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5 Random Things I Did This Weekend

First up, just as a quick Black Friday/Cyber Monday update… I’ll be updating the existing post throughout the day as new Cyber Monday items hit. Amazon announces their listings about 12 hours prior, so by time most US folks wake up, those will be there.

Additionally, there are two notable Clever Training deals ending today; first is the Garmin FR910XT deal (all three variants, including the base, HR, and tri bundles); as well as the TomTom deals, including the $99 Runner edition.  All the links and details can be found in my now massive post here.

Here’s what I was up to on this sorta-not-really holiday weekend here in France.

1) Had Thanksgiving (on Saturday)

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For most US folks living outside the US, you can’t quite just randomly take off a Thursday to cook up a proper Americana Thanksgiving Feast.  So instead, we relocated it to Saturday.  Well, we and 20 of our American Friends (ok, there were a few Canadian and French castaways there too).

In this case, we weren’t the host, but rather our photographer and chef friends were (it’s always good to have chef friends).  But like everyone else, we brought dishes as well.  So we headed to the Saturday market behind the house to pickup supplies.

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And let’s be honest, you can never have enough wine, especially when it’s so cheap here (for those curious, total wine-bottle count for the evening/night was 19 bottles for 21 people, a surprising low for this group, I think the food slowed us down).  And there was so.much.food.

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And desserts, both classic US versions, and even a French variant on pumpkin pie (with Speculoos pie crust!).

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Good to have friends with both good cooking capabilities, as well as just being fun to hang out with!

2) Went to the Opera…saw Hansel and Gretel

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Despite what you might take away from reading my five random things each week, we actually don’t partake in too many ‘cultural’ events within the city here.  We take part in many random events we stumble into, but not so much in the realm of the arts (minus the rotating weekly art gallery that’s below our apartment).

We’ve only been to the Orchestra once a year or two ago, and when I saw an ad for Hansel and Gretel at the Opera in the subway a few weeks ago, I figured it might make for a good opportunity to check out the famous opera house here.

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The inside of the place is incredible, especially the ceilings and balconies.

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Now, as amazing as the building was…I’ve gotta say, I’ve never been more confused at an arts performance as I was on Friday night.

See, apparently, I probably should have actually watched Hansel and Gretel or read the story beforehand again as a refresher.  It turns out, when the performance is in German (well, German Opera), with French subtitles way at the top of the stage, things get a bit confusing.  Somehow, 30 seconds of German opera singing was boiled down to four basic French words.

For example, I’m unclear why the wicked witch was going down on the broomstick, nor when in a children’s story that the sideways shuffle is a momentous event.  Apparently, it is.  Though, ‘Hocus Pocus’ transcends German, French, and English, thankfully.

No worries, despite all this – we rather enjoyed it.  Having been in youth symphonies through high school (violin), I loved watching the orchestra.  And, the sets and costumes were awesome.  Plus, the musical element and opera performances were great – even if it was confusing.

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3) More unboxing: FitBit Charge, Basis Peak, and more…

This week was clearly the arrivals of all of the ‘almost in time for the holidays’ products.  These being products that were kinda sorta about 30-45 days late on arrivals, only arriving in the last week or so.  In general, you want to have products in-market by early-November for holiday purchases.

Nonetheless, I got into things.  There was the FitBit Charge (but not yet the Charge HR, nor the Surge), and the Basis Peak.

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I’ve been wearing the Basis Peak 24×7 since early Friday or so.  I think I’m going to rock out a post later this week on it, since I know many of you are interested.  It’ll probably sit halfway between a ‘First Look’ and an ‘In-Depth Review’.

Plus, I had tons of random accessories come in, like the Garmin Quick Release Kit.  I’ve placed about a dozen photos of that within the FR920XT review now.  Also the fabric band for the FR920XT.  And, then I unboxed a new Scosche Rhythm optical HR model that has onboard storage as well as music control.

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Oh, and then there was the Tacx Satori Smart (final production version) that I picked up in Amsterdam on Thursday during a quick work day trip up there.  Simply met briefly at the train station for a quick handoff.

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And of course, there was a slew of other random things I’m forgetting.

4) Went to a ski area…in Paris.

Last weekend while walking our way back from the big tall tower, we stumbled upon them setting up for some sort of ski-related festival.  So we mentally noted it to come back and check out this weekend (and astoundingly, we actually remembered).

Turns out, it was pretty cool.

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It was essentially a ton of ski areas from France that came together to make a four day ski area focused festival in a square.

