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5 Random Things I Did This Weekend

Here’s a complete rundown (or, in this case, swim/bike/rundown) of what was happening this past weekend in my little world.

1) Did a bit of a rush hour triathlon of sorts

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With a final Garmin FR920XT unit in hand, I set out to test out all three sports in a real-world triathlon.  Lacking a proper race, I just made up my own.  Though, oddly, I didn’t actually take any photos of it.  Don’t ask, I don’t know why.  I just didn’t.  Complete brain fart.

But, I did publish a bit of a video with all the results and how it worked, you can find that here on YouTube.  I simply started off outside the city at a swimming spot, and then biked back to home before heading out on a 5K run.  Basically, a sprint triathlon…done at 5PM on a Friday.  Thankfully I could stay off the busy city roads for all but the last mile or so, and even then there’s bike lanes.

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More importantly than the FR920XT test data was that my route worked out exceedingly well.  As in ‘why the heck didn’t I ever think of that before’ kind of well.  Figures I’d realize it now at the end of the tri season.  Sigh.

2) Helped The Girl Celebrate 2 Years of Bertie’s CupCakery!

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This weekend was the 2nd anniversary/birthday of the CupCakery that The Girl opened up in October 2012.  It’s hard to believe two years have gone by that quickly, but I’m incredibly proud of what she’s built in that time.

Like last year we had a bit of a celebration at the shop, where anyone could come by and get free Champagne and cupcakes.  Obviously, that makes people pretty happy.

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And as is almost never case – we briefly had all the employees there at the same time (for about 10 minutes of overlap).  Our employees are amazingly awesome, and we couldn’t do it without them.  So, we used that 10 minutes to get a group photo:

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Well, I suppose we only used about 20 seconds of that 10 minutes, because then people pushed through to get more cupcakes.  Which I suppose is a fair response to free cupcakes and bubbly.

And don’t worry, we’ve still got lots of goodness coming up on the CupCakery front…so hang tight!

3) A little bit of Nuit Blanche:

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After wrapping up things at the CupCakery on Saturday night, we headed out on the town with a group of friends.  That night was the annual Nuit Blanche (White Night), where art installations are scattered across the city on routes that you can follow.  These art installations are one-night stands, and start at 8PM and go till around sunrise the next morning.  Additionally, various buildings will stay illuminated as well later than normal.

For example, the above balloon exhibit in front of the city hall had individual lights in each of the balloons.  Those balloons were then controlled by tablets, and I believe each person/tablet could control a single string of balloon colors (all instantly).

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This year was different in that they actually painted a blue line on several routes across the city, making it easy to walk from section to section simply following the blue line.  I believe there were three core routes – all ending at city hall.  Each one many miles in length.  I suspect if you ran them all it’d probably be 20 miles of blue line.

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In our case we headed up the hill and stumbled into a library that was opened at night.  The scene inside was completely unreal.

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More so though when at one end there was a gigantic pile of crumpled up paper, which you could add to by grabbing a free poster and then throwing it up there.  This person made a paper airplane.

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Yes, it looks sorta like blood.  Don’t disagree there.

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Outside of that there was this gigantic moving statue.  It looked like an insect and was slowly creeping in a loop around the Pantheon.  They’d remove the wood pieces from the end of it (it was perhaps 75 meters long), and then add them to the front, where it’d slowly be moving forward.  We watched for about 10 minutes and it was pretty impressive.

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There were a few other things that we saw, but none of them quite came out well on camera unfortunately.  Still, pretty cool, especially in that it’s totally free and all over the city.

4) Breakfast at Holy Belly

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By ‘having breakfast’, I mean at lunchtime.  Actually, more like early dinner time.  We got there for a bit of a brunch with the same group of friends from the night before, but due to the crowds we had to wait a bit.  Turns out, according to their Instagram feed this was the busiest day in history for them.

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No worries though, we just enjoyed hanging out.  Oh, and yes, it was awesome – like it always is.  Bourbon butter on pancakes and fried eggs with bacon always is.  Always.

5) A 10-mile run testing our courses.

