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5 Random Things I Did This Weekend

And just like that, I’m back in Amsterdam. Well, sorta. By the time you read this I’ve already left the continent in search for…umm…colder weather, apparently. But more on that at the end. Let’s dive into what was happenin’ this past weekend.

1) Peloton vs Zwift, sorta

I was feeling bored of Zwift when it came time for my trainer ride, so I decided to mix things up and give the Peloton app a whirl.  While I’ve ridden the Peloton bike in a studio before, I’ve never actually tried the standalone app where you don’t need a Peloton bike.

So I loaded that up on my iPad, and the AirPlay mirrored that to the left Apple TV screen:

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The way Peloton works is that you can either join in a live class (streamed from their NYC studios), or you can pull up a crapton of historical classes.  Most classes are between 30-60 minutes.  In my case, I simply selected a live class that was starting at the top of the hour:

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Within the iPad app you can pair to both a Bluetooth Smart heart rate strap and a Bluetooth Smart cadence sensor.  I paired up the Garmin HRM-DUAL to the iPad, while also pairing it to the Apple TV running Zwift on a second screen. A perfect use of the dual-Bluetooth Smart connections that it allows.

However, I stupidly paired it to the wrong cadence sensor on another bike that I had moved just before, and then realized as I started my ride that I didn’t even have a standalone cadence sensor on my bike. Doh!  So it just did nothing.

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The classes were just as good as they are in the real studio. However, I do feel like the overall iPad app as an experience is a pretty big let-down.  Again, workout/instructor great…app…not so much. A couple of reasons:

A) When it mirrors the iPad to the Apple TV big screen, it doesn’t actually mirror any of your data like heart rate, cadence, or time. It just shows the video feed. So you’re always looking at both places, rather than focusing on one screen. Certainly, I can see the appeal of having a clean video-only screen, but then why not give a choice?

B) I would oddly fall behind and then instantly fast forward through like 20-30 seconds before catching up. It’s totally possible this was something with my internet connection, though my download speed is a pretty stable 500mbps, and my internal internet via Google WiFi is pretty darn stable from what I’ve seen too. All that aside, I don’t understand how I’d ever actually fall behind visually. I’d be watching normally and then boom – it randomly fast forwards and seems to catch-up.

C) You have no context of power. Despite having umpteen power meters on my bike and trainer, you can’t pair a power meter to it at all. Thus, you can’t really follow along with their resistance based program. Nor do they provide any guidance on how to best judge that. When the instructor says resistance at 50 – should that mean my HR is at what zone/intensity? It would seem a little bit of guidance here would go a long way. Perhaps there’s a support article buried somewhere – but there’s nothing surfaced in the app.

D) You can’t upload to Strava unless you have a real bike. WTF?!? Why can’t I upload to Strava? This is frankly the dumbest thing I’ve seen on multiple levels. First off – if I upload to Strava then people are seeing I’m using a Peloton bike. Ignoring the fact that I’ve got a crapton of followers, the average person with an average number of followers will see their friends using a Peloton bike. I noticed one of my friends uploading his workout just this morning. Again – a reminder of the platform.  But, to the less business-focused angle – why not? Every fitness app on the planet allows you to upload to Strava. Why would you not want me to share that?  Supposedly I’m told if I get on a real Peloton bike and set up my account there it’ll stick for all future rides (bike or not).

Now, it may sound like I’m being negative – but I’m actually not. I’m a pretty big fan of what Peloton has done from a product standpoint (less so in other areas). Heck, I’ve even been scheming on how to get one back from the states on an upcoming trip. However, that doesn’t excuse the fact that the iPad app is subpar at best.

2019-03-01 13.48.00

Oh – Zwift worked fine. Why’d I dual-Zwift then? Simple: Points.

I just paired it as a regular power meter (instead of an interactive trainer), so that I’d get XP-now-Drop points to be able to buy things I don’t really need. Duh.

2) Off to see horses and deer

The Girl had a few things to knock out on Saturday morning, so I took the kids out for a bike ride, culminating in a stop for pancakes and deer.

First of course, we had to stop to say Hi (and then Bye) to the horses at the end of our neighborhood.

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Then it was onto a quick stop at the DCR Cave to pick up a few things for my run later on. Stroopwafels kept the kiddos happy while I rummaged around:

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From there it was time for Dutch pancakes overlooking the deer and rooster petting zoo. Except, you don’t get to pet them. Just feed them. Not sure what you call that, but the kiddos were happy either way.

