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5 Random Things I did This Weekend

As we usher in July (already?), here’s what I was up to this past weekend. Overall, for the most part here in the greater Amsterdam region, unless you were planning on partaking in some event, things are mostly back to normal, minus various social distancing measures that are easy to work within.  That includes the weather, which is consistently inconsistent, as always.

1) Zwift L’Etape du Tour de France Failures

2020-07-03 17.25.47

On Friday evening I brought home my road bike and another trainer. I usually use a Tacx NEO 2 (not 2T) at home, but I wanted to get some more mileage on the Flux 2.1 instead.

I kicked off Saturday morning attempting to participate in the Zwift L’Etape du Tour, for Stage 1. My first failed attempt at 9AM I’d chalk up to mostly my fault, as I got on my bike around 8:57AM, and by the time the app finished thinking about life, the group had already gone off. Though, I’d question why on earth Zwift can’t just start me directly in the event starting pen, versus first starting me in another place on the world/map and then transporting me (which, is what ultimately pushed me over the edge).

So, I tried again at 11AM – this time getting there about 8 minutes early. I got off to a successful start:

2020-07-04 11.01.15

I was using an iPad atop a suitcase in our shed/garage thingy at home, along with a Tacx Flux 2.1.

2020-07-04 12.05.11

Was riding for about 25 or so minutes when a notification came in that didn’t go away, so I tried to swipe it away…which totally failed and I ended up opening the notification app instead. Going back to Zwift basically froze Zwift in place. It’d do something for a second or two, and then hang.

This is me, showing it frozen, with 0 watts.

2020-07-04 11.25.32

Mind you, this is pretty normal for Zwift on an iPad in events. I’ve seen this numerous times over the years.

So, after waiting a few minutes just in case, I killed the app and re-opened, at which point it asked if I wanted to resume my activity. Great!

2020-07-04 11.28.17-1

Except, no.

It resumed me on the map in regular Watopia, not the event.

Then, it asked me if I’d like to re-join the event.

Woot!

Except, no.

It then skipped me ahead a few miles towards the front of the pack.

2020-07-04 11.30.42

Why? Why on earth would, in an event like this, you ever skip me ahead? I don’t want the ‘free distance’. With 5,000 other people, there would still be people behind me. Or, if you really wanted to put me back towards the front, why not ask that first? Or just ask if I wanted to resume where I left off?

And here’s the thing – no part of this is about processing power or lack thereof of the iPad. The iPad didn’t freeze due to too many people. No, it hung because for whatever reason Zwift can’t properly resume when it loses focus on iOS. And, let’s pretend that’s OK. Why, after restarting the app, can’t it simply start me back where I left off? I’d have been OK with Zwift if it did that.

Sigh. I ended up finishing, but still have a giant gap in that stage. And I certainly don’t care to attempt a 3rd go at that stage.

2020-07-04 12.01.26

Oh, and I’m definitely not alone. And that’s only the handful of people that even knew to complain there.

So, here’s my proposal to Zwift management: Stop using swanky $5,000 Alienware PC’s to ride your events. Seriously, just stop. Start using normal (non-Pro) iPad’s and see how it works. Try it out on large scale events. This hasn’t changed in years, it’s still just as bad. Fix lack of background access to sensors. Fix lack of resumption during events.

2) Celebrating Cake

After my L’Etape failures, I ate cake.

The first four days of July each include a separate day of note in our family:

A) Canada Day
B) US Independence Day
C) Our anniversary
D) Peanut #1’s birthday

Thus, everything got rolled together into cake on Saturday. Obviously, that cake was for her 4th birthday…or at least, that’s what she thought. I mean, most Canadian’s and American’s celebrate those holidays with a mermaid cake – don’t you?

2020-07-04 13.44.39-1

The Girl made the mermaid cake, because that’s what The Peanut wanted for her birthday. It was chocolate with a crushed Oreo icing – just like what used to be served back at the Cupcakery.  Mmm…Oreos!

3) Running in The Rain

Sunday morning I went out for a run with Peanut #3. I’m reasonably sure this was her first run (she’s 8 months old). Going into the run, I knew the weather wasn’t exactly going to be all sunshine and butterflies, but I didn’t really care. In fact, sometimes rainy runs are more fun (in the summer).

So, got her in a snowsuit and called it done:

2020-07-05 09.06.34

Then, off I went. First through Vondelpark, then to the Rijksmuseum (then through it), and then looped back around for another circuit in the park. All in, about 10KM in length.

2020-07-05 09.21.48

I had put a few watches on my wrist, and a few watches on the stroller. As usual, the ones on the stroller were mostly just collecting additional HR sensor data (one from a chest strap, another from a Polar OH1 Plus on an armband). Also, some GPS reference data.

