5 Random Things I Did This Weekend

It was a wet and windy and generally miserable weekend in Paris.  But I still made the best of it! Here’s what was happening.

1) Night photos around town

To combat the cold rainy weather, we started off the weekend with ramen at our favorite spot and followed that with a walk around town to take some night photographs.

2017-03-03 21.20.51

While I have countless photos of around Paris, most of them are either from day, or they’re during runs/rides.  Less so nicer photos taken on my DSLR.  We ended up just wandering a bit from the Louvre area and onwards to the Eiffel Tower.  We would have gone further, but we ran out of time wanting to get back home to the little nugget and the babysitter.



Unfortunately, the guys at the Louvre decided to close down the outdoor area early this night.  It appears there was some sort of construction thing going on, thus limiting our photos there.


Still, I got a handful of neat shots overall.  And even more once I get around to editing them all.

2) Running around in the rain


Starting early Saturday morning, it began raining. Hard.  Never-endingly hard.

Except, late afternoon it seemed like it was letting up.  Naturally, I figured I might be able to squeeze in a short run before it started dumping again.  My hope had been to run semi-short (40-50 mins) on Saturday, and then do a much longer ride Sunday.

So with a break in the weather I headed on out, just around our hood, and then up to Jardin du Luxembourg.


Naturally, the gap in rain lasted about 6 minutes…before it started dumping again.


You could tell almost every other runner in the park had the same plan of trying to fit in a run before it started dumping again.  Nobody was wet initially…but in short order everyone was soaked.  Including the Pantheon.


…and my collection of watches.


Well, at least I got a run in.  Rain or shine…or something like that.  On the bright side, I went home and made fresh pasta and meat sauce.  I picked up the meat from the butcher.


Just rags, nothing special.  As usual, using the KitchenAid pasta maker attachment. Still my most favorite kitchen tool.

3) Checked out the Paris Half-Marathon


Sunday morning was the Paris Half-Marathon (technically the Fitbit Paris Semi-Marathon).  The route was a bit different this year, taking it within about two blocks of the DCR Studio/Cave.  Which is just a few blocks from home.  I figured I’d catch just a few of the 38,000 runners and cheer them on.

Now the weather was as nasty as it was the day before.  But still, there were people out cheering on the corner nearest me.

DSC_8120 DSC_8130

What’s notable about the horrible wind, cold, and sideways rain isn’t so much running in it. Of course, that sucks.  But it’s the realization that most of these folks had been standing in said rain at the start for likely an hour or more.  The starting area has very little in the way of cover or places to escape the rain.  Especially enough cover for 40,000 people.  And for the most part, when not smiling for the camera, everyone looked miserably cold (and wet).  Especially the lady in the lower left corner.


Still, folks were out there gettin’ it done!

DSC_8171 DSC_8160


Congrats to all those that ran!  Here’s to hoping next year’s weather is better.

4) Suffered on the trainer

My initial plan for Sunday was to first watch the half-marathon, then to jump on my bike and take a scenic route out past Versailles to watch the start of the Paris-Nice race.  But, with it crapping craptastically from the sky, my motivation level to spend 3-4 hours round-trip in the cold rain was exceedingly low.

Thus instead I went inside and did a trainer workout.


I played around on this day with Xert’s Connect IQ Smart Player app, that allows them to control your trainer and dynamically change the workout parameters based on your performance (during the workout).


It also then streams the data live from your Garmin back to a web portal that coaches (if they’re on the platform) can view.  Or, you can just view it yourself on a big screen TV.


The workout I selected was a wee bit beastly, and as I sit here typing this the next morning, my legs are a bit sore.  The workout is roughly a pile of 20-second and 30-second intervals, at varying intensities, but all pretty high up.

By the third set of these (each one containing about 15 or so individual intervals), my legs simply gave up.  The Tacx Neo shifted upwards to 515w, and my legs finally hit a concrete wall, with an inability to spin any further.

On that positive note I walked out of the cave (which is underground), to find it as now sunny out.  Sigh.

5) Flew to Palma de Mallorca


Last up in the list for the weekend was a crazy early morning flight to Mallorca on Monday morning.  It was early enough that it was still the weekend in the US, thus, I’m going with it.

I’m down here just a couple of days for an event, but will also be getting in a bunch of other unrelated testing in as well.  I’ve often come down to Mallorca for both industry events as well as testing of devices.  It’s a super easy/quick flight to get to, and even better when Iberia/Vueling doesn’t lose your luggage.


But as with the past, they lost it…again.


Luckily I presumed they would, and packed accordingly.  Keeping the stuff I need for today on me, and then everything else in the suitcase.

