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Because when you're out on the course, all that's there is your internal monolog

Archives for Raves category

Review: 2 new sets of shades from XX2i

Several months ago I was sent 2 pair of sunglasses from XX2i’s recent collections: the Bermuda and the Hawaii.  I’ve been wearing these shades on and off since then and seriously considering laser corrective surgery to correct my near-sighted-ness.   I don’t really enjoy the contact lens experience, but these sunglasses have me really wanting to be able to wear non Rx sunglasses.
1st About the Styling
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The Bermuda is more of a casual driving/day at the beach, chilling on the deck kinda frame.  Very comfortable with good coverage and lightweight though it’s design is heavier in appearance.
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The Hawaii is more the traditional sporty wrap-around sunglass that many of us use for training and racing.  The wrap around gives exceptional coverage and reduces any side-on glare that would otherwise fatigue your eyes during a long day in the sun training or racing.  The Hawaii is also nicely ventilated so fogging isn’t an issue.  (Trust me: If a sunglass will fog, it’ll do it on my face 🙂 )  The nosepiece and arms on the Hawaii are bendable so that you can get the best fit for your face and rarely (if ever) need to be distracted by them while training or racing.
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Shown above here is the Hawaii along with the hard-case, neck-strap and bag that comes with XX2i sunglasses.  It’s a really well put-together and high value for the dollar package.

The Optics
Like all XX2i lenses the optics on these 2 models are exceptional.  The lenses are highly impact and scratch resistant (good for me because I drop them A LOT).  The 2 sets I received came with a lightly reflective blue lens that is so pleasing to the eye that even the harshest mid-afternoon sun is easy on the eye. Both sets have polorized lenses and zero-distortion grinds.
But Wait! There’s More
XX2i sunglasses come with.. a LIFETIME warranty.  A quote from their website:
WARRANTY: Lifetime Warranty! No questions asked, you break or scratch them, send them back to be replaced for a nominal shipping and handling fee!
Kinda hard to beat that. Seriously.
And because they know you’re shopping on line and maybe you’ll get them, wear them for a bit, and discover that you don’t truly love them, they have one of the best return policies I’ve ever encountered:
RETURN POLICY: 365 Days! We know it may take some time to try on and get comfortable with a pair of sunglasses bought online so that’s why we give you a full year to do so! That’s right, take up to 365 days to determine if you want to keep them and if not, send them back for a full refund less any shipping and handling fee.
Wrapping It Up
I really can’t say enough good things about XX2i sunglasses in general and specifically about these 2 new releases from XX2i. The styling, amazing optics, the kit they come with and, perhaps almost as importantly the price point, make XX2i my favourite eyewear manufacturer.   If you haven’t tried XX2i optics, you really should.

Review: Finis Duo


Late in 2015, Finis released the newest installation in the bone-conduction mp3 collection: The Finis Duo. As with the other devices in this line it produces pretty good sound quality by sending vibrations directly into your skull rather than relying on earplugs or speakers.  I like this about the line because I use silicon earplugs and like to dump them regularly to keep the chances for some strange ear bug growing in the earplugs.

Unfortunate, for me, the Duo is not a step forward in the evolution of Finis products.  Lets dive in (no pun intended).


  • the bone conduction tech that Finis has used for years, it’s not the most high fidelity sound, but to break up the hours staring at the black line, it’s enough
  • the Duo has a magnetic charge adapter that is a definite improvement over the previous grommeted swimp3 approach and is perhaps a little better than the charge adapter for the Neptune (though I never had a problem charging my neptune)


  • previous incarnations of the swimp3 and neptune had plastic clips on the sides of the “ear pieces” (they don’t go in your ear, but not sure what else to call them… sound pods?).  While the ones on the swimp3 could be a little cumbersome, especially if you have short fingernails, they improved them on the Neptune to be a clothes-peg-like design that was simple to attach to goggles and to adjust. The Duo has a hard plastic channel that you have to weave your goggle-strap into. Having wrestled with it daily for about a week, I have to say “don’t like”.  It’s very hard to clip in with your goggles on your head and once the strap is threaded, its nearly impossible to adjust the location of the “pods”.
  • the neptune has a longer battery life. The Duo’s 7hrs isn’t bad, but it won’t get me through a weeks’ training in the pool without a recharge.  There’s also no indicator of battery charge on the Duo (unlike the Neptune).
  • the neptune actually has a display and user interface that doesn’t require guessing and interpreting a single blinking light, again (imo) a step backwards for the Duo
  • I’m not sure if this is bad luck (track selection), or by design, but I’ve noticed LONG (20-30s) gaps between tracks with the Duo.  To the point where I wonder if the unit is still on/out of battery/malfunctioning.  I haven’t checked to see if my track selection had long lead-ins/outs (but I’d be surprised). Also because of the lack of screen, I have no idea what track is playing, so it’s “difficult” to quickly diagnose.

