5 Random Things I Did This Weekend

Finally, it’s getting warmish here. Not like Florida warm, but like acceptable levels of warmth warm. So, here’s what we were up to!

1) Openwater Swim Afternoon

I kicked off the weekend with an openwater swim Friday afternoon. It finally stopped being cold (and stopped raining). Though of course raining doesn’t matter, but there’s something enjoyable about getting out of the water and it being warm and sunny out that makes summer openwater swims the best.

The purpose of my swim was to test the new beta GPS firmware for Garmin’s new lineup of watches, which aims to fix the issue I and others have encountered where it stops tracking distance after a very short time period (like 20-50 meters). It’s ultimately what led to this tweet and subsequent post (with just shy of 600 comments now).  So I got both the MARQ & Forerunner 945 all updated and charged up, then headed to the lake. Technically I could swim directly from the DCR Cave front door, but the water quality seems suspect at that locale. So I pedaled two minutes away to the newly built docks:

2019-06-14 14.03.29-1

I then took some obligatory pics and got into the water. Oh, and I had a Forerunner 935 (older unit) in running mode on the swim buoy above the water. This would be the reference track.


Ready to roll, I stored my action cam and pressed start. Then I gave the units 5 seconds with my wrists still above the water (so they’d have a clean starting point), I set off swimming.


I didn’t stop till I completed my giant squarish thing. I did manage to take one photo though of a buoy/marker structure by swimming one-armed. Kinda like the old days.


Randomly, a minute later two girls went swimming by in the opposite direction sans-clothing of any sort. That was unexpected.

I got back to the dock and gave the watches five more seconds above the water before pressing stop (which roughly simulates coming out of the water and running to a nearby T1 timing mat, giving them chance to get one last clean fix). Here’s the results:


You’ll see the MARQ (purple) was very close to the reference track (blue). More than acceptable for an openwater swim track accuracy-wise. Perfect? No. But it’s almost unheard of to have perfect tracks. This slightly cut the corners, but nothing major for swimming.


Whereas the FR945 (red) gave up on life after 68 yards. But I’m not going to hold it against Garmin at this juncture (I did that last week after all). Instead, that’s the *entire purpose* of releasing beta updates that the public can try. I sent them the feedback from my swim a few hours later. Obviously, beta testing isn’t for everyone, but I’m happy for an excuse to go swimming. It’s supposed to be beautiful weather all week long. At this point though, it’s clear the issue isn’t yet fixed. And having only a single swim on the MARQ doesn’t declare it fixed there either. I’d want 4-5 swims without issue to assume it might be fixed. But again, happy to swim more.

(Side note: I probably didn’t make it super clear in my post last week, but I have mostly zero issues with testing pre-production devices that aren’t ready and have bugs. That’s never been my issue. My issue is production devices that are available to the general public on final firmware but are still buggy. Give me buggy beta devices all day long, I’m never going to complain about it publicly.)

2) Let there be light!

I spent an incredible amount of time unboxing light boxes. Seriously, how is it that each light needs like 28 boxes for all the parts? There must be a better way.

2019-06-14 16.58.51

This is mostly because the lighting in the main DCR Studio portion continues to be the bane of my existence. Though, these lights will actually be used elsewhere. I’ve got some large overhead LED panels that should blanket the studio with crispy light starting this week, assuming PostNL manages to deliver them. They’ve been delayed twice now due to some sorting issue. Maybe tomorrow.

2019-06-14 17.21.07

Hope they hurry up, I’ve got unboxings to get done!

(Side geekery note: I had desperately wanted to buy these specific lights for the main studio, but turns out they were only available in the US. Looked awesome. Ended up with something similar though through Amazon Germany. Not a perfect match, especially on price, but the best I could find.)

3) Flower delivery by bike

This weekend The Girl and I decided to spruce up the backyard a bit. With the weather turning summer-ish, it was time to get some flowers planted. Sure, the rest of our block already has flowers in their backyards. But the rest of the block is also retired without kiddos running around. And, it’s not technically summer yet, so given it’s still spring – I think we’re perfectly on time.