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


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  1. Dan Hermann

    Hi Ray! Sorry to get political on you, but what organization is sporting the “I Support the Oriental Christians” vests? It looks like an Arabic character on them? I am not familiar with this movement.

    • David Tjiptogarsono

      I was curious what the arabic latter is, and this is what I found:

      “In Mosul, IS militants marked with a spray-painted ن (the Arabic letter for “N”) all Christian property to be seized after the ultimatum. “N”, or ن​, is the first letter of the Arabic word for Christian, “Nasrani” or Nazarene.”

    • Daniel

      Sorry Dan, sometimes comments just suck – probably just like mine..

    • heado

      HEllo Dan,

      you can find more information here : link to soschretiensdorient.fr

      It’s the association ” SOS oriental christian” which help … the oriental christian. They tend to be very active these last months / years with all the things happening in irak / syria etc.

      (btw i’m not member of this association).

      the arabic character is “ن” it’s the twenty-fifth letter of the Arabic alphabet. and the first letter of the world ” نصراني ” which means “peolple from nazareth” aka the christian. it’s originally intended to mark the houses abandoned by Christians from Iraq in Mosul and more generally in the province of Nineveh.

      hope it helps.


    • I’ve seen tweets from the far right leaders supporting these guys. Don’t know why, but that’s not the kind of thing that makes me keen of supporting them.

    • Interesting, I don’t know much about them. Just the nearest thing to me on the course, and also without question the most supportive and vocal folks I saw on the course.

      They were outside the Institute du monde arabe, which might make sense.

  2. Velobob

    The fact that you cracked before completing the Xert workout seems to imply a failure of the Xert app. If Xert dynamically changes the workout parameters based on your performance in real time shouldn’t it have backed off the intensity for you so that you would have been able to finish the workout?

    • André Lemos

      Was thinking exactly the same thing

    • Yes and no. The workouts don’t get easier because you don’t feel like pedaling (not that Ray didn’t feel like pedaling! This is a very tough workout!) The workouts adjust to meet the goals of the workout. There are either strain or fatigue targets established whereby the players will adjust power and/or intensity dynamically. Not *all* intervals are fully dynamic. Some like this one called “Let the Sparks Fly” that Ray did, simply have dynamic power and not dynamic duration. It’s one of the more difficult workouts. There are others that are easier and generally you should be doing those that reflect your training status. You’ll need to have a well-established Fitness Signature, more than just FTP which wouldn’t be enough to establish the targets for this workout.


    • Velobob

      I am curious what Ray’s actual MPA curve would have looked like for the workout he did which he could not complete. Would it show the MPA approaching the Power curve and eventually intersecting with it?

    • (With Ray’s permission .. see attached)

      Ray’s activity recording environment is a bit *special* to say the least. He had one power meter controlling the trainer with Powermatch and another power meter recording on other devices. Turns out the power meter controlling the trainer was having a few data recording issues that we didn’t pick up until afterwards.

      You can see that what should have been a hard workout turned out to be extremely difficult. His cumulative strain for the 45 minutes was nearly 100 XSS, making it a workout you’d only want to attempt when you’re carrying a very high cumulative Training Load.

      MPA and power will touch/intersect when efforts are maximal based on your current fitness signature. Alternatively, sometimes workouts are just too hard in terms of too much strain. This workout looks like it may have fit into both categories.

      Xert’s workout dynamic intensity corrections makes it more sensitive to data errors, especially when using Smart Trainers. Something we’ll need to address for his next workout.

  3. Raymond Wright

    What are the drone laws on Mallorca? Going there next month for a week to ride bikes.

  4. Dennis Mijer

    +1 for losing luggage with Iberia, In my case..for a 3 week holiday to brazil (couple of years ago). I wonder how they do it in this digital age where pretty much every single thing is or can be tracked…

    • Adam

      Often it’s not a case of “losing” your baggage or someone forgetting to load it on to the plane; it’s a case of airport/airline logisitics not being able to keep up with the rapid turnover of flights, delays in processing/loading baggage for whatever reason, and the airline making the decision that it’s better for the plane to leave without all the luggage on-board than to wait at the gate and force delays onto other services.

      It’s not an accident, it’s just poor logisitics.

  5. Don Loveless

    I have been using the Xert program for the past month. I don’t have a smart trainer, just a bike with a power meter. Let the Sparks Fly is very painful, but an excellent workout.

  6. Larry

    Any idea when u will post an updated review on the Spartan Ultra?

  7. I’ve been working with Xert since the Fall of 2015, and have seen what it can do; it’s ability to intuit that which you have left in you, and ergo, how much more you may be able to give, is simply uncanny.

