5 Random Things I Did This Past Weekend

Here’s my weekend roundup, like the past two weeks – in a ‘5 Random Things’ type line-up to keep things semi-organized and a bit easier to consume.

1) I did a bunch of device testing and photographing (with a bike):


When I go out for a ride or run, it’s very rare that I’m testing a single device.  Runs, sometimes, but rides – rarely.  In the case of this weekend I had a ride scheduled on Sunday that was a fairly straight forward sub-1hr ride.  Nothing special, just keeping it steady.  Thus, the main goal there from a testing perspective would be gathering further power meter data on the Pioneer power meter, as I come up on a full final In-Depth review in the next couple weeks.

However, I also had a slew of other shots and miscellaneous items I needed to get data on – so instead of just doing a 45-50m loop from the house, I grabbed the Autolib and drove 15 minutes away to Bois de Vincennes to do loops there.  This would allow me to take a gaggle of gear with me for post-ride (or, during the ride).


So, we’ve got the actual gathering of the power meter data.  Ironically, everything you see below is actually for ‘backup’ data.  The real data from all the devices is being streamed to the WASP via WiFi.


(For those detail-oriented folks, the one labeled ‘Stages Power’ is actually gathering PowerTap data, it was just the one I grabbed.)

During just that singular test I was comparing three power meters as one test (Pioneer, Garmin Vector, PowerTap), and three different heart rate reading technologies as another (Garmin HR strap, LifeBEAM HR helmet, Mio Link optical wrist HR band).


The cool part is that once I start riding, I can pretty much forget about it all. I’m watching the powers a bit to see how they trend during the ride – mainly in case something is odd/out of whack, but otherwise it’s straight forward.  Looking at the heart rate data – things were astoundingly close.

You see some slight variation there in the first 90 seconds, before I actually started riding.  I suspect that’s when I was re-adjusting the strap as I had put it on way too tight at first.  Then once I stopped fiddling with it and started riding, it was rock-on solid (click to expand).


Post-ride there was a ton of stuff I was gathering on action cameras for a post later this week (I hope) on how to film/build your own routes for replay on computerized trainers like the Wahoo KICKR and PowerBeam Pro.


2) I made some mussels

Well, I suppose I didn’t make the mussels themselves, but rather, a dish with them.  Friday evening I walked over to the little market behind our house and hit up the seafood man to get about 2 kilograms of mussels (roughly 4.4 pounds).


Then, I went around the corner to the small Asian grocery store and picked up some cilantro, garlic, onions, and lemongrass.  It’s always silly cheap there.  A massive bunch of cilantro cost only 50 cents.  Lemongrass, was 85 cents.


From there I took all the veggies and made a bit of a base for flavor.  After that was done, I spent far more time than I desired cleaning all the mussels one by one.

Finally, I combined the broth with the base and then tossed in the mussels into a big pot for a short 5 or so minutes to cook.


After which, I served everything up.  Quick and relatively simple dish – yet so good!


3) We watched a bunch of Olympic Sports Coverage


For us here, Sochi is only a three-hour time differences.  So many of the events are timed fairly well.  For example, the opening ceremonies started around 5ish-PM on Friday.

When it comes to watching them, we have a few options.  We can watch the French broadcasts of various events, but of course that’s limited to whatever they broadcast.  They offer an online option, but it’s still a bit restrictive.  Then we’ve got the BBC option on the UK side.  That works really well for us, since it’s in English.  And, you can watch just about every event live and then afterwards.  And then finally, there’s NBC, which we can watch through some computer magic.


Ultimately, we’ve been mostly using the BBC feeds for things.  It’s been a bit funny though watching the coverage.  We’ve noticed that the BBC reporters always like to get a subtle jab in there at every turn.  For example, if they were complimenting a component of the opening ceremonies, it might be like: “That was a very nicely executed dove performance…however, our London parakeet was much more graceful.”

Or, from tonight’s Freestyle coverage, we had a case where the British athlete had performed and they were leading and at one point a competitor fell and the commentator noted that “You certainly wouldn’t be openly cheering for a competitor to fall”.  Only to then follow that up about 15 minutes later with the broadcasters themselves outright laughing, actually verbally saying “Hahaha” as the final competitor fell, placing the British athlete on the podium.