To me, the Duo is a refresh on the old SwiMP3 v2.. call it the SwiMP3 v3.. the interface is pretty much the same, the case is more difficult to comfortably fit on your goggle strap but the battery life and memory is beefed up a bit.

Personally, I’ll stick with the Neptune.

I love my RudyProject sunglasses and helmets (yes plural).  Next time I need new Rx lenses, I’m definitely going to look at these.

DENVER, CO– As a leader in prescription sports eyewear, Rudy Project is proud to launch the latest advancement in RX photochromic lens technology: ImpactX-2. This new generation of the award-winning Rudy Project ImpactX lens has been updated with cutting-edge photochromic particles which provide faster color transition and extremely enhanced contrast via…Read more ›

Source: ImpactX-2: The Next Generation of Fast Acting, Prescription Ready, Pho

This is a great article on OW swimming from Jodie Swallow

From the Shallows of the Pool to the Open Water ‹

Love the Wing57!

I didn’t really have a lot of opportunity to pre-ride the RudyProject Wing57 before my fall A-race, the Barrelman 70.3 distance on Sept 21st.  I’m usually all about “nothing new on race day” but I knew the helmet fit, so I went for it, and I was not disappointed.

The weather on the day was supposed to be cold, windy and rainy.  The race was a point to point and so we had limited ability to stage options in T1/T2.  I’d toyed with blocking the air vent in the front of the helmet to deal with the cold, but I’m glad that I didn’t.  Coming out of the swim it was like running into a steambath.  The sun had broken through and the day was to be sunny, hot and windy instead of the forecast cold and rain.

A few things didn’t go great on the bike, but, for certain, the Wing57 worked beautifully!  The ventilation built into the helmet kept my noggin comfortable, even when a hornet flew into and immediately out of the helmet.  I rode with the magnetic-attached extra fin at the back of the helmet and found that when I was on the aerobars and my head was in a comfortable position, the fin just lightly touched my back for total aero advantage.


We always see a lot of Rudy Project at Kona.  This year I expect we’re going to see many of these atop the heads of the best and fastest in our sport.  I know I’m planning to watch the day’s broadcast and I’ll certainly be playing “spot the wing57”!

Well done RudyProject – super comfortable, light, cool and aero brain-bucket!  Love it!

Review: Bracketron Trurunner

I’ve had the Braketron Trurunner in my review queue for quite some time.  I wasn’t avoiding reviewing it, but generally I review equipment by using it in my training (and/or racing) and, to be honest, my typical runs are long enough that I almost always need to carry water either in a FuelBelt or in a hydration pack.  With the temperatures cooling off, and with my training entering the taper before the inaugural Barrelman Triathlon this weekend, I finally had a chance to log a few km with the Truerunner.

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The Truerunner is, what I’d call, a stretch/stealth fanny pack.  The storage compartment is water resistant, pleated and stretchy to accommodate all the little bits you need to carry when heading out for a short run (keys, phone, id, some money, etc).

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It’s surprisingly accommodating and can hold a lot more than I expected it to hold.  The waist-strap is very adjustable and VERY elastic.  It fits comfortably, but because of the stretch you’ll have to be careful about overloading the storage compartment.  When I overloaded the storage compartment I found I had to cinch the waist-band up uncomfortably tight to stop the pouch bouncing around as I ran.  I did this intentionally as a test and I don’t think that with a reasonable load this would be a “real world” issue.  With my cellphone, keys and a $20 the bounce wasn’t noticeable with the strap comfortably fitted.

There are a few of these types of stretchy micro-fanny-packs on the market today.  The ones I’ve seen seem to skimp on materials: no water-resistance in the pouch, narrow and not stretchy waist-bands, etc.  The Truerunner definitely has these lesser products beaten.

If you’re looking for something to carry your bits’n’bobs for a short run, checkout the Trurunner.

4iiii Innovations Shakes It Up Again: Power for EVERYBODY!

Powermeters have been the tools of the sponsored and well-heeled.  A few years ago, Stages shook the market with a $800 powermeter and now 4iiii Innovations has gone even further!

Checkout this press release:



LAS VEGAS (September 9, 2014) — The world of power meters is about to be rocked with the launch of 4iiii Innovations’ Precision here at Interbike 2014.  The company’s crank mounted power meter was designed with every rider in mind, expanding the opportunity for all cyclists to use power to train more effectively.

“Due to a cost prohibitive price point, power meters have been a performance tool that up until now was restricted to a small segment of the cycling population,” said Kip Fyfe, CEO 4iiii Innovations.  “We have designed a power meter that delivers uncompromised accuracy at an affordable price.”

With a MSRP starting at $399.99, Precision opens up the door for all cyclists looking to improve their performance.  The meter is easily installed on most existing cranks and gives athletes the opportunity to choose a left only module, or a left/right option dependent on their specific needs.

The features of Precision abound with it boasting bilingual communications — both via ANT+ and BLE, a coin cell battery life of 200 hours and the benefit of active learning temperature compensation.

