5 Random Things I Did This Past Weekend

Last weekend on Monday I did a ‘5 Random Things I Did This Past Weekend’, and it turned out that lots of you found that a fairly useful format.  So given I don’t have any single big ticket item from the weekend warranting an entire post –  I’ll give it another go this weekend as well.  Maybe it’ll become a regular thing, maybe not. With that, let’s dive into it!

1) First use of new heart-rate sensing helmet


Friday I unboxed SmartBEAM helmet, which is essentially a Lazer helmet that’s been fitted on the inside with a sensor pad that reads your heart rate.  Above, you see towards the back of the helmet, where the wires run to a small battery pack built into the back of the helmet.  Below, you see the sensor pad.  Unlike some of the optical sensors, I haven’t seen any light emitted from this (like green laser lights) – though perhaps it’s trickier to see/photograph than most other units.


While I didn’t have an outdoor ride scheduled, I did knock out a trainer ride with it (as did The Girl).  The size of the helmet was large, and fit me very well.  For The Girl, it was a touch bit big, though she made it work.  The helmet comes in two varieties – ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart (unfortunately, not a dual sensor).  I bought the ANT+ one when it launched on a crowd funding site a while back.

Below, the results of my ~45 minute ride.  The lighter orange is the traditional HR chest strap (a Garmin HRM-RUN strap), and the darker red is the helmet.  All the data was collected by the WASP system and correlated in real-time.


Thus far, things look very solid from the above.  Virtually spot-on the entire time.  Interesting to see a slight delay on some efforts from the HR strap compared to the helmet.  With The Girl’s data, I saw a few sections where the helmet seemed to drop out, and I suspect The Girl re-arranged things.  Again, she’s got a small head, and it was a size large helmet, so I suspect that’s probably the reason there.  I’ll be testing it for a little while to see how it rolls on shorter and longer outdoor rides in a variety of conditions.

2) And then there was a chocolate bread shop

Last weekend, while bumbling over to my favorite establishment – La Poste (the post office) – I stumbled across two new restaurants that had opened up at some point in the previous week or two.  One of which was this new shop that sells a whipped cream puff sorta thing with toppings, and then more importantly – hot chocolate bread.


I visited it again this weekend, and, like last weekend, I came home with the brioche chocolate bread.


Unfortunately, I was so busy eating the bread after picking it up, I sorta neglected to take pictures of it.  For that, I apologize.  Though, it’s fairly simple to describe.  Imagine a massive sourdough sized bread bowl, except, soft and with chocolate chips.  And…gooey.  Oh, and hot.

Instead, here’s pictures of the cream things.


It’s trouble.  Pure trouble.  I’ve learned how to ask for the loafs straight out of the oven, or sitting on top of the oven.  And it’s still plenty hot by time I get it home, two blocks away (another reason why things are trouble).

As for the cream puff things, they’re good too.  Though, I’ll mostly stick with the chocolate bread.

Oh, and as for La Poste?  As usual, my trip was not successful.  I was 10 minutes past closing time (1PM).

3) A long run to, and through, Versailles (with the new Ambit2 R)

Sunday I ran out to Versailles.  It was scheduled as a 2hr 10min run in a Z2 heart rate zone (relatively easy, typical long run pace).  The route would include inset into it the entirety of the Paris to Versailles race, including the massive hill.  So that’d put a dent in things.

But no worries, the weather was about as nice a day as it’s been all winter, so I can’t complain:

VIRB Picture

Tons of folks were out running.  This frame ignores the three people running directly behind me.  Anyone remember these lanes?

VIRB Picture

After running along the river for 10K, I’d spend 1.5 miles climbing upwards before disappearing into the forest for a few miles.  The hills knocked two minutes off my pace in order to keep in zone.  Eventually I’d come out the other side of the forest and soon find myself next to the famous Palace of Versailles.  I ran to the front gate, and then began a bit of a loop around it.  I found it slightly amusing that the very beginning of the building was to my right, I was technically exiting the town of Versailles.

VIRB Picture

From November till March, the gardens are open without any fee.  Which means you can just wander on in, which is exactly what I did.  Given it was a beautiful day, there were tons of people out and about.

VIRB Picture

Even the swans came out.

VIRB Picture

I didn’t quite get close enough to the Chateux itself, since I was cutting across the gardens, so my photos of it didn’t come out.  So instead, I’ll give you a different pretty picture – from my Saturday run – of within Luxembourg gardens up the hill from me.  Obviously, it was a pretty nice weekend out.

VIRB Picture

As I noted in the header, I was running with the Ambit2 R today.  It’s more or less like an Ambit2 S from a pure running standpoint.  In my case the website isn’t quite live yet, so right now I’m mostly just looking at aspects like accuracy rather than some of the new workout functionality pieces.  From an accuracy standpoint, things were pretty good – 17.46 vs 17.59 miles, making them 99.8% accurate within each other.  Obviously, I don’t know who is right (or wrong), or how accurate they are to real life since I didn’t manually pull a measuring wheel behind me for 17 miles.  And sorry for the blurry photo.

