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5 Random Things I Did This Weekend

The last and first weekend of the year!  Just two different years that is.  Here’s what I was up to as I kicked off 2017 and said goodbye to 2016!

1) There was much packing and prep

This weekend was largely about prep.  Which I suppose has been the theme of the last week.  Prep for CES.  Prep for January.  That is, all of January.

First up is CES (Consumer Electronics Show) later this upcoming week – so there are tons of things I’m getting ready for that, related to product announcements and such.  But also, prep for the rest of January.  That’s because after today I’ll spend precisely 9 hours home in Paris the rest of the month, just time between two flights after CES.  That’s it.  So I’m literally prepping for a month’s worth of reviews and posts.

While I’ve gotten a good bit written, much of the content is still to be completed.  But photos are trickier.  Take for example power meter reviews.  I’ve got two reviews that I’ve now completed the data portions for (4iiii Precision dual variant, and the WatTeam Gen2).  Meaning, I’ve done all the riding I plan to for those reviews.

The text and data portion I can do anywhere in the world, whereas the photography I have to do at home since it’s attached to those bikes.  Thus I frame out the entire review and ensure I’ve got exactly the shots I need.

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The way I organized this on Friday and Saturday was using baking sheets at the Cake Studio.  This allowed me to ensure everything was nice and tidy – and also easily movable around.  Everything on these sheets had to be shot, either indoors or outdoors.

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Of course, plenty of these posts will have photos taken elsewhere on earth (especially watch shots).  But things like comparison shots on the rolling pin and weights, I do ahead of time.  I don’t want to lug around all that stuff everywhere I go.  My bag is already full of actual gear to test (it weighed in at 60 pounds this morning at the airport).  It’s death by a thousand cuts when you start adding in small gear to play with.

2) A New Gimbal!

Speaking of gear to shoot, I had the Feiyu Tech G5 gimbal arrive this past week, and got to playing with it over the weekend.  This gimbal is notable because it’s the first designed for both the GoPro Hero5 as well as the Garmin VIRB Ultra 30.  And I was out trying both cameras with it.

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It’s also water resistant/splash proof.  Though of course, I may or may not have stepped that up a wee bit!  Go big or go home?

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So far so good, I’m impressed.  It even has a thumb-control joystick for actually controlling the gimbal head, so you can move the direction of it.  While it sounds silly at first, I found it super useful on the bike actually – more than I thought I would (I’ve long used hand-held gimbals to get various bike shots).

In any case, the review should be up in the next 7-10 days, since this is a pretty straightforward product, and I’m literally beating the @#$#@ out of it already.  I saw nothing about waterboarding being illegal in the Geneva Convention when being performed against gimbals…so…check.

3) A really cold ride

Saturday late afternoon I headed out for a ride.  It wasn’t super-cold by Swedish standards, but it was cold by Paris standards.  About 27°F/-3°C.  It was the coldest we’ve seen this season, and generally about as cold as it gets in Paris.  It rarely snows, and rarely gets much colder than the freezing point.  It always sits annoyingly just above that – rainy and a few degrees higher than freezing.

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In any event, I kinda-not-really bundled up and started riding.  My goal for this ride was largely power meter testing, along with staying half-way warm.  I really need to invest in better winter cycling gear – since I haven’t purchased new stuff in…a lot of years (probably 7-8 years).

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My ride was mostly back and forth along the river on a section of roadway they closed this past fall.  On a miserable winter day around dusk like this, it’s perfect – as it’s basically desolate.

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Thus aside from the random runners (above), I’m able to maintain speed/effort without worrying about dodging dogs and kids (and their parents).

While many others would be excited about the potential of this road’s conversion to a pedestrian area for warm summer use (and that’ll be great), I’m most excited about these dark winter nights.  It’s a great and quiet place to ride and run, all within just a few hundred meters of home, right in the absolute center of the city!

Oh, and the gimbal footage coming back looked great.  The GoPro Hero5 Black wasn’t even in any low-light mode here either, just regular mode, impressive given how dark it was by the end of the ride:

Not too shabby!

(Nitpickers corner: The red light I ran isn’t a red light for cyclists there.  The little triangle on the light post explains that.)

