5 Random Things I Did This Weekend

A busy weekend back home in Amsterdam after a few weeks of travelling.  I couldn’t begin to include all the random things in this weekend’s list, it was so packed with stuff.  So here’s the top five!

1) Openwater swim dumpster fire


All day Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday I was riding short 15-45 minute rides.  Over and over again.  Trainers and power meters, either indoors or loops around the rowing basin near the new DCR Cave (roughly a 5-7KM loop). I didn’t even bother to mark them as public in Strava I did so many of them.  Most of these were validating specific tests.  Sure I had longer/nicer sessions, but usually these were post-installation of power meters or trainers and doing various settling type tests (and in a few cases, many times as things weren’t working).

In any case, I was tired of doing these by the time Friday afternoon hit – so The Girl and I went for a swim. Well…technically I went for a swim and she went for a run…and then jumped in the water afterwards.  Prior to that though, my swim:


Except, the above isn’t the track from either the Fenix 5 Plus or Suunto 9 GPS watches that were on my wrist.  Nope, it was the track from the FR935 sitting atop the swim buoy.  That’s the reference track I use to judge the others on, which were using openwater swim mode.  How’d those wrist tracks look? Here is the Fenix 5 Plus to begin:


It was a mess. Both of them failed in completing their tasks successfully.  As I show in the video, while the Suunto 9 track was better than the Fenix 5+, it was hardly even satisfactory, especially once distance was added in (50% off).

This isn’t because just the tracks looked horrible that I’m displeased, but for so many other reasons.  I decided to make a video about it to explain:

Ultimately, I could (and will) keep doing more and more tests, especially given how it only takes me 3 minutes to get to this beautiful openwater swim spot.  But I’m also kinda at the point where I’m tired of repeating tests over and over because companies can’t or don’t properly test their own things. It’s been the theme the last 5 days as I prep for Eurobike (and I’m not just talking beta devices, which is understandable to a degree).

Both these watches are on the market and shipping today. I’d recommend neither for openwater swimming at this point.

This wasn’t a complex test. Nor a terribly hard test. It was just a basic swim with very little except blue sky and a stray pigeon above my head.  Both companies have produced watches for half a decade or longer that handle this just fine.

2) Can-America Day!

2018-06-30 13.34.32

July 1st through July 4th is a sweep of holidays in the DCR Household.  We kick it off with Canada Day on July 1st (The Girl is Canadian), followed by our anniversary on July 2nd, then our daughter’s birthday on July 3rd, and then finally (US) Independence Day on July 4th (I’m American).  It’s back to back partying.  Or at least these days…pretending to party.

This year we held a ‘Can-America’ day for a pile of expats at our place.  A blend of Canada Day and America Day (4th of July), all packaged into one.  Thankfully, the red and white items blend well for both.

2018-06-30 16.35.35

We had a gaggle of families over, with a boatload of kids running around (or crawling in some cases).

2018-06-30 20.05.56-1

Lots of activities for them to do, including painting just about everything that probably shouldn’t have been painted. Still, good times be had!

3) Off to the horses and beyond

While The Girl was trying to get some final baking items completed for Can-America Day, I took The Peanut (oldest one) out for about an hour of pedal-based meandering.  She loves the bike and our wanderings with it. There’s some horses that randomly live down the street from us, so we went and visited them first:

2018-06-30 12.29.34

Then from there we did a loop around the rowing basin nearby as well. There was some sort of big competition this weekend there, and they even pulled in a movable I AMSTERDAM sign for it.

2018-06-30 12.51.26

It’s not well known by tourists, but there’s actually a handful of these signs.  For example, there’s the big/famous one in the center of Amsterdam in front of the Rijksmuseum.  Then there’s one near the taxi loading zone at the airport.  There’s also one near a lake not far from us too that’s been turned into a parkour park, and then there’s the moveable one seen above.

In any event, we even stopped twice at the DCR Cave along the way.  Once because I needed a charger for later, and then again because The Girl needed some bakery items from the Cave (a large chunk of stuff that was moved was from the Cake Studio too).  And about an hour later we strolled on back home. The Peanut was happy, and so was The Girl for the quiet time.

4) Odds and ends at the DCR Cave

I was back and forth a bit at the DCR Cave doing lots of shooting, filming, and prep for next week’s Eurobike start.  I was also just doing a lot of biking back and forth with boxes incoming.  I generally will ship to home, and then transport devices over from there. It’s simply that if nobody is home they just give it to someone that lives on the street, making it easy to go pick up.  Versus if nobody is at the office I’ll have to wait till the next day or have to go somewhere potentially really far away to get it.

Transporting with the cargo bike is easy though, and I probably did 4-5 round trips on Friday alone.