VIRB Picture

Finally, of entertainment note.  My CamelBak bladder had suffered a repo from The Girl, so I did the next best thing – stuck a random CamelBak bottle in there instead.  Not quite perfect, but fit the bill.  I ended up ordering though the Marathoner CamelBak last night, mostly because with testing lots of devices I like to stash things away.  It’s a bit harder with this particular pack.

VIRB Picture

4) I’ve missed my true calling: Pool Art Photography

Downstairs below our apartment is a small art gallery of sorts.  Artists come in for usually 1-2 weeks at a time, displaying their work.  Typically there are a few nights worth of events for each showing, with people packed into the little space and lots of food floating around (I’ve always been tempted to walk in…mostly for the free food).

Most of the art we see go in the space tends to be a bit edgy.  For example, giant fur balls hanging from fishing wire.  Things like that (yes, I have photos).  However, last week an artist came in with only 2-3 pieces.  One of which, was the below.


Upon seeing this, I realized that I need to apply to the gallery. Surely with hundreds of pool shots here on the blog – at least one pool ladder must be in there.  No?

5) Preparing for…and watching…the Super Bowl at 12:30AM


Despite being the land of cheese, neither Nacho cheese, nor even good cheddar cheese is easily found in France.  Even at the restaurant supply store we go to for the shop, only a single brand of cheddar is sold – and quite frankly, it’s horrible (well, half the time it comes out edible, and the other half the time horrible).

So, skipping nachos for the Super Bowl I wandered around the meat department (roughly the size of a basketball court or so, but all refrigerated).


Along the way, I found wings.  That’ll do donkey, that’ll do.

The Girl would take the wings and ultimately make honey-garlic wings from a recipe of her Mom’s.  Pure awesome.


Now, one of the challenges with the Super Bowl is that it starts at 12:30AM Central European Time (Paris Time).  Which is even more challenging when you have a 2+hr run finishing up around 3PM.  How exactly do you structure the day food-wise?

Thus, our Super Bowl festivities didn’t quite stand up to some of my past performances (or my Dad’s performances).

We did however make some pretty darn good Panini baguettes this weekend though.  We had been searching around the closet for the waffle maker, but ended up stumbling on the panini maker.  An idea was born and a quick walk to the store and market for fresh buffalo mozzarella, some tomatoes, basil and prosciutto – and we were golden.


We added a bit of reduced balsamic sauce to the bread to pull everything together.  The baguettes were from the boulangerie around the corner, and had just come out of the oven.  Love it when that happens timing wise – super fresh.


The sandwiches were awesome.  We’ll make them again for lunch tomorrow.  So quick and simple.

Oh…as for the Seahawks:

Screenshot (5)

Screenshot (9)

Woot! Ok, off to bed!

(Remember, I’m born and raised Seattle…)

Thanks for reading!


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  1. Andrew

    “Despite being the land of cheese, neither Nacho cheese, nor even good cheddar cheese is easily found in France.”


  2. Paul in Kirkland

    I was wondering if you would stay up and watch the game. How ’bout them Hawks! So, so sweet.

  3. Dick Morris


    Photos out when shopping, iOS source

    Photos out when running, all with the Garmin VIRB.

    Obviously you and I agree, the VIRB is a great little action camera. The new Edit software making it better and better.

    • It does work really well. About the only item on the VIRB from a photo point that doesn’t seem to work well is taking photos of watches while running. So I’ve gotta figure out something a bit different there.

  4. Nathan

    The timezone worked perfectly for Australia, expect I really had no idea what was going on (NRL, rugby league, is what I understand). But what a spectacle.

  5. I saw you bought some mozzarella, and I want to share with you the best place to buy it in paris.

    This: link to parisbymouth.com

    They are true italians, taking mozzarella from Cisternino (link to en.wikipedia.org ) a little village in Puglia famous for their awesome mozzarella.

    I m italian (for the records) and I tried it and I definitely endorse it! so if you ever need mozzarella again, give it a try!

    You won’t be disappointed

  6. Matt C

    I think you have to call it the supergame. Due to copyright issues.

  7. Mario Lira Junior

    Just to say congrats on your team results at the superbowl… For sure I can´t understand how a game played mostly with the hands can be called football, but you guys can be kind of strange on some things 🙂

  8. Jeff

    Wing recipe, please.

  9. Tamara

    Jealous about the chocolate bread!

  10. Eli

    Sounds like way more fun then my bike crash saturday and spending a few hours in the ER. With a destroyed helmet that makes me wonder, if this HR helmet gets broken from a crash do you need a fully new helmet or can the electronics transfer over making it slightly cheaper to by a helmet with no electronics in it?

