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5 Random Things I Did This Weekend

Another awesome weekend down in Australia, getting in the swim/bike/run variety that makes this place so easy to love.  Plus of course, some other tidbits.  Here’s what I was up to!

1) A quick power meter check ride

Last week I got back my PowerTap G3 hub wheelset after it had to go get serviced.  This is the brand new wheelset that’s on my new Canyon bike I built in December.  I had noticed almost immediately on Ride #1 then that something wasn’t quite right with the power numbers coming off of it (they were 20-50w high).  But figured I’d give it a ride or two, to see if things settled (rare for a PT hub, but figured what the heck).  Alas, they didn’t.  And by time I could deal with that I was in Australia.  So PowerTap worked with the local service center down here and I got my wheel sent off to them.

That worked out perfect timing-wise with testing out the AirHub wheel, which they also had a PowerTap G3 hub I was able to borrow.  Thus, my power meter testing continued on without issue (as that wheelset was accurate).  And within industry circles, the PowerTap hub wheelsets are widely known as tanks that keep on ticking.  They also have the advantage (by most opinions) of zero offsetting, which means they tend to be less easy to screw-up accuracy wise.  I’ve got two other G3 wheelsets that are rock-solid.

In any event, I got back my wheel late last week and went out for a test ride on Friday:

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Just a simple 45 or so minute loop to kick the tires so to speak.  Of course, I took some pics along the way.

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In any case, during the ride it became clear almost immediately that the power was still high.  While I have no doubt the local service folks fixed and validated torque on a test bench, whatever is causing the issue is only happening out on the road.  On the bright side, it’s super easy to replicate.  On the downside, unless you had 3-4 other power meters in your stable to cross-reference against, it’d be hard to spot.  In my case, I had both a Stages LR and Vector 3 on the bike.  But in effect I also had the other ‘known good’ borrowed PowerTap hub.  Plus, a Tacx Neo trainer that the Stages LR and Vector 3 checked out against.  And then I cross-referenced the Vector 3 to a Quarq DZero too.  I could also toss on either the Favero Assioma or PowerTap P1 pedals sitting next to me if I wanted (both solid).  Or another unnamed power meter sitting atop my desk too.

The good news here is that upon getting my e-mail on Friday (which was really Thursday in America), PowerTap decided to ship out a replacement wheel for it, and they want to get back my wheel to investigate.  I think the new wheel will arrive in the next day or two.  Woot!

2) Swimming in shark barriers

Saturday morning we packed up the fam and drove about 40 minutes north to Sorrento Beach, which has the honor of being one of a handful of places nearby with protective shark barriers around it.  Now, we didn’t really come to this beach specifically because of shark barriers (as there is a place a mere 5K from here that has them too).  Rather, we came to catch up with one of the original founders of Cycliq (he’s since left the company though).  Turns out the beaches here even have gas-powered BBQ’s (of sorts) on them, for free!  Woot!

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After making some breakfast sandwiches Andrew and I hit up the water for a quick swim.  Quick as in brief, not as in fast.  I’m still working on regaining my ‘swim legs’.  Given Andrew has done the nearby and famed 19.7KM Rottnest Channel Swim multiple times, he probably could have swum backwards with one hand faster than me.

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I will say that it was actually kinda nice being on the safe side of the nets.  While I’ve done openwater swims here, most of them I stay rather close to shore, in barely chest deep water.  And usually only when the water conditions are clear/calm.  I know that statistically speaking it’s virtually unheard of for Great Whites to attack in such shallow water (one case exempted).  Whereas the further out you go, the more you become shark bacon.  Luckily for me, my beach is perfectly great for chest deep clear-water swimming – so it’s not really an issue.  Still, it’d never have ventured out this far in these waters without the nets.

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There is a bunch of controversy on shark nets of course.  But the two shark barriers installed here are generally considered quite ecological because they don’t enable marine life to get tangled up in them.  Whereas many shark nets installed elsewhere in Australia can’t say the same.  Of course, even without shark nets, the reality is that you’re still far more likely to get killed in a car or on a bike than by a shark.

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As for the swim itself, it was all fine and dandy.  I didn’t bother to put another GPS atop my head or buoy for this quick swim, so you see a minor bit of imperfection on the track with a single data point out beyond the shark net.  As with most openwater swim tracks…win some, lose some.

