5 Random Things I Did This Weekend

Another weekend, another one jam packed with interesting things.  And, what you see below is only about half of it!  A lot of photos and activities didn’t make the cut unfortunately.  Gotta keep it short…er.

1) Explored a bit more of Portugal, then flew back from Lisbon

My weekend started at the end of Thursday after finishing up a few days worth of work meetings in Lisbon.  So Friday The Girl and I headed north of the town to check out a well known castle (Palace of Pena) along with a few seaside towns.  The gardens around the Palace were pretty awesome, as well was the Palace itself:


From there we headed down to Cascais, to enjoy a few hours wandering around and relaxing (and picnicking):


After that it was off to the plane and up into the air for the 2.5hr flight back home.  Unfortunately, due to airport curfews our flight got diverted from landing at Paris Orly (the close-by airport) to Paris Charles de Gaulle (the not so close airport).  And, it got delayed a few hours along the way.  Bummer.

2) A nice warm evening tempo run around the city


My schedule called for a fun tempo run on Saturday.  It was a 10-minute warm-up followed by 8-miles at pace (which happened to be 6:35/mile – 4:05/km).  Because it was a rather warm day out, I figured my best chance of having a good run would be waiting until just before sunset.  Given the run would take about an hour I wasn’t really pressed for time.  Plus, sunset right now is around 9:30PM or so.

My route would be a take on my more favorite running routes – hitting up most of the main attractions of the city, such as the Louvre:


Then from there running down the tree-lined bike & pedestrian/running paths along the river past the famous Pont Alexander III and its golden statues seen in countless movies.


I’d loop under the edge of the Eiffel Tower and then back out through the gardens there and Invalides before finally ending up a block or two away from Notre Dame (home).  It’s here under the shadow of the gigantic Apple iPhone billboards that I’d wrap up with a handful of short sprints.


This sign is interesting for two reasons.  First, the entire side of the building is actually fake.  Most of the buildings in the historic areas of town will recreate the building’s façade while under construction.  Notice the top and left edges.  Yup, all just a giant mesh covering.

Second, the iPhone sign itself is funny because there are so many restrictions on ‘the island’ (which this sits) around what you can and cannot do.  At our shop for example we’re under a maze of things we can and can’t have outside or on display due to potentially taking away from the ambiance of the island.  Of course, somehow this massive sign seems to skirt past all those…

After I wrapped up running The Girl had put together a pretty awesome platter of veggies to fill pitas with.  Along the edge she cooked up some chicken breasts with Herbes de Provence (actually from the region), and then fresh pitas from the Lebanese place downstairs.  Only a 1 Euro for a big bag of them.


That’s also some hummus, tzatziki, and tabbouleh hanging out to round things up

3) Watched the start of a 50K event at midnight

After finishing up dinner we had a short bit until the start of the Marche de La Bievre.  The 50K trek begins at Notre Dame and then ends roughly just outside of Versailles – taking the least-direct route possible (I regularly run it in about half that distance).

The event starts at midnight at the church, so it’s only a 60 second walk out to the start:


There were many hundreds of people – mostly teams – ready for the ‘march’.  It’s not really a running race.  And in fact, I’d guess that’s highly frowned upon.


Most of the participants were a bit older, and most of them didn’t really look like the type that you’d see at an Ultra Marathon, nor the pointy-end of a running race.  The crowd was there for the experience of trekking through the city in the night, rather than as a competitive event.


In typical French ‘race’ fashion, there was approximately zero fanfare leading up to the start.  No count-down, and in this case not a single noise-making device was used.  Instead, the man in orange just abruptly and randomly stormed off with his stolen airplane parking signal light and the group stumbled to follow him.


And just like that, a few hundred people headed off across the Parisian streets with zero police escort.  Basically like a giant protest march…without protesting.  Ironically swirling right behind our apartment before heading south.



The march actually allowed you to start at different points along the way – at a 30K and 20K marker as well a bit further south at various times in the morning.