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We also saw some peacocks and cows on the way home. And, as usual, one of the two Peanuts decided the last few minutes was better spent sleeping. She’s really good at sleeping in bikes and strollers.

3) A Nighttime Amsterdam Run

Saturday night just after the kids were tossed into bed I zipped out the door to get in a nice brisk run around the city. I decided to mix things up and make a bit of a loop. Except, I wasn’t sure I’d remember exactly which streets to turn on, so I ended up mapping it out using EasyRoute, and then sending it over to Garmin Connect, which then sync’d it with my watch as a course. I wrote about how to do that for both Garmin and Wahoo devices here.

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With that all set it was out the door I went:

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I only stopped in two places to take photos, including both sides of the Rijksmuseum:

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The above picture came out really well, shot on the GoPro Hero 7 Black, and then applied a lens correction in Lightroom mobile on my phone, which got rid of the fisheye look. I could have used Linear on the GoPro to do the same, but I find at night that for whatever reason the wide shot tends to come out better. No idea why.

After that, it was back into the park and on to home.

I will say that the Fenix 5S Plus I was using did a stellar job of laying down the worst Garmin device track that I’ve seen of any Garmin device since moving to Amsterdam.  I’ve seen some similar tracks from Polar and Suunto, but this is the first time I’ve had a Garmin one really crap the bed here.

For example, below at the start/finish – I stayed on the right side of this canal both directions:

image

Or whatever happened here as I simply ran down the nice and straight street:

image

There were other spots too.

I’m not sure why it was so bad. I did notice afterwards that it was on regular GPS mode, and not GPS+GLONASS or GPS+GALILEO, which is what I almost always use. The reason it wasn’t on my defaults is because I recently hard reset the watch when I was filming something to get it back to a clean slate. And I frankly don’t use the Fenix 5S+ all that much, it’s just sorta been a leftover on my wrist from something else.

4) TrainerRoad vs Zwift, sorta

Sunday afternoon the rain was strongly flying sideways and not in a nice warm kinda way. So it was back onto the trainer I went. This time going for a twofer of TrainerRoad and Zwift.  I used TrainerRoad to control the trainer for a structured workout I picked there.  While I used Zwift for the social aspect.

Effectively no different than riding a structured workout on Zwift, except TrainerRoad was doing the controlling.

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Oh, and I was watching YouTube, of course.

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While TrainerRoad doesn’t have an Apple TV app, I could mirror it.  And sure, that’s a possibility, but I still think there’s something to be said for having a native experience there. Perhaps not as much as The Sufferfest could benefit from it (like what FulGaz did), but enough that I think there’s benefit there from a platform standpoint.

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And in case you’re wondering – the structure of the workout was a simple build followed by 4x4mins at 299w. I used a Tacx NEO 2, though was also recording data from the PowerTap P2 pedals and Stages LR unit. Short of me forgetting some super-critical photo or something, you’ll see my PowerTap P2 In-Depth Review tomorrow morning.  I’ve got 6 hours and 41 minutes left on this flight to finish it.

5) Off to NYC

Finally, I’m just about to push back [update: ok, in the air] and take a quick jaunt across the pond to NYC for a one-night stand. Err…stay. No stand, just stay. Don’t got no time for standing around.

Either way, I’ve got a quick lineup of meetings from later today and tomorrow morning before taking a flight back to Amsterdam. For me, NYC trips are among the easiest I can make. The flight is short, the logistics are simple, and I can knock out usually a few companies at once.

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Oh, and plus – I can swing in for a Peloton class tomorrow morning and get my Strava account lined up on one of the bikes. So there’s that for you. Well, me…not you.

Maybe I’ll even squeak in a run this afternoon. Though, apparently it’s snowed a boatload since yesterday. Hmm.

With that – have a great week ahead!

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49 Comments

  1. Niels

    Is there news about the release of the Tacx Neo bike?

    • Nuttin.

      I couldn’t squeeze in a trip down to BikeMotion this weekend here in the Netherlands (like a mini-Eurobike), but Tacx was there showing it off. Word was they continue to say they’re waiting on some sort of CE certification before releasing it. It sounded like they’re stockpiling inventory in the meantime. So we’ll see.

  2. Andrii

    yesterday I also had a GPS problem with my 920xt and also some guys on Garmin 920xt forum have the same problem on the latest version. so probably this is a software issue.

