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5 Random Things I Did This Weekend

With The Girl and the Peanut (and Lucy) out of town this weekend, here’s what I was up to

1) The DCR Facebook Live Session!

I kicked off the weekend with a 5PM (my time) DCR Q&A live stream.  This would last a bit over 90 minutes, and include some 240 questions. Yikes!  You can watch the whole thing here.

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To talk tech for a second, like last time, I used the Mevo camera to do the live streaming.  Though unlike last time I went with wired mics (this one).  Also, I didn’t use any automated camera angles.  Just wasn’t worth it.  It really is a shame that Facebook has such low-quality live streaming options (720p), compared to YouTube (maxes out at 4K/60fps).  While Mevo can’t do that high quality, I’d certainly consider buying a dedicated camera to get higher resolution streaming.  The only challenge with most of my DSLR’s is that they stop recording at the 30-minute marker.  So gotta find some better options there.  I’m sure Google will help me.

Oh – and yes, you see a GoPro sitting atop it.  My plan was to also record a legit HD copy using that, even just 1080p in a medium crop.  But, I hatched this plan approximately 90 seconds before starting the live stream.  And the only batteries I could find were half-dead.  And then when I tried to use continuous power from the Mevo (it has an extra USB port for that), it wouldn’t leave USB-mode.  So no go…fail.

As for why using Facebook over YouTube?  Well, simple math really.  I’ve got 70,000 Facebook followers, versus ‘only’ 40,000 YouTube followers.  Adding to that, almost all of those 70,000 people have the Facebook app loaded, versus a much smaller amount of YouTube followers may have the app loaded (random swag numbers).  Thus, both in terms of reach and people likely to get the little ‘ding’ that says I’m live.

As for doing both concurrently?  That’d just be asking for trouble, like drinking from two fire hoses at once!

2) Hello Zwift

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Now before the live stream I finally got around to unboxing the Acer Xplova bike head unit.  It includes all your bike navigation goodness, plus a 720p camera, 3G connectivity.

It’s roughly the same size as the Edge 1000, and actually uses a Garmin compatible mode.  Somewhat hilariously, they duplicated the default/stock Garmin Edge out-front mount (except ‘flipped’, to use on right of centerline instead of left of centerline).  Every last detail is identical.  Personally…if I were to blatantly copy someone’s mount, I’d choose either Barfly or K-Edge.

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In any case, after the live stream concluded I jumped on the bike, including the first use of the unit indoors.  In case you’re wondering why there’s liquid on it, I dumped some water on it from my glass to see how it’d work (touchscreen).  A bit latent, but mostly fine.  As for why I’d use a glass on a trainer instead of a bottle – I just moved it from the table after the live stream.  I didn’t think through it until afterwards.

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I had configured it to automatically record little snippets of video (9-second clips is the max you can take) each time I went above about 320w.  There’s all sorts of triggers you can use, but that’s just what I settled on.  For fun I pointed it at the Zwift screen (iPad variant), because…well…pointing it at me seemed lame.  And pointing it at the wall would be even lamer.

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Beyond the Xplova, I was looking at optical HR accuracy as well as power meter accuracy.  So it was a threesome of testing.  Oh, and all the benefits of getting in a nice Zwift workout.

3) Warm day for intervals

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Apparently the weather here in Paris did not miss the ‘spring has arrived’ memo.  It got all crazy sunny here this weekend, with temps hitting 70°F/21°C. Boom!

I had some testing to do on a few different watches, and no better way to do that than an interval workout.  It’s funny, for the most part I use the same structure for intervals year after year when it comes to testing for optical HR sensors.  So manufacturers know what this looks like, it’s not a surprise.  Instead, it just goes to show the challenges of getting right optical HR sensors.

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As for my workout, it wasn’t super long, about 40 minutes all-in, and just doing loops around the canal near Bastille.  Even on the busiest of days, it’s a great place to do running intervals.  First, it’s super close to me.  Second, tourists don’t generally go there.  And third, it’s got dedicated bike AND running/whatever lanes.  The old bike lanes have become the running lanes.  Works out nicely.  Then I finished along the quay in front of the studio.

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Afterwards, I wrapped up a few photos and videos of the watches, and then took a selfie or two.  Then I noticed a wedding or other party behind me, and they were actually using a Nikon Key Mission 360 4K action cam (along with two white stretch limos).  They were doing a legit photo shoot, and this was just documenting it or something.  It was a mixture of Japanese and British folks, no French.  The first Nikon 360°cam I’ve seen in the wild (except a trade show).