After breakfast lunch I did a bit of a loop on (or rather next to) the peripherique, which is the ring road around Paris.  In general, it’s not super-scenic in terms of gorgeous Parisian monuments. Rather, it mostly looks like this:

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However, it is quite functional from a running standpoint since it has a bike/pedestrian path all the way around it – making it super easy to run with few people.  Plus, it’s got some really nice rollers (hills), thus it keeps the terrain shifting a bit.

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The primary goal of my run, aside from getting in a run, was actually to test out the courses feature.  Thus, about halfway through the ring road I created a route that crossed back over the city through all assortment of buildings zigzagging down through different areas.  The idea here being that I’d never run in this area previously and simply would have to depend on the watch to get back home.

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For the most part, that worked fairly well.  The only challenge is with the FR920XT you can’t zoom in manually within an activity.  The unit will auto-zoom in while you’re moving, which means you see the above view, which is about a .60-.75mi view.  This works fine for places where you have major avenues and you know where you’re going.

When you stop however, it zooms back to show you the entire route (which, I’d say is useless).  But, ignoring that, the challenge with the .75mi zoomed view is that in a city environment when I approach a 6-way intersection I can’t actually figure out which tangent I’m supposed to run down.  So to that end, I had one error running down the wrong street about 50 meters before it told me I was off course and I had to change directions.

Thus, I’d give navigation with courses about a B+ there.  I got home successfully, and only had one error, but, it wasn’t perfect.  It was interesting to see how precise it was on the completion of the course – down to within a few feet of the specified stopping point.  I actually had to cross the street to finish the route since that’s exactly where the finishing point was, as I was still 24ft short on the wrong side of the street.  Kinda neat.

As for outside the courses functionality, I continue to be impressed there – it’s working well.  Oh, and aside from the FR920XT, I was also running with the women’s focused Bia Watch on a few runs this weekend.  So that’s in the ‘active’ queue now also.

Bia’s done a bunch of firmware/site updates over the past year, so I’ve been working my way through those.  Of course, the watch is in many ways the complete opposite of the FR920XT.  Different strokes for different folks.

With that – hope everyone has a great week ahead!  Thanks for reading!

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63 Comments

  1. David Lusty

    Any chance of a rolling pin of the 920XT now you have the final unit? I’d especially like to see it next to the polar RC3 and v800 if possible – the v800 for direct comparison I guess you’ll do anyway but the RC3 because the dimensions look similar on paper and the RC3 feels small on my wrist compared to other sports watches despite the size of it.
    Thanks for all the great posts recently!

  2. Gary B

    Hey Ray where is the link to your ant+ symposium talk? I know I should get a life but I find the whole ant+ v Bluetooth smart thing both frustrating (from user perspective) and fascinating (from geek perspective)

  3. Allyn Crowe

    Can’t wait to hear your thoughts on the Bia. I’ve been using it since the first batch shipped and have been enjoying it. They have a ways to go on software, with some HW limitations, but overall it’s been decent so far. Good to support “the little guy (well girl I guess)”. And even though it’s woman focused, as a guy I still like it. Small, light, and pretty solid.

  4. AJohns

    Pistachio Vanilla or Pistachio Chocolate at Bertie’s?

  5. Rob

    Wow, those CupCakery employees are all so tall!

  6. The navigation looks like the Edge 500 navigation, with the latest (last?) firmware. I’ve been using that a lot lately cycling and it’s extremely useful but flaky. The course disappears occasionally, and if you go off course, it is common no clue is provided other than “distance to course” how to get back. Part of this is the lack of control over zoom level, which you point out. There’s also a bit of a lag so when riding through roundabouts it’s easy to overshoot to the wrong exit if you’ve not identified the correct exit going in. But it’s a lot easier than navigating off the iPhone, at least when keeping the phone in a jersey pocket.

    • portlandpaul

      It also seems similar to the 910’s “navigation” functionality, which I use a lot in my longer rides. At least the 910 has manual control over the zoom, but I totally agree that the lag and the all too frequent disappearance of the course, makes it a bit frustrating.

      Unlike Kyle’s comment (below), the length of the ride doesn’t seem to affect it – it’s equally good/bad no matter the duration of the ride.