2020-07-05 09.32.52

The wind was howling a bit too, with sideways rain as well.  But, all in – a nice run in the rain. Empty streets around the museum, and just runners on the paths in the park (with some socially distanced groups doing activities off on the grass).

4) Some Tour de France Virtual Watching

2020-07-05 15.10.27

Later on Sunday I briefly watched a bit of both the men’s and women’s races for what was Stage 2 of the Virtual Tour de France. I had also watched a bit on Saturday too.

2020-07-05 15.12.14

I’ll probably actually watch the full stages over the course of the week in the background while I do other stuff, but honestly didn’t really have four hours of weekend time to spare with the usual circus that is home with three Peanuts.

Though, I think the biggest impediment to me ‘getting into it’, isn’t the virtual aspect, nor the graphics, nor even it being only an hour long. Rather, it’s the concept that a given rider can’t actually win the entire series. That’s due to the restriction that a specific rider can only ride three times during the entire series (or four times for the women), it kinda takes away from the spirit of someone being able to ‘win’.

I mean, I get it’s supposed to be a team something or other – but…well…nobody is racing outside at this point, and nobody is ‘saving’ themselves for any other big event right now (certainly not one nearly two months away, if the real TdF actually happens). Again – I appreciate the distraction, I just wish it felt like more was actually on the line. I’ll note of course that’s fully likely an ASO or Velon driven restriction, and not one dictated by Zwift.

5) Goats, Cheese, and Bikes

I wouldn’t exactly call the weather these past few days amazing.

But, after basically four months of sun – it’s hard to complain too much (another few weeks though…and then I’ll change my mind).

So, we finally got a couple hours of sun late Sunday afternoon and took advantage of it for a ride through the forest (Bos) to the goat farm.

2020-07-05 17.50.09

We’ve been here before of course, though it’s been a while.

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They’ve got roaming goats the kids can pet and baby goats that can be fed small bottles of milk.

2020-07-05 18.06.38

Previously to enter the grounds it was free, but with the lack of visitors due to COVID19, they’ve instituted a 2EUR/person fee. That’s totally fair by itself.

2020-07-05 18.11.46

But what makes it an amazing deal is the 2EUR/person fee is actually just a voucher to the café/cheese store. In other words, it’s just a totally valid excuse to buy fresh cheese from the farm.

2020-07-05 18.24.32

So obviously, we did that:

2020-07-05 22.18.39-1

It’s entirely plausible that we bought too much cheese. Maybe.

With that – thanks for reading and have a good week ahead!

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37 Comments

  1. usr

    What is this mysterious too much cheese you are talking about? A newly created type of cheese? Because clearly, you can’t possibly be talking about quantity!

  2. Stuart T

    I also joined the 11:00 L’Etape event this Saturday just gone via Apple TV. Aside from some frame rate issues and motion sickness from the on screen stuttering and what not, I had an OK experience of it.

    I certainly wasn’t preaching about it come the end although I’m not really sure quite what I was expecting. More camper vans perhaps? A little bit more atmosphere? Well possibly.

    Thanks also for sharing the Goat farm. It’s not quite so local for me although it seems well worth the trip. All the best as always to you and yours.

  3. chris benten

    I hate iOS…I have an iPad Pro to run my stereo and occasional web surfing. Otherwise I use my laptop…including Zwift, Rouvy, etc…

    Of course FulGaz hates my laptop. That is fair but I will be dropping it. Particularly since I tried BigRingVR.

    • Yeah, in this case the failure definitely isn’t iOS. It’s Zwift. End of story.

      There’s basically four things Zwift fails (consistently) at with iOS:

      A) Loses sensors upon loss of focus (no other apps I use have this problem – meaning, if you switch briefly to another app or such)
      B) Zwift unable to properly resume large-group events on iOS
      C) Even if we crash/freeze/exit after #B above, then Zwift offered to resume the course – great! Except, it then didn’t resume the event along with it, rather, just placing me in the same point on the map.
      D) Except then, it offers to resume the event – great! Except, it doesn’t place me at the point from #C, rather, it randomly skips me ahead.

      Sigh.

    • The Real Bob

      Why do you like Bingringvr over Fulgaz/rouvy?
      Thanks
      Bob

    • JonD

      Well said! C and D don’t seem limited to iOS … it seems like that was a general issue no matter which platform you were on. Sad, so much potential but the focus doesn’t seem in the right place at the moment.

    • chris benten

      @The Real Bob
      Fulgaz absolutely refuses to connect with my laptop via…anything BT or Ant+ . Out of my last 10 tries I have been able to complete one ride. When it does connect, it will “freeze” on power and cadence…speed continues to work. WTF?? The dropouts last 20-30 seconds and just mucks up the ride. Even using a downloaded ride. The videos are gorgeous but some rides have a lot of stop/starts/red lights which become tedious, and I like the selection, just not the execution. Fulgaz says you have to disconnect from any previous program before using Fulgaz. i never do this so it may be my problem

      Rouvy AR is (I think) BT only. It works but I get the shivers using BT and prefer Ant+. The older Rouvy works. Videos are nice. AR is cool if more than you on the road as you can see, virtually, other riders if you catch or they catch you. That said, it is not like zwift with hundreds of riders.