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As a side note, it is cool that you can see the nets on the satellite view on Garmin Connect, but not on Strava or even Google Maps natively (despite Garmin Connect in this instance pulling from Google Maps) :

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Oh, and want more shark stuff? Here’s the time I swam with Great White sharks for real.  Which reminds me of the shark blimp The Girl and I once bought.  You can apparently still buy it.  I’m so buying the Nemo one for The Peanut when we get back home!  Her one and only movie she watches is Finding Dory….which she calls Nemo.

3) Hello Olympic Watching!

As with most of the rest of the world, we took part in significant amounts of Olympic games watching this weekend.  Especially because our timezone here is only 1hr behind PyeongChang – making it virtually perfect for the games.

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There’s pros and cons to the Australian TV Olympic coverage.  It’s better than the American TV stuff, but not as good as the Canadian coverage.  It’s different than the French coverage, and maybe a touch better in some ways.  Typically with the French coverage of Olympics I find they tend to heavily favor showing preference for French athletes and the events they do well in.  If the sport you want to watch isn’t in that bucket, you’re out of luck.  In large part, the American coverage is the same…but with more bouncing around and less live unless you stream.  When in Paris, we often watch the BBC Olympic coverage online, since that’s pretty thorough.

The Canadian TV coverage is generally awesome – with basically 24×7 wall to wall Olympic coverage, and isn’t super-specific to a given athlete (though, things may have changed this year).

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The Australian coverage is kinda a blend.  They tend to do a good job at sticking with an event once they start, even if it’s not showing Australians.  But we’ve also seen some events where the commentators clearly had no experience in that event.  And were merely saying things like “And now Athlete X is in first…he’s moved to second…ok, he’s in third now.”  We watched as they provided zero background/technical/anything details for 35 minutes.  Just simply telling us who was in first/second/third.  Of course, on other events they’ve had great commentators.

Still, I’m certainly looking forward to consuming many more hours of the Olympics.

4) Shipping and Receiving Adventures

Given I’m in Australia for almost 3 months, that means gear is arriving here for me just as it would normally arrive back home in Europe.  Thus, just as I deal with shipping and receiving and unboxing at home, I do the same dance here…just with an Australian twist.  That twist basically means: It takes longer, it costs more, and it’s less predictable.

For about half the packages coming to me, the individual manufacturers are sending them on their dime.  So for example, Stages sent me a box of boxes on Friday.  That included a slightly updated Stages LR unit (final-final production, dual variant), as well as two Stages L units (left-only units).  More on that in another post.

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For these packages, I essentially receive a tracking number and just keep an eye on things.  The same is true for this package from Soloshot, with their new Soloshot 3 Optic65 camera.  It’s basically a 4K zoom camera setup that goes atop a tripod and tracks you using a little transponder.  It’s a bit more ideal for sports like kitesurfing (which is why I need to learn, obviously) or surfing, than it is for something like running.

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Since the camera is stationary it’s more aimed at sports or scenarios that you don’t stray very far.  But it would work well in things like skate or bike parks, possibly also around a running track or velodrome.  More on that soon.

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Then there’s the boxes that I handle the shipping on, which are things to my US forwarding box.  In that case I bundle stuff up on a roughly weekly basis and then ship it wherever I am.  When I’m home, that’s to Europe.  When I’m travelling in the US, I’ll ship it there (since it’s much cheaper), and now in Australia, I ship it here.

In general, it cost me about $120-$200 a box to send over to Australia.  In Paris, I find most of my forwarding boxes cost about $80-$120.  Obviously, depends on what’s in them.  Things that are heavier cost more, as do bulky things.  A small watch, less so (but if the watch is in a fancy box – more so).

Shipping time also varies.  In general, it takes two days to get to Paris from the US for my packages.  So I ship something on Wednesday afternoon, it arrives on Friday morning.  With Australia, I’m finding it’s about 3-4 days.  Right now I’ve got a box that left the US on Friday, and is set to arrive on Wednesday.  That box includes the Amazefit Bip and Amazefit Pace that everyone seems to be talking about.  I ordered both myself to my forwarding box when the Bip came out.  There’s also some other random stuff in that box too, including a DJI Mavic Air that I bought (though, you can see my two Mavic Air videos here if you haven’t already).