2018-06-29 11.53.14

Beyond that, it’s just a lot of organization. Not so much of the giant pile of stuff unloaded from the move from Paris, but mostly of incoming things. Ensuring that I’ve got various ancillary/older devices ready for comparison with unboxing videos/shots, as well as ensuring data coming off of new devices gets taken care of and organized quickly so it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle.

When you’re doing 4-6 tests a day, each with 3-5 recording devices, that’s a lot of files to remember at the end of the day for upload into the DCR Analyzer.  So I try and do it after every ride to keep things clean.

5) Sunday Night Rider

Sunday night a bit before sunset I headed out on a ride. I needed some dark road time for testing some upcoming devices, and a warm summer’s night certainly fit the bill.  By then the kiddos were well in bed, making it the perfect time to ride.  With sunset officially at 10PM, I figured that if I left around 9:15PM or so and rode for a couple hours it’d be dark by 10:30PM or so.  Here’s it is early on in the ride:


It was just an incredible night. Warm, almost cloudless, and with almost no wind.  Even the cows were happy:

2018-07-01 22.11.10-1

I got in the testing I needed across three sets of device types, and everything actually worked – which was great for a change.  And I got pretty pictures of my bike at sunset. But those pictures show far too much…so…no photos today of that. Maybe later in the week. So, a photo from my Instagram instead.

I did have to add an extra loop around the trails at the rowing basin on the way back home though, as I wanted some more darkness, and in particular some non-road darkness.  So the various paths through the forests in that area worked perfectly for validating items there.  Though, I almost hit rabbits and ducks more than once. They apparently wanted to play chicken, dashing across the trail out of nowhere at the last second.

In any event – have a great week ahead all, and thanks for reading!


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  1. Mitch W

    Looks like a happy peanut in the Urban Arrow. We just started using a weeride copilot and are loving it. Yours look too young, but my kid is 4 and thinks it’s great. It’s a one wheel trailer with its own handlebars and pedals, so the little one can actually help (maybe adds a couple of watts). What I really like about it is that it’s simple, versatile, and minimal. We actually just took it for a trip to Oregon, and (hesitantly, especially from my wife at first) took it on some fairly serious mountain bike trails. It was really fun and my son (and trailer) handled all the bumps and drops. Also, kind of evened the playing field between me and my wife (a la that airhub thing you’ve reviewed). Maybe something to look forward to in your peanutty adventures.

  2. Greg

    Need some clear lenses for night…I’d be running into things

  3. Michael St. Louis

    That’s disappointing about the open water swim results. Which GPS combination(s) were you using? GPS + GLONASS or GPS + GALILEO? Or just GPS?

    Will a software and/or firmware update correct these problems?


    • BartW

      I’m not Ray but i can confirm the Fenix 5 plus does a poor job in OWS.
      I used a Spartan Spartan Trainer with only GPS the last 9 months which had perfect (max 3-4%) results ( i know Ray had less results) .
      Now with my (limited) F5+ OWS the results are far less. First i disabled Galileo (so only GPS) because those results where worse than any watch i have seen the latest time. (during a OWS swim race my F5+ showed by far the worst results(+20% zig/zag) comparing it to various other watches (multiple FR735XT, 910XT, Fenix 3, tomtom!, Fenix5, Suunto Ambit3) .

      With my Spartan Trainer results in mind i now only use GPS which does a far better job than the combined GPS+Galileo. Still the Garmin is less accurate and registers less points but i hope that is temporary and will improve in time. (or should i have waited for the P….?)
      Looking at Rays results i think he used GPS+Galileo 1 sec setting.

  4. Will Webb

    Ray, thanks for the open water swim between the various watches. I wonder how well the 935 would have tracked the swim had it been on your wrist and not on swim buoy. Have you had any issues with the 935 and Open water swim?

    I agree with some of your thoughts on these companies releasing buggy software on these products before they are ready for prime time-it is very disappointing! It is surprising that these companies do this on their flagship products.

    I ended up buying the F5+ and really like it, however I am also having issues with HRM-RUN (link to forums.garmin.com).

    I knew when I purchased the F5+ so soon after release there could be some bugs/issues, I just wonder what else is out there still to be discovered.

  5. MattH


    No Scosche Rhythm 24 HR testing on your swim this week? Was hoping you were going to be able to test that soon?

    Although based on my recent swim experiences of being unable to synchronize the R24 HR data with my 935 post swim, that would likely just of added to your disappointment of released products not performing as expected…..

  6. michal

    ok, those gps – tracks look messed up.

    Finger crossed, that Suuntos FusedTrack algorithm will find it’s way to swimming (and other sport-modes, where GPS-reception is critical) as well.

