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5 Random Things I Did This Weekend

Another busy weekend, but this one almost full at home.  At least I was home by Friday night – and that’s what counts, right?

1) Trained back from UCI Headquarters in Switzerland

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I had gone down to Aigle, Switzerland on Thursday morning, to spend the remainder of the day there.  While the exact reasons I was there I’ll have to hold off for a little bit longer, I did get the chance to explore around a bit – as well as go out on the velodrome.  This is the same track that held the 1-hour world record attempts back about two years ago that kicked off the numerous other recent world record attempts.

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While I have some really awesome 360° video on the track with the 360Fly (such an awesome use of a 360° camera), that’ll have to wait too, since it shows too much of what I was doing there.  So here’s a sorta fuzzy shot that doesn’t give away too much.

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I’d also point out that I was rather happy that I managed not to crash on the track (both for my benefit and the track’s).  I was riding a true track bike, which means you must keep pedaling.  Being single-speed, it’s kinda like a spin bike in that the pedals keep going around, so there is no just stopping to coast (clipped in anyway).  Nor are there brakes.

But again, all ended well.  As did my train ride back home.  First meandering through the Swiss Alps, and then eventually into France and onto the high speed rail lines back to Paris.  It’s impressive to look closely at the front of the TGV trains once they arrive at the station.  We should hold a moment of silence for the platoon of bugs that met their fate on the front of my train:

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That’s all for now.

2) New unboxing goodness

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I often lament getting inbound boxes unstuck from French customs.  But recently we managed to get one really stuck.  Usually I can undo any stuckage (or suckage as it may be) in about 1-2 business days.  But about three weeks ago I sent over a box from our US forwarding box and things all went really downhill, resulting in it being stuck in not one – but two quarantine locations for more than two weeks. Yikes!

We finally got it all unstuck on Thursday, and delivered on Friday – allowing me to get around to unboxing a small pile of things that had been growing since February.

It’s funny, our forwarding shipments tend to go in bursts.  This one sat accumulating for over a month.  Yet in the span of last week and this week I’ll probably have to courier over three different boxes, based on various time constraints.

Up on the list was the Garmin Varia Vision (you’ll remember my post back here about that).

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I also had the Cycliq Fly12 unboxing, and the Misfit Ray.  With the Cycliq Fly12 I had two units.  One that I tore into back in California at Sea Otter, and another for unboxing once I got back.  I rode some more with the Fly12 again this weekend.  Which is a good segue into the next section!

3) Riding the Grand Prix Formula E Race Track

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This past weekend was the inaugural Grand Prix Paris Formula E.  E standing for ‘electric’. So it’s like Formula 1 cars…but without the noise or the gas.  This video from the organizers shows all the highlights of Saturday.

While I saw them setting up the track last week, I completely and totally forgot about it on Saturday until talking to friends that night and realized I missed it. Entirely.

No worries, I could recover from this!  Apparently they weren’t set to totally dismantle things till the following few days.  So if I went out Sunday morning I’d be able to ride the track.  And that’s exactly what David and I did.  Him on his Vespa, and me on my Cervelo.  Same-same, but different.

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We took turns doing laps getting video and photos of each other.  Just goofing around until 12PM when we became pumpkins with our respective wives to get back home.

And if you timed it right, you got shots with no traffic at all in them.  Given it’s a Sunday…in France, things are pretty quiet in the morning.  Interestingly, they had laid new pavement down for this route – which was pretty nice to ride on.

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I got a bunch of footage on the Cycliq Fly12 using the new PowerPod TT mount.  But I’m too lazy to edit it all right now.  So I’ll save that for my review later on.  So here’s just a simple pic of me in the meantime:

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Ok actually, a couple more pics:

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And the best thing of all? We both managed to get home just before it completely dumped out.

4) Lighting up in the DCR Cave

One of the biggest challenges I have in product review photography is what happens when the sun goes down.  Or anytime I need to take photos down in the Cave (i.e. trainers).  While the cave is awesome in almost every way, one way it verifiably sucks is lighting.  When we first built out the cave I argued with the construction folks that there wasn’t enough lights.  They said it was silly that I wanted more lights.  Like many other things with that project, I should have told them to take a hike.

There is definitely not enough light.

Most times it takes a fair bit of Lightroom work (how appropriate, huh?) after the fact to fix the photos and make them halfway decent.  And many don’t ever make the cut because of the low-light conditions.

So I spent some time researching lights while in NYC at B&H two weeks ago.  While I didn’t quite find what I wanted there, I managed to find some options on Amazon that I could get shipped in time to California during Sea Otter.  These LED panels were nice and lightweight, while also being dual-voltage.  Further, they allowed control of both brightness and temperature color. Perfect!

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I then picked up a few small wall mount brackets that I could attach to the walls.  The challenge with light tripods in my space is there just isn’t enough space.  I might buy one to use temporarily, but I much prefer them up and out of the way.  It’s also nice in that I can quickly release the lights and move them around.