      BigRingVR I tried with two rides last weekend. Sensor connections saved in a file. No problems connecting on the second ride. What is really cool, to me, is the way they display the profile. On a large/tall bar across the bottom, the left half is the entire ride and the right half is the upcoming 0.5 miles or so (maybe less) but it gives a good idea of what is coming. A bit better than Rouvy and way better than Fulgaz or Zwift. Videos look great.

      All these are great for riding the world from my Garage but Rouvy and BRVR work better, for me, than Fulgaz. Zwift just works and gets boring if you do not try all the courses. That said all the riders and Ride Ons is very motivating. Particularly doing the KOM (have yet to try the Alpe).

    • chris benten

      Then why use iOS? I don’t think I have had any of that using my Windows Laptop and Ant+. I think I have had one drop in the last year and probably due to my Internet Provider. Sure you lose Airplay or ATV (is the game any better on ATV? Is 4K the issue?) but HDMI cables for the winner for the big screen.

      Note: I have an ATV 4K…cannot remember the last time I watched anything on it…My frustration is trying to Airplay my wife’s iPhone 7+ and it refuses…no problem with my iPad Pro.

    • For me it’s the simplicity of it. I run Zwift on Apple TV at the studio/cave, but at home I almost never use the Apple TV there, as my bike is out in a shed/garage thingy. So I just take the tablet with me. I prefer the iPad too because it’s easier to capture the screen (video) and get it to my phone for sharing/content, rather than on my Windows laptop if I capture the video, then I’ve gotta deal with getting it to my phone, which is a pain without AirDrop.

    • Chris Benten

      Well your downstream needs are much greater than mine. Sounds like you are simplifying the downstream work flow and living with the warts of the supply. The lack of BT connects on the ATV is a hindrance (has anyone hacked ANT+ into ATV yet?) and has caused blood pressure strokes in the past.

      NOTE: If you really want to go crazy: my wife has her business set up on GMail, uses a Windows PC and has to have Outlook (TBird or MailBird are no-gos) and has an Apple phone…syncing calendars is a nightmare. Email is no problem…but calendars is another BP Stroke waiting to happen.

    • Hi Chris

      Try updating FulGaz. It looks like you’re quite a few versions behind, and we’ve recently put a huge amount of effort into sorting out ANT+ and Bluetooth issues on Windows. I think you’ll like the improvement.

      As for “all the start stop signs and red lights” Most of them get edited out – to the point where we get people complaining to us about “unsafe riding” because people never seem to stop. I guess we can’t keep everyone happy all the time 😉

  4. Tyler Loewens

    That baby goat is just too darn cute!

  5. Chris

    That looks the perfect quantity and selection of cheese, I see no problems here.

  6. Dwaine

    Point 1) Couldn’t agree with you more, this too happened to me twice on Saturday night using an IPad Mini

  7. JMMdeABQ

    Happy Birthday Peanut #1. We celebrated my birthday this weekend. My ‘cake’ has the correct number of candles – if you interpret the picture correctly. You didn’t buy too much cheese as long as all is eaten and enjoyed. Stay safe and healthy. Avoid your species.

  8. Mark

    If Zwift are going to do more of these events I feel they also need to do some work on the spectator side of things. If you’re in an event, you can’t be watched from the world, but only by spectators *in* the event. Trying to select the rider you want to watch is a miserable experience. And it’d be nice to have spectator points you could chose to watch from, rather than just rider follows.

  9. Dave Lusty

    While we’re at it can someone tell Zwift that an update that takes 35 minutes over a 2Mb internet pipe isn’t OK if your app blocks customers from using it until said update finishes? I literally finished my workout before Zwift opened today. I don’t think a 2Mb pipe is small by any stretch of the imagination (pain cave uses PoE unfortunately). Perhaps if they separate the world files from the app files I’d be able to use the app while I wait!

    Stop testing with huge expensive rigs AND on a high speed ethernet connection to the service!

    I agree, developers should have the worst possible configuration, not the best!

    • Niels

      2Mbps is anemic honestly and doesn’t count as a broadband connection for a lot of regulators (FCC says at least 25Mbps). Anyway, Zwift recommends 3Mbps https://support.zwift.com/en_us/completing-an-internet-speedtest–SkQ4ifgaL

      I also really don’t see why PoE is a problem, it’s perfectly possible to get Gigabit speed over ethernet along with PoE. You might be referring to Powerline, but there are way faster adapter available, might be time to upgrade, costs next to nothing compared to what a smart trainer costs.

