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5 Random Things I Did This Weekend

Phew! This weekend flew by. I just got in the door two minutes ago from the airport, after a whirlwind day that didn’t actually involve any flights.  Here, let me explain.

1) We drove to Paris

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We kicked off things Friday morning with a short drive.  And by short, I mean about 500KM.  I headed out to Amsterdam airport to pick up a large rental van, before looping back to the house to grab The Girl and the kids.  Thankfully getting to/from the airport is silly quick and easy for us, a pleasant change from Paris.

The drive from Amsterdam to Paris isn’t all that bad, it’s straightforward for the most part.  Big wide open roads that are relatively flat and mostly easy to navigate.

We had gone the driving route versus the faster train approach since bringing back a treadmill on the train would likely be frowned upon.  It would also make picking up a BBQ more difficult as well.  And apparently a sandbox too.

But more on that later.  The drive itself was uneventful, and as has been the case since the first moving road trips I’ve done – I’ve very much come to appreciate the Starbucks sprinkled through the Dutch and Belgium rest stops.

2) Happy Birthday

The main purpose of our trip was actually to hang out with some close friends and celebrate their daughter’s 2nd birthday party.  Thus, that’s what Saturday was all about!

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There was good food to be had, friends to chat with, and seemingly countless little humans walking/crawling/slithering along to keep track of.

But, it was fun – and that’s what matters!

3) Out for a ride and then some

Sunday morning was marathon day in Paris.  I’ve run the race before, but today was not that day.  And thankfully I wasn’t running either, because the weather was brutal for it.  Sure, if you lived in Miami and trained there, this would be pleasant.  But for folks that were training in snow a few short weeks ago, the weather was hot and sunny, with no shade or cloud relief.  People were looking rough around the 10-11KM marker that I spectated at.

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Of course – huge congrats to all those out there running.  It’s somewhat interesting how often this specific race tends to have a hot race day.  It does seem to happen more often than not.

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After we finished watching endless streams of people run by, Dave and I headed out for an easy stroll to no point in particular.  This wasn’t really a long ride, or a medium ride, or a purposeful ride.  It was just a ride.

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Sure, I was testing half a dozen new gadgets on my bike, which made this sort of leisurely ride just perfect.  Not to mention that it was beautifully sunny out (for riding…not so much running).  Also, since it’s a little bit warmer down south in Paris compared to Amsterdam, the trees are just a tiny bit greener than the mostly brown trees in Amsterdam.  Soon though…soon!

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As for the gadgets, here’s a glimpse of one such gadget:

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It’s the Suunto 3 Fitness, and it’s using ‘connected GPS’, which basically means your phone’s GPS signal.  Worked well enough, though I haven’t had a chance to analyze the HR data yet.

And then also the Fitbit Versa at the end of the ride. It’s interesting to note the very slight differences in how each company handles GPS tracks and the phone data it’s based on, since both of these watches are using connected GPS from the same phone.

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And then…well…more stuff, but I’ll save that for later.

4) Hello Eiffel Tower

Sunday afternoon was spent on the other side of town with a different set of friends.  First, we picked up breakfast burritos at their restaurant, before heading to the Champ de Mars to hang out in the sun.

Prior to having kids, we spent at least one night a week in the summer on the vast lawns in front of the Eiffel Tower, picnicking and such.  And even for a while with our first one too – when she was less mobile.  But eventually we started staying closer to home (we lived near Notre Dame), simply due to logistics.

The point of this bit of backstory is that despite having been to the Champs de Mars more times than I can count (and having run around it countless times as well), I never once noticed the massive double portioned kids playgrounds towards the back.

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Go figure.

I knew there were some smaller kids things mid-way down the lawn (like pony rides and such), but never these massive playgrounds.

It’s funny how many things you notice once you have kids that you never noticed previously.  I suppose that’s true of many aspects of life.  I will say that The Peanut manages to spot all of these playgrounds further away than a surveillance drone.  She’s astounding at her ability to identify slides and swings.

5) That @#$#@ Treadmill

There’s no object within the DCR Cave that’s elicited as much swearing as the treadmill.  Be it getting it in, or assembling it, no part of that was entertaining or easy.  Never mind the entire procurement process.  A number of folks have since asked when I might do treadmill reviews – and my answer has always been basically ‘over my dead body’, at least within the Paris DCR Cave.  Same went for any sort of heavy stationary bike.

As a reminder, here’s the video (and post), of when The Girl and I got that treadmill down into the Cave:

Of course, I knew the day would once come that I’d have to figure out how to get that stupid treadmill out of there. I say stupid because it’s not like it’s even all that awesome of a treadmill. Instead, it’s just a so-so overpriced treadmill in comparison to what American consumers can get for a fraction of the cost.  Most of the treadmills here in Europe suck (even though they are made by the American companies).  Basically, said American companies seem to ‘dump’ all the crappy old ones here on Europe.  But that’s all besides the point.