    That said – YOU MUST approach these intervals FULLY prepared; that means you need to be adequately fed, hydrated, rested, and warmed up. I use a Moxy on my left quad to determine when I’m ready for these puppies, and even indoors, I drink probably twice as much, and use two Vornado fans. Air on the hands is just as critical as air on the face and scalp.

    Here’s the deal; Xert shows you that you CAN hit interval values you may never have thought feasible, and it shows you how you can do it over, and over, and over.

    When used with the Stress, Strain, XPMC and Threshold Histories, you’re really reaching into 4th-generation metrics and analytics that go beyond W’, AWC, FRC, etc. And if you DO break your MPA in an interval, well, that’s a BREAKTHROUGH – sort of like Chuck Yeager & the Sound Barrier. Boom! New Threshold or Anaerobic Capacity values.

    The only issue there is —- it just makes the next breakthrough THAT MUCH HARDER TO ACHIEVE!!!

  8. David

    Xert = tough workouts but achievable. Keep up the effort, and watch your numbers grow.

  9. Johnnyboy

    I see you brought the Suunto Spartan along? Is it better now after the updates? I ran with my friend who owned one while I wore my Ambit3 – the distance on our watches was different by 0.25 km. Is it ever going to get fixed???

    • It’s better in some respects, but it’s not better overall.

      Certain things work well for me, and yet other areas (such as openwater swimming), continue to be quite bad.

  10. Ollie

    Hi Ray

    Would you mind telling us what model of Kitchenaid that is please? Knowing what the The Girl does for a living I’d be interested to know what she has in her kitchen – did you go for the Professional version?

    • Jasper

      The silver part on the bottom looks like where the bowl locks into place, and I don’t see the bowl-lift arms. So that suggests it’s one of the tilt head minis or Artisans, rather than the professional model. Most of the pros are bowl-lift only. Although I’m sure the bakery has heavier duty equipment than what’s needed at home.

    • It’s just one of the standard artisans.

      At the bakery we do indeed have some pretty big 40 and 50 liter mixers. You can see an ‘unboxing’ I did of one of them at the end of this post: link to dcrainmaker.com

      That said, we actually do use a small fleet of Artisan mixers in the bakery (I’m really good at repairing them). The reason? They’re great for doing small batch work that’s common for custom cakes. So we may do a large batch of buttercream icing as a base in the huge mixers, but then we’ll take a bit of that to a different custom flavor for something smaller.

      We like the Artisans over the Pro, because A) They’re cheaper, and B) Basically our batches fall into either ‘tiny’ (something small/custom), or massive. There’s not much in between.

  11. Shar Haddadin

    I love Xert Workout ” Let the Fly spark”

  12. Andy

    My wife and I are heading to Mallorca this summer for 4 days. Do you have any advise on transit, lodging or places to visit?

    • I stayed this time at the PortBlue hotel, this specific one: link to portbluehotels.com

      Hands down will absolutely stay there from now on. Awesome local for swim/bike/run, including two pools with lanes (one indoor, one outdoor). Plus bike shop built onsite. Oh, and you can even rent Canyon Tri bikes (seriously!). A quick look at the prices was about 30EUR per day for carbon bikes, less for alum bikes. Less if you reserved upwards of a week.

      The rate is about 68EUR a night including breakfast, or 100EUR a night all-inclusive everything (even drinks). Pretty solid. Plus the pool areas (non-sport) look fantastic. Tons of cycling groups there.

  13. Peter Schindler

    Ray — cool stuff with Xert.

    Have you thought about giving it a try for running (using the Stryd) or another power meter? I have been experimenting with it — with Armando’s support — and I think it gets to the whole point of using a power meter for running.

    The ability to predict intervals is equally uncanny for running.

    • I haven’t too much, merely since Xert isn’t really focused on running. So in my mind it’d kinda be like the early days of Stryd where you had to fake it was cycling to see running, which brought up all sorts of other quirks/oddities.

      I tend to be in the camp of if I see running with power data, I don’t want to sacrifice the core running experience of pace/lap pace, etc… Either on the device or on the web.

  14. Paris is the most beautiful city in the world ;)

  15. Pablo

    Ray, never ever fly with vueling. Worst airline in europe. Have some friend working there…I will never fly with them.

  16. Lol. Current waiting to board our *Vueling* flight to Palma. Have just checked our massive duffel full of gear. Fingers crossed bag doesn’t have same fate as yours. Or else I’ll be biking in jeans.

  17. Eli

    Full review of the Xert apps coming? Xert is just power focused with no current plans for using muscle oxygen data, right?

    • Eli,

      We do feel that SmO2 data can provide additional insights into the information we are obtaining from power data and thus plan to do more research. It’s a bit more work on our part since our preference would be to interpret the data rather than simply present it, as we do with power data. This will require more research and new models to be developed.

      Thanks for your question.