And then there’s what I’m finding to be a bit of an Australian delivery ‘fudge factor’, which I’m finding is a bit like ‘Island Time’, where sometimes the major carriers (FedEx/DHL/etc…) simply don’t deliver your box that day for no particular reason.  Not even an attempted delivery…just a general ‘Shrug, mate.’  At least in Paris they faked the delivery attempt.

(Sidebar: As I wrote this exact line above, I received a call from JetBlack, because the delivery carrier for their new WhisperDrive Smart trainer they sent me says I’m not home.  Yet I’m sitting on the deck above the front door looking at the door/driveway.  Point proven.  They’re going to call them back to try ‘again’.)

In any event…a window into my world.

5) Evening run with The Peanut

Last but not least, I finished up with a simple 10K run with The Peanut.  As it seems like is often the case here, the winds were howling by this time of night.  And as is usually the case, I often go with the headwind for the first half, and then take the tail-wind for the second half.

We ran down to a pier about 5K away:

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Next to the pier is actually the other shark barrier I was talking about:

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And then after that, we ran back and hit up the swings. Largely because as always, she pointed out every single swing-set she saw along the way, including many she’s never seen before.

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And thus with that – the weekend is complete!  Thanks for reading all!

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39 Comments

  1. David T

    Quick question, what US-to-Australia re-shipper do you use? Would you recommend them?

    • I use US Global Mail, I’ve been using it since we moved to France about 6 years ago, and overall I’m pretty happy with them (I tried a different company first, and wasn’t thrilled with them). My forwarding box is in Houston, and usually within 30-60 minutes of something showing as ‘delivered’ on UPS/FedEx/whatever, I can see a scan of the label in my forwarding box online account. That way I can see who it’s from, tracking numbers, etc…

      After that I can assign customs values to it (really important for me, since I’m often dealing with samples/beta stuff, etc…), and then from there I can create shipments and send them to any address I want worldwide.

      I find the shipping rates are definitely fairly well negotiated. Obviously they’re making money on the shipping element, but the rates are lower than I can get myself as an individual. On the flipside, if your company has rates you can get/use personally (and the company is big), the rates might be better there – but US Global doesn’t allow usage of other account numbers.

      About the only downside I have is that every few months something will take hours from when it shows as delivered as to when it shows up in my account. Usually that doesn’t matter, but if I’m trying to do a same-day turn, it can be an issue and PITA. In that case though I can virtually always just use the online chat thing or call them and explain the urgency and they’ll track down the package and get it on its way.

      Oh, the only other weird quirk is that both Best Buy and GoPro.com see this address as a US forwarder address and won’t allow any shipments to it. Your order will process, and then randomly instantly it’ll get cancelled. You’ll spend forever with support trying to figure it out (they won’t be able to understand why). Eventually I figured it out, but just an FYI. I haven’t ever had any other issues with any other entity on earth, and I’m guessing we’re talking thousands of pieces of mail/packages I’ve forwarded through it (figure a least 1-2 items a day comes in, mail or packages, for the last 5-6 years).

  2. Jason W

    There are sharks out there, but with the surf patrols and the plane/helicopter watches keep a pretty good eye on any threats. link to sharksmart.com.au is a cool site to check.

    As for posting to Perth. Ha! We might be in the most isolated capital in the world, but Australia Post are pretty dire. Standard 7 days from the Eastern States to Perth. It is honestly quicker to get stuff from the UK (can be here in 3-4 days…)

    • Woah, that site is cool, thanks!

      Yeah, I fail to understand Australia Post. I’ve had a few packages from within Australia go that route thus far. What on earth are they doing with it? Maybe it’s just a sled tied to roos bouncing across the outback.

    • James

      +1 that its a Perth thing. UK to eastern capitals is 2-3days. Anything out of the US takes forever

  3. Robert

    Ray, I’m surprised you’ve ordered a pace as that’s old by Chinese standards. I’m looking forwards to the imminent release of English/International version of the Stratos. Comes with 8 firstbeat features, but i’m sure you already know that.
    link to firstbeat.com

    • Yeah, the pace order was mostly just to round things up. I’ve seen a slight uptick in questions, so I figured I’d do a few runs on it. Probably won’t do a full in-depth review on that one, but more of a quick overview type thing with 1-3 runs.

