortable is it to wear?

    Also an optical HR band would be ideal, but they’re all quite expensive. Is there anything coming out closer to the price of standard straps any time soon?


  27. Kathy J

    I’m still very happy with the Polar WearLink+ Soft Strap and as the strap has gotten more use, the chafing issues have gone away.

  28. Anders Majland

    Looks like Instabeat is not completely dead after all.

    I had actually given up on them but they are still working at it. Just received an email from them (send to all backers) where the essence is:

    “While we are still working on shipping you some more products (some of you are getting theirs next week!), we have engaged with a new manufacturing partner and design firm to create a more manufacturing-friendly version of the product with an efficient supply chain. The redesigned product will be available at the end of the year.”

    And a offer for either a refund or another wait…

    I still like the idea of a goggle based hr monitor so I’ll wait it out… But would be very interesting if the could get one of the current shipped version to Ray to get an opinion on where are today.

    If the technology is good and it just production issues there might still be a market for them by the end of the year. It is not easy to read your pulse from a watch while swimming and still only a few that supports it.

    • Anders Majland

      In 2016 i wrote that there were still a chance to get the Instabeat ….

      In November 2019 they promissed to ship me a unit but nothing arrived

      Today i got the email: “We made the difficult decision to stop developing our product as of today. Your Instabeat device will keep working with the iOS app until December 30, 2020. “

  29. Andy Trayford

    Hi, Whats your opinion on Garmin Connect mobile and Garmin express ? I find uploading data somewhat flakyand when it doesn’t like it theres nothing you can do (on 910XT) the Livetrack is absolutely PANTS !! totally not worth using, its worked once out of 3 tries, and the method of registering and inviting watchers, and starting the livetrack is horrid to be polite !. They need to take a leaf out of Endomondo’s live track feature.
    Personally I used to like Garmin but am fast going off its software and its devices. I only use the software now as an uploading tool, their website is horrid. however, I do like the Fenix3 and Garmin 1000, but not sure whats out there to compete with these 2 devices.
    So.. Strava !!
    Whats the point of going premium ? there’s no equality between the mobile app and the web app, and if your premium you have different features on both software platforms. And the things you get on web app are not fully matured on the mobile app or vice versa..
    do you have any alternative recommendations ? or inside info for developments to on either of the above products and services ?

    Regards :-)