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Most resorts had small booths with information about them, or, about various ski related items, such as waxing skiis

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Or, biathlon:

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Actually, biathlon had two areas, one in the main square, and one down some nearby streets (where the festival continued).  In this case the kids both shot (laser guns)…

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As well as had to ski:

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And there was legit real snow for toddlers to take their first ski run:

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The best thing though was the crazy jump they setup, that kids could go down on an inner tube into a gigantic airbag.

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Here’s, it’s better shown in a video, in this case, towards the end of the day with some of the workers (though, the kids were actually getting more airtime):

Pretty crazy, huh?

5) A nice evening run in the mist (and maybe a bit of snow?)

Finally, we wrapped things up with each of us heading out into the questionably misting/maybe snowing barely Sunday night.

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My run wasn’t terribly fancy, just sorta along some of my usual fall/winter running routes (which vary slightly from summer routes that have heavier tourist volume).  For example, the Louvre was nice and quiet tonight:

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And the bike lanes along the river were also equally as quiet.  I usually run on the dirt to the side there, as it’s much less busy than the pedestrian walkway to the far side.  And for some reason, in that section the pedestrians like walking 12-across.

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My turn around point was the Statue of Liberty, which makes for a nice roughly 10-ish mile loop from home.

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And yup, of course I was testing out the Basis Peak on all my runs this weekend.

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With that, onto the week ahead!

Thanks for reading!

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62 Comments

  1. Martin

    Awesome as usual, any idea when a full review of the Satori Smart Trainer will be done. Im very interested in buying this as I have out grown my very basic magnetic trainer (I think it maxes out around 250-280 watts!)

    • Not quite sure. But, I’ll be doing a combo review of the three Smart Trainers. Since they share so many components (apps primarily), it makes the most sense in order to minimize duplication.

    • Martin

      Hi Ray,
      I know you’re busy as hell, but would you have any estimation for the date of this review? I’m just about to buy one of Tacx’s trainers (deciding between Santori and Vortex) and review of all three would be a big help. Thanks for doing an awesome job! DC is definitely in my TOP 10 internet sites :)

      Cheers

    • I’d love to get something out before Dec 18th, if I can. Just slammed right now with a lot of balls in the air. If it doesn’t go by the 18th, it wouldn’t likely be until after Christmas since I’m travelling then.

      That said, when looking at those two specifically, it really comes down to one major item: Do you want automatic control? The Satori is just a lever you attach to your handlebars, whereas the Vortex is true computerized resistance.

      If I were to give a recommendation there, I think the Vortex is the better option if you can afford it. And, I’m optimistic Tacx will see the light on the trainer profile.

    • Martin

      Thanks for such fast answer :) I was looking at Vortex anyways, so now I’m decided. Merry Christmas Ray ;)

    • Andre moraes

      I’m in for a vortex if they open the platform
      Their software looks great but I’m not going to buy something that is locked to just the vendor software

    • Martin

      Hi Ray,
      I have one more, rather important question to ask. I’ve purchased Tacx Vortex Smart last week and I’ve been trying it ever since. However, I’m not sure the readings I get (speed and distance) are accurate and there is other way how I could verify it. I just did 50 minutes ride, 90rpm on rather high gear and it showed 18km and avg speed 21 (although the current speed was ~30kmh all the time). It’s really odd. In general..how accurate are these readings? If they are not, what’s the point of having a trainer in first place? Big thanks for answer!

    • The speeds should actually be spot-on in relation to what the unit is saying. Are you seeing differences between the app avg and a device? Or, is it that something else doesn’t match? Just trying to see where I can replicate?

    • Martin

      To be as specific as I can get – this is the training as recorded by suunto ambit (first version), paired with tacx as Bike Pod – link to movescount.com . There are 2 “odd” things – no matter what I do, my ambit always record avg speed as 11.5kmh + calculate wrong distance (about half of what tacx app shows). And the other thing is speed volatility. I’m pedaling at same frequency (look at cadence) but speed goes up and down from 30kmh to 15kmh and back to 30kmh in seconds. So I have these two recording devices, both showing widely different numbers and I don’t know which one to believe.

      Does my question make sense to you? Thanks for your time Ray! :)

    • Doug P

      Martin: I’ve had similar readings outside from my speed/cadence sensor (reading full speed then half speed: 30km, 15km, 30km again) and it was positioning of the speed sensor/the main unit bring covered in dirt mud etc: was only reading 1/2 the time, meaning half the speed.

