5 Random Things I Did This Weekend

Ok, it’s been a long day (it started Sunday morning for me, and it’s technically now 1:25AM Tuesday morning).  But I wanted to knock out this post before the week gets a bit crazy. Here’s what I’ve been up to the last few days as I wrapped up my trip with family in Florida.

1) Openwater swim time

2018-06-22 08.39.24

An apparent red tide be damned (and the clouds looked worse than they were – they had already passed through), Friday I wanted to get an openwater swim in. It was mentally on my very Jello-like schedule, and thus, it needed to happen. Mostly, because I wanted it for data.  A number of you had asked for comparative data between a Fenix 5+ and a Suunto 9 GPS – head to head style.  So my plan was to do one on each wrist, and then another reference GPS on the swim buoy like usual.


Except, plans rarely work out. And both companies will soon be getting ‘Love, DCR’ e-mails in their inboxes.  In order of failures, the Suunto 9 unit (which is technically still in beta at the time for another 2-3 days) wouldn’t let me press start all of a sudden.  Well, technically I could press start, but then it brought me back to the beginning of the dashboard screens.  It very much did not want me to swim that day, which is too bad, as that was the unit I was most looking forward to.  I had seen this same issue about a month ago, but it required hard resetting the unit via a desktop computer. Something I couldn’t do standing in knee-deep water ready to start swimming.

So as I stood there in the water I committed to getting the swim done anyway.  Not that I had a choice, The Girl was set to pick me up 45 minutes later, so I might as well do something other than sit on the beach.  Swim it was.  Off I went with the Fenix 5+ on one side, and a reference FR935 attached to the swim buoy.


Nice swim, one-way since I find that most interesting.

Except one problem, the (production) Fenix 5+ wasn’t accumulating distance properly. As I swam, it wouldn’t show my increased distance, but rather only once I stopped and surfaced long enough, at which point it slowly displayed my accumulated distance to that point.  Like watching sand in an hourglass.  Odd stuff.  Also, the tracks were just connecting the dots between these points, not my actual swam track route.

Not sure what’s up there.

On the bright side – the FR935 tracked perfectly on my swim buoy…in running mode (I use running mode when doing reference tests because I can force it to 1-second recording, versus openwater swim mode as a reference would down-sample to a lower rate).


Oh, and the swim was nice too.

2) An Island Looped Ride

A few hours after my swim, it was time to hit up the bike.  I was trying to test something new. Actually, a bunch of something’s new.  And all the something’s failed in their own unique ways.  One unit had broadcasting issues, another unit just crapped itself entirely and was totally unusable, a third unit failed after 5 minutes, and a fourth unit would work for a while and then get distracted temporarily.  Apparently this was not such a good day for testing.

2018-06-22 13.20.46

Which I think is something that may be sometimes ‘missed’ in the entire review process: How often you have to ‘throw away’ data sets. While the PowerTap G3 hub as a constant being the only functional power meter on this ride, with three other power meters having issues, that entire ride is a ‘loss’ from a data standpoint.  Similarly, on the HR sensor front – while having two sensors is OK, I much prefer three or more sensors. So the loss of one sensor there is tough too as it’s not nearly as complete a picture as I wanted as part of upcoming reviews.

On the other device front, it did largely work, and the distractions weren’t critical path and could be considered minor beta bugs for now.  So ultimately at the end of the day I did get useful data and testing out of that ride.

And, like the swim, at least I got a nice workout in.  Sunny and all!

As a side note, at the turnaround point, I snapped this pic:

2018-06-22 15.37.57


3) Plenty of pool time

After my ride I had one priority: Jumping in the pool.  Doing rides at the peak of daytime high temps in the hot Florida sun isn’t entirely ideal.  But what is ideal is jumping in the pool post-ride. I can’t find said photo at the moment however. It’s on one of my GoPro’s still in a suitcase somewhere.

Still, as with every other day in the last two weeks, we spent considerable time in the pool with the kiddos.  Because that’s what family vacations are for!  And of course, they loved it.

2018-06-23 16.32.34

Note that no official pool swims were logged during my time in Florida.  Though, I probably logged about 20-30 hours of pool floating time. :)

4) Lots of unboxing things (and reboxing them)

Despite being in Florida at an AirBNB, I turned the garage into an unboxing studio, as well as a test lab.  Part of that studio setup worked well, and other parts not so much.  For example, my planned Fenix 5 Plus unboxing videos turned out like crap due to the overhead camera both rotating constantly and somehow being out of focus.  It was unusable, and without any close-up shot, unboxing videos would be tough.

2018-06-21 16.13.38

Thankfully, I always assume failure.  Thus, I unbox somewhat carefully if you watch my videos.  So I was able to re-box and unbox it again. Actually, I technically did this three times – once more for photos too.