      I live in Europe where I enjoy fast cheap broadband, so the above probably comes over snobbish. I’m aware a lot of areas in the US don’t have the same luxury. But I think you can’t blame Zwift that your internet provider is holding you back, blame the right party. A 525MB update isn’t outlandish for an online game, it’s even on the small side. I get that you’re frustrated but I don’t see what Zwift can do about you being stuck in 1999.

  10. tadaka

    that mermaid cake looks amazing! i showed it to my daughter and now she wants one for her bday too.

    • leon

      That is one seriously good looking cake and the ingredients sound just as good, however then you have the cheese, mmmmmmmmmmmm mmm

  11. Ubrab

    Is Android as bugy as iOS with Zwift? Considering ditching the table + laptop setup for a tablet on a handlebars mount one, and now I’m worried?

    Also, you were right then and still are now: the “team set-up” of that virtual Tour de France is very disappointing, which is sad given that individual stages are quite interesting to follow.

  12. Matthew

    I’m constantly baffled by Zwift’s method for handling events. One minute late? It’s like you never knew the event existed! (Although I swear I’ve seen people get in after the start before…) App crash during event? Who knows what will happen on reentry. Plus, I’ve had it attempt to dump me back into events I already completed after I shut it down the app and reloaded to do a separate workout/event.

  13. Robert

    Spent some time watching some highlights of stages 1 and 2 vTdF races. I agree the “no rider shall do all stages” rule is dumb. And this event also shows a bunch of limitations of Zwift – the riders oscillating between upright/banked/upright, the lack of camera viewpoint smoothness, the low-quality graphics, the wheels sunk 10 cm into the pavement at times… but mostly, the lack of pack positioning control, making team tactics limited at best. You have a 30-rider pack coming towards the sprint, no team cohesion is possible, no lead-up trains, just a mad rush to the line in a flurry of power-ups.

  14. JD

    Glad it wasn’t just me failing with L’Etape! Though my issue was hardware – the L-bolt on my ancient Kurt Kinetic Road Machine stripped. “Fixed” it with some clamps and got going about 5 minutes late…

  15. Rick Harker

    I’m with Peter Sagan on electronic riding.
    As for family fun, I’m all for that. They are precious and your future.
    Take care.

  16. Ken

    I get it’s an image on a screen & not a real person in real life but I’m amazed at how few helmets I’m seeing in the first picture of the peloton. Even the later two pics have riders with nothing or just a cycling cap on. Is there any organized ride or race one can do in real life & not wear a helmet anymore? Shame on Zwift for this simple oversight.

  17. Tobias

    That cake looks delicious! Maybe the girl wants to share the receipt or even start a dcrainmaker cupcakery YouTube channel 😉

  18. Zachary Desmond

    Interesting. I have been blaming my iPad for all the crashing and freezing during Zwift events.

  19. DS

    Thanks for the discussion of Zwift-iOS problems. I bought an AppleTV 4k specifically to ride Zwift, and was very frustrated with exactly the things you describe here — I thought I was alone. Also, I had to re-select every sensor every time I rode, which just made it incredibly un-fun to start “playing.”

    • DS

      FWIW, I quit Zwift after about three months because of those problems. I was hoping they’d have fixed it in the two-ish years since then, because of the proliferation of Zwift events in the pandemic.

  20. Jeremy

    Virtual Tour de France – What I liked about last weekend was being able to be on the same virtual road on the bike with the pros, although not visible to them, providing the opportunity to try and hold a few wheels for a while and give ride ons. As I understand it this same experience will be denied us for the remaining events as the maps are event only and therefore it is not possible to be on the same virtual roads as the events as there is no accessible event for non participants. I think this is a shame and a missed opportunity.

  21. Steve L

    I think that should be a new tradition for Canada Day – Mermaid cake when a Timmies Maple Dip just wont cut it 🙂

  22. David Wilcock

    Which running stroller do you use and what do you think of it for your youngest child? I have a 4 month old and will look to buy one when shes 6 months. Any recommendations?

    Have you ever used a Hauck runner? They seem cheap and get good reviews

    • We use the BOB Pro. Here’s all the kid stuffs we use: link to dcrainmaker.com

      We love it.

      I’d say 6 month old is the min (I think they say the same), but it’ll really come down to neck strength basically. I haven’t tried the Hauck runner. I’ve run with a smatter of other strollers, all capable. And I’ve made them work numerous times – even a race with a double-stroller.

      It’s one of those things where it’s fine and functional, until you then go for a run with a BOB and feel how crazy-low the rolling resistance is and you’re like… Oh…woah…

  23. Forrest

    Are you really taking an Enve wheel for a ride as luggage?

  24. roland howard

    mmm – fishcake.