    • Martin

      Thanks Doug, but these readings are on my trainer which is brand new (week old) and inside. So dirt is no excuse. In the meanwhile, I’ve found another bug, now directly within the tacx mobile application which shows weird average speed and distance too. I took a video of this behavior – link to youtube.com . I was riding 1 hour with speed >30kmh, but the avg speed was slowing decreasing all the time. In this video, you can see it starts at 27.2kmh and drops to 27.0 while I still pedal above 30kmh.. I really don’t know what am I doing wrong :/

    • Martin

      Update from Tacx support:

      Hello Martin

      we did find a bug in the avarage speed that is dropping with a constant speed. We are looking for a fix

      Kind Regards,

      Tacx Support

  2. ToniM

    New Scosche Rhythm! I was considering buying the Rhythm+ in the next week.
    Any release date available for the new model?

    • MattB

      And are they going to sort out a proper supply to Europe with this model?

    • For the previous rythm+, finally available in France (and maybe other countries through amazon and ebay (the way I used) )
      link to boutiquemarathon.com

      I hope we are allowed to post commercial links (I am not related to this shop). If not, feel free to delete it.

    • Ampestijn

      mine arrives today
      crud!
      ps: bought in europe on amazon (the german one)

    • My understanding is that it’s shipping already, through a company that licensed it called Turbo Roster (turboroster.com).

    • MattB

      Hmm… still no availability for the Rhythm+ on Amazon UK (and at £90!!). I found it in stock at £65 new from one Ebay seller, and £70-80 everywhere else (though there only seems to be one or two Ebay resellers and one online UK supplier I have not heard of before), plus postage from mainland Europe. It really bugs me paying nearly the dollar price in local currency, so I might hold off and see if the new unit pushes the older one’s price down a bit… I reckon mid-£50’s would probably make me pull the trigger.

    • Grant

      Maybe try going via the link on DC’s Black Friday post to buy the Rhythm+ from Clever Training. If you add the DCR10JKW code at checkout it will come to around £60 including postage (and the free headphones).

    • MattB

      But add 20% for import tax, and it’s a wash.. I looked at it, believe me!

      To be honest I’m really hoping Ray can get his European CT-esque partner sorted out in the next few months, as I’d happily pay more if it supported the site (poke poke! Yes, I know he’s working on it!) – I’d say I’ve had my money’s worth then!

  3. Oliver

    I just purchased the Scosche Rhythm+ on Friday! Any other changes in addition to the storage and music control? Will the not version be able to store data for later synching?

    • The older units don’t have any onboard storage there, so they can’t be updated.

      Outside of that though, there aren’t any other changes, so for the vast majority of folks, the existing unit is rather perfect.

    • Matt

      My Scosche Rhythm+ is the most reliable HR strap I’ve ever used. However, the Velcro pads that are glued onto the strap worked for about 2 months before i had to reattach them with needle and thread. Why they didn’t think to add some stitch work to them at the factory I don’t understand. How long did they really expect that glue would hold up under constant saturation with water, sweat, etc.?

    • Interesting, I haven’t killed my strap yet (since spring). That said, I know they make replacement straps and I wanna say it was only a few dollars. If you e-mail Scosche I’d even be willing to bet they’ll just send you a new one straight up as a customer service item. Everyone that contacts them seems pretty happy after talking to their CS folks.

    • S

      Does the additional storage mean storing HR during swims like the Suunto HRM?

    • Yes, but only with a specific app to download it.

  4. Dan G

    Be careful with the quick release straps… i’ve lost watches before using those when knocked during a race (it was even tucked under my wetsuit). These days I stick to a normal strap and just track the bike with an Edge plus leave the 910xt (soon to be 920xt hopefully) on my wrist

  5. Greg

    I notice you wear wool gloves? How do you like them as I tried a few pairs and found them to be like swiss cheese in the cold northeast wind?

    Do people run with mittens? When its like 5 degrees, the little mountain hardware powerstretch gloves just dont cut it and I feel like a goofball running in thick fleece gloves

    • Tim

      With air temperature less than 10 degrees F, or even a little warmer with winds I will wear mittens. One of my favorite pairs is the Saucony “Run Mitt”. It seems relatively thin, but I have to be careful not to wear it too warm as my hands just sweat on the inside!

      On the coldest days (0 F with “Feels like” -15 F or lower), I will wear smartwool liner glove inside of a mitten.

    • It’s funny, those little gloves are cheap $1 gloves at running expo’s in the US. In fact, that exact pair is seriously one I got from my first half-marathon some 7 years ago. No kidding (it’s super faded, but you can still make it out).