It’s just been kinda funny to see the vast differences between the different providers.

4) We ventured out for ham and hot chocolate


Saturday, after knocking out our respective workouts we wandered around for a place somewhat nearby that had been ranked highly for hot chocolate.  See, unlike in the states – hot chocolate is actually a very adult thing to drink in Europe.  Virtually every restaurant will serve it, and many do a very darn good job at it.

Along the way we got distracted though by this place with tons of Spanish hams hanging in the windows and a little menu as well.  So not a straight butcher shop, but kind of a blend between a butcher shop, a wine bar, and a café.  Ultimately, we got a mid-afternoon snack there – seen above.

From there we finally found the chocolate shop, and, the hot chocolate.  By then we had missed the main serving window for the café tables – but they’d still serve it to you in a small paper cup for 2 euros.  Sounded good to us!

It was pretty awesome.  Incredibly thick (as all good hot chocolates are here), dark and rich chocolate. Perfect.


5) And then there was a sunny run

VIRB Picture

Wrapping things up, I had a nice run on Saturday in between a few squirts of rain that stormed down from above.  After the second squall passed, it got beautifully sunny again.  Though, had I been out just 10-15 minutes earlier I would have been utterly drenched.

I went down to the Jardin des Plantes (Garden of Plants), and did loops aimlessly in there.  It’s adjacent to the zoo, and sometimes the animals will be out and about.  For example, there’s a little Red Panda that hangs out near the fence most of the time.  But he was probably still drying out from being drenched.

Inside the gardens though there’s also the massive greenhouses, a botanic garden of sorts.  Always looks so warm and tropical inside.

VIRB Picture

Despite having having done more miles than I could ever remember within the park, it wasn’t until Saturday that I noticed the park benches all have little plaques on them with various sayings.  Some day I’ll have to wander back down and see what they actually say – since it’s a bit hard to read while running.

VIRB Picture

With that, thanks for reading!


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  1. Ale

    Coul you tell me where you get hot chocolate for 2 euro in Paris? I’ll be in Paris this week and I would like to try it.


  2. Eat ham and drink chocolate is a little disgusting ;-) ham and red wine. Chocolate and cake or fruit. I follow you because you are a nice tri but you have to do something for your cucking. Sorry for my terrible English. Best Fulvio

  3. larry

    Can u please give me a complete report on the pioneer power system. Did u evaluate this yet

  4. driedees

    Nice work on the mussels, pretty cool you bought them uncleaned! Quite a pain to clean them, but worth the effort.

  5. Hoss

    Did you mean to write a 45-50km loop — as opposed to 45-50m? If you can log 50 kilometers in an hour, that’s pretty impressive. Fifty meters … not so much. ;-)

  6. Rob

    You are not the only one to object to the BBC commentary! link to bbc.co.uk “Olympic snowboarding commentary draws complaints”

  7. Mark

    The CBC Olympics coverage is really good as well.

    • Jon Niehof

      CBC’s Olympics coverage is usually fantastic; I stopped watching Olympics when I moved back to the States because it just didn’t measure up. My favourite was Albertville: because of the time change, they covered the events live (starting at some ungodly hour Eastern), then did the primetime coverage, then got like two hours of sleep before starting again the next day. Fantastic coverage coming from a bunch of people who were walking zombies by halfway in.

  8. mrock

    I’m fairly new to cycling and bike equipment, so this may be a dumb question. How do you attach multiple cadence sensors to a bike’s pedals and rear wheel? Or can multiple bike computers read the data from the same cadence sensor?

    • Sam

      If it’s ANT+ multiple headunits can use the same sensor

    • Yup, Sam is spot-on. I can connect multiple devices to a single sensor with ANT+. With Bluetooth Smart devices, while the latest spec announced in December allows for multi-connections, no devices yet take advantage of it (I suspect by fall, all new devices will).

  9. Dick Morris

    The BBC reporting of the Sochi winter games was NOT the normal standard.

    More than 300 people complained to the BBC over the quality of commentary during the snowboarding slopestyle final at the Winter Olympics.
    Viewers complained that they cheered when Jones’s competitors fell, and that the commentary was of a low standard.

    link to bbc.co.uk


    • Dom

      I was going to post that. The BBC rugby union commentary can get pretty one-eyed, but they do generally try to do better than that.

