5 Random Things I Did This Weekend

Here’s what I was up to in the very short amount of time I had home this weekend (after I got back from Mexico mid-week, I turned around the next day for a two-day trip to Amsterdam).

1) New Gadget Unboxing

The last 6 weeks since Eurobike have been a whirlwind, as it always is this time of year.  It’s the confluence of the busiest sport tech season (Eurobike, Interbike, ANT+ Symposium), along with projects related to my day job waking up from a summer slumber.  So basically, it’s non-stop travel. Plus, toss a wedding in there for good measure.

As a result, the piles of gear from trips is monumental.  The office and cave are clear no-go zones right now to visitors, as it looks like explosions happened in there.  Basically each weekend I’ve been having 24-36hrs at home to get things ready for the next week.  This weekend I wanted to get a few things unboxed that came in over the past few weeks, and get a few others all hooked up.

For example, I unboxed a slightly updated version of the Tacx NEO trainer.  It’s physically the same as before, but since the firmware update wasn’t available yet (comes out in the next 7-10 days), they wanted me on the latest firmware that all other customers have – versus the late August one (pre-dates production shipments to customers).  So I swapped that out.



Oh, and Lucy visited.  And by visited, basically she just owned the picture and kept on going – she didn’t care.


Then I had the PowerTap C1 production unit to get installed, so basically another swap from the pre-production unit I’d been running on most of the summer.


There was also the updated 4iiii Precision left-only crank that they handed to me two weeks ago, so I plopped that on the other side of the C1 unit.


And finally, the Elite Real Turbo Muin B+, which is the new dual ANT+/BLE version of the Elite trainer with FE-C that they released at Eurobike.  I’ve gotta finish getting that setup since I was short on spare cassettes.  I’ll pick a few more up this week in the states.


Not to mention the Gen2 BSX device, but I’ve got a photo of that in my run section.  Plus all sorts of other unannounced stuff.

2) Dinner out on the town

We checked out a new dining spot across town (well, new to us anyway) on Friday night.  This restaurant was about as far from us within the city limits as you could get, but turned out to be definitely worth the trek. They had a three-course menu, for 37EUR (which is very reasonable here in Paris), and we made good work of it.


Here’s my appetizer, a gorgonzola ravioli with fig:


Then the main course; I got the cod.  I’m not usually a cod (or any fish) person, but this was tempting and really solid.


And finally, a dessert course, which was a mousse of sorts.  The Girl’s is in the back, the cheese with caramel and candied nuts.


Realistically, we should have just walked home to burn off the calories.  But alas we had to pickup a bunch of stuff from an event the CupCakery had done earlier in the evening – thus walking with half a dozen baking sheets across town would have sucked (though, made us rather strong).

3) A Night Run

Saturday evening before heading out I snuck in a quick run.  Just about 45 minutes as a loop around the core of the city.  It was getting fairly dark, so the photos didn’t come out well.  I was doing a blend of the TomTom Spark, Epix, FR25, and also the new Gen2 BSX device:


All worked well, minus the fact that I forgot to charge the Spark until a few minutes prior – so it died about a mile short of my end-point.  Otherwise it tracked fine.  Probably should have turned off the backlight to ensure it made it (and disabled music).  Alas, live and learn.

I looped along the river bank for a bit, the same one that the mayor re-emphasized plans this weekend to turn into a pedestrian/cycling only area next summer (removing what is basically a highway).  Can’t wait!  This section below is just at the exact spot the highway ends:


I then looped up through the Louvre:


And then back around near Concorde where some sort of exhibit is being installed with large and very bright buildings.  Sorry, fuzzy pic:


Finally, back home from there.  Nothing too fancy – just as much as I could squeeze in on an otherwise busy day!

4) DIY Blind Wine Tasting

Following my run, it was more or less straight out to our friend’s house for a blind wine tasting.  They had come up with the idea a few weeks ago, as a fun excuse to consume more wine.  Now it’s important to understand that living in France we get wine super-cheap.  Most of us will buy very good 5-7EUR ($6-$8) bottles of wine regularly.  Any more is splurging, and often unnecessary.  Heck, most of the time our favorite bottles are about $5.  Sure, some varieties/regions cost more, such as Bordeaux, though honestly I’m not normally a huge Bordeaux wine fan.