One of the key designers and engineers behind Precision is Keith Wakeham.  Prior to joining 4iiii Innovations his educational and professional career has been devoted to using strain gauge sensors for testing under stringent requirements in the nuclear industry.  His passion for cycling inspired him to develop this patent pending technology.  His dual sensor design uses both primary and secondary sensors to reduce error to well below 1%  for torque measures making Precision more accurate than most power meters currently available.

“I just always felt there was a smarter way to design a power meter,” said Wakeham, Mechatronics Engineer for 4iiii Innovations.  “My goal was to bring this technology down to a price where it would be accessible to all avid cyclists and I feel we have definitely achieved that.”

4iiii Innovations is taking reservations now for the first run of Precision, expected to ship in Q4 2014.

DCRainMaker has already managed to take one for a test ride.  His initial thoughts are on his blog here.  I’m expecting my test unit to arrive soon.  This will definitely shake up the powermeter market!  Well done 4iiii!

Wahoo Fitness KICKR Power Trainer Wins Eurobike Gold Award

Wahoo Fitness KICKR Power Trainer Wins Eurobike Gold Award

This in my mailbox this morning.  No surprise to me here.  I love my KICKR!

KICKR profile right


(Atlanta, GA – August 28, 2014) – Wahoo Fitness, the leader in fitness apps and products that take advantage of the power of smartphones, announced today that the KICKR Power Trainer has received

the Eurobike Gold Award in the accessories category, the most prestigious award of the Eurobike Tradeshow.


The KICKR Power Trainer was selected over an impressive list of submissions. “We are honored to have been selected for the Eurobike Gold Award from such a deep field of competitors”, said Chip

Hawkins, CEO of Wahoo Fitness. “Being chosen for a Eurobike Gold Award is a true testament to the entire Wahoo team and our dedication to create the ultimate indoor cycling experience.”


The winners of the Eurobike awards were presented at a ceremony in Friedrichshafen, Germany during Europe’s largest bicycle industry tradeshow. Selected by an independent jury of industry experts, the

award winners were deemed to stand out from thousands of products based on a number of criteria including functionality, design quality, and degree of innovation.


Using Bluetooth 4.0 and ANT+ technology, the KICKR Power Trainer connects to a wide range of smartphones, tablets, and PCs, allowing full resistance control during your training session. While

pedaling, users can increase or decrease resistance, structure interval workouts or even simulate real world bike courses all from their connected device.

Review: Koala Bottle

During a club ride a few months ago, I met one of the editors for Bicycling magazine who showed me a product he’d started using: the Koala Bottle.

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The Koala “bottle” is a bit of a misnomer, but rather a really well designed magnetic bottle retention system.

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The system is comprised of a bottle with a ferrous ring and a “cage” with 2 super-strong magnets positioned to align with the ring.

Now, of course, you’re thinking: “A magnet to hold a waterbottle?! No way, it’ll pop off!”  Well, I can tell you after several hundred km with these mounted it’s not been a problem on the bottles mounted on the downtube or the seat tube.   I also have one mounted between my arms on my aerobars.

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This one has bounced free once or twice after hitting a pretty significant pothole, but it reseated itself almost immediately.  I’ve also get a Koala bottle setup on my mountain bike, where it’s taken some serious bumps (and falls) and the bottle has stayed firmly attached to the cage.

I have to say, I really love this system.  The bottles are held firmly, but are also easily accessible.  Clearly it isn’t a solution to every problem (what is): you don’t want to use this system behind the saddle as you could pretty much guarantee ejection there.  Using a strong-grip cage behind the saddle with these bottles to swap into active use works well.

You also probably don’t want to use these bottles anywhere you’re going to be ditching empty water bottles (perhaps use these for fuel and disposable bottles for water), since the rings are something you’d have to replace at a cost.

Small caveats aside, I really like what Koala bottle has done here.  Would love to see a carbon version to shave some weight, but really, compared to the weight of a bottle of water, the weight of the plastic in the “cage” is pretty minimal.


yurbuds: you have to love this company!

I love my Yurbuds.  I’ve used them for training for years.  I try other buds and earphones from time to time, but always come back to the yurbuds because, well, they’re so amazing.  I think right now I have 3 or 4 pairs (some with mic’s some without) that I’ve purchased when I found myself somewhere without a set.  Can’t go wrong 🙂

I almost always buy the Inspire or Inspire Pro.  Being a glasses wearer I prefer the in-ear styles to the over-ear ones.

Yurbuds also recently came out with a Vivid line – bright colours to suit your mood, match your clothes, or just mix it up a bit.  Kinda fun and hey, why not! 🙂


They also have a limited edition “Boston Strong” set.  This came through my email this morning:

yurbuds® Supports Running Community with Sponsored Boston Team and Donation to the Challenged Athletes Foundation – Endurance Sportswire | Endurance Sportswire.