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5 Random Things I Did This Past Week in Banff

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The above has been my playground…err..work spot, for the last week. Of course as you saw this weekend in my ANT+ Symposium post I’ve been up in Banff, Canada (within the province of Alberta) for the annual sports technology conference.

1) The ANT+ Symposium

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Certainly the main reason for me to fly to Canada wasn’t to go elk watching, but rather to attend the ANT+ Symposium. Of course, I wrote all about that from a technical standpoint already in my previous post on Saturday.  This includes giving a keynote presentation on the state of sports technology in 2018, and a look ahead to the future of it.

But ultimately, the vast majority of my time at this conference is spent talking to others in the business. Be it out on the road or trails running or cycling, or as was the case this year with slightly less warm weather – inside at sidebar meetings.  For that, I don’t have a ton of photos of all those things.  However, I did take like 238 photos of the snow over these days. Mostly because it snowed a crapton. Over a foot, or about 30cm. All snow, all the time.

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But once it stopped snowing, it was pretty. And me and my iPhone made sure to capture it constantly.

2) Running with elk

Thursday evening as the Symposium wound down, Chip (Founder/CEO of Wahoo Fitness) and I went out for a run around…well…frozen trees. And frozen roads. And elk.  But mostly it was all about the frozen stuff.

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So frozen in fact that we resembled a bunch of bowling pins going down one hill with a bunch of black ice. Thankfully neither of us was injured in the two-person tumble, though I did manage to stop one of my watches during the fall and not realize it till a bit later. Sad data-comparison panda.

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At both the end and beginning of the looped run we ran past a large heard of elk.  They seemed pretty content about life:

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The run wasn’t super long. It was just squeezed into a tiny slice of time between the end of my presentation and the final dinner of the symposium. Plus, the sun was setting and the last thing either of us wanted was to be in the frozen Canadian wilderness after dark. I’ve watched enough TV to know that nothing good comes of that.

3) Cold Weather Battery tests

I headed out of the park (since it’s a no-fly zone) early one morning just at sunrise to purposefully freeze my ass off. Seriously, I was looking for the absolute coldest point of the week, and it’s just after sunrise, as the air is still cooling before the sun heats it up. The coldest I could get was about 18°F (-8°C).  Not bad, but I’ll take it.  And by take it, I mean: I really wish I hadn’t decided to do this.

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In this case, it was doing cold weather battery tests with the DJI Mavic 2 series drones. I had them with me to send back to DJI as I wrap up my review, so I figured why not put together a video on how well it handles cold weather. Specifically focused on battery longevity, and in turn, is there any difference between simply hovering for the duration of the battery vs flying constantly for the duration?

Now, I’ve been writing and photographing and videoing as fast as I can for the upcoming week – so I haven’t had a chance to edit that video yet. So instead here’s a few pretty morning photos I took. Actually, they’re not photos but snaps from the 4K video of primarily the DJI Mavic 2 Zoom.

Pretty, huh?

Well, the video’s a lot prettier to be honest, especially seeing the steam slowly rise off the river into the cold air.  More to come over on YouTube (and shortly here for the written review of it).

4) FAT Biking In Snow

While the Symposium officially wrapped up late Thursday night, I had a day to kill on Friday. My onward flight to meet The Girl wasn’t till painfully early Saturday morning.  So after burning a bunch of drone batteries, I continued to freeze myself by going FAT biking with Jenelle from 4iiii (Grammar note: I’ve been informed that FAT must always be spelled in upper-case letters. It’s not an industry standard thing, but a cool kids thing). She had bikes, and I…well, I didn’t really have the right clothes for it. But I made do with plenty of random layers, some running gear, and lots of willpower.

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I’ve never been FAT biking before – but I’ll tell ya now: It’s a blast!

As she noted, it’s somewhat like mountain biking used to be before it got so competitive (which, it is). This is partially because there’s very little you can do to make FAT biking competitive.  You simply move too slow – especially uphill in the snow. In some ways, it’s more about core stability and balance than pure leg power.  Obviously, there will always be someone that makes a competition out of everything, but this was legit fun without being overly competitive.

