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A White Asparagus Swim/Bike/Run Weekend

A Warm Friday Evening Parisian Run:

The weekend started off with a nice 12-mile run.  Just long-run pace, so nothing too crazy.  This would be the first run with the Bryton Cardio 60 multisport watch that arrived into the Queue.

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I started off as I usually do along the river headed eastbound.  I had noticed earlier in the day that many of the larger riverboats were being restricted due to the water, but didn’t think too much of it.

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That was until I got here, and had to retreat as the path was fully flooded over (that’s a house-boat to the left):

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The river has done this many times over the past few months. Seems quite normal from what we gather.

You’ll notice the construction fencing above.  We’re not quite sure what they are doing yet, as it doesn’t appear to be part of the larger Seine riverfront effort happening a few kilometers away (that I’ll talk about later).  But, whatever it is it’s required them moving in massive amounts of construction worker temporary buildings.

Funny enough though, they actually wrapped the fence in faux-stone styling.  And even the shipping container buildings were also wrapped in the stone ‘wallpaper’.

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And to be fair, it actually looks kinda nice. :)

After failing in that direction I simply headed back along the river and eventually to and through the Louvre:

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Given the warm Friday weather, it was absolutely packed.

I continued into the gardens, which were equally as busy – both with people, and also various plants blooming.

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I don’t remember seeing the Segway folks much over the winter, so they must have gone into hibernation.  Probably smart – the going into hibernation thing.  The winter was miserable.

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I turned and went towards Invalides, and eventually down the long skinny park that looks up towards it.

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I hadn’t run down this nearly 1-mile long length before, despite seeing it on one of our first house-hunting trips almost exactly a year ago.

Interestingly, we’d look at a house there about a month later, just about where the photo below is.  Though, it was one of many homes that never made our post.

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While it had a beautiful view over the park (photo from last year below), it had the sound proofing of a paper bag. And the furniture of a confused grandma (we counted 16 differently styled chairs).  Oh, and every aspect of the furnishings had to stay.  When we went and visited we could actually hear the neighbor filling up a pot of water for tea, and the tea pot then boiling.

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At any rate…back to the run.

Since it was after 5PM, I was able to dip along the river where the major construction is going on for the whole riverbank revitalization effort.  It’s closed during the day, but on evenings and weekends it’s a runners paradise with no cars allowed and virtually no foot traffic either.

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Soon, I was back at the house with some preliminary results to chew on.

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After the run we went for a few hours walk around town.  No particular direction, just wandering.  Here was sunset:

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We found a bunch of new restaurants that had opened over the last few months, so we sampled a few things along the way.

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It’s so nice to have the weather conducive to just wandering about town at 9PM.

Holy cow, there were actually fast people in the fast swim lanes:

As I’ve ramped up my swim training in anticipation of doing an event with a swim leg (the running marathon doesn’t typically require it), I’ve had to visit the pool more.  As many of you know, I can’t say that swimming is my most favorite sport in the world.  At least lap swimming anyway.  I really do enjoy openwater swimming.

But with the pool situation here being so ugly, my desire to swim continues to wane.  However, Friday evening I did finally get a break.  While the first 20ish minutes of the workout involved the usual 10-15 people battling it out in a single lane, the second half turned out to be quite nice.

For reasons unclear to me they opened the normally ‘closed for swim lessons’ lane and then moved the ‘Rapid’ sign over to it.  That in and of itself doesn’t tend to mean much, as your average backstroking-fin-wearing-with-paddles Parisian swimmer will still go in that lane.  But Saturday night…they enforced it!

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An old slightly portly man (not above) with a long pool scooper would bonk people who weren’t going fast enough.  Sweetness!

This slimmed it down to about 5-6 people, all of which were solid swimmers.  Nobody was terribly faster than any other, though we all had slight differences in paces.  But more importantly, all 5-6 of us had an ‘understanding’ that when the usual pool-rule of tapping ones toes occurs, you hold at the next wall a second.  Bazinga! Common courtesy was in full force!

I got in 3x500m sets this way, the first uninterrupted sets I’ve had here yet.  Greatness.

Now, only if my times exuded greatness…

Oh, I also tested took the Poolmate HR out for a swim during my cool-down.