    • Yeah, we thought it was kinda low-quality commentary even before the cheering incident. Having watched a ton of ski racing over the years, it just seemed a bit off. Shrug. Watched some other stuff today and wasn’t too bad.

      I’ll have to look into seeing if I can rig-up CBC streaming from here.

    • simon

      yep – it’s been much lower quality than the usual sports coverage. Aimee Fuller in particular was unremittingly annoying

  10. Daniel

    Hi Ray. The Giant rear wheel is 80?

    • 70. It’s actually a PowerTap Enve wheelset. I just managed to pop the only other suitable tube for the front wheel when I was inflating it. Grrr. Replacement tube was held up in customs with a bunch of other things, so I didn’t have it in time. Not that it matters too much on the front.

  11. Kenny Roberts

    DC , you have move up another gear in my admiration .The choice of ones ultimate meal is a tough one but Moules Marinere et Frites is my number one and with its Belgian connection will always have strong cycling connections .Respect & keep up the Good work.

  12. Remco Verdoold

    Curious how you cook Mussels. Here we like the Belgium/Dutch way.
    Rinse the mussels with water (hand warm) and tap them one by one, the must be responding (closing shell) (yes they are cooked alive, sorry)
    Take a large pan and fill with 1 liter heavy dark beer (Triple yeasted Belgium), vegetables (onion, garlic, leak, broccoli) some salt and pepper, Add the good mussels and fill rest with water, close the lid and cook for 5 to 8 minutes. The mussels must have opened by now and show the nice colour. (vegies are only for flavour, you can eat them if you want but they are cooked in beer).
    Ready to enjoy!

    • Somewhat similar. I washed/cleaned them in running cold water once by hand, and then placed them in a cold water pot for 20 minutes. That allows them to breath and spit out more sand/stuff. Then, I dumped out said water, and rinsed them again (quickly), and put them back in more cold water.

      During that initial cleaning process, any ones that didn’t close up were tossed. Then from there I prepared the vegetable stuff and got the chicken stock heated up on a separate burner. Finally, I tossed the vegies in with the mussels in a new pot and ladled in stock until it covered it. Closed the lid, and about the same 5-8 minutes later was done.

  13. Irene T

    Hi Ray, what a fantastic weekend :-)
    Practical question as I need help on this: when you lost sixty pounds a few years ago, how did you do it in terms of food and exercise?

    • Mostly, I just applied training for a marathon on top of my existing non-exercise plan. I didn’t make drastic shifts in diet however. That stayed mostly pretty similar. I just added exercise. In my case, 6 days a week. Mostly running at that time, but eventually I blended in triathlon-focused items.

      From a diet standpoint, I never was a completely bad eater (i.e. burgers and fries every day), rather, I just enjoyed eating in general. Over time, that slowly builds up. I generally ate (and still do eat), fairly healthy. When it comes to things I do to try and either lose weight, or otherwise maintain it – I tend to try and focus on repeatable and ‘known’ foods. For example, I’ll prefer going to Subway over some local place, because I know the calories in subway, whereas an unknown I don’t.

    • Irene T

      THANKS! that was clear and straight to the point :-)

  14. Cris

    Really like your road bike…Can you share some specs? I can tell is a Giant TCR, but that’s it…

  15. Arena

    Paris, such a beautiful town !
    You can sponsor one of those Jardin des Plantes bench (see here in french).
    If you want to test some gps swimming device, outdoor, take a look at the swimming pool of Nogent sur Marne (close to Bois de Vincennes, 50 meters in outdoor). The facility is a bit old but not overcrowded during the winter.

  16. Kevin Badgery

    Thoroughly enjoying the blog!

    I am intrigued by your reference to the ‘BBC option’. Is this a legit feed/method? I ask as I would love to be able to get the BBC here in Lithuania.

    I sure miss English language TV, especially the Beeb.

  17. Hello Ray! Tell me you went to the Amandine for hot chocolate? Could you specify where that spanish place is? I used to live in Paris, now run marathons and live back in Prague. We are flying to Paris in March 6-9, definitely stopping by at the Cupcakery :) Greetings from Prague.