Swimming, cycling and running my way though Salt Lake City

While I was out in Salt Lake City last week I certainly wasn’t confined to a convention center full of tents and activity trackers.  Nope, I got out and saw the world.  Or…at least a little snippet of it.  Here’s some fun from my workouts.

Swimming in an awesome outdoor pool:

One of the biggest product-review challenges I have living in Paris is swimming product related photos.  This is for a few reasons.  First is that the water clarity in most Parisian pools I frequent leaves a lot to be desired.  Second is that most of the pools are super overcrowded, easily 10-20 people per lane.  And third, is that many pools are very skittish about cameras.

Thankfully, I find that in most cases none of those are an issue with outdoor pools in the US.  For whatever reason, most seem to have great water clarity – are often rarely used outside of early morning hours, and have no problems with me doing my own thing in an empty lane.

Such was the case on Friday morning on the way to the airport, I stopped by this great 50m pool on the grounds of the university.


I had no problem with basically having my own lane for almost the entire time – perfect!


My primary goal here was getting shots related to the Ambit3 and the underwater heart rate recording functionality.  Doing so I simply used the GoPro Hero3 along with their new fangled 3-way pole.  Loving it.  So super versatile and easy to use with any action cam (GoPro or otherwise).  It’s the same thing I used for the BackTracker post to get those shots that appeared off the bike.


The only trick is in the pool that the little tripod portion isn’t super-heavy, so it can get knocked over somewhat easily if you perform a flip turn too close to it.  I’d guess simply tying a small rock to it would work perfect though.


Yes…I know, higher elbow, hands cupped a bit more, etc…

For the most part for these shots I tend to reset and do loops of about 10 meters, just doing a wall-less flip-turn mid-lane and resetting again.  The camera was on a mode taking a shot every half a second.  I also do video, but getting really crisp photos to use only comes from the camera mode.

And the best part of an outdoor pool?  Afterwards just hanging out on the deck drying off.  A perfect way to end my time in the city, as it was from there straight to the airport.

Mountain biking in spectacular Park City:

Once I wrapped things up late Thursday afternoon at the convention center in Salt Lake City I got in my car and zipped out to Park City, about 30 or so minutes away.  I had been given the name of a bike shop that would rent a mountain bike for a few hours.


The goal of the session was first just to get some time riding, and since I can road-bike ride all day long at home, I figured mountain biking would be more fun.  Thankfully the guys at the shop were super quick and I was out the door in a matter of minutes with a helmet and a bike ready to ride.

I simply headed towards the ski area nearby and then followed a few other mountain bikers up from there onto some initial trails:



After we parted ways a few minutes later I pretty much saw nobody else on the trails – it was great and super-quiet.  Lots of climbing of course, elevation started at about 6,800ft and I ended up topping out at 8,000ft:


I would have very much preferred to keep on going all the way up, but the shop closed at 7PM and I had to have the bike back by then.

The second reason I went mountain biking was that I wanted to gather some mountain biking footage on the Shimano Action Cam.


So, I loaded it up with two other cameras for comparison (GoPro Hero3+ Black and Garmin VIRB Elite).  Seemed like a nice little trio to work with.


Even better is that everything actually worked.  While it seems easy to get three action cameras to record at the same time – I can say that the number of ways things can go wrong would surprise you.  Silly stuff like batteries getting bonked on in a bag and draining before you start – it’s that kind of stuff that just kills me time-wise.

Here’s a small snippet from the VIRB video:

I would upload the Shimano one, but wanted to upload it with the sensors and Shimano hasn’t yet released the application for that (they say August sometime).

In any case, lots of fun – really wish I could do that every evening.  Just lots of fun to ride down, and obviously I wasn’t going that fast compared to most.  But since I ride a mountain bike approximately once every 2 years, I was just happy I didn’t crash.

Of course, the drive back to the hotel near Salt Lake City was just as pretty as the ride itself.  I pulled over grab this shot just ahead of sunset:


Yup…pretty nice place!

Running…around an industrial/commercial park:


Once again, purely to serve as a reminder that not all my athletic activities are in beautiful locales – here’s the route (seen above) of my 5K run that I did.  I was just testing some stuff during that, so I didn’t need anything special and just went from my hotel.

Regrettably my camera battery died after just three photos.  But no worries, I think Google Maps captured it pretty well in their Street View:


Well, except I wasn’t in the middle of the street.

Now, the positive side was that it was flat as a pancake.  The negative side?  It was still a pancake at nearly 5,000ft in elevation.  And I was definitely not acclimated at this point.

No worries, a run is still better than no run at all.  Even a short run.

So there ya have it – three workouts for my three days in Salt Lake City.  Thanks for reading!


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  1. “Yes…I know, higher elbow, hands cupped a bit more, etc…”

    Swimming is such an easy and difficult thing at the same time… have you read Total immersion ? and FASTER: Demystifying the Science of Triathlon Speed from Jim Gourley. It’s worth it.