All of which I’m optimistic I’ll edit the video and pop online in the next day or two. Thankfully the second unboxing video take went super-smooth and will make editing a breeze.

Also, I unboxed a pile of other things I can’t show you for a while.  They then went into another box and got sent over the ocean. And that ignores the products I re-boxed to send back to various companies (for example, the Garmin Fenix 5+ boxed products are already set to arrive back at Garmin tomorrow). My unboxing and reboxing game was strong on all levels this week.

5) Flew back home to Amsterdam

After a couple of weeks in Florida visiting both sides of the family, it was time to pack up all the things (so many things), and work our way back to Amsterdam.

2018-06-24 12.12.27

Out of the couple dozen transatlantic/transpacific flights we’ve done thus far with the Peanuts, this one definitely went down as the best so far. I credit the vast majority of that to simply getting a car seat for her and strapping her in to her own seat on the plane.

2018-06-24 16.04.41

In many cases, the cost difference for international flights between a lap-child and a standalone seat is just tens of dollars (especially true on Air Canada, and usually United internationally too).  This makes it so she has a place in life on the flight, and isn’t just trying to escape our grasp for 10 hours.  Also makes sleeping for all people involved a heck of a lot easier.

Thankfully with the flight being half-way normal, it made the Monday morning redeye arrival into Europe non-horrible. Ideal since with the flight delay it was less than 90 minutes later I was meeting with the first of two companies that flew across oceans to visit for a bit. Oddly enough, folks from both companies had also done the arrival that morning thing.  So everyone was in strong need of caffeine.

With that, the final two weeks of crazy before Eurobike begins!


Unrelated side note: If you saw my piece on Friday about Garmin adding Galileo GPS support to the original Fenix 5 series, I just received details on all the other devices that are getting a Galileo firmware update (including the FR935). Full list has been appended here. Figured I’d mention it here, just in case some of you somehow don’t follow me on Twitter where I post quick things like this.


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  1. MattH


    Beautiful spot for ocean swim. Any chance that is that a Rhythm 24 HR monitor on your forearm in the 1st picture?

    A few of us are having problems with getting reliable usable HR data to sync from the Rhythm 24 to our watches after swims (even with the updated firmware from a few days ago). Would love to get your input and thoughts on that…

    • Not on that swim, but it was on my rides.

      I’ve got it on my to-do list to tackle the whole HR swim sync thing with the R24 this week. Luckily, I can easily OWS here in Amsterdam. The new DCR Cave/Studio sits on/adjacent to a lake that allows/encourages openwater swimming, making that simple.

  2. JSN

    So just how close were you to the Bermuda triangle being that you were in Florida? Maybe that caused all the devices to go crazy.

  3. Mark

    I am a regular open water swimmer and experience the tracking issue all the time. On almost every swim I have to stop and hold my hand out of the water for a few seconds to let the watch catch up. Generally the longer the swim the worse it gets.

    As a pre-curser to any swim i usually allow multiple GPS soak to occur usually for around 30 to 45 mins so there is no issue with the signal strength when starting.

    I would be really interested to hear what Garmin or yourself know about this.

    I currently use the Fenix 5 but have experienced the same issue on the 935 and 920XT.

    • BartMan

      I’m swimming with Fenix 5 – and I do experience same behavior as you and DCR. I somehow assumed that this is by design…

    • It definitely hasn’t been the design, or at least, not anytime since I last swam with it. I usually swim with the FR935. So the last time I swam with the Fenix 5 would have been prior to this this winter (last spring/fall).

      Either way, it’s not acceptable. Not knowing distance while swimming isn’t useful, and not having the track update until you stop/surface isn’t acceptable either.

      (Still on my to-do list to consolidate this and send to Garmin…my to-do list is long today).

    • Thomas

      I encounter the very same problem on a FR935. A close friend has the same issue on a Fenix 3. Since I don’t master swimming techniques which bring the wrist out of the water, open water swimming is essentially a useless feature for me.

    • Mark

      I’ve done only three open water swims thus far with my FR935 and the tracking has been atrocious. It’s one of the reasons I bought the watch (I mean, it’s a triathlon watch, right? Most of those swims are out of doors!), but to date I have been singularly unimpressed by its accuracy. Does the depth of water encountered in a typical arm’s length swim stroke truly impede GPS accuracy to nil? I discovered I had my watch set to GPS only, so I’ve changed that and next time I’ll have the benefit of GLONASS, but it shouldn’t be off by a factor of 200% distance.

      I would be very interested in what Garmin has to say if you can get a hold of them on this issue, Ray!

