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5 Random Things I Did This Weekend

With an exactly 7 days trip to the US complete (almost to the minute in fact), I’m working my way back to Europe as we speak.  But here’s what I was up to, spending the last few days in warmer weather.

1) So Much Sea Otter!

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I’m just going to point out the obvious: The vast majority of my weekend was spent at Sea Otter in California, talking with companies, people, and just generally wandering around.

That unto itself could be subdivided into a gazillion random things, but I’m just going to call it one big random thing!

2) Loads of Mountain Biking

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I love mountain biking. Regrettably, I only get to do it a few times a year. Mainly, attached to trade shows.  In general, my mountain biking is clustered into 2.66 chunks:

A) Interbike (full chunk)
B) Sea Otter (full chunk)
C) ANT+ Symposium (partial chunk)
D) Short stint rides on a trip (partial chunk)

The first two are when I can take out a mountain bike(s) for a full day or so.  Whereas the second two are often just a single ride, or, if I’m doing filming for something else like drone stuff, sometimes I’ll do some riding that way.  But it’s rarely focused on the ride, and more on the product I’m testing.

In any event, I got in as much riding as I could this weekend. And the landscape around Sea Otter is fantastic for someone like me that lacks meaningful mountain bike skills for more advanced terrain.  I can carry speed, and generally not have to worry about falling off a cliff.

Whereas up in the mountains near Banff, a wrong or unexpected turn can very easily become deadly.  Or more importantly – highly embarrassing in front of all the entire industry when you have to walk down this crazy steep section.

The best ride of the weekend was actually Saturday. Like any other attendee, I simply used the various demo bikes available at the show from all of the mountain bike vendors.  In the case of Saturday afternoon, that was the Specialized Stumpjumper.

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I don’t know anything about mountain bikes, so in all honesty it felt just as fine as the Diamondback Release I demo’d in the morning, and just as fine as the Pivot 429 I tried the next day.  For me, it was about the trails.

I followed the ‘MTB Tour’ route as it departed the festival area and headed off into the hills. Because I started around 3:30PM or so, there was nobody out there.  In fact, I didn’t come upon someone for an hour later, till around mile 6 or 7 perhaps, when I casually asked exactly how long this track was.  Turns out…28 miles.

On this terrain with all the climbing, that’d take me a number more hours to complete.  Which was kinda-sorta a problem.  First, it was about then I realized the festival shuts down at 5PM (including the company booths).  And second, I wasn’t super sure on how to get back.  I was hardly lost, and the signage was great.  It’s just that if I wanted to make it a 15 mile ride instead of a 28 mile one?

Umm…not so much.

So, I just kept pedaling.  I knew that eventually they’d intersect fire roads and those, in theory, take me back to home.  Ironically I did have the Edge 520 Plus with routing, and it did have trails on there for me.  But I was hesitant to follow the suggestions it would give for the shortest route back, merely because there’s a huge dependency on it being the right trail direction (which may not be in the database), as well as being a trail currently in service (some were shut down).

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Thankfully, about 15-20 minutes later I came upon a pile of fire roads intersecting, where two other dudes were pondering life.  They helpfully gave me the correct fire road back to the main area – a mere 15-20 minute climb and I was back.

Now…only to find some mountain biking near Amsterdam. Guess I probably gotta find the mountain part first.

3) A drive to Big Sur

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Like anyone from virtually any country, you’ve likely got various regions of that country you consider the most incredible scenery in the country (if not the world).  As an American, I’ve got a handful of those that sit atop my list. No, not Tacoma, Washington. Sorry.

Within the list are a handful of spots in Washington State where I grew up, along with some in Hawaii, and then finally, the coastline near Monterey. It’s mind-bogglingly beautiful – and just far enough out of the way that while it is rather touristed, it’s not as nuts as the core of San Francisco, NY, or LA.

In any case, after wrapping up my last ride on Sunday, I headed south for the afternoon. I wanted to test a few other devices, as well as just simply enjoy the coastline.