  3. fisao

    Hi Ray, quick question about Peloton:

    I thought that the app was restricted to the US, Canada and the UK at the moment? Am I missing some crucial information or are you using a *cough* roundabout way *cough* regarding geo localization?

    have fun in NY!

    PS: we had sunshine and sun cream on in southern France for our weekend ride 😉

    • My understanding is bikes are restricted to those countries, but I think the digital app works everywhere?

      Either way, I just downloaded it off the app store like anyone else normal. I wonder if perhaps because my iTunes account is US based that’s why?

    • Neil Jones

      Wouldn’t it be easier for you to bring a Peloton in from the UK where you could just hire a car or van and take the ferry or tunnel to get it to Amsterdam rather than have to bring one over from the US? At least for the rest of this month…

    • The problem is the base pricing in the UK is super high comparatively. It’s the USD equiv of $2,600 – which is about $700-$900+ more than I can find it in the US lightly used. (or $400 more than new).

      Plus, I’ve got to then rent a van to move it over, plus ferry/time/etc… Realistically, that’s some $200 in ferry fees, plus a few hundred bucks in van rental fees, plus probably a hotel for the night. It all ads up quickly to well over $3,000USD+.

      Now, in theory I’d get VAT back on an EU purchase, but Peloton doesn’t break out the VAT cost on their site – so I have no idea how they’ve classified it (it could be 20%, or it could be just a few percent). If it’s 20%, that changes things a bit.

      It’s honestly hard to know exactly how close it is until I get final quotes for freight shippers (though estimates for the Peloton box come in at about $275). Also worthwhile to hit up Peloton UK and find out what the VAT breakout is exactly.

    • Neil Jones

      VAT would be UK standard rate (20%), but I take your point about the incidental costs mounting up; I guess it might have been more viable if you needed to be in the UK for something anyway.

    • as for the VAT: If you have a valid Dutch VAT number you can buy in EU countries with the 0% VAT rate applied. AFAIK this is only if the goods are delivered outside the country where you buy it. If you just take it with you the selelr has no proof that the goods are indeed delivered outside his country, and is strictly not allowed to sell without VAT.

    • Interesting – I didn’t know that. I’ll have to dig into how on earth to do that. When we’ve added our VAT number in the past we still get dinged and then get it refunded quarterly. Though it is kinda fun to get the check back. 🙂

    • Joel

      “than I can find it in the US lightly used.” – Curious to know the best place to find a lightly used Peloton in the US. I looked on Craigs list, but nothing local. I’ve also heard of possible fake models being sold over the internet (unconfirmed if a rumor) that I should watch out for. Would also be very interested if you found a way to get the power information the Peloton bike measures to output to Zwift. To explain the 50 resistance…the bikes have a large orange knob wheel that can be set. Curious to know if you think they have plans to come out with a 2nd model that upgrades the electronics as its been several years since the original came out on Kickstarter. Core for the bike with magnetic resistance is great…

    • I’ve been looking at Craigslist. I can find them here and there around the US, though usually only 1-2 in a city at at time, and in most cases frankly overpriced. Many people are offering them for $2,000, though I’ve seen lower as noted.

      Honestly, I wouldn’t bother saving $245 for a used one over a new one. But once you’re talking closer to $1,500 – then that’s different.

      Not sure on new bikes. My guess is they’re going to focus on product expansion prior to product updates. They’ve talked in media interviews about wanting to get more and more into the evergreen home gym type business, where you just pay $100 or what-not per month and have an entire Peloton suite of stuffs beyond just a bike and treadmill.

    • Fwiw – purely as an update on this, I called Peloton UK (trying online chat was hopeless, they weren’t at all helpful).

      Here’s the breakout of costs for a UK bike:

      Base Bike: 1990GBP ($2601USD)
      Shipping to UK address: 95GBP ($124USD)

      VAT: 331GBP (so about $432USD back)

      Thus effectively the cost removing VAT is $2,293 for a new bike from the UK, or basically within $43 of the US new bike cost.

      In both scenarios I suspect the total ‘get it from UK/US to Netherlands’ cost would probably be a wash actually.

      With the UK scenario I’d need to find someone there to deliver bike to, so I could pickup. Whereas within US I’ve plenty of family/friends. On the flip-side, the UK has a near-zero chance of breakage, as I’d just load it into a van and be done. With US there’s plenty of ways it could get broken, even with proper freight forwarding.