  7. Luis

    Hi Ray, how does the 920XT behave in tunnels? Does it fall back to the watch accelerometers and back to GPS? Do you see blirps in speed/pace records?

    • I haven’t had a chance to hit up any tunnels yet. The unusual long ones I run that are normally closed for cars on Sundays, were open this past Sunday for cars (I think it was due to the Nike 10K race here). Next weekend I suppose.

  8. Captain Chris

    My favorite thing in this post is the picture of the cupcake family. You and the Girl are good people and it shows.

    Thanks for what you do!

  9. Reed

    Hi Ray,

    From the last photo, it seems like you can load local map in 920xt on top of basemap like fenix/fenix2?

    Can wait for your full review of 920xt. Still can’t convince my wife to upgrade my fenix as I do lots of running with occasional swimming thrown in. Sigh…

  10. Edward King Long CHAN

    How does the 920xt gps behave? Is it accurate compared to SiRFstar?

  11. morey000

    I’m just amazed that you can run shortly after that breakfast (lunch).

  12. Daniel

    If you compare navigation on the 920 with the Ambit3; which one do you prefer? (Looking at navigation only!)

  13. Kyle Polansky

    Hey Ray, if possible could you also do a long cycling route test with the FR 920XT? I currently have the 310XT and courses work fine for shorter distances, but they usually have some problems on long bikes. Specifically: taking a very long time to update while riding, especially when you are off course. It’s usually OK-ish when following the course, but say 30 miles into a ride I make a wrong turn, and the watch is so slow updating the screen that I can’t figure out which way it is back to the course.

    • Yup, I’ll do some longer rides over the next few weeks.

    • Daniel

      I know what you mean. I have the same issue with the 310 when running:
      link to youtube.com

      Garmin told me, there is no fix and this is no issue. However I asked around in the Ultrarunning Community in Germany and figured out that it is a known issue with all new firmware versions.

      If you had the old 3.00 (or older) firmware of the 310XT, you do not have any blank-screens or lags. They just introduced new bugs in the to updates and there is no way back to an older version.

      Daniel

    • Dom

      Daniel,
      One issue with the 310xt is the track disappearing completely because the points are too far apart. Couple of ways around this, one being to use gpsies.com and export with the option of regular point placement every 20 m. See this thread on the Garmin forums
      Nothing to be done about very slow updating, though.
      This started when Garmin revised the course code so that it could handle longer courses (over 30 miles if I remember rightly).
      Fenix course handling is less problematic, and it’s easier to get a 3rd-party course in via USB.

  14. Tommy

    Call it what you want (breakfast, lunch, brunch, whatever) it looks amazing under any name! What is the fried object on the left side of the plate? I am drooling just looking at this, bacon, eggs and pancakes are my go to meal (probably eat them 4-5 times a week) and they never look that good!

  15. Robert

    Congrats on the 2yr anniversary!! Those cupcakes look delicious!

  16. JimG

    Always love the 5 Random Things post. I’m keeping my own now too. So far, your weekends are a lot more exciting than mine!

    We are headed back to Paris in April 2015 from Alaska. I’ve got Bertie’s and the Bourbon Butter Pancakes on my list of ‘must-do’s”!

  17. Anonymous Coward

    Did your course use turn-by-turn directions or just GPS breadcrumbs? Would be interested to hear if the 920XT can still do TCX cue sheet entries a la 910XT. And if the 920XT allows you to customize the cue sheet nav view (it’s fixed to four fields on 910XT.) See: Garmin Edge 500, 310xt, and 910xt Navigation thread on ST.

  18. Zooming out when stopped seems worse then useless, if you’re confused when following a route it seems like you’d be very likely to stop and look at the watch to figure out where to go next do zoom in more would be useful and zoom out makes the watch useless to figure out where to go

    • Garett

      Yeah, it almost seems like they accidentally flipped the coding. I wonder if that will be fixed in a future firmware update?

    • Dom

      I agree. I was running public trails I’d never seen before with my fenix on Sunday, and wound up stopping several times to figure out exactly which of the vague paths ahead of me was the right one. I was pushing buttons to zoom in, not out, and usually working with 800 feet zoom, probably quite a lot closer than the auto zoom.