  4. Jason W

    I wouldn’t let that website worry too much. You’re much more likely to see a snake than a shark. See link to wareptilepark.com.au

    Just kidding… 15 years here and I’ve only seen two dugites on the bike path near mine.

  5. Matt

    I recently had an Amazfit Bip delivered (to Perth). I got it to replace an old Moto 360 (version 1). Compared to that, the battery life of the Bip is astounding (I’m getting a few weeks with occasional GPS usage), and just having an always on screen is a big step up. Not really missing the full smartwatch experience too much. And the best thing is the price, at 60USD (about 75AUD) shipped, it’s incomparable to anything else.

  6. The Real Bob

    Beautiful frame, not a fan of the wheels. The white pin stripe just isn’t my thing. Also not a fan of the two tone tires. But as my wife would testify, I have a taste contrary to most people. 5 random things might be my favorite post you do.

  7. Paul S.

    Olympics coverage has improved greatly in the US. NBC now has an app (I’m using the Apple TV app currently) which allows you essentially on demand viewing of whatever event you want. I’m currently watching the mens biathlon pursuit. No more do I have to watch endless figure skating and insipid athlete profiles on the main feed. I can watch what I want when I want.

    • Chris

      Paul, is the Apple TV app free or do need to have cable?

    • Paul S.

      We have Comcast so all I needed to do is to verify that we had it on an NBC web site. I doubt it’s free otherwise, but they might have a pay for service like they do with NBCSports Gold and cycling.

    • Chris

      No…no Sports Gold. I cannot find a pay version just for Olympics. I have TWC/Spectrum for internet only. My TV is OTA. I remember a couple of Olympics ago everything was online…Now they cut you off when the action gets good. I would love to watch the long distance X-Country skiing events that they gloss over on Live TV.

  8. jmjf

    “the reality is that you’re still far more likely to get killed in a car or bike than a shark.”

    Gets a chuckle imagining being killed (while driving or riding) in a shark.

  9. Eric Ericson

    Stupid question, and I’m not sure if this has been answered before, but what kind of jogging stroller do you use?

    • The Girl

      Eric,
      This stroller is the Baby Jogger “city select”. We bought it because it can carry the two girls using a bassinet, regular pram seat, or the car seat. It’s a great stroller for me to get around with both girls BUT it’s a beast!! It has locking wheels so it technically makes it a running stroller, but even Ray is dead after a run with it!
      Our favorite running stroller is the Bob, but it only takes one kiddo at a time and is in its own right a beast! Huge wheels, feather light to push, but we simply couldn’t bring both enormous strollers with us. Until we get home Ray will just have to use the current one as “resistance training”!

      Hope that helps?

  10. Andrew M

    When it comes to shipping and logistics, Perth is a problem child – it’s too big a market to ignore, too far to service from elsewhere (1600 miles from the next nearest city), but not big enough to justify its own distribution centre. Most international logistics and shipping operators have their Australian hub in Sydney or Melbourne, and can get deliveries to other east coast cities fairly easily, but to Perth always takes an extra day or two.

  11. Steven

    On the Olympics, I see what looks like a polar or garmin vivofit on biathlon and also curling athletes. I understand wanting pace for xc skiing but curling? Any tech write-ups planned for tech in the Olympics?

    • I suspect those are just individual preferences.

      I don’t have anything planned for the Olympics at this point. If something really interesting pops up, I might write-up something. But most of the devices don’t tend to cover winter sports very well. 🙁

  12. Glad you’re enjoying the Canadian coverage of the Winter Olympics!

  13. Eric Ericsom

    Fantastic, thanks! I’ve got a few more months till I need to start looking at jogging strollers, but I’ll check out the Bob.

    (If it wipes out Ray running with the Baby Jogger, then it’ll probably hospitalize me)

  14. Daniel

    In Melbourne, we might not have the picture postcard beaches of other states, but at least we can swim in them all year round without the fear of sharks and jellyfish =p

  15. Kelly

    That wind would probably be the “Fremantle Doctor”, sea breeze from the south-west in the afternoon.