While they marched off into the night, The Girl and I went for a nice walk around the islands, enjoying the warm weather along with many others.  The below photo, taken around 12:20AM looking back towards Notre Dame:


4) Riding to an openwater swim

The next morning I got up sorta-early and rode my bike a little bit out of the Paris city limits to a spot along a river (not the Seine) for a nice swim.


The swimming/sunbathing spot was built (or perhaps rebuilt) last summer, and plenty of folks would be there mid-day, hence why I went a bit early and locked up my bike before any crowds got there.


In the spot it’s positioned, it’s really only accessible via bike, running, or walking – which makes it rather quiet.


While I had the below watches out and was using them – they actually weren’t the focus of my test.  They were just there performing a supporting role.


Just like my handy dandy little swim buoy – ensuring I didn’t get run over (no boats came by though during my time there).


Instead, you’ll have to wait till tomorrow to see what cool stuff I was testing.

After I was done I just simply hung out and enjoyed the sun for a while.  Well, the peaceful quiet and the sun.


From there I biked on back home into the city.

5) Unpacking a slew of gadgets

As part of my Saturday catch-up from a week away I went through and unpacked a slew of boxes that came in over the previous 5 days.  For example, the Garmin FR15 showed up:


I used it on my run Saturday night (no problems), as well as just wandering around the city.


So far so good there as well (daily step/activity tracking mode):


I’m planning a review probably in about 1-2 weeks, assuming nothing odd comes up.  I’ve also dumped a bunch of photos into my FR15 preview post, showing various ‘new’ FR15-specific things not seen on the FR10.

Next, I unpacked and got a first couple rides in with the new Garmin Edge Remote, which currently pairs with the Edge 1000 to control pages, start new laps and then adds a customizable button.  The package comes with 2.5 mounts.  I say 2.5 because it has a small bar mount (ideal for tri/TT bars), plus the rubber band one that can be used two different ways.


Since my main tri bike is in the shop getting all Di2’d up, I took out my road bike and attached it there.


It’s actually interesting how quickly you start using those buttons instead, especially the lap button – but also switching pages.  For example, I used the customizable button to automatically change to the ‘Map’ view.


Ultimately though I think the buttons are most useful though not in a road-bike configuration, but really in mountain biking and triathlon where you may not be in a position to press buttons (especially mountain biking).  Hopefully though we’ll see Garmin add support to other Edge units (ideally at least 510/810).

Next, I also unpacked the upcoming Wahoo RPM cadence pod that does dual ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart concurrently.


The unit comes with a new shoe-pod clip as well that works on both running and cycling shoes, making it perform for gym exercise bikes or spin bikes.

For that, I uploaded a slew of photos into The Queue, so you can go check them out there.  Availability of the unit is expected mid-June, so it’ll likely be at/around that timeframe for a full In-Depth Review (focusing on accuracy).

6) Bonus Photo! The Mystery Gadget


Finally, since I promised to provide another hint in what exactly arrived back a few weeks ago that’s going to be used to test devices in all sorts of new (and painful) ways, I’ll give you this photo to let you continue taking guesses, at least for a little bit longer before I unveil all the goodness.

With that – thanks for reading, and enjoy the week ahead!


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  1. Hubert

    Great post Ray!
    I bet for a power meter that tests the accuracy of the ones on the market.

    What was the track of the 50k race?

  2. Dave Lusty

    Hi Ray, do you feel your bike is safe locked against that fence? No way I’d leave anything but my cheap bike in a situation like that in the UK so wondering if France is safer?

    Also, seeing the activity trackers comparison picture got me wondering whether you’ve tried the iPhone M7 tracking? I only found out how it worked the other day by using the Withings app but it appears on the surface to be pretty good and tracks without an app open or even installed – Withings downloaded over a week of data following install. I know it’s probably not your thing just curious if you’d looked at it.

    • No problems in Paris with bike lock-up, especially where I was. There were other cyclists with bikes locked up, and realistically you’d have to have walked a long way to get there and then had the intentions of stealing a bike (and actually done it).

      As for the M tracking, yup, I’ve used it and in general it’s pretty good. I’ve been primarily using Argus (app) to pull the data.