We went to the garden center and picked out a bunch of flowers, but by the time our “marriage negotiations” were over, the kids were starting to lose it, so we pedaled them back home for snacks and naps. Thus, I went back solo to pickup our goods:

2019-06-15 12.19.28

Turns out, we badly miscalculated on how much space we’d need in the bike. So it’s a good thing the kids weren’t in there too. Here’s my first load, with the leftovers in the cart.

2019-06-15 15.58.55 HDR

And then I went back for the second half. By then The Peanut was awake, so she came along for the ride. Once again, it was a tight squeeze, but she liked being surrounded by flowers. Mostly.

2019-06-15 16.56.31

Like I’ve said in the past, we use the crap out of our cargo bike. So nice not to have a car, even if it takes a few more trips.

4) Pancakes, Pie, and Peddling

2019-06-15 18.13.33 HDR 2019-06-15 18.13.15-1

Saturday afternoon after our flower delivery we decided to escape to the pancake house for dinner. We’ve come here countless times before, but always for breakfast/lunch. For some reason we decided to test out how well dinner would work. Stuff the kids full of dinner, let them play on the playground, and then pedal home and send them to bed. So first, the pancakes…and then pie.

2019-06-15 18.31.20 HDR

And then the pedaling home:

2019-06-15 19.36.08 HDR

At the easy pace we peddled at, it takes about 20 or so minutes to get home. The kids had a great time, as after pie we left them loose in the playground for a bit. There’s also the petting zoo portion too. Which I suppose makes for all the P’s: Pancakes, Pie, Playground, Petting, and Peddling. Though the ‘petting’ part sounds a bit wrong standalone like that.

Seriously though, life is just so easy here with bikes and kids. Perhaps it sounds like we just bike around all weekend with the kids and that’s it. But honestly…yeah, that’s kinda it. We also went swimming Sunday morning too via bike. We do everything via bike. What families do in the US via a minivan, we do with a cargo bike on almost entirely separated and protected bike paths. It’s amazing.

5) So much dirt

Remember all those flowers? Yeah…us too. Now we had to plant them. And to be fair, that actually didn’t take very long. It’s everything else that took forever. Trimming back bushes, weeding, keeping kids from picking up the shears, etc…  Many many many hours slowly vanished on Sunday afternoon and evening. The Girl and I finished up at 10PM. Apparently it was Father’s Day too. Oh and The Girl discovered we had some sort of poison ivy out there amongst the bushes as well. Doh.

We will now have pretty flowers in our yard for when GPLama (+1.5), DesFit, and others stay over the coming month for the DCR Open Cave. Assuming we don’t kill them first (the flowers, not the Lama’s). Which is a good reminder to get all registered if you want to come to the DCR Open Cave. We’re definitely on a faster sign-up pace than back in the fall.

With that – thanks for reading! I’ve gotta get back to deboxing and assembling more lights.


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  1. Jens

    Cool to finally see the beta test. Ray thanks so much. Soon, perhaps even tomorrow, I will do some OWS, first of the summer. From what I understand I should NOT use my FR935, F5S or F5X+? Will my FR735XT be unaffected by the GPS problems? I will swim using two watches, the other being either Polar VV or SSU, leaning towards the SSU to get temperature too.
    I also have Suunto A3 Vertical, Polar V800 (should be good I guess), Polar M400, M600 and Suunto A3 Run. Any of those better or less good for OWS to your knowledge? Thanks in advance :)

    Do you have any advice what watches that are most accurate? And, any idea when updates for 935, F5S and F5X+ will be available? Seems the 945 beta wasn’t any good…

    • The FR935/Fenix 5 Series are on one set of firmware that has it’s own OWS problems, while the FR945/MARQ are on a different set of firmware with their own issues (according to Garmin). I honestly don’t know where the FR735XT sits.