  16. Benn

    Its nice to see that the big companies are happy to support you because of the exposure you have. Stages left me out to dry with a faulty power meter.

    • Weird. Every person I’ve heard from says Stages is happy to replace/swap out units that go bad. Unfortunately for those people with Gen 1 devices, that was all too frequent. But there are countless folks on their 3rd or 4th Stages unit, never having an issue with support.

  17. Benn

    In someway it was my fault as I had never owned a power meter before.

    I had what I thought was an issue with it for about 3 months but could never put my finger on it. I finally emailed them about and they were great asked a couple quick questions and quickly determined my pedal was well outside tolerance.

    Unfortunately I had owned it for 2 years and three months. Even though I explained the fault had been there for a while it had been a slow drift. Also not being a power meter expert I actually thought I was just getting fitter.

    Either way I was offered a 20% discount on another pedal as the best they could do. Very disappointed in that.

    • Sorry – to clarify, was this Stages or PowerTap? You mentioned Stages in the first post but PowerTap in the second.

      Either way. 🙁

    • Benn

      It was a Stages, Can’t quite see where I said PowerTap but maybe my comment on pedal was a bit misleading. I meant to say crank (think thats what it is).

      It was just frustrating, because as I was reading your post about the issue you had with your power meter recently, that was replaced. You made the comment that it may have been hard for you to pick up the fault, except that you have a baseline of expertise to work with.

      Myself as a novice had a power meter for two years that had been drifting and eventually was well out of tolerance and I had no idea. Was only when I was doing a sprints and couldn’t get it to show a value over 700W that I knew there must be something wrong. It also invalidated a lot of my training which was a big demotivation. Was just disappointed by stages response considering it is a unit they know is faulty.

    • Sorry yeah, the pedal part threw me (since PowerTap makes pedals but not Stages).

      I do agree that it can be really tough to know if a power meter is acting properly or not. Things like obvious power drops are easy to spot. But something like a 20-40w power inflation is much more difficult, especially depending on the terrain/environmental factors. 🙁

    • Michal

      Some power meters give option to do static torque test (hanging known weight from the pedal, checking torque value on the app or bike computer and comparing it to the value it should theoretically report). Stages has that ability, as mobile app displays torque in “high speed” mode. It’s good to check it from time to time if you’re worried about your power meter accuracy.

  18. Michael

    Hi there, long time fan of the site!

    2 questions:
    -which garmin watches do you think are likely to be replaced this year? 235 maybe?
    -are you going to take part in runmycity paris in may? 🙂

    Michael

    • I think in general Garmin is on a 2ish year cycle for most Forerunner units, and a 2-3 year cycle for most Edge units. Vivo’s and Fenix units seem to be about a 12-18 month cycle.

      I struggle a bit on where the FR235 fits into things going forward to be honest. The Vivoactive 3 is really about 90-95% of the way there, and I wonder whether having a very similar unit at a very similar price point makes sense for them.

      As for races – I’ve gotta figure that all out. The Girl and I were just talking about a race calendar last night actually…

    • Michael

      are you planning to write an article on Garmin connect vs fitbit online vs polar flow? I think those platforms are in many ways as important as devices themselves..(now im thinking of buying VA3 vs Ionic).

    • I tend to write about each platform within various reviews of the product. Mostly because it changes so much that it’s hard to have any platform-specific post be all that relevant even just a month or two later. :-/

  19. Dave Waterworth

    “I received a call from JetBlack, because the delivery carrier for their new WhisperDrive Smart trainer they sent me says I’m not home” – This happens all the time in Sydney! I’ve seen them run onto my porch, leave a “could not deliver” note and run off without even checking. Seems to be a little scam they pull when they’re behind schedule?

    Also the times you mention are quite quick – try getting something sent via standard mail (i.e. USPS from the US or Royal Mail from the UK), that’s 2-3 weeks! There’s nothing more annoying than buying something on a site which has an .au or ,nz domain only to find out at checkout that it’s a UK site and the standard delivery is standard mail.

    Even standard mail between AU and NZ takes 2 weeks at times – I suspect 2 days in transit and the rest sitting in a pile at customs.

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