  19. Alves

    What is the difference for fenix 2? Worth a change?

  20. Oscar P

    Ok. Let’s be honest here for a second. How many Ray clones do you have to get all that done on top of just answering all those questions for the 920XT?

  21. Markus

    Why Garmin put in a Autozoom. This is worse an no help to navigation on unknown Trails.

  22. Funny how I started reading because of the 920 review, and very quickly got distracted by the cool art and cupcakes :)

    Guess it really must be the off season! :)

    http://www.oxygenaddict.com

  23. Is it possible to upload waypoints from PC MapSource or BaseCamp?

  24. Lieven

    Don’t you worry about pollution when running on the peripherique? I would assume there are healthier places to run because of car emissions, particulate matter, …

  25. Nicolas

    Do you know if it’s legal to swim in la Marne as you did? I thought that swimming in all the rivers around Paris was forbidden. Otherwise I’ll quickly go there and give it a try, that must be awesome in summer!

  26. avi

    The auto zoom seems like a step back. DC, do you think that this may be resolved to add manual zooming in future updates? If not then likely will not be buying.

  27. Tim Grose

    Can largely confirm Ray’s observations on courses with the 920
    I made a few comments here in link to forums.garmin.com

  28. DS

    Ah, I recognize that library, though I’ve only ever seen it from the street. It’s opposite the Pantheon, I think. I’ve always wanted to go inside, but never have.

    Green. With. Envy. For the cupcakes, too.

  29. Dr Matt

    Hey Ray,
    Curious what you think of the button interface of the 920 compared to the touch screen of the 620 while running now that you’ve had a couple weeks with it?
    -thanks

    • It feels natural to me, mostly because it largely mirrors the FR910XT. On the flip side, I still like the FR620 for a running watch, and will likely go back to it as a running watch after the 920XT review cycle, simply because I like a smaller watch. But, we’ll see, all the little 920XT features are slowly growing on me…

  30. Adam

    I use the 910 and F2 for long trail runs lasting over 3hr and noticed an issue with the F2. The watch only records GPS tracks “every second” even when set to “smart recording”. This issue is a concern due to the 10,000 track point log; meaning that on activities lasting longer than 2:45min I loose my track history on the map screen. So on a 6hr run if I get turned around or lost, I cant follow my track back to my start with the F2. I’ve been, voicing my concern with Garmin to get the smart recording fixed. My question to you is, did you have the 920 set to smart recording when you did your TRI? I looked at the gps track from the activity you shared and your watch recorded every second after you got out of the water. I hope Garmin hasn’t given up on smart gps tracks. Thanks for the info.

    • I have it set as 1s. The Garmin FR920XT allows you to set any activity to 1s or Smart Recording.

    • Oh, as a side note, I vaguely remember that a bug fix went in recently (can’t quite find the e-mail) on the Fenix2 around the scenario you describe where you set it as Smart but it records at 1s.

      Also, 3.80 and above does allow greater than 10K data points as long as 2MB or more of storage space is available. Previously, it required 5MB of storage space.

    • Adam

      Thanks for the help. My F2 always keeps my full track when I upload my activities; I do keep 5-7mb free on the device. My issues are regarding the map page. After 10,000 points the “bread crumb” trail follows you around like the old snake game loosing the first points you recoded. Very frustrating.

  31. Robert Taylor

    Having only stumbled by your web site/blog approximately 8 months ago, so I’m a bit in the dark of past history regarding all, but now that you reside in Paris, will the DC be updated on your blog to reflect your locale versus Washington DC?

    Am always in awe of a baker’s talents, imagination and it is apparent your lovely wife possesses a God given talent for both.

    Your posts of Paris, Europe is so fascinating as it shows those aspects of both from a laymans pov. So envious!

  32. Congrats with the shop what an amazing achievement! We just missed the celebrations by a few days by the looks of it. We travelled all the way from Sydney and of course bumped into the world-famous cupcake shop in one of the most beautiful spots you can imagine within the most beautiful city in the world. Loved it!