I had long stated I’d just leave the darn thing in there.  But after doing some napkin math, it was silly to spend another $2,500 or so on a treadmill.  Thus, off to work I went disassembling the thing.  Thankfully, I actually kept the manual.

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Now, what I quickly realized was that since I wasn’t shipping it, but rather clumsily stashing it in a giant van, that I wouldn’t really have to disassemble it to the same level that it originally arrived in.  Instead, I could basically take it apart in two main pieces, plus the connecting support beams.  That meant that disassembly only took 20 minutes or so (despite having very much the wrong tools for the job).

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Before I knew it, I was ready for removal assistance.  Remember, I couldn’t just take it up the main steps.  Instead, we had to drag this beastly thing out through the cave tunnels.  That’s where my friend Julio came to the rescue.  Here, this quick video I smashed together explains it well.

And thus, success.  Treadmill stashed into the back of the van and ready for the 500KM or so trek back to Amsterdam.

All of which ended this evening, a venture that somehow took 9 hours of driving and stops, and resulted in the vehicle also picking up a BBQ, a cheap plastic sandbox, and 275 pounds of sand.  Plus a bunch of other random leftover crap from the Studio.  Now we’re done. For realz this time. No more moving stuff anymore.

Well, until I find the new DCR Cave…then I’ve gotta move it out of storage into there.  But that’s a problem for a different day.  A day that’s not this week, or next week.  Thus, I don’t have to think about it now.

So with that – have a great week ahead, and thanks for reading!

(P.S. – This week might be a bit lighter…merely because the massive boatload of stuff being announced next week tied to Sea Otter is mind-boggling. I’d wager it’s going to be the biggest announcement week we’ve seen in years for sports tech stuff, even including things like Eurobike and Interbike.  And that’s even accounting for one or two things that might get pushed a week or two by their respective companies, but in general…hold on tight for content overload!!!  Oh, and for those waiting on my Fitbit Versa watch review, I’m working with them on some beta firmware to sort out the workout tracking issues I’m seeing. It was two steps forward, one step back on the most recent beta.)

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37 Comments

  1. Gary B.

    Best of luck searching for the new cave. I’m hoping for something crazy big. Maybe you can build your own wind tunnel in the cave.

  2. Diego

    Ray, don’t forget an endless pool, never 19 people in your line. 👍

    Regards

    • I know. I think my dream cave would someday also include not just an endless pool, but also a giant temperature controlled chamber to do tests in.

      I don’t think either is on the cards here in Amsterdam unfortunately…probably for the mere fact that finding a place is proving so darn difficult. I just wanna nice big warehouse type spot.

  3. gingerneil

    Can I assume that most announcements at sea otter are cycling focused?
    You’ll soon learn to hate sand… Especially when the kids fill that box with water and decide to roll round in it! 😂

    • I think everything is cycling focused. Though, I do have reviews of the Fitbit Versa and Suunto 3 Fitness, which are more general fitness. Not sure when the Fitbit Versa review will drop, depends on them sorting out the mess (or, me deciding to just publish).

      As for Suunto review, that’s the last week of April (it’s set to start shipping Apr 25th, so then).

    • Eni

      Or decide running into the house, covered in sand… My favorite 😂

      About treadmills. I just got a Horizon Fitness Paragon 5s. Sure, not the newest in their line or neither a high tech one, but it does the job for only about $1200 (with assembly). After all, I only need it when recovering from injuries or when the weather gets apocalyptic.

    • Steven

      Given the Fitbit Versa “mess” that you speak of … should I hold off on replacing my Charge 2 for a bit or is it safe to grab a Versa when it hits the stores here?

    • I think they’ll actually fix it. Basically, I have/had two issues.

      A) First is that because it depended on phone GPS for distance, if the connection between the phone and the unit dropped (even for a few seconds), then it wouldn’t accumulate distance during that time period. In running, it falls back on accelerometer pace, so it’s not quite as noticeable depending on calibration. But in cycling, it means there was huge gaps. I did one ride and it was missing like 20 miles.

      The kicker was that the actual GPS track on the phone was of course perfect, as was the GPS track uploaded to the site. But the distance was horribly off. I had one ride show my distance as a few miles, despite being a 30+ mile loop ride.

      I countered then to Fitbit: Why not just always override watch distance with GPS distance at the end of the activity? And why not simply play ‘catch-up’ everytime it reconnects for distance – so the watch just catches up missing data.

      But they had a mostly good reason why not: It would mean that in tunnel scenarios, it wouldn’t have the right distance from the wrist when GPS was missing. Or in poor GPS environments (like NYC), the same.

      So I get that there…but in cycling, there’s no sensor support – so they are 100% dependent on GPS from the phone. So might as well take that, since it’s all you got.

      All of which brings me to a beta firmware update that appears to address the cycling drop-out issue (which I suppose, is another issue altogether). So now if it drops, it correctly shows the right distance. And it seems to drop less. I haven’t run with it yet in the new firmware, though that was far less an issue than cycling.