In any event, in this case, the baseline rule was that each couple would bring a single bottle worth 25-35EUR.  Basically – increda-expensive for what any of us would normally pay.  Further, to keep things focused, all wines had to be from Saint-Émilion, a small area within the greater Bordeaux region.  Once we arrived the bottles were all wrapped identically and then given simple A-H letters.


From there, our lovely hosts had created tasting note sheets so each of us could rate the wines and write down notes.  As one might expect, after 8-10 glasses of wine (no matter how small the pours), the notes got a bit…sketchy:



Here’s a few pics that David and Lillian took during the evening.



The Girl is arguing the finer points of one of the glasses, while I’m considering stealing her answers.



Afterwards, we ordered all our preferences and those went up on a big crazy Excel sheet as rankings.  The sheet even included cost per point rankings and all sorts of ways to even things out:


Our hosts had snuck a single 89EUR bottle of wine (Clos des Menuts) in there, to see how that’d fair.  Interestingly, it rated rather poorly (even by some in the group who are trained sommeliers).


Ultimately, this wasn’t some sort of fancy wine-snob event. It was basically just an excuse to drink wine with friends.  But certainly a fun night!  Thanks to David and Lillian!

5) Up In The Air


By 5AM Monday morning I was back on the way to the airport for another work trip.  Albeit, a bit of a special work trip (more on that soon), but a work trip nonetheless.  I’m off to Newark, DE.  Yes, Newark, but no, not New Jersey.  Delaware.


In any event, I was treated to another nice view of Greenland this time as I crossed the pond.  For those keeping track I’ve crossed the pond four times (roundtrip) n the last 4 weeks.  It’s rare that my flight track takes a northerly enough route to see Greenland during daylight hours – but even more so rare that it’s clear enough to see.


Today was spectacular with the remnants of icebergs from this past season still cluttering the coastline and bays.


So while the pictures may not be the clearest – it’s still super cool.

In any case – off to work I go – hope everyone has a great week ahead, thanks for reading!


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  1. I’m pretty sure the one you were testing along was the FR25, not the FR15. You might want to correct it :-)

  2. Would have been interesting if 2 or more couples had brought the same wine!

  3. aben

    I have a lot of fun recording my flights on my epix. no fitness value but relieves boredom . I set up a flight app for it, for example altitude from GPS as barometric altitude is just cabin pressure (though that is factoid fun to know as well)

    Whats missing of course is a GPS accuracy page….

  4. Gingerneil

    Considering Bobby doesn’t like her own pictures… I recon you could be in for a slap! ;)
    Have a good trip…

  5. Sébastien

    It would be interesting to see the whole spreadsheet if you can put it online :)

  6. Carl

    Hey Ray, considering you just unboxed two major trainers, and you have a busy week away from them, should we assume the annual trainer round up is weeks away? Or will you surprise us and post it very soon?

    Thanks for all the great content!


    • I’m very interested in this as well. I’m thinking about buying a smart trainer but need a quiet one if I want to use it indoors, because we have wooden floors. The Elite Real Turbo Muin B+ looks very interesting!

    • Bart

      Quote from Ray:
      Just as a super-quick comment for those waiting on the 2015-2016 guide…
      It’s coming up on the week of Oct 26th.

      link to dcrainmaker.com

      don’t know if it will be followed up by a Trainer App In-Depth Guide a few weeks later like last year

    • Carl

      Good catch, Bart, and thanks for posting that Ray.

    • Correct as Bart noted.

      Unsure myself on Trainer App guide and how exactly to nail it. It was a beast of a lift last year, so trying to figure out the most optimal way of doing it this year as the field has grown and compatibility become more complex. I might tap 1-2 others to help try and cover all the apps and associated data updates (database).

    • Ken P

      Personally I’m less interested in a heavy database and more interested in your thoughts on best value / necessary features at the different price points. (I know the data geeks will find this unacceptable, but I’m gonna spend $600-$800 and want to know what the best one is.)