      It’s good for anything down to about 0*C/32*F. Below that, I usually put on some legit gloves, which are generally just cycling gloves because I’m too cheap to buy regular running gloves.

  6. Heather

    Looking forward to the review on the Basis Peak! Still waiting for mine to ship from Rei. Got a real good deal on it with my member discount and free shipping :) Hope that it is all that it is purported to be! I am really interested in the 24/7 HR tracking for more accurate daily calorie burn, sleep tracking and the smart phone notifications won’t hurt either, when they become available. I really hope Basis will allow third party app synchronization with myfitnesspal and others. Also I hope they get a move on Android syncing. Not everyone has a iphone people, geesh!

    • It’s the 3rd party piece that has me concerned. They don’t have any ability to export data in any fashion, and even responses as recent as this weekend said they were ‘Still looking at it’, which, I’d remind folks is the same thing they said to me some three years ago. It’s never made sense to me, given the entire point of the device is being a haven for data geeks on health & fitness. Yet, the one feature that data geeks like…is the data, and they don’t give you access to it. Disappointing.

    • Heather

      Agreed. I hope they are listening. With so many comparable products out or soon to be out, if they want to keep up with the competition they need to implement 3rd party app integration. Guess we will have to try to figure out away to add data manually :( Boo hoo! For a device that is supposed to automate so many different fields of data collection, that would be decidedly **not** automatic. I fo beleive I saw/read/heard something about Strava and Endomondo integration, possibly from their blog over on the Basis website. If so maybe there will be a way. Possibly Peak>Endomondo>MyfitnessPal. Would be nice!

    • Matt B

      Ray,

      I found this tool quite useful in extracting data for the Basis Peak: link to sourceforge.net

      It’s a bit clunky and manual, but there is a way to extract the data.

      Overall though, it’s definitely more the point that they are unwilling or uninterested in opening up their platform. I’ve had the Peak for about 3 weeks and while it’s good in a lot of aspects, I just can’t see myself using it long term without some connection to the outside world (MyFitnessPal would be a really great start).

    • Nice. I’ll have to poke into that a bit before the end of the week.

    • Cristina

      For the Basis Peak, it would also be helpful to cover whether there’s anyway to sync with it/manage it other than a smart phone. I bought one, got it home, and excitedly started charging it only to realize that it won’t play with my Droid 4 and that there’s apparently no way to manage it other than by smart phone. I find it really hard to believe there’s not a way to manage it via laptop

    • Yeah, I noticed that as well last night (lack of PC). I’ll find out if that’s in the cards.

  7. Nicholas

    That was an amazing weekend. I’m tired just from reading it. I always get jealous reading about friends and wine. We’ve got quite a few decent wineries here in So Cal and I have quite a few friends who partake yet I doubt we come close to a bottle per person on a meal or evening. Of course a few of us do so we need more good similar friends so we don’t seem like such outliers.

  8. Chris

    My 310xt bit the dust last week, so I decided to try and go without a GPS watch for a little bit. I just ordered the Mio Fuse to try it out but now wondering whether the Basis Peak is a better choice. Based on the advertised specs, is access to the data the only benefit to the Mio (aside from obvious form factor differences)?

    • It’s a bit different. The Fuse is a heart rate monitor first (and a really solid one technology-wise) that broadcasts in ANT+ and BLE. Then, in second, it’s an activity tracker. Whereas the Basis is more about 24×7 activity and body monitoring, and less about getting data elsewhere via standard channels.

    • Chris

      Thanks. The primary use for me will be to track my workouts. I don’t want to wear multiple devices, though. I also don’t like wearing a chest strap everyday. I have basically been using only Garmin GPS + SportTracks for several years now. I’ll give the Fuse a try and probably within a month I’ll be ordering a new GPS watch.

  9. steve w

    Hi Ray, I know you haven’t had time to review the Tacx trainers, but I’m trying to decide between a Tacx Vortex Smart or a CycleOps Powersync (or maybe ultra-cheapo if I can’t decide). Looking at your training software review it seems like the Tacx resistance can only be controlled by the Tacx software, so presumably it can only be used with Tacx software at least for now, yet the Vortex Smart is in your recommended trainers. Given the 20% Cycle Ops discounts, is the Power Synch/Power Beam a much safer bet, or might I be overly concerned about the software compatability issue? Thanks!