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In any case, random observations from the end of a run.

4) Pasta pickup and more

Back a long-ass time ago I had favorited in my browser a local article about a small fresh pasta shop opening up.  For some reason I thought the shop was much further away than it actually was, so I never quite got around to going there.  However, on Saturday I finally re-opened the link and found it actually quite close.  A short pedal away by Velib.  Thus, off I went.

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The shop had plenty of goodness, and the prices were pretty reasonable for fresh pasta in Paris (not nearly as cheap as you’d find in a market in Italy of course).  Sure, I could just make my own as I often do – but I was up for something different.

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Nearby is a pretty sweet indoor market that I hadn’t been too – and they had plenty of goodness to check out as well.

And finally, I picked up some accessories I needed at a home/hardware store on the way home.  By the time all this was done, my little Velib basket was packed…with goodness.

5) Riding into the sun

With the beautiful weather continuing, it was time for a ride out of town.  I couldn’t really decide where to go, and was too lazy to build a route and load it into my GPS unit(s).  So instead I just winged it.  I followed my normal route out to Versailles, which traces that of the Paris-Versailles running race through the hills and forests.

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Then from there I wandered aimlessly in the farms/fields for the vast swath of countryside beyond Versailles.  It was a beautiful day for it.

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As always, more testing, including of the Xplova.

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I’m not entirely sure what to make of it yet.  The small camera is definitely interesting, and I think certainly the medium-long term future of bike computers.  But the quality is just far too low to be of much use (not to mention the odd 9-second limitation, likely done to save battery life).  Beyond that tough, there’s just a lot of UI quirkiness, including many bad translations.  For whatever reason, bad translations are one of my biggest pet peeves in any device.

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Still, I think the concepts they have in there are onto something – I’m just not sure if this is really the device to execute on it.  We’ll see.

Finally, on the way back into the city, I passed this woman on a bike who was displaying some impressive skills.  First, she went with just a single aerobar.  Not two bars. Just one.  In retrospect, it’s sorta brilliant.  Why have twice the weight when you can consolidate?

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Next, she was eating and holding delicate crackers with not one…but two hands at once, while navigating through city traffic.  And finally, she was rockin’ the red Garmin FR920XT while carrying a bag big enough to hold a dead body.  Everyone knows the red color was the best one.

So…in summary: Riding single-aerobar’d, with two hands full of crackers in city traffic and all doing so with the red FR920XT and a dead body in the bag.  Well done…very well done.

(This is the point in which someone tells me she’s the reigning champ of something, which…with that custom paint job…she probably is. The awesomeness of cycling in Paris.)

With that – thanks for reading!

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37 Comments

  1. David D.

    Thanks for the Xplova mini review as I am looking towards a replacement of my Edge 1000 which is slowly starting to die. Have you heard anything about when the next generation is coming?

    FWIW after one of your reviews of the Scosche Optical HR monitor I bought one and never looked back.. I’ll never go back to the straps which always stopped working when they were flooded with sweat.

    The idea of combining a video camera and EDGE is an intriguing idea as my handlebars are out of space once I combine computer, lights and PowerPod. I like the out of the box approach to displaying information, Maybe waiting until the next generation of this idea is better as I have a closet full of stuff that sounded good at first.

    Keep up all the good work, thanks

    David

  2. Eli

    Good to see the Edge 1000 getting competition. May force them to do more as its mostly a 820 with a bigger screen now. I like the charts Xplova has. Would be nice if Garmin could add a background option to the datafields where it would have a chart behind the number. Not meant as an easy to read chart but more like a Sparkline as the background.

    As to the camera on the xplova, if it could hook up to radar I could see the video recording as useful as it could record a car as it passes.

    If you said “There’s not a ton you need to watch the video portion for” then wouldn’t 720p be good enough to watch you answer questions? Though I guess 4k could make it fun if you had some un announced product in the background that a watcher would need to pick out.

    • I think if the video was 1080p, that’d be acceptable. Partially for stills to be honest. Right now the footage is low-quality, and even lower if you were to try and take a photo from it.

      But, if the quality was 1080p video, then you could have good-enough video, plus it’s of high enough quality photo for most social situations (i.e. sharing a crazy thing you captured).