      Plus, your comments always answer any detailed tech / feature questions. Who needs a table?

  7. Carl

    And I agree about the vino spreadsheet. Please post it. I’ll be in Paris next summer and would love to pick up a few good bottles. I know, it’s hard to go wrong…

    (Yep, this post was a weak excuse to toggle the follow-up notifications. Sorry for the churn)

  8. Chris


    What bring you to Newark-Gore? Your Delaware reader wants to know?

    Keep up the great articles and podcasts!


  9. DS

    Good for you for having a Pernand-Vergelesses with the cod! I spent a day in that appellation last summer. Wine snobs would insist on a white, but I think pinot noir is perfectly fine with fish. Then again, I don’t much care for white wine.

  10. Raymond_B

    I love the wine event as a way to get together. Totally going to steal this idea :)

  11. Gingerneil

    Do you rate those funny wine aerator things? I’ve never bothered…

  12. Doug

    Hey Ray, is that the Withings Activitie you’re wearing in the wine shot? Do you wear it regularly or just when you need a dapper watch?

    Having seen the steel one up close it looks great but too expensive for me however the cheaper plastic one looks terrible. Shame :(

    Your hosts should have chucked in a bottle of cheap plonk from the region for the full range of cost to taste testing

  13. Chris

    Im trying to install my Campy 11spd cassette on the Neo… all the cogs slide on fine,I have the .5mm spacer in back.. problem seems to be the 11T cog is not lining up with the splines on the freehub… the spines o the 11T cog are too large for the cut outs on the freehub… any ideas?

  14. What is the rolled up thing in the wine bottle? Is it a posh french way to pour wine?

  15. DennisL

    Another great writeup. We are especially interested in the eating and sites in Paris to see when we come out in June. Will come by the Girls shop, for sure…its on our itinerary.
    I will be in Spain (Aviles) for Duathlon worlds in early June–any recommendations on travel from north coast of Spain to Paris? Fly or train? We will be in Paris about 5 days.
    Thanks Ray.


    • AlbertMC

      You have nonstop flights from Oviedo (OVD, the closest airport to Avilés) to Paris with Vueling, that’s much better than driving or going by train, and possibly cheaper as well.
      Good luck with the duathlon,

    • Note, if you have a bike, that may twist things slightly. Vueling is easy (sorta like Southwest Airlines, minus the humor), and I believe currently all their flights go to Orly, which is a little closer into town.

      That said, if there’s a bike fee (haven’t looked), then I’d personally do the train since the hassle-factor is just easier. Especially if you pick a TGV train that you can roll your bike on without re-boxing.

  16. Greg

    I keep getting sightings of the Infocrank in some of your pics. You’ve been sitting (or pedaling) on that one a while. Is an full review in the works, or is there something interesting your working on with there?

  17. Tim B

    Ray, do you need a assistant, PA, sidekick, entourage?
    Just offering my services…..

  18. Nicolas Sapieha

    Priceless quote considering the picture: “The Girl is arguing the finer points of one of the glasses, while I’m considering stealing her answers.”

  19. Norman

    Ray, would love if you could send me the name of that restaurant on the outskirts of Paris. Heading there in a few months, and always prefer staying outside the core of the city, but never sure were to have a great meal. Thanks!
    For privacy, if you prefer you can DM through my twitter @cablelinksystem

  20. Nigel Pond

    Two things: sensible portion sizes at the restaurant. Always amazes me that here in the US some people expect to have so much food that can take leftovers home. Newark, DE – just down the road from us in Wilmington. Are you still in the area?

    • Indeed, it’s always crazy to see how big portions are when I’m back in the states. I think I ate Subway for almost every lunch/dinner, simply since it’s easy to calculate calories and keep things in check when travelling.

      As for my current local – no, I left Wednesday evening, was just there about 48 hours. Beautiful area though for running, especially some trail running I got in.

  21. Jason Evans

    have to ask if whoever is pouring up the wine in the picture is a Canadian engineer? Looks suspiciously like an iron ring… Great to see them showing up in Paris…