4) Flew across the ocean

As the sun rose on 2017, I was making my way off to the airport.  Oddly enough, despite my comment above about the lack of snow in Paris, there was actually snow at the airport.  Not really any in the city, but some 20-30 miles away it must have been cold enough for a light dusting.

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From there it was a 10-hour flight to Dallas, my connecting airport for the day.

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Sadly, I didn’t have a window seat on this flight, so you’ll have to do with a cockpit photo afterwards.

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And then another few hours of layover before a few more hours of flying off to Las Vegas.  All in though, I got a crapload of posts done, perhaps even more so since the transatlantic flight lacked WiFi (both a blessing and a curse).  I find that I tend to get more raw writing done without WiFi, whereas I tend to get more final/ready posts done with WiFi (since I can fill in links/etc…).  Luckily, since it was a holiday in most countries, e-mail/comment volume was exceedingly low – thus making the catch-up pretty easy upon landing.

Sidebar stat: In my first full calendar year (2016) sans-full time job that focused on travel, I still ended up travelling a fair bit.  I logged 101,000 butt-in-seat miles flown on Star Alliance, and another 15,000 or so on Oneworld.  Plus another 10,000 or so miles on various random European airlines that didn’t count for squat in frequent flyer programs.  In doing so I managed to retain United 1K status for my 15th year in a row, though lost British Airways Gold and ended up with Silver.  My status year is in the summer, so it kinda worked out this past year.  Either way, that’s best I can tell the lowest travel year I’ve had in 15-16 years, where I usually cleared 200,000 miles flown each year.

5) Hello Las Vegas!

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Last but not least – I have arrived in Vegas!  Which, after all is said and done is about all that I have to say.  It’s a long travel day, and I’ve got some busy days ahead.

But more on CES 2017 and some initial thoughts on that tomorrow.

Thanks for reading – and have a good week ahead.  It’s gonna get crazy busy around here – by far the busiest week of the year!

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38 Comments

  1. gingerneil

    Have a great week! Looking forward to the flood of posts….
    Any Facebook live interviews planned, or is that just not possible during such a busy week?
    (oh, and Happy New Year!)

    • My current thinking is actually do a Facebook Live Ask Anything session next week (post-CES), allowing folks to keep in mind all the CES stuff. The Girl might even stop in.

      But at the moment I hadn’t even considered a FB Live interview series here, mostly because it’s so slammed. :(

    • gingerneil

      Slacker… Sleep is for wimps! :p

  2. Happy Runner

    126,000 miles flown at an average jet speed of 550 MPH is 229 hours in the air or about 9.5 full days and nights strapped into a sealed tube.

  3. fraser

    Could be “industrial snow” at the airport. Caused by the higher pollution and airflow around the airport.

    • Gennaro

      No, no, I’ve flown from Paris CDG on Dec 30th, and driven there from about 100km further north. It was dusted with snow (and very cold) pretty much everywhere…

    • fraser

      OK. Thanks for clearing that up. :)

      We had some snow this morning in western germany too. Was a nice cushioned run at 5 o’clock in the morning.

  4. Kyle

    I noticed you ran the red light(noticed the comment about it not being a red light for bikes)…but I think i was more worried that the bus was going to turn right haha.

  5. Ray

    Are you holding the Gimbal or do you have it mounted on something. I think you have held a gymbal in the past… where do you keep in on rides as it seems like it would fall out of a back pocket

    • I’m holding it. It actually fits perfectly in my jersey pocket, placing it camera-side down. I usually place it there without issue.

      I only had one problem a few summers back when the battery handle on an older version somehow vibrated loose and fell off – but I heard that and just turned around and got it. Really odd.

    • Jordan Trump

      Thanks Chris…. this was my exact question!

  6. DLinLV

    Ray, welcome to my house. Hope you have a great CES again this year, and if you need any help while you are here, please let me know. If you get out near Lake Las Vegas for a ride or run, I am all in! We have some great terrain out here.
    Dennis

  7. Melanie W.

    I was hoping you and Ben would meet up at DFW in the parking lot in the Airstream for a pre-CES podcast.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    “Apple Watch – Review” :)

  9. Anonymous Coward

    What is that Intel (?) red/green/blue/yellow hydra plugged into the phone device? Universal USB plug? Power only?