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I’ve got some more poking around there to do.  Still had issues with the HR strap staying put on my chest upon flip or open turn push-offs – and this was at 75% of full speed.  The strap would simply slip down towards my waist within about two turns.  Maybe HR straps underwater and me just weren’t meant to be compatible.

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Post swim it was time to cook up some of the famous French white asparagus.  This is the popular thing to do here (well, not so much cook, but eat, most Parisians don’t actually really cook much at home).  It’s only available for a short period of time – about two months worth.  There was actually a long article in the New York Times about it this past week.

We had gone over to our local outdoor market mid-day Saturday and picked up a bit of it:

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There were two sizes: Big-ass, and normal.  Obviously, we got both.

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The big-ass size was about the size of…uhh…nevermind.

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For dinner, The Girl made chicken and potatoes (all from the market) with herbs she picked up down in Provence (Herbs de Provence) two weeks ago.  She’s got a big bundle of them.  They’re SO good, and so fresh.

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And then I just seared and baked the asparagus.

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The tips were really good, the rest of the stalk varied.  If they were the big-ass variety, they stalks were a bit more bitter.

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Good stuff though!  Oh, and just to give you a taste of some randomness that goes on in our neighborhood, this band was out playing behind our home all Saturday night.  Fun stuff (video):

It’s like an entirely different city once it gets warm out.

A Drafty Sunday Ride:

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After signing up for a draft-legal triathlon next Saturday, I decided it might be good to dust off my drafting skills.  By drafting, I mean the act of getting pretty much right on someone’s back wheel and holding it.  Of course, anytime you cycle here in France someone’s going to draft off you, so that part’s not particularly new to me.

What’s a bit more new to me is the idea of proactively drafting off of others and moving from group to group as it makes sense.  I do that on occasion when there’s not much choice on a busy day doing loops.  But this time upon arriving at Longchamp for 1hr and 45m worth of cycling I actively set out to draft off folks.

Unfortunately, the very first cyclist I stumbled upon wasn’t a terribly good candidate:

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The second candidate wasn’t either.  And in fact, as I was pondering whether or not it was OK for a cyclist to draft off a rollerblader, the question was immediately answered:

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I was rather surprised with how many rollerblades were out and about today.  All over the city as well.  Doing loops though, many were clearly training and in tight groups moving surprisingly quick:

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At any rate, eventually I found a group that was moving at roughly the right pace (a bit faster than me), and latched on.  I don’t remember how many laps I did, but quite a few.  Most of the time I’d stay pretty close to the front.  Partially because I was amongst the stronger of the cyclists in this group, but more importantly because the back is just a recipe for crashes.  Here’s a photo I took after I was all done with this particular group and drifted back to go back to some more Z2 work.

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I’ve noticed over time that the various impromptu groups that ride at Longchamp very rarely (actually, never in my experience) lay down the hammer.  It’s always about a very steady speed.  Kinda interesting.  Still, on the front I was pushing out some solid wattages.  You can see that my 3-minute best effort was 378w, with the 5-minute not too far behind at about 315w.  Of course, I’m not trying to hit any sustained numbers.  In fact, I was sorta trying to stay within Z2.

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From there, I went ahead and completed a final loop grabbing a few final pics for this weeks O-Synce Navi2Coach review:

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Then it was off to home, back across the city in a 25-minute traverse.  I do love the bike-bus lanes though.  And this particular section along the river (you can see the Eiffel tower to the right beyond the trees) is usually nice and quiet on the weekends.

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With that, The Girl and I are off for a bit of a French countryside and sea road trip the next few days.  But fear not, we’ve got some good swim/bike/run action in there too!

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Have a great week all, and thanks for reading!

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18 Comments

  1. christine

    I saw your local pool (or the setup of it at least) in the opening scenes of Amélie — is that your location?

    Thanks for all the Paris posts. It’s a beautiful city and one of my favorite to visit, so it’s terrific getting to hear the ‘behind the scenes’ point of view!

    Reply
  2. Oli

    Hi Ray.
    Nice post that makes me feel home sick a bit.
    You’re not the only one having trouble to keep the HR strap on during your swim sessions. I use the Suunto memory belt quite often and I have to put a compression sleeveless top to keep it in position. I found nice tight ones from 2xu that do the job quite nicely.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Thanks Oli.