      More to ponder…

  4. Keith

    No boatload of snow in NYC. Probably enough to cause issues with your flights

  5. Ethan

    Where you are in the world means you are subject to gps spoofing from time to time, if you utilize gps + something else this can be mitigated, but gps by itself is spoofed and undetectable by most civilian devices. Background, I am a Marine Corps Survey Officer feel free to contact me about GPS stuff.

  6. Mark

    I’m envious of the Peanuts. They get to know stroopwafels from almost birth, I didn’t get to experience them till my 30s! Think of all the lost time…

    Enjoy NYC 😀

  7. usr

    That’s some very liberal use of the term “real bike” in #1.D)…

  8. gingerneil

    Awesome night photo! Is that just handheld using ‘super photo’ (or whatever they can it) ?! Or did you play about with ISO, shutter speeds etc ?

    • Thanks!

      I just used the default Night Photo mode in ‘Wide’, and then I hand-held it tightly against a light pole. No toying with shutter speeds/etc…

      In Lightroom mobile I simply cropped in a tiny bit and then did the automatic perspective fix thingy.

  9. Matthew Weigel

    I’m not really in Peloton’s target market as a cyclist first and indoor trainer second; doubly so because I’d much rather work indoors on my actual bike, instead of a dedicated spin bike.

    That said, the idea of occasional online spin classes does appeal, if only I could be a “full” participant with power and everything.

  10. Chris

    If you’re planning on using Peloton in Europe don’t let the glossy adverts on UK TV convince you that they have extensive class coverage on European timezones. Currently they don’t so if you want a morning class you’ll be restricted to on-demand classes.

    Intriguingly I received a survey not so long ago from SoulCycle which led me to believe that they are evaluating something along the lines of Peoloton. If they are then that would be a-may-zing. Whilst I am a data nerd so really appreciate that Peloton expose that I find that SoulCycle has more variety in terms of music and choreography and would trade the power data for that. Of course what we really need is an open trainer platform that you can use to subscribe to whoever has the classes you prefer.

  11. Pierre

    If you want to use the Peloton App without the Peloton bike with “some” context of power, you should probably use the “power zone rides”. The instructor (Matt Wilpers or Denis Morton) gives you a range of cadence and ask you to be in a power zone (2, 3, 4, etc.) as opposed a resistance value… It works well with if you have a power meter on your bike, but you could also do it if you have a good feel for your power zones… They have some structures workouts which are pretty good…

    Other than that, not much snow in NYC, enjoy your stand… err stay!

  12. The Real Bob

    What android app are people using to create routes?

  13. Knot Two Zwift

    I used TrainerRoad for workouts and Zwift for free riding, but it’s of note that so many Zwifters are doing structured workouts in Zwift now, judging from their floating heads-up displays. It looks like 1/3 or more of the riders.

  14. The Sufferfest could benefit from having an Apple TV app? You’re not wrong there, Ray. Stay tuned for future developments…. 🙂

    • JB

      That will be great! Have appreciated other recent additions (strength training, display options etc), however Sufferfest also needs to consider family memberships. Zwift is getting better with its structured workouts, so the marginal benefit of running multiple subscriptions just so kids (who may not train enough to make a subscription of their own worthwhile) get access to an account of their own is diminishing by the day.

    • RobHug

      The only problem there is that from memory Apple TV only allows 2 Bluetooth connections. No good if you have trainer, HRM, power, cadence.

      Or am I missing something?

    • GPSIG

      Kids up to 16 ride free. That makes it a lot easier to justify the stand-alone account: link to zwiftinsider.com

    • RE: Apple TV connections.

      With the exception of the Wahoo trainers, all other trainers transmit power/cadence/control over a single channel. So then you add HR and you’re good (and still within the 2 connection limit).

      It’s just Wahoo that’s dorked up.

  15. Will Borgers

    Pleeeeease get peloton to sync metrics, my wife wants the tread but its worthless for zwift or garmin/training peaks tracking without a footpod that i dont want to buy after a 4k treadmill with an oversized screen that zwift would be epic on.

  16. Bob

    Any chance for a Samsung Galaxy Watch Active review, or is it not sports-focused enough?

    • Yup – I ordered one. Though in Europe (or at least in the Netherlands), it doesn’t arrive till March 15th. :-/

      I’m giving it two weeks of usage, and then hitting publish. Hell or high water.

  17. Sebastian

    Is there a way to control the TACX with an app so you can set it on erg and control wattage while recording? Maybe through the Garmin Edge? You could do a pelearon class for entertainment and then run resistance levels based on threshold wattage while recording the whole workout.