      Out of all the watches you listed there, I’d guess the V800 will produce the best on-wrist OWS track. For just putting in your swim cap or a swim buoy as a reference, then any of them (in run mode), will do. Do ensure that the reference is in running mode, and not in swimming mode.

      Swimcap method: link to dcrainmaker.com

    • BartW

      As of OWS is see very different results between different users. Before 1 bought the Fenix 5 Plus (next week a year ago) is used the Spartan Trainer which had the best OWS track i ever had (+/-3%)
      However i have seen multiple tracks from other users which are (very) bad.
      Same for the Fenix 5 plus (i admit the first few firmware versions where less accurate than the Spartan Trainer) but since last autumn this watch is perfect.
      For example if i only compare the last 10 OWS of a better defined triangle the one with the shortest distance is 1420m and the one with longest distance was 1453m (= +/-1%) (not taking in account: straight swimming, exact turning points)
      I see no differences in any external factors like weather conditions (sunny/rain/wind/snow/hail/clounds/blue sky) or temperature (3-27degree). The only differences i can think of is the stoke differences when swimming freestyle and that is something which is hard to measure before buying a watch.
      This is some 40km north of where Ray lives of which i have seen some very different results.
      (don’t have the Polar V800 but when comparing various parallel tracks a year ago the V800 was superior at that time)

    • Jens

      Hi BartW,

      That is very interesting. I guess I just have to try it out myself then and have the occasional bad result. I will always use a second watch as backup – which hopefully will work better – so in worst case I can at least use that :)
      I have a SST as well btw. Heard from others that the SSU is pretty good though so we will see. Exciting times ahead :)

    • Jens

      Hi again,

      Ok so today I did try some OWS. Left wrist was SSU, right wrist FR935 and either I was lucky or my swim technique (I’m very new to crawl, learned just over 6 months ago) is better suited to OWS than others but I had no problems whatsoever with either watch. I consider these maps to be very ok, also the distances are not too far from eachother.
      Just had to give my 2 cents :)
      I guess this might also mean my F5S and F5X+ would work nicely!?

    • AndyG

      Hi Ray, On Saturday I did my first open water swim of the season with the FR735xt, and like my last swim with it in the fall, it was spot on. Honestly I have never had a problem with that when following your (and Garmin’s) guidelines. Besides the software issues, I wonder if the chunkier newer watches somehow create interference for rapid (re)pickup of GPS?

    • BartW

      Personal i think the Garmin looks way better. The SSU has 200m more on this distance which i think is quite a lot. The 935 and F5+ are “similair” however some have better result with the 935 according to then due to the plastic case. Don’t forget that depending on your swimming and breathing style left or right hand can make a huge difference,

    • Jens

      HI again,

      Just had to add this test too. Today I swam with Polar Vantage V on left wrist and Fenix 5X+ on right wrist. The distances were incredibly similar!! However I guess Polar’s GPS track is more accurate, but I wouldn’t bet on that, but I think I swam more like the Polar track. This was with the 7.10 fw on Fenix 5X+ since I haven’t been able to update yet, but it seems I don’t really need fixes!?
      Next test will be with F5S I think + V800 perhaps.
      Am I just lucky to have the Garmin watches work ok? Seems lots of ppl have watches that stop recording altogether. I used GPS + Glonass btw. Perhaps that helped?

  2. Marcos Saad

    Hi Ray,

    Doesn’t Garmin have their own testers?
    Come on, send you a beta to fail in the 945 after “that post”? kkkk


    • They do have their own testers. But I think their point with releasing this beta publically (as they do many beta firmware updates) is to quickly gather as much feedback as possible. Given this is smack in the middle of tri season, having to wait till August or something isn’t good enough. So this speeds this up.

  3. No offense Ray, but I don’t think it works this way…
    Problem: I want to put as little effort as possible into lighting subjects in my videos and photos.
    Solution: Softboxes, softboxes, and more softboxes. Then add more softboxes.