  7. ubrab

    Hello Ray/commenters,

    Has anyone used the Apple watch series 3 for extended period of time? I’m looking for an everyday watch I could use for the occasional runs to the office/fitness sessions, with wrist HR sensor, while keeping my Forerunner 920 for swims/multiactivities/longer runs. Aside from the occasional HR sensor inacurracy, delay for GPS/HR sensor to activate and lack of 3rd party integration, all non negligible but not dealbreaker type of issues, it seems to fit the bill.
    Any happy/unhappy users here?


    • Urs J.

      I use an Apple Watch Series 3 in everyday life and for running when I start from the office, because I don’t always want to carry my Garmin with me. But at home I use my Fenix 3HR for “serious” training (running, cycling and swimming).
      In the office I also have an HR chest strap from Wahoo for the Apple Watch for better HR.
      After the workout I upload it to Garmin Connect with the RunGap app.

      All in all, I am satisfied. It actually works well. The Apple Watch simply looks nicer and is more practical in everyday life (notifications etc.), while the Fenix still beats the Apple Watch for “serious” sport activities.

    • ubrab

      Thanks a lot for the feedback :)

    • I’ve been using an Apple Watch Series 3 GPS for 9 months or so. It’s good for activity tracking and for non-serious runs and bike rides. It’s really nice for swimming laps in the pool. As a daily smartwatch it’s great. I use it a lot to control podcast playback, read messages, get notifications, set timers, etc.

      When it comes to serious training and racing, Apple Watch falls short in a very noticeable ways. Touchscreens are simply not what you want for serious sports, and this is evident when you train and race with Apple Watch. I run with a Stryd footpod. Stryd makes a nice Apple Watch app, but unfortunately it failed on me during an 8K race. The watch kept losing connection with the footpod, and at the finish line it gave me an inaccurate time and distance. After that experience I started using my Garmin 230 again for running (and I’m still using my Stryd footpod, of course).

      The other thing that drives me nuts about Apple Watch is the silly countdown it does when you start an activity. 3… 2… 1… GO! When you’re at a race you need to try to correctly anticipate when you’re going to cross the start line, and initiate your activity a few seconds early. It’s just proof that Apple Watch is ultimately for non-serious athletes. Whimsy and goofiness get priority over utility.

      For sharing Apple Watch FIT file data with other platforms, I use the HealthFit app, and I’m happy with it.

      In the future I will likely upgrade my Garmin 230 to a more advanced Garmin watch. I will also likely upgrade my Apple Watch. The Apple Watch isn’t for everyone, but if you’re curious, you should give it a try. Be aware, however, that a new Apple Watch model will likely be announced and available in September. Buying a used Series 3 right now makes more sense financially.

    • Michael St. Louis

      I have a series 2 AW which like others have said is a great smartwatch with a beautiful screen. I have a Garmin 235 I was using for running and I’d use the AW for swimming laps. The AW is okay for this but the touchscreen is hard to use in water and the screen always goes off to save battery.

      For me I wanted to have one watch to keep track of all my activities and not have to go through extra steps to transfer files. I bought a Fenix 5X when it was on sale a few weeks ago before the Plus series was announced. I now have one watch to keep track of all my activities and the AW has been put in a drawer.

      I guess it comes down to what you want and what tradeoffs you are willing to put up with. The AW is a smartwatch with fitness features and the Garmins are fitness watches with smartwatch features. The benefits I get with the Fenix outweigh the niceties of the AW. YMMV

    • ubrab

      Thanks for the feedback Sam & Michael, very appreciated. I’m still on the fence!

  8. Craig Robertson

    Making your own gourmet sauces too. Kudos. :)

  9. Dave

    Very disappointing indeed from the 9 – although also a relief that my Spartan Ultra has actually served me extremely well in open water swim events from 2.5 to 5.8km. I had been considering a change but…no.

  10. cameron

    i like big buts and i cannot lie

  11. Roy

    Happy birthday for the ?
    And a great read as always!

  12. Mark

    You could steal a page from Detroit and Windsor, ON and call your party an International Freedom Party.

    Every year they throw a joint “International Freedom Festival” on the Detroit River – i.e. the US-Canada border – as a single 7/4 and Canada Day fireworks extravaganza.

  13. Marcus K.

    Same weird swimtrack with Garmin Fenix 5s Plus with GPS+Gallileo activated. :-(

  14. Ray Wright

    Since you are adjacent to a rowing basin, any chance of including rowing(when possible, because you know winter) in your testing going forward?

  15. Phil A

    I don’t have a need to upgrade my watch, but had been thinking about it from the Fenix 3 to the Fenix 5+, but I think I will wait until OWS is working better, even if that means till another device. My Fenix 3 tracks OWS very well.