    • Technically yes, though, honestly not being able to match the Peloton class kinda takes away from it.

      I did a ‘real class’ this morning in their studio (which actually uses less-capable bikes than you buy, since it doesn’t include a big screen like at home). It re-instilled in me how silly the whole lack of power/pairing/zones/something is on the Digital App.

      I got a far better workout on a real bike because I was constantly adjusting resistance to beat those of others on the Leaderboard (and won it too, boom!). You don’t get any of that feedback normally. I get that Peloton probably doesn’t see the value in adding power support. But I’d argue if that’s the case – then they should re-think whether they see value in the digital app at all. Either do it, or don’t do it. Don’t do it half-assed.

    • Sebastian

      It a shame too because Stages makes their bikes. You would think power integration would be a no brainer.

  18. Bob

    Excellent! You are always threatening to review a mainstream non-Apple smartwatch. Thanks!

  19. JOBA

    Just a general question, my wife is heavily interested in spinning classes, she did that years ago in a fitness centre and now after getting the kids it would be ideal to start again but do it from home. I’m all geared up with Zwift&Tacx…

    Now, for the wife, there’s no European version of Peloton, is there any alternative which can be used in Europe – with EU timezone classes?
    If not, I’m OK to head-up Peloton’s European rollout 🙂

  20. Sandro

    Hi Ray, I believe there is an app called mpaceline that you can use to sync peloton to power meters and such. It has a companion apple watch app as well. As for the fast forward that you mentioned, I have had the same thing happen to me once or twice in the past few months. It’s not something that happens all the time. Peloton automatically syncs with Strava (if you set up the options) so I’m not sure why your workout was not sent there.

  21. Melissa

    For the Peloton app you can also choose Heart Rate Zone training or Power Zone training. These can be easier to follow. I find Matt Wilpers to be the best coach as he explains things in terms such as “flat road” “slight incline” or the effort based “you should be able to do this effort for an hour” etc. I also have given up on doing the app live, as it is very glitchy. On demand works very well. Try out the Power Zone training! My favorite are the longer rides that he usually does on Saturday mornings (again I do it on demand).

  22. Jesper

    How do you like that E-bike??? Ever wish it was a 45kph version?

    • We love it. Use it every day, thousands of kilometers on it in the last 10 months.

      I don’t think they allow 45KPH variants here. 😉

      That said, I wouldn’t be opposed to a bit of speed. Haha.

    • Jesper

      They don’t? Thought the NL was more loose on the reg’s than here in DK. We are currently testing 45’s on the bike path with normal bike helmet. But only 2 wheels, and no trailer/passengers.

      Standard EU rules treats speed pedelecs (45) as large mobed, so on the road, MC helmet, licence plate, driver licence ….

      The easy trick to get more speed, is to mount a magnet on the pedal arm and move the magnet sensor, so it reads cadance, rather than wheel RPM….. Range and speed build in computer will obviously be messed up…

    • Yeah, I’m not sure how that works.

      I know that Amsterdam (or maybe it’s the Netherlands at large) is working to remove mopeds from bike paths shortly here as part of a law change, but that too it’s clear to me. However I’ve gotta imagine that whatever rule change that is would also impact this.

      As much fun as going 45KPH would be on a nice straight country road, I’m not sure how ideal it would be in the city.

  23. Pablo

    Hi Ray, interesting that you brought up the GPS modes. I have a Fenix 5 but I can’t seem to get good GPS readings. Which mode do you recommend for GPS? I did some reading and some people says it depends on your location (in this case Washington DC). I’ve tried GPS only, GPS + GLONASS, GPS + GALILEO but my friend with an 920xt gets a much more stable readings (even pace, and in a 5mi run, about 0.2 difference)

    I’m not covering the watch with any clothes and wait for the GPS lock before starting to run

    • Yeah, the 920XT is a solid performer, and it may be hard to beat that with the Fenix 5.

      That said, .2 miles is a fair bit.

      I’d go with:

      A) Ensuring 1-second recording is enabled (not smart recording)
      B) GPS+Galileo

      Now, I think Galileo is getting better and better as time goes on. Well, not think, know. That’s because new satellites are coming online. If I’ve read my GSAT reports correctly, three satellites have come online in the last 3-4 months. My Galileo runs are getting better and better.

      Also – definitely ensure you’re on the absolute latest firmware. I prefer using a physical computer to update, since I just find it’s more consistent in getting the firmware all cookin’.