    • Haha…everything can be solved with enough soft boxes!

      Yeah, the problem is really just the base lighting sucks so badly, that no amount of soft boxes will help. My challenge with regular lighting though is typically reflections, so bounced soft boxes tend to help with that.

  4. Mitchell

    My wife and I gave up car ownership when we moved from the US to London a few years ago. While the infrastructure here is no where near as good as that in Holland, we have loved not having a car. Whenever people ask what’s the thing that’s surprised us the most about living in London, it’s how little we miss the car.

    • Indeed. We occasionally use a Zipcar like service. For example, last night I needed to go get more beer for the DCR Open House. And I needed to get a bunch of random things at the hardware store for the Cave. Technically I could have done the hardware store in probably 2 trips via cargo bike (it’s not too far away). But the restaurant supply store is 10-15 minutes by car away (solid 25 mins each way by bike), and all in I’d have to have done 2-3 trips to get everything back. So the quick one-off electric car was perfect. And totally packed!

      If it had just been one or the other, I’d probably done just the bike.

    • Stuart T

      Since moving from Guernsey to Haarlem this time last year we’ve adopted pretty much the same transport set up as your family.

      Most of the lifting and shifting is done via cargo bike with the odd trip here and there via car shares. Unless we move out of the city to the sticks, I cant really see a long term use case for needing to own a car.

      As always, wonderful post. Good health to you all.

  5. Henry

    wait “GPLama (+1.5)” is that what I think it is? Shane and Von are with child?!?

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Sounds like FR920XT still has long legs… I haven’t found anything compelling in the new models to upgrade to (belt HRM is fine for me), and sounds like the FR945 is skippable as well. Maybe by the time FR955 comes out, Garmin will have worked out all bugs with the 945 and it’ll be marked down to boot :)

    (My previous Garmin upgrades were 310XT -> 910XT -> 920XT, each well worth the bump for their respective set of functionality / features.)

  7. Damon

    Who does the braiding of the hair in your household? As a father of a 3 year old with extremely majestic hair and not enough skills to make use of it, I can definitely appreciate that braiding expertise!!

    • Strontal

      Had it been Ray, such a feat would have deserved to make it to the 5 random things post! I never managed to reach that level of perfection on my 3 yo daughter (but still trying..).
      Kudos to Ray / The Girl!

    • I cannot braid. However, I’m reasonably good at pony tails. I agree with Strontal – had I managed to braid it, it’d definitely been front page news!

  8. James

    So Ray, the Neo box, same unit you gave a brief run-down on last year? Next in depth review?

    • Exterior-wise it looks the same as last year, but interior a bunch of things are changed.

      It won’t be the next in-depth review. A few watches have to go before then. And I’m still getting a bit of clarity on exactly how final-final this is. Either way, I’ll ride it. But I won’t publish any first looks/etc until they confirm that customer units have gone out the door to some customers somewhere (thus ensuring, it’s the same unit everyone else is getting). I figure there’s been enough false starts there already.

      Once it goes out the door though, I’ll get a solid few weeks or so of riding on it, and then a complete review.

    • Ihsan

      Good eye James!

  9. Nicholas

    Wait….no pizza oven????

    • I know. I think I’ve got one item left on my to-do list as well. Maybe I’ll even e-mail them now. Or, I could eat a Stroopwafel.

      [Also, it’s possible The Girl has added penalty interest items to the list at this point, for all I know]

  10. Fiatlux

    The 945 seems out of stock or even « no longer available » on quite a few sites I checked. Is it really that bad?

    Meanwhile, my 920XT keeps going strong, although I would love built-in HR (I hate chest straps and my scosche rhythm doesn’t work with long sleeves) and a proper swimrun mode.

  11. Sandeep

    What lovely pics all around. Loved the flowers picking ride pics. My daughter would love to be in the cargo with the flowers.