    • It’s my favorite thing ever! It’s simply a charging cable, but has 2xMicroUSB, 1xLightning, 1xMiniUSB, 1×30-pin-connector, all connected to a regular USB port.

      It doesn’t transfer data, but is handy to have in the bag in case you forget your normal cable for charging something. You’re pretty much covered, though, now with USB-C, not as much.

      It was some random corporate event I was at, and they had bowls of them out. Best stupid conference thing ever. Beats a squishy toy any day!

  10. Patrick Utrecht

    Nice to see a cockpit picture, did you get special treatment view because of your 1k status? (whatever 1k status is ;) )
    Looking forward to the CES news, especially on the garmin watch front.

    • No special status there. 1K doesn’t mean a pile of beans on American Airlines, as it’s a United Airlines status level (means I fly more than 100K miles a year).

      Nope, I just walked up after the flight. Almost all flight crews are happy to do that after the flight (whereas before is generally not appreciated).

    • Patrick Utrecht

      That’s nice to know, not that I fly as much as you do. In fact I’m probably not even averaging once a year, but next time I’ll see if I can manage the same. I miss the times where people (kids) were allowed to view the cockpit mid flight, it’s such an amazing sight.
      1k for 100k miles… what an odd name since it would actually mean 1000 miles (too easily done i suppose) but i also suppose it sounds better.

    • gingerneil

      You normally just have to be polite…. This was on the ground at the end of a holiday flight. The pilot was excellent with my girls. I got the feeling people just don’t ask anymore. He was more than happy to spend a good 10 min with them, and answering my many questions. Sadly I didn’t get a turn in the seat! :)

  11. Pascal Bocherel

    Hi Ray,

    Are you planning to test the Feiyu Tech WGS gimbal, it looks like it’s the perfect product to be mounted on a bicycle or even a motorbike?
    When watching on YouTube your video clip on the G5, I noticed few posts about freezing issues with the unit and even one jerking, I don’t know if it’s only few units or a larger number. Time will tell!
    Looking forward to read your reviews at CES 2017.

    • Yup, my wearable gimbal is here: link to dcrainmaker.com

      Keep in mind in that G5 clip that some jerks are actually me hitting the buttons to change movement (like the one at ~:10s). The joystick is great, but I wish movement was more smoothed and changeable.

      The jerking one (:24s) is actually interesting though, as if you look closely it’s not the video that jerks, but my bike hitting the pot hole. ;)

    • Pascal Bocherel

      Ray,

      Thanks. I read this very informative post earlier on. I was referring to the smaller gimbal WGS (S for small I presume) which may fit better on a bicycle. I also discovered on FY website the Mini and Lite versions but there are no specifications posted for any of them. I already have Hero4+ and 5 as well as 2 Moebius which make me believe smaller gimbals will be useful for cyclists.

    • Ahh, you’re right. Interesting. Let me poke around this week at CES and chat with the guys there and see what the precise differences are between them.

    • Slowmo

      My guess is that S stands for Session

    • Ken

      I believe you’re correct, because when I inquired (at B&H) about getting different arms for my Hero 3/3+/4 Feiyu wearable gimbal so I could also use it with a session I was told that you can’t do that because the two models are balanced/algorithmed differently because of the different camera weights.

  12. F-16 Bill

    Looks like a B-767 cockpit. I spent many years flying one for that “other” major airline, based in ATL !!

    Happy New Year to you and the family !!

  13. Jens Rasmussen

    If you’re into cakes (maybe The Girl is more interested), go visit my uncle’s european/scandinavian bakery 15km from the city center: link to chefflemmings.com – he’s one of the best of Vegas.

  14. Andrea

    Any gimbal for the VIRB Ultra 30?

  15. El Paso Mark

    Hi Ray. If you have the time whilst you’re in Vegas and are interested in a nice bike ride I recommend the River Mountain Loop trail out by Henderson/Boulder. It’s about a 35 mile loop. I ride it when I go to Las Vegas to visit, starting from the Railroad Pass Casino. Very nice ride. Cheers,

    Mark

  16. Jimbo

    So, if you’re only gonna be in Paris for only 9 hours this month; where else will be jetting off to?
    (Or is it secret nondisclosure stuff?)

  17. Hey Ray,

    what about your Feiyu Tech G5 gimbal review? I can’t wait to read it.