    Thanks again for your great blog 🙂

    • Yeah, I’ve read a bit. The thing that’s tough is that living in the states it was easy to have a lane to yourself (or even just half a lane) to slow down and focus on form. Within the regular pools, you’re spending most of the time either trying not to runover someone, or get runover. :-/

  2. Bryce

    Bike Rental Guy: Ok Mr. Maker, do you have any specific wishes in the bike you rent?
    Ray: A lot of space on the handlebars.

  3. NeilT

    The VIRB footage shows the value in a more expensive, well designed, camera. everything I’ve used so far suffers badly from vertical rippling of the image when off road. Looks like I’m going to have to bite the bullet and invest in something like this.

  4. Morten Hi

    Isn’t the Garmin Virb Elite soon getting an successor? Mabye its the Gopros frequency of new cameras that makes me wonder. Heard something about some new Garmin cameras?

    • GoPro’s I’d expect to see get refreshed per their usual fall timelines.

      I don’t think we’ll see Garmin quite yet get refreshed. I’d expect it’d make sense for them to see what GoPro does first, and then re-act accordingly.

  5. Lazbaj

    Which sensors do you usually apply on a rented bike?
    Do you suggest something easily to carry around and to move from a bike to another?
    I am interested in basic sensors like speed and cadence.


  6. Tom

    Hey Ray,

    you took the picture with the Garmin, Shimano or the Gopro?


  7. Scott

    I can totally relate to getting cameras to function reliablely. I deal with all the little things with camera operations in extreme/unusual environments on a semi-regular basis shooting video for formation skydiving. (for fun) and although my current primary video camera is an old sony CX100 I’m liking where the action cameras are going (specifically the VIRB and Sony AS100 series cameras) for remote operation and control.


    These types of locals would certainly make working out much more enjoyable.

    Very cool footage btw.

    Thanks for sharing!

  9. Jeremy

    Good to see you in my neck of the woods, keep up the great photos and reports! Looks like you were here during the Tour of Utah.

  10. Chris

    “Once again, purely to serve as a reminder that not all my athletic activities are in beautiful locales – here’s the route (seen above) of my 5K run that I did. ”

    Haha, I appreciated that!

  11. skijeti

    Ray on MTB, now i’ve seen it all xD
    Thx for sharing.

  12. portlandpaul

    Ah, running in SLC – I remember it well, I used to do a loop round downtown and Temple square when i travelled there. Definitely flat, but i never recalled the altitude affecting me much.

    Looks like you were down at the Maverik Center….and is that an “Extended Stay America” you stayed at!?!

    • Yup, indeed the Extended Stay America. Even over a month ago, there was virtually no options for hotels for that week. Outdoor Retailer is the biggest convention of the year in SLC, and thus I had better luck finding hotels during the Olympics than this week.

      I generally prefer smaller hotels like the Courtyard/Hilton Garden Inn/etc, and things like that since I don’t have to deal with complex parking and can just quickly walk out the door and be on my way. Also, usually cheap food options are nearby. I found this particular hotel to be a bit unclean and also a bit wonky in a few other ways…thus, I’d probably avoid this specific one in the future.

      In retrospect, next year I’ll just stay out in Park City. It’s a super-easy drive, major highways and all – plus way more options for cool stuff post-event. Further, since OR isn’t quite as hectic as CES/Interbike/Eurobike, I don’t mind losing the 1hr of commute time (whereas at the other events every minute counts).

  13. Mike

    Hi Ray.

    What mount are you using for the Hero3? Looks very minimal, I like it very much.

    Thank you,

    • I’m using the K-Edge mounts. In general it’s my go-to mount for just about everything action-cam related. Just so much more sturdy*. At least, when I remember to take them off my desk at home prior to going on a trip…(sigh, forgot them for the the other two cameras).

      *I generally don’t subscribe to the theory of needing a super-expensive K-Edge mount for holding one’s Garmin unit (that series of theirs), but for action cam mounts, having stability is key.

    • Mike

      Thanks Ray for your reply. Was not aware that the K-Edge does the GoPro as well. Will definitely get one.

      Lets hope one day you’ll share with us a photo of your accessories bag you take on your trips. I am sure there is one pick & go emergency bag to go with all the cables. The amount of watches and meters you carry in certain time for testing probably forces you to be ready any time – not to mention device’s own charging and syncing cradles for each of them.

      Greetings from Prague.

    • Actually, it’s just giant bins of unsorted stuff. It’s kinda a mess. Sometimes it’s sorted, but then it slowly merges together when I can’t find something.

      Getting more bins and a better system is something on the docket for this weekend. Part of the problem is lack of space in our small apartment, so it’s not super easy to find things because it has to be condensed down to fit in a minimal stack.

      Thankfully at least on action cameras they all use either micro-USB or mini-USB. Whereas watches are all over the place charger-wise.