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Also, I departed the bike a bunch. She was always ready with a camera to capture those moments. Obviously.

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The weather was actually perfect though, since it was sunny out, and warmed up to about the freezing point.  We also lucked out with trails as well, in that the one we mainly followed had been lightly packed by a couple of riders before us.  Though, we saw no other cyclists this day.  Only a family of cross-country skiers.

I think The Girl would actually really enjoy FAT biking as well, so perhaps next time I’m up in Newfoundland visiting her family and there’s snow I’ll find some FAT bikes and we’ll go out for a whirl.

5) Knocking out reviews

As I noted in my ANT+ Symposium related post, I didn’t really do any product-specific photos/handovers at the Symposium this year. And honestly, that’s actually kinda my preference. I much prefer having devices ahead of time rather than doing last minute announcement type things.  And frankly, virtually every company I interact with in the space understands that these days. A month ahead of announcement is the norm, so that’s awesome.

However, that doesn’t mean I always operate a month ahead. Nor does it mean products stop coming in. In fact, I had four different companies ship items to me in Canada while I was there. None were Canadian based, but it was the best possible spot for these companies to get products to me ahead of releases over the next few weeks and beyond.  Or, in some cases, my travel schedule these two weeks was more conducive to product usage or testing than back home in Amsterdam.

So after the FAT biking, I actually hung out at the lodge for a number of hours, working on reviews first on the laptop:

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And then outside.  Of course, I can’t show you what I was photographing and shooting video of yet. Some of it you’ll see later this week on Thursday. But, the backdrop for my video was pretty:

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As I left the lodge early evening, these guys were chilling alongside the road. More elk. Because Canada.

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With that, I’m about an hour away from landing at my next (warmer) destination where I’ll be meeting up with The Girl. Of course, regular Newsletter subscribers already know all about that.  For everyone else, you can stay tuned to either her Instagram page or my Strava account. Let’s be honest, we all know I’m horrible at updating Instagram. Though, I did once last week and it turned out pretty good – I believe it might be one of my most-liked photos ever.

With that – have a great week ahead. I’ve got a solid line-up of posts ready for ya!

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28 Comments

  1. FrankJ

    This post delivered on important learning: DCR does actually have leg warmers.

  2. Marco

    So you completely stepped over from Mac to Windows? What software do you use for video editing now?

  3. Daveo

    That is a stunning cover photo – kudos!

  4. Jeff

    Banff is a magical place. I have only been there in the summer, someday I will see it in the winter.

  5. OperationOne

    +1.000.000 points for the Florence Marathon jacket 😀

  6. Craig Robertson

    Cracking pictures from the drone.

  7. Tosin M. Akinmusuru

    https://www.dcrainmaker.com/wp-content/cache/comment-plus/2231417-1600×1200.png?1497726691

    Regarding ant+, is there any reason why a lightning to USB adapter wouldn’t work to send ant+ data to a current apple product?

  8. John B

    My friend and I used to ride our “regular” mountain bikes in Fish Creek Provincial Park in Calgary during the winters. It was nice to follow the FAT bikes after they had cut the trails in the deeper powder.

  9. Good stuff Ray, but if you’re trying to keep up with the cool kids shouldn’t that be PHAT bikes?!

  10. Sean

    I realize this is your site and your rules. I also know you don’t present yourself as an objective journalist or claim to follow any journalistic ethics.

    However you do present a certain image here. When I see you palling around with tech CEOs — of some of the very same companies your review – it make me trust your reviews a lot less. A lot.

    Others may not care or trust you not to be biased.
    And many, like myself, don’t think you’d consciously engage in biased reviews for those companies.

    But as a journalist for many years, I never wanted to give my readers that idea. It’s disappointing.

    • Last time I checked I review sports technology products. In doing so, the vast majority of times I ride/run with companies, it’s to discuss or test such products. It’s my chance to engage in usage of their product and ask why something isn’t working the way it’s supposed to.