  16. Thomas Carter

    The race on the rowing lake (the Bosbaan) was the Holland Bekker, its a fairly large international event with several world and olympic medallists racing this year

    link to hollandbeker.nl

    More recently they’ve had drones filming the event which you’d probably enjoy!

    • Nice! I’ve gotta figure out how to do permitting/approval for drones in that area. It’s well within the no-fly zone due to AMS airport. On my to-do list I suppose…

  17. Andre

    My son goes to school in your neighbourhood, and I recognize the spots in your pictures. But I have no idea where your cave could be if it is in that area especially since you mentioned somewhere that it was “at” or “on” the water and near the rowing basin.

    Anyway, it seems that you chose a good location to live even with open water swimming so close and good to see you enjoying that!

    • Our home and cave are separated by a couple of kilometers, a 7-8 minute easy pedal.

      But definitely loving the area around the rowing basin. So nice for testing!

  18. Michael A Coyne

    I’m no expert, but I feel like Garmin and Suunto might have a better time with testing if they hadn’t spread whatever testers they have so thin with such a MASSIVE spread of product variations. Even companies which likely have access to much bigger testing teams (like FitBit and Apple) shy away from having a spread that’s even as close to as large.

    Also seems like the way they’ve developed software/firmware for them separates the products quite a lot for the testing teams despite only small differences in the products overall, like one or two features/components being different. Like honestly it’s starting to sound almost as fragmented as Android, and there shouldn’t be a need for that when it’s so much more in-house than Android.

    I really don’t think Garmin should be worrying about making not only a new product for every single niche sports interest, but some of these seem to only exist for like ONE FEATURE that a niche part of an already niche product area THAT THEY ALREADY DOMINATE. The features are good, but making so many product variations to spread those features out so much seems ridiculous at this point.

    I get that they’re hoping to get more/more specific purchases this way and thus make more money, but I feel like with the confusion and frustration it causes it will do the opposite in the long run. Many if not most sports watch purchases I see start with an athlete seeing a fellow athlete with something cool and ask them to explain it. It’s getting harder and harder with all the variation.

    When my girlfriend recently asked me to explain what the different watches do (thinking she might like to get one), she gave up listening about 5 minutes in after hearing how many versions there were to navigate through and actually try to decide on.

    But I’m no business expert.
    Just my two cents.

    • I think Garmin is headed in the right direction in this regard (at least right now). They got rid of the touchscreen on the Forerunner series, and there’s now less overlap between the Forerunner series and the Vivo series.

      Now I just wish they would stop having ROW and all the different APAC variations and unify on a single device.

  19. ToniT

    Here is my IM70.3 Finland track (Swim, Bike Run) with Suunto 9. Absolutely amazing, better than I get with my Ambit3 Peak.

    link to sports-tracker.com

    Zoom in for the swim track, show very well my navigation errors.

  20. Damian Sieradzki

    link to quantified-self.io

    Here’s free analyzer written by my pal. Have fun

  21. Martijn

    Last weekend I did IM Frankfurt and based on the map data, the Fenix5X+ gave up on me after a couple of 100m in the swim. It only picked it up again on the run, that was again fully recorded. The strange thing is that, although no map data, it tracked the speed and distance pretty correct. At least the bike distance and speed was similar to the Edge I had on my bike. Swim seemed excessive though, with 4500m. So apparently, it did track data but did not show it on the map.

  22. Awesome! I like the diversity across your weekend. Weird that your GPS watches failed to track your route properly, they’re way off! Why do you think this happened? Does the water mess with the signal?

  23. Antonio

    Hey Ray,
    what’s the configuration you have used (GPS Only, GPS + Galileo, GPS + GLONAS) and what data recording mode (1 sec or smart)? Will you repeat the test with different combinations?

    I’m having exactly the same issue with my F5+ and it’s weird garmin make this so bad compared to F5, I’ll do some test without smart data recording which may buggy for open water swim.
    Even because GPS is performing pretty good in running or cycling.

    Let us know

    • In this case it was:

      1) Suunto 9: Best recording option
      2) FR935: GPS+GLONASS
      3) Fenix 5+: Galileo

      I did do this test again last week, and while the Suunto 9 performed better than last time, the Fenix 5+ was still a mess. This was after a firmware update aimed at fixing the issue. It fixed some aspects (like distance counting mid-swim, sorta), but not the track issues.

      I haven’t tried it on non-Galileo yet. Perhaps this week.

    • Antonio

      I did a quick test (~1k) with data recording mode set to 1 sec instead of smart.
      The track was slightly better but may be just a case, I’ll have to swim more and in different condition to confirm there’s any relationship.