    • Eli

      GPS only penetrates 1-2mm. Maybe you’ll have to wait for POSYDON to be deployed :-p Also not good under snow:
      link to insidegnss.com

    • Harriet

      I have a similar issue too when swimming open water. But I also train regularly in a 91m lido. I basically can’t track. Neither of my garmin devices will pick it up as an Open water swim and come close to an accurate distance, and pool swim works very badly over that distance. Any thoughts welcome!

  4. Meste

    Ray, the distance issue is not F5+ only as my F5 does the same in open water swim. I believe it is a 2.20 GPS FW issue. With Galileo is worse but Glonass does the same. Only GPS only is better but happens sometimes as well.

  5. jesper Fog

    Hi DC
    About the problem of not accumulating distance properly. I have the same issue on my newly bought Fenix 5. When I swim the distance only shows correctly after I stops and waits a few seconds. This is a huge problems in a competition, where I dont stop and wait for the distance to sum up. I have done two triathlons this year: one Olympic (1500m swim, and my watch says it was 890m), and one 70.3 (1900 swim, and my watch says 1010m).
    I been in touch with Garmin support, but no support there other that I have to swim crawl (which I (kinda) is doing).

  6. Neil Jones

    Just wondering… at almost 50 I still get a buzz out of receiving/unboxing something new, but I’m guessing when you’re taking delivery of multiple things every day and having to photograph/video/document the unboxing every time, that must be a pleasure that’s turned into a chore for you? Or are there still things you get a kick out of opening?

  7. Fred2

    Speaking of things failing, I’m having trouble with the optical heart rate in my new FR645. It works when I go for a “Run”, but doesn’t do 24-hour monitoring. Now I’m wondering if it has something to do with some other condition, like not pairing it with my smartphone – I don’t have a smartphone. Still waiting for a reply from Garmin support. Nice to see that I should be able to use Gallileo.

    By the way, has anyone else noticed that Garmin devices don’t talk to hidden Wifi routers (like I have at home)? It seems that the router needs to be blabbing its presence in order for my FR645 to connect to it. My Edge 820 won’t talk to my home network, either.

    • Alexis

      SSID was never designed to be hidden. Hiding it is not improving the security of your network, its only fencing out your garmin devices ?

  8. Joey

    Is there any other industry or product category that puts out so many product variations (at such high prices) and which has such a high DO A percentage? Reminds me of the very early PC days.
    And I don’t buy the excuse (reason?) that the product’s are so sophisticated or whatever. We all seem to have a very high product malfunction tolerance.
    Some of these products should be slammed.

  9. Tonny Madsen

    Re your distance issue with F5+, I have exactly the same issue with a F5X. And it is really annoying if you are in a competition :-)

  10. Meste

    Ray, did the HR recorded while swimming? I used HRM-tri the time and although it connected well with F5 I got no HR data in the end and the HRM-tri was locked and needed to take out battery to reset. I wonder if this is the latest FW issue or my belt…

  11. Mike K

    I’m impressed you messed with the red tide. I was on an island on the western coast of Florida this weekend and you couldn’t walk ten feet without tripping over a dead fish.

  12. Dean

    Hope you enjoyed your stay. We arrived here on the 16th and are renting near point of rocks.

  13. Paco

    May be I’m wrong but I haven’t seen any software release yesterday 27th June for FR935. Is that formal production release postponed so the support of Galileo will be implemented later?

    Regards and many thanks for all the good stuff here

  14. thomas

    Hey Ray,

    which GPS-Unit do you use as your daily driver? In Florida the Garmin 1030 or is it just for collecting data? No 520+ oder Wahoo Bolt?

    best regards


    • Right now the Edge 520+ and the Edge 1030, mostly interchangeably.

      The BOLT was there merely because I was too lazy to take off the mount after taking photos for the red BOLT announcement the week prior. So I used that to collect data too.

    • Thomas

      ah ok and thaks for the fast answer. Do you know if there are limitations connecting sensors with the bolt? If have one and have trouble connecting a speed, a cadence, a vector power-meter, a HRM (scosche via ant+) and my iPhone at the same time.

      So I am looking for the 520+ or the 1030 … :-) also thinking of adding the Garmin radar.

      Is the 1030 worth spending 300 bucks more? or is the 520+ superior to the bolt? battery life is important…

    • None that I’m aware of in terms of connectivity limitations, definitely nothing you noted above.

      I’ll be doing a bit of a run-down of different unit comparisons…after Eurobike. Given it’s only about 9 days away, it’s usually worthwhile seeing what comes out there.

  15. Mr T

    Once my kids got big enough and/or we could afford it we bought seats for them. Lap child is a lose-lose for everybody. But I get the cost of an extra seat is a significant expense so sometimes you have limited choice