  10. Ray, what is your quick “first take” for the Basis Peak? Yes I realize you have a bigger post planned, but have you found the unit works decent for you? During my short time with one, that I ended up returning due to the issues, it just lacked accuracy with my BPM. The more I moved my arm, the less samples it picked up. Using such a device for non-running (elliptical, Schwinn Airdyne, etc) it just seems like it failed miserably. Your prior reviews of optical HRM devices tends to mimic this… so I’m anxious to hear if you actually “like” the Basis Peak.

    • It’s a mix. I find HR accuracy rough during the first few minutes of a run. During the run, I find it mostly good, but certainly not enough that I could depend on it 100% of the time like other units.

      From a daily standpoint, it seems pretty reasonable, though, funny enough it actually thought I was asleep for both acts at the opera (down to the minute actually).

  11. Ian

    Hi Ray

    Is the Fabric strap the same as the one that comes with the Fenix 2? i.e. could I use the Fenix 2 one on the 920xt?

    Cheers

    Ian

  12. Richard Kaufmann

    Any more info on the new Scosche Rhythm+? They deny all existence :-)

    And related: I just bought some replacement straps — the link is link to scosche.com

  13. Francis C

    Hi Ray. I also purchased the Scosche Rythm+, can you elaborate a little bit more on the difference between the one I bought from Clever Training that included the free earphones with the one you got? Specifically, you mentioned that it has memory, what IP rating does it have? My assumption is that they may make a model that you can wear while swimming for long periods of time so you can wear it in a full IM? I’m contemplating wearing mine for a half IM next year but I don’t think it will last the whole time I’m swimming. Thanks!

    • I believe they’re all the same IP rating.

      Beyond that, the only difference is the remote control for music and the ability to save HR data and download it using a specific app.

  14. Tom

    It’ll be interesting to read your report on the basis, will you all be able to compare it to the Epson Pulsense that you tried a while back? the pulsense doesn’t have the activity sensing feature of the basis, or looks quite as refined, but the 24/7 logging, long battery life and the fact it can broadcast to any app that supports Bluetooth smart means it’s the best one on paper to me so far.

    The only unknown really is the accuracy of the optical sensor, so would be good to hear your thoughts in a comparison with the basis, pulsense and others

  15. Goodness – is everything more beautiful in France? Your pictures from this weekend are stunning!

  16. PeterG

    Every time I see the Basis Peak I think about the story Andy Grove tells in the book “Only the Paranoid Survive”. What I remember from the book was on Mr Grove’s desk was a watch made and sold by Intel in the early days of the company. Mr Grove said he kept the watch on his desk to remind him of Intel’s failed business venture into the watch business, and to remind him never to do it again.

    Now the cycle has completed and all sorts of companies including Intel are trying to get into watches ! Pretty ironic, interesting to see what you think about it. For sure, Intel can bring big pockets to companies like Basis, but can they really compete with small agile companies like Withings, Fitbit, and other companies like Garmin, Polar and Apple ? May the activity tracker war continue … for sure we the consumers will win, and the activity trackers of today will evolve rapidly in the next 2 to 3 years..

    • What’s ironic is that in theory Basis was that small startup company. The problem was, they’ve never been agile or quick, despite being in the tech hotbed of San Fran. The fact that they’ve been working on this for two years, and this was the result is tough in the market of major companies and smaller ones like you noted innovating far faster.

      Anyway, just putting finishing touches on the review…

    • Heather

      Seems the Basis Peak is mia. I ordered mine from Rei and it is still on backorder. What us more Rei has removed it completely from their website! It is also out of stock on Amazon. Perhaps Basis has recalled the Peak till the proposed firmware update???

  17. Richard

    i was about to buy a Wahoo Kickr. is there a Tacx product i should be considering instead?

    • Not unless they announce some form of open trainer platform. Until then, the KICKR is the best money can buy.

    • Richard

      i currently have a Computrainer, and am thinking of switching based on your recommendation. i primarily use my CT on animated courses where I can race against the rider from my last ride. is there an equivalent software experience available on the KICKR?
      Also i was going to buy on Clever Training to get you the benefit. do they no longer carry it?

    • Yup, a bunch of options, check out my full listing here: link to dcrainmaker.com

      Something like RaceMyGhost would work.

      As for Clever Training, they no longer carry any Wahoo products. So, no method to support there. Though, REI does, so you could use the REI link on the Black Friday post and that certainly helps out. Thanks!

  18. Charlie

    Hey Ray, I thought I’d give this thread a bump to see if the Satori (and other Tacx trainers) were due for a full review soon. I know you’re busy with the new Garmin toys, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a little longer. Thanks!