  3. shawn

    Interesting to see you are still wearing the Coros. I bought it dirt cheap after your review on kick starter as sort of a “too cheap to not take a look.” Its not my go-to fast group ride helmet but it has become my helmet for nearly every other ride I do. Works great and I even use SIRI to text my wife etc using the mic to update my ETA back home. Never planned to use the phone feature but taking calls works quite well if you ever need to. Some music in the background and I don’t miss any of the surrounding sounds that I like/need to hear. Overall a great little helmet that has done far better that I expected it would.

  4. Li Chin

    Looks to me she idolises Peter Sagan

  5. She can only be dutch… No other country has bike skills like that ;)

  6. Chris Capoccia

    what is that ear-sized piece of tech hanging on your helmet strap in the bike selfie?

  7. Ian S

    Just watched the stream, thanks Ray it was interesting. See that you caved and went new MBP? ;-)

  8. Hi Ray

    I really like the idea of having an easy to use camera while on a long ride (I’m thinking of a tour across the Pyrenees I’m doing this year) Just for stills to put on Strava (and short videos elsewhere), but the quality, as you note, is way too low on this device.

    So what would you complement with say a Wahoo Bolt to easily take pictures while riding? I’m thinking I’d like it mounted and then press a single button as I approach some interesting spot,, but also be able to take it off easily on the move for selfies of the group say. Would you go with the GoPro Hero5 Session in that scenario? I don’t think I’d need a screen, I’d prefer small. Or to hell with it and go for GoPro Hero5 Black? Or something else?

  9. Henry

    She’s overtaking you with all that stuff?
    Time to think for a new hobby for you ;)

  10. Patrick Coenen

    That picture with the 2 watches in topic 3 makes for some weird shade of you’re ‘legs’? :-D

  11. Cam

    French women are so classy even on the bike!! but why no Hemlet?

  12. Fabio Adurno

    Any idea on when the Rotor 2INPower review will be released?

  13. Kerim

    And she is using clipless pedals with superflat shoes :)

  14. Holy cow… never crossed my mind to pull a unicorn or narwhal and just have a single aerobar extension. I guess we usually do double so we have shifters on each? But with electronic shifting… hmm… This person has transcended judgement and is now biking on a whole other level of quantum-ness. Most impressive!

  15. Because France doesn’t just have normal crackers, I liked how you phrased “delicate crackers”, are you talking about Tucs ?

  16. Paul S

    Ray, if Ben agrees you should put the audio of your Facebook live sessions on the podcast feed. I’m way more willing to listen to a 90 minute podcast, even if they’re sometimes talking about stuff being shown on the screen, than to watch a 90 minute video.

  17. Paul Frylink

    Hamilton island now looks a bit different since you were there Ray…
    Debbie threw a bit of a tantrum…
    link to abc.net.au

  18. Juan

    Any to say or announce, Ray??

    link to youtube.com

  19. There are some other nice spots in the Aligre surroundings that you may like:
    – Do et Riz, 31 rue de Cotte: great great vietnamese restaurant (, extra small so better book ahead
    – Café Aouba, 30 rue d’Aligre: very good coffee roaster with the tasting option
    – Mokonuts, 5 rue Saint-Bernard: tasty tasty cookies, better sample the competition ;)
    – Le Baron Rouge, 1 rue Théophile Roussel: people’s wine bar, without the fuss

    and the street market on Rue d’Aligre, runs everyday except Mondays and gets quite nicely busy on weekend days!

    • Awesome – appreciate the suggestions!

      We actually ate last night at the sister restaurant to the pasta place I mentioned above (literally attached to it). Mixed at best, with four of us at the table – all foodies, and trying most of the pasta/appetizer dishes between us. :-/

      Bummed, loved the pasta store, but not so much their place next door.

    • No problem! Always good to have a few good spots nearby :)

      I’ve seen this place packed on weekdays at opening and then with much less people later so assumed it had some difficulties keeping up the hype. Still disappointing it’s not as pleasant as next door.

  20. heado

    link to buy.garmin.com

    end of the embargo ! BOOOM !

  21. Ryan Nelson

    Cool quick review of the Acer! Good to see progress on that front. And even though we had the same weather over the weekend in Düsseldorf, it just doesn’t quite sparkle like Paris. I suppose you’ll be here for the TdF Grand Depart?

    Next question: Any word on the Stages Dash?

  22. T Hou

    What’s up with her rear derailleur? looks like the chain could be touching…

  23. Phil A

    Ray,

    So how are those Clugs working after using them for a couple years?