      Unfortunately, while I do agree that some sort of top is technically a solution, I don’t think it’s really a good solution for a product that’s fully designed around measuring HR. Meaning, I really don’t want to wear a compression top (or any top) to the pool. ;)

      Reply
  3. Christian

    Hi Ray,

    Nice looking weekend you had there. However, a note on the asparagus – it looks like you didn’t cook it quite right. As opposed to the green asparagus, the white asparagus actually needs peeling. You’ll want to snap off the base of the stilk at the place where it naturally snaps, and then peel just a thing layer into the whole stilk. As you found out the head is very soft and does not need peeling, but the stilk is bitter and has a wood-like texture which I for one would prefer not eating.

    For optimal flavour you’ll want to boil them 2 minutes – and since you’re in France, why not serve them up with sauce mousseline? It’s THE perfect condiment :-)

    link to en.wikipedia.org

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      It’s funny, I had figured that might be the case. And indeed, inside (when I just peeled back the skin with a fork), it was better.

      As for the sauce…well…I was lazy. :)

      Reply
  4. Matt

    HR strap with mini-suspenders. Done.

    Reply
  5. JimH23

    Yes, HR Strap with Mini suspenders was my idea too. Giving it a second thought as I type this though, the mini suspenders would probably create a new problem…pulling the strap and monitor up to your neck! hmmm.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      No, it just creates the problem of looking like Urkel.

      (For those not familiar with Urkel: link to en.wikipedia.org)

      Reply
    • Eli replied

      You wear glasses when you swim? ;)

      Why not use a band around your neck and ties each end onto the narrow part of the plastic hr strap? (slightly stretchy band may be more comfy) less Urkel, more bikini top.

      Reply
  6. David

    The Bryton watches look interesting, but seem to be available everywhere in the world except the US. Is this going to change for the new units? And if not, any idea why they are not available in the US?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      As for why, it depends on who you ask.

      Bryton says it’s because they were struggling to find the right distribution partners.

      Distribution/retailers/industry folks note it was because of the legal spat with Garmin prevented them from selling products in the US.

      During my discussions, they noted they were aiming to be in the US market sometime this summer.

      Reply
  7. JP

    Ray, did you figure out a bike solution for the draft-legal race yet?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I think I’ll be just renting a bike from one of the above places. They drop-off, which is pretty handy. :)

      Reply
  8. dcbike

    Ray – A drafting question: You’re obviously a seasoned rider so I’m sure acquaintances would feel very comfortable sharing a draft line with you, but my experience stateside (DC) has been rides with aerobars are often persona non grata in a draft line; unless of course, everyone knows each other. I’ve seen this applied pretty strictly. I’m guessing this is partly due to the inherent dangers of aero bars, but also to some tension on the road between cyclists and triathletes.

    Any thoughts on this? It seems you always ride with aero bars. How do you decided when it’s okay to join a draft line? Any geographical differences in etiquette?

    Reply
    • Eli replied

      My experience in DC is that many people with aerobars don’t know they shouldn’t be in the aerobars when drafting someone which is very dangerous. If I see someone drafting another and they are in their aerobars then I would not want to ride with them so I fully understand them not being wanted in a daft/pace line.

      I have aerobars, but that was mostly because I injured my wrist many years ago and needed a way to ride without putting much weight on my wrist and kept them cause I liked the additional position (comfy and easier to breath in for straight flattish sections) I’ve never had a problem with people not wanting me in their line and only use the aerobars when in the front or solo.

      (by in aerobars I mean down in an aero position with your weight on your elbows)

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Haven’t at all seen it as an issue over here. Seen numerous triathletes mix it up in groups.

      In most cases though even in the US the general rule is still simply to not be in aero position on the bars. Simply having them in fine (perhaps the most strict interpretation due to tension between the two groups, but never seen any issues in all my years riding in the US).

      Reply
  9. Alice

    Can’t wait to see which seaside you chose to discover and how you both liked it!

    Reply
  10. Alice

    btw the nytimes article on the first white asparagus of the season was very interesting, too, thanks for the tip!

    Reply

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