      However, the beta brought another new issue – the data simply evaporates after my ride. I got the ride showing beautifully on the watch (distance and all – as seen in the above photo). But on Fitbit’s site/app I get phantom 0 minute/0 calorie/0 track rides.

      Fitbit’s engineering team has been active in trying to figure it out. I volley’d them that data very late last night from Sunday’s ride, so I’m sure they’re figuring it out and will probably circle back today with next steps.

      They had initially been just saying ‘Update later this spring’ – so I was planning on going forward with the review as-is. But since they’re actively issuing beta firmware updates to try and address it, I usually give companies a reasonable amount of time to sort that out before I release a review anyway. At this point, I’ll probably give them another 7-10 days…merely because I have so much Sea Otter stuff to write up/shoot/edit that it’s not really impacting me to back burner it a tiny bit longer.

      Otherwise, fwiw, I have been wearing it 24×7 for the last 3 or so weeks, save charging it every 4 or so days.

      Hope that helps!

    • Chris Benten

      I am lost…why have a watch that uses phone GPS? Either spend $50 more for the GPS on the watch or, if you have to carry phone anyway, just use the phone. I sure as heck am not going to trust a link setup for turn-by-turn (if that is what FitBit is offering) so I lack understanding of purpose.

    • For some folks, it’s just the savings of $50.

      For others, it’s that while you could use the phone, it’s less easy to see on your arm than on your wrist.

    • Melinda

      Thanks for the breakdown on the Versa issues. I actually run into the same drop-out issue fairly regularly with the FitBit Blaze, so it’s reassuring to hear that they intend to address the problem for the Versa… albeit frustrating that I’ll have to fork over $200 for the new technology.

      And yes– when I’m cycling, I mostly use the Blaze as a convenient display. It wasn’t the saving of the $50 so much as the vastly increased battery life that sold me. I use it for its activity and sleep tracking functions, not just for workouts, so needing longer and/or more frequent charging would be inconvenient. (Incidentally, your review of the Blaze was a HUGE factor in my purchase. Thanks for all you do!)

  4. John

    The Treadmill Accident song is awesome! 🤣

  5. Theo

    Interesting: “since both of these watches are using connected GPS from the same phone”

    Does that mean they were both connected at the same time through BLE?

    • Theo

      Ok, one follow up question; Does that also mean that multiple BLE devices of the same type (e.g P1 L&R) can connect to the Suunto fitness….?

      There have been some rumours that they’ve solved that issue.

    • No, this is a bit different. In this case since it’s just one channel from the phone to the watch, it’s actually no different than before (when it did sync/notifications/etc…). It’s just that now they’re also sending GPS data to it.

  6. Greg

    Ray,

    Do you anticipate any new action cams to be announced at the Sea Otter event?

  7. Tim

    Are you doing any further updates/reviews on the kickr climb?

  8. Chris

    Hey, your Paris cave isn’t available for rent…is it?

    Chris

  9. Em

    One mans ‘brutal’ is another mans ‘absolutely perfect running conditions’. But I live somewhere much warmer. Strava showing an average temp of 16°.

    Great weekend to be back in Paris anyway. Stunning city and a great course.

  10. Alex

    Power meter related announcements? Just wondering before I pull the trigger on a new one.

  11. Jc

    Will we see the Gravat 2 trainer review anytime soon? 🙂

    • Definitely! It’s on my short-term to-do list. Might even knock it out on the plane over on Monday.

      Short version of review:

      A) Accuracy seems good (I haven’t totally finished deeply analyzing things, but all good from what I have done).
      B) Feel is good
      C) Responsiveness is good
      D) Compatibility is mostly good, some minor gaps
      E) Build quality is blah to so-so
      F) Structural design leave significant opportunity to crush your fingers when you pick it up as the legs don’t log, but rather collapse.
      G) Larger support type concerns if you’re not in China.
      H) In general, I think if you’re in China and can get a good deal on it – then it’s probably fine. But, if given the opportunity to pickup better known brands for equal price with known support aspects…I’d probably take that route.

      Hope this helps!

    • Jc

      Great! Thanks!

      Yea, I don’t live in China, so it is a problem 🙁

  12. TweetyPipe

    Any Garmin FR245 news anytime soon?
    My 220 needs replacing, I don’t need the 645, and I know the day after I buy a 235, they are bound to launch the new version!

  13. Adri

    Next year visit or run the Rotterdam Marathon?

  14. Eli

    Your helmet straps are way too loose. Safety reasons and will make those headphones you’re using not work so well.
    link to helmets.org

  15. Tim

    Fantastic! 2-3 weeks! I’ve been hearing rumours of June. Look forward to the review. Any idea on why the delays?

  16. The Girl

    Yessss! Thanks Eli, keep reminding him of this!!! It’s more of a lazy factor than anything else, but I’d like to see the helmet fixed too!!
    ~The Girl

  17. Amin

    Looking forward to the Gravat 2 review, planning to get a smart trainer in the next couple of weeks and Gravat 2 is top there on the list but thinking would it be better to put more cash in and get wahoo?