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So I bought a few extra wall mount brackets that I’ll space around the cave.

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Overall pretty happy with them.  They add a ton of light and make it much easier to get the shots I want.  I’ll have to toy with the exact color balance a bit over the next few days.  And obviously, photos of lights will kinda turn out boring.  What I hope is less noticeable is how much clear photos in the Cave will be.

Update! Here’s a video I shot Monday with the new lights.  While still a bit tweaking I can do – so much better!

But so far so good.

5) At the Strada, not Strava, Café

We wrapped up our weekend having a nice brunch at the Strada Café.  Yes, it’s just like Strava, even with an orange-based logo.  Except spelled Strada and not Strava.  And like Strava, it’s also not French.

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Over the last few months it’s become our favorite local café hangout, since it’s only about 2-3 blocks from the Cake Studio/DCR Cave.  The vibe is more British/Australian than French, but the food is rather good and usually pretty light.

We’ve never had their brunch before, which is a multi-course affair that turned out to be anything but light.  This was pretty much the only thing we’d need to eat all day. After merely the first course (along with fresh pressed juices), I was already feeling full:

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Then there was the second/main course and my giant mug of hot chocolate (included):

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Never mind the finale with dessert:

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Seriously, my stomach hurts.  So good though!  Any one of these courses probably would have been more than sufficient for me.

Which reminds me, I’ve decided to go ahead and add them to my local/Parisian restaurants list.  Basically the list of places that we visit frequently and enjoy.  There are no doubt more famous places in Paris, but these are the spots we go back to over and over again with super-friendly owners and great food.

With that – thanks for reading, have a great week ahead!

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20 Comments

  1. GPSIG

    Amazon links for the lights please!

  2. Bachulator

    Hey, that misfit activity tracker has your name on it :)

  3. slartiblartfast

    The scene at French customs

    “Sacre bleu! C’est encore un paquet pour Monsieur Ray!”

    “Cachez celui ci tout de suite.”

  4. Tommies

    I heard that The new pavement Will be removed after The race
    Sorry for bikers :-(

    • I heard something about that as well. Super weird. I could see on the sections in front of Invalides near the cobbles, but honestly anytime they try and remove pavement over cobbles it just comes out horrible.

      Whereas the side sections of Invalides would be rather nice as-is. Bummer.

  5. Jamie

    The London Velodrome does taster sessions, you would love that if ever you are over that way for a few hours. My daughter bought me a session which I did in December, great experience.

  6. Simon

    I am going to kick off the guessing game of ‘What was Ray looking at the UCI headquarters?’

    I shall guess a Shimano Dura Ace power meter

    I propose you give away what ever it is to whoever guesses correctly…………

  7. Jimbo

    I like Simon’s guessing game – unfortunately; I don’t have a good guess.
    The Dura-Ace power meter sounds like as good a guess as any. But, I wonder if the UCI location plays at all into what it is?

    Like the bug splattered train photos. It seems odd to me on a train that goes hundreds of km per hour and where aero matters; that there is that handle there sticking out. Seems an internal lever or one under a panel on the side might be more aero.

  8. Claus Jacobsen

    Ok I’m on the guessing game as well. But first. HOW COOL IS THAT to have a product named after you :-) – and obviously rather luxurious when looking at the product and packaging. I first thought it was a special edition you had them make either for you or the girl. :-)

    The guessing. – Either Ray is the new member of the uci technical commission (can you please get discs back on roadbikes?) – or he was providing technical insight in how they can detect motordoping with dronecams :-)

  9. Jean-Christophe

    Ray, you’re really have to tell us next time you come to Switzerland. I’m sure that some of your followers (including me) would be really halls to meet you for a lunch or a dinner or just for a quick chat. And because the UCI is very close to my office, we could have met on that day. Cheers.

  10. Ingo

    Next time you tell me when you are arround the corner in Switzerland ;-)

  11. giorgitd

    OK, this is a longshot, and I don’t know what the connection would be *exactly* – but maybe Ray was doing something relative to the Tour of Romandie? That race starts today – and runs past Aigle on 2 (3?) stages…

  12. Ray, you’re making us all envious with how epic your week looked! A little off topic but I think more triathletes could do with a session on the track – there’s nothing like not being able to freewheel for improving pedaling efficiency.

  13. Dolan H.

    Thanks for the list of restaurants! We’ll be spending a month in Paris in mid June (hope you’re around too!) so it’s good to have some recommended options.

  14. Bart

    I would love to see some of the results of the 360° video on the track.
    Hope you will release them soon.
    (Anything to do with the new Garmin watches being announced soon?, i can wait for the video until then)

  15. Ken P

    Those lights look like they could help you grow a certain kind of green plant. A type of weed.

    Will we be seeing a new kind of product being tested once the seeds grow in?

  16. JimH

    GAH! I want that Fly12 SOOooo BAD! When will it be available in retail (or online)? I have the Fly 6 and it’s great.