  3. hollyoak

    Looks like you stayed busy! Where is that swimming spot you can bike to from Paris? According to this article link to leparisien.fr there are only 4 spots and neither seems to match your pics.

  4. Conor

    The part on the right of that photo looks like a motorised pump. So my guess is maybe a rig to test waterproof rating? Or possibly testing the accuracy of barometric altimeters? …..

    • Chris

      I must agree. My bet is a some sort of pressure chamber to simulate depths.

    • John S.

      My vote is for testing waterproofing too. With the motor, what appears to be a sealed vessel that it connects to, and Ray’s frequent talk about waterproofing, it seems plausible.

  5. Jason D

    Hi Ray,

    The HUGE iPhone ads get a pass because the revenue generated goes to fund the construction/maintenance going on behind the mesh.



  6. My guess goes to a system to test waterproof claims from mfgrs, should be interesting.

  7. Olivier

    HI Ray

    If you don’t mind to share, I would be interested to know exactly where is the swimming spot? Living in Paris, there is not so many place to train in open water

    Thanks a bunch

  8. Saw that you mentioned putting DI2 on your Tri bike. Would you care to offer any info on your choices? Been considering it but lots of options…like Ultegra or dura ace…stages power meter setup or something else…since I don’t already have a power meter. Or if better off just getting a new bike with DI2 already installed? Current bike 2011 Orbea Ordu Ultegra 10 speed with Zipp disk that I’m not sure if hub would be compatible with 11 speed cassette or not?

    • For me I just focused on the shifting aspect, and mostly left it to the shop to figure out. Like most things related to the actual bike itself, it’s all a bit mysterious to me. I just know that at the end of the day I need the little ANT transmitter piece at the end to work with the Garmin Edge & Mio Cyclo.

    • John

      It’s a damned shame Shimano designed that Di2 wireless transmitter dongle as a separate unit, if they’d built that function into to the EW90 junction boxes it would’ve saved a lot of headaches for a lot of people. ;-/

  9. Peter

    I too initially though pressure text but the box on the left doesn’t look like its built for any kind of pressure- is that a cooling fan in the side of it?!?!?

    Perhaps its a stress tester for power meters? something that can deliver an exact power at any speed for as long as you like…

    Maybe then the box is more for ‘climate control’ to remove (or test) the effect of changing temperature…

    Looks interesting regardless!

  10. James Ewing

    Either barometric testing or a known power output for testing power meters. Thinking that through, the power could only be easily applied to hub or spider based power, so use would be limited. I say barometric testing.

  11. Tom

    hmmm….a stainless steel wrench used for fastening/loosening 5/8″ nuts??? ;-)

  12. Gunnar

    Love the Wahoo cadence pod. Here’s hoping TomTom multisport/runner can eventually use this technology.

  13. Julien

    Ray – thanks for this.
    Would you mind posting the gpx file of your ride to the place where you swam ?
    I am looking for a good spot on open water – not too far away from the center of Paris.
    The places I know are far and by car

  14. Gunnar

    Photo 6. Obviously it’s a Transmorgifier. Anyone can see that;)

  15. Matt

    Garmin has reverted back to the old hard HR strap? Or are they just trying to clean out the remaining ones in the back of the warehouse.

  16. MickyC

    Your myster gadget must surely be….

    link to dcrainmaker.com :-)

  17. Guessing the mystery device is some sort of pressure / vaccum pump setup.

  18. Paul D

    Talking of places to swim in Paris – will you be trying the €150/day restored art deco pool at the Hotel Molitor!?! (link to bbc.com)

  19. Nathan

    Hi Ray!
    Nice week, as usual ;)

    Just one question, is it allowed to swim where you’ve been in the Marne ? Was it polluted ?

  20. Ray, have you tried the O-Synce remote with the Edge 1000? According to thisisant.com it should be compatible, but none of my friends have the 1000. This is the first Garmin device to work with the ANt+ remote, but I do hope they also open up the earlier models to take advantage of such a remote.

    • I talk about it a bit in my Edge 1000 review. It’s ‘sorta’ compatible. It partially works but not to the full extent, some buttons don’t do anything and it’s not configurable.