    BTW, Ray, I have a Garmin 920xt (yes still on one of those), that works perfectly outdoors / on roads. However, when I run on a stadium outdoor track – with a bit of roof on the sides only (not the main running track) – along with other runners using various garmins (920xt, 935xt, fenix..), there is a large delta in the distance that my watch captures – always over-estimating the distance by nearly 5-10%. Also the GPS map plot is not a good oval but seems to meander in and out of the stadium, while for others its very nice oval shape.
    Apart from that, on roads, under tree covers/ building, I have no gps issues ever with the said watch. Only this oval/ circular tracking suffers.
    Have you seen anything like this before? Any possible fix for this?

    • Jens

      Hi Sandeep,

      Ok I’m not Ray but had to comment. How many laps are we talking about? This spring I’ve done lots of 400m intervals using FR935, Fenix 5S and Fenix 5X Plus. They were all terribly bad measuring usually 0.43-0.44km. This is an oval without buildings near (ok there is one but I wouldnt say it’s near and the weather was ok. At the same time I used a Polar V800 on other wrist and got 0.40-0.42, usually 0.41 or 0.40km!!!
      I’m not sure my speed affects things, OR if the distance would “even out” if I ran more laps because last summer I ran several 1000m intervals with my FR935 and they were almost spot on, around 1.01 or 1.02kms. Those are of course slower than 400m ones but still impressively accurate. My point is I think perhaps the firmware update has messed up accuracy. (or possibly speed but I use 1s recording so should be ok)

    • fiatlux

      I get decent enough ovals on the track with my 920XT in the absence of any obstruction but still far from perfect. And it tends to be worse if I do intervals with big differences in speed (like last week’s 80m/120m at 115/60% vVO2max).

      I guess that’s a fact of life and the way GPS receivers work (1s update rate, some smooting involved…). A dedicated “track” mode combining accelerometer, GPS and start calibration could help, at least if you only ran in lane 1?

    • Sandeep

      Jens and Fiatlix,
      Thanks for your responses.
      However for me things are pretty nasty.
      See attached pic (my map on LEFT, my friends on RIGHT)
      Tuesday I ran side-by-side with a friend also using FR920xt (same latest FW). This was an easy run (no intervals etc). So exact same pace all through (except a bit of detour for me out of the stadium once).
      Notice how my ovals are all over the place – sometimes encroaching on to the stands and sometimes cutting corners. While my friend’s map is VERY accurate (on the right side we ran on the same couple of lanes all through – while on the left side ,we moved out to an outer late for a bit). For my map, its just a ball of wool!
      And the watch / batch (we bought the watches together from runningwarehouse)/ FW revision is exactly same. And this occurrence has been happening for a long while.
      Ray, any comments on this?

    • Any chance one person was on GPS while another on GPS+GLONASS?

    • Sandeep

      100% sure. Both of us were on only GPS. No GLONASS for this run.
      However, I have tried to switch on GLONASS for my track runs with no success. The map looks similar!

      Is this just that my watch’s GPS radios are a tiny bit less sensitive/ accurate? Any other theories?

    • It’s plausible there’s some slight manufacturing difference.

      There’s also the slim chance it could be a bad satellite cache.

      Or it could be something silly like body position, wrist position, body blocking, etc…

  12. Tonny Madsen

    Does anyone know if the new OWS related patches will make it to Fenix 5X? As much as I hate the current functionality (or lack of same), I’m not that fond of buying a new watch at this point, as F5X otherwise fits my needs perfectly.

  13. Lior

    Hi Ray !

    No photos of the ‘sans-clothing of any sort’ girls ?

    LOL !!!

  14. Kevin

    She probably found stinging nettles. They’re ubiquitous in Eastern Holland open spaces.

  15. karl

    “marriage negotiations”
    The Girl spoke. Ray listened and agreed.

  16. Boy_quiet

    How do you avoid / make yourself visible when you swim in the dock?
    Great picture of the peanut in with the flowers in the cargo bike. My granddaughter would love that but here in the uk just too little safety to family bike. Round my way 40 ton lorries and no sidewalks.