    • Mike Richie

      Yes, I am kind of confused by the whole concept. If you bang your helmet, your supposed to replace it, but you might be tempted not to if it’s your heart rate monitor. Also what about if you want to try a different style helmet. And there are so many times you would want a heart rate reading without the need for a helmet (just outdoor riding or rollerblading – most other sports use different helmets) – I’m sure Ray felt silly wearing a hemet on his trainer. It would seem that it would make much more sense to have a monitor that could be mounted in any helmet or used by itself without a helmet. Not sure how that would work, but it’s kind of like the footpad in shoes – almost everyone is using the lace mounts now rather than buying specially made shoes with a footpad pocket.

    • Mike Richie

      Sorry, my spell checker kept changing foot pod to footpad.

    • I’ll find out about swapping it to a new unit. In looking at things, it certainly looks very swappable. Though, the back pod seems sorta glued in. But it may just be the way it’s locked on. In any case, I’ll ask.

      As for HR in helmets, there’s a lot of people who don’t like wearing a HR strap (especially women). Some of that may be solved with optical wrist bands, but putting it straight into a helmet makes sense as well Ultimately, I’ve long since learned there’s a pretty big market out there in general, and I’m always surprised at volume numbers I hear when you start talking devices and what people sell.

    • Mike Richie

      I’m not really disagreeing with the concept of a HRM in a helmet, just one that is permanently mounted there. The ability to just grab your helmet and know you are good to go is kind of appealing. I think it would just be much more useful (i.e. sell a lot more) if you could use it in any helmet (bike or otherwise) or even in something like a sweatband for indoor use. Looks like the technology works very well.

    • Matt B

      I have to say, the first thing I thought was what sort of hole will the sensor make when someone smacks their forehead off the road… personally I’d rather have a nice soft bit of polystyrene there!

    • Paul S

      Does it work with a hat underneath? I’m guessing not, which means no cold weather riding with it. Still, if it came in a mountain bike version with a visor and, better yet, in blaze orange (it’s almost always some hunting season in Pennsylvania), I might get one.

    • Pat

      I posted this on your unboxing post, but it seems more relevant here:

      Just a comment about transplanting the guts of the helmet into a different helmet. I did just that last night, and had no issues at all. The sensor part and padding is simply velcro’ed to the helmet, and therefore can easily be removed. The brains of the unit is double-taped to the helmet. With a bit of dental floss to cut through the tape and some patience, it can be detached from the helmet with no damage. I reattached everything to my Giro Aeon helmet and the whole setup is much more comfortable than the Lazer helmet (maybe just my preference). The Giro Helmet would need to be cut for the brains to fit nicely, but this is probably not a good idea to start hacking up a bike helmet.

  11. Hoss

    Glad you sent a shoutout to Seattle. With pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training in the next week, I’m sure Robbie Cano is the talk of the town today.

  12. Scott

    GO HAWKS!!!!!!!!!

  13. George H.

    Nice post Ray. Congrats to the Hawks and you. Dominant game there!

  14. Tommy

    If you end up looking for a new bottle pack, check out the Orange Mud HydroQuivers. They have a one and two bottle version with a full pack behind it plus numerous storage pockets. It sits very high on the shoulders and does not use a chest or waist strap that makes it very comfortable.

    link to orangemud.com

    • Thanks for the referral Tommy! Josh from Orange Mud here. Our focus is making hydration simple. Just throw in a bottle and go, plus you have access to your nutrition and phone/ipod on the fly with convenient shoulder pockets. For people looking at this comment, use code: DCRAIN at checkout for 10% off till 3/15/14. Tks! Josh

  15. Scott

    Please tell me your HR wasn’t really 118 straight after finishing a Z2 2.15 hour run!?

    I did similar, Z2 for 150 minutes and was practically dead (then again it was my first time at the distance…) but my HR was averaging somewhat higher!!!

  16. Tisztul_A_Visztula

    17.46 vs 17.59 is like 99.2-99.3%, if you mean accuracy as the ratio of the two distance.

  17. Marius Bakken

    Dear Ray,

    I’m a Norwegian two-time Olympic runner (13.06 5k back in ’04) as well as an MD. I have been following your blog for a while and want you to know that I’ve added it to a list of the Top 100 Running Blogs for 2014 (even if you have a combo swin/bike/run blog) !

    You are there, and deservedly so, in spot # 22 :

    My blog is quite new, but I try to share quality, inspirational posts with my readers. Here’s one of my latest posts for you to check out:

    If you like it, please feel free to share with your readers. 😉

    Keep up the wonderful work. If you ever want to get in touch to discuss running, do not hesitate to do so.

    Kind regards,
    Marius Bakken, MD

  18. So you get to run around Paris and then eat amazing French food. I kind of hate you right now. (But that obviously won’t stop me from using your reviews!)