      Further, my time running/riding with these company employees is often about convincing them to do something, almost exclusively things that readers ask/beg for. Perhaps in the case of Wahoo it’s to get them to open up KICKR CLIMB connectivity to 3rd parties. Or it’s to get them to fix an outstanding issue, or to get them to pull an update that isn’t going well.

      I often hear about journalism ethics – the vast majority of which are laughable when the same media outlets claim to be unbiased/uninfluenced, and yet take money directly from the companies they’re talking about. And almost every journalist I’ve talked to the industry is quite open about how much their parent magazine/publication/site tries and influences stories one way or the other. And equally so – the same is true when I talk to companies, about which media sites are holding stories based on advertising investment. A core reason why I don’t accept advertising dollars/anything from the companies I review.

      Ultimately, if you’d ask any company that goes to the symposium what my time there is about, it’s about convincing companies to do things you want. Sometimes (a lot of times), it’s doing that on a run or a ride, rather than sitting around some formal table.

    • Tosin M. Akinmusuru

      I think the reason most of us come to this site is because it isn’t biased. A company can get praise and be equally shamed by Ray on here. I think what some may see as chumming it up is actually making sure that we the consumer get fair access to the product. I’m sure Ray has had to sign many NDAs in his time as a blogger, and that’s why he can get us access to things first hand. I also think Ray is extremely open about his methods.

      I have been using this website since 2009. First as a consumer, and then as a reference guide for the people that came to the triathlon store I used to work at, and finally now as a place to once again fact check and compare before buying something. Ray has never said he was a journalist, and honestly, he could easily get kcikbacks from companies to promote their products. But he does all he can to ensure the openness of his reviews. I for one will continue to use this site for what I’ve come to expect it to be. If you don’t like what Ray has to say, I’m sure there are plenty of other websites that will have an opinion.

    • ScottE

      Well said Tosin.

    • Steve

      Harsh Bro!

      I challenge you to present a more independent source of sports tech reviews!?

      I’d say 99% of the reviews i read, on other sites, state that they were paid for attendees at lanch events.

      I feel quite sorry for Ray, as he’s not able to live it up on all expenses paid junkets like most of his peers, but that’s what gives his product value.

      Great work Ray!

    • JT

      Ethics in journalism? Laughable. Journalism is not a profession; there is no guild or other licensing requirements, and no fear of reprisal for “malpractice”. Libel and slander and defamation of character are potential concerns for any writer (not just journalists). Bottom line: any person that can observe, write and disseminate content can be a journalist.

  11. ScottE

    What is more fun than FAT biking in the snow is eFAT biking in the snow. Less face plants and still a great workout.

    Awesome scenery.

  12. Martin

    re: running with Chip – two questions:

    1. have you used Vantage with new SW (v1.02)? how is accuracy?

    2. how is Vantage vs. Rival? 😉 😉 😉

  13. The Real Bob

    Fat biking is super fun. I love my fat bike. Snow is good, but riding on the beach is a blast. Anyone who wants to try it out, just make sure you read about tire pressure. I had to drop my tire pressure down to about 6 psi, yep, 6 to get it to work on the beach.

    Its a total different experience from your regular mountain bike. I would argue that if someone were brand new to mountain biking they should go the route of plus tires, not true fat, but something like 3 inch tires. The bigger tires are so much more stable and forgivable, which means less crashes for a new rider. I saw what must of been a 70 year old guy buzzing down the bike trail on a fat bike, and I thought, genius. So much safer.

  14. I love mountain biking, but I have never ridden a fat bike on the snow, so jealous. All the snow makes me look so forward to winter!! Thanks for the early winter getaway!

  15. Su-Chong Lim

    I live in south Calgary and I have been running 3 k to the pool on a short cut through Fish Creek Park all summer. We had that same record snow dump last 2 weeks that you documented in Banff. It was knee deep in snow and I never would have made it the morning of the big snowfall if it hadn’t been for the track of a FAT bike that had conveniently gone before be. It was still rough but do-able, running in that nice wide tire track.

    BTW I +1 the other comments about your crystal-clear objectivity in your reviews and advice. If you can’t hang-out in the snow when you’re in Banff with some random CEO to bend his ear, what’s the point of anything?