That drive did not disappoint.

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I suppose one could quibble with there being a tiny bit of haze due to the marine layer starting to come back in, it’s stunning down this way.

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I’ve previously driven and wandered down the remainder of the coastline to San Diego, but with the closure of the section around Big Sur due to a landslide, we didn’t fit it in last year on our trip.  Super glad I was able to find some time Sunday afternoon though…even if it meant sitting in traffic for over an hour coming back into town.

4) Buying all the helmets!

Last year at Sea Otter we purchased a bike helmet for The Peanut.  Nutcase was there and like most companies at the show, they had a show sale on certain units.  So we took advantage of that to pick up her helmet, which undoubtedly you’ve seen in many a photo over the last year (the one below ironically taken in the Netherlands):

But that left Peanut 2 without a helmet, and by Dutch standards, she’s only a couple weeks away from being totally legit for cycling.  Thus, I went back to the well of the Nutcase booth to pick up a different one for her. Unfortunately, said well was dry. They weren’t doing any on-site selling this year at all. Sad panda.

So I then began a search for the specific color scheme that was ‘pre-approved’ by The Girl for purchase.  That resulted in about 15 or so bike shop calls, where I eventually found a shop that had them in-stock on the way to the airport.  Thus, P2 now has a helmet.

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But that still left The Girl and I. We both have road bike helmets (and even an assortment of aero helmets), but neither of us have regular ‘city’ style helmets that are more commonplace in Amsterdam. Not that helmets are all that commonplace in Amsterdam for day to day riding, but if one were to wear a helmet, it’d be a more casual looking helmet.  So after a few more bike shops visited and called, I settled on two different models.  One for myself, and one for The Girl.

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Hers is the Nutcase Navy Dot, while mine is the Bern Watts Thin Shell. I didn’t even notice the name till I wrote it out now. Awesome name for a helmet.

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All-in, my suitcase in the belly of the plane has four helmets within it (inclusive of the helmet I took to Sea Otter). Actually, it’s a large cardboard box of goods, including other gadgets.  Either way, I’m armed with helmets now.

5) Back to Amsterdam

And with Sea Otter wrapped up (at least on-site, I’ve got plenty of photos and videos to sift through still), I packed up a boatload more than I started the trip with, and headed up to the airport.  In my case, I flew out of San Francisco International Airport, versus directly out of Monterey.  It gave me a bit more flexibility with timing, as well as a few stores to pick up things along the way to the airport.

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And now I sit here writing this, over Greenland, about 3 hours remaining until I get to Frankfurt, before a short hop over to Amsterdam.

Heck, maybe I’ll even luck out and find office space this week.  That’d be awesome, especially since I’m coming back with three boxes full of new gadgets. Woot!

Thanks for reading, and have a great week ahead!

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21 Comments

  1. Ruben

    Hi Ray,

    If you do want to try mountain biking in the Netherlands I would recommend “de utrechtse heuvelrug”. (link: link to mtb-utrechtseheuvelrug.nl )
    There are 8 different routes, well maintained by a group of volunteers and there a surprising amount of elevation. The trails have a nice flow and are great for both the novice and experienced riders.

    Best,

    Ruben

  2. Steffen

    Or better .. check out http://www.mtbroutes.nl which has nearly all MTB-trails in the Netherlands

  3. Hugo

    mtbroutes.nl
    has all mtb routes in NL (you figured it out allready).

    In Schoorl (link to mtbroutes.nl) is a very nice singletrack route. Start at MTB Schoorl, Aagtdorp. 1 hour drive from Amsterdam or take train to Alkmaar and cycle (7,4km) to MTB Schoorl, Aagtdorp.

    Have fun.

  4. GREGORY

    Are regular helmets frowned upon? I could see the casual look for skateboarders and such at least here in the states, but curious if anything is different other than looking too serious (which I totally understand, dont want to be that guy”

    • HWW83

      The Dutch don’t do helmets for day-to-day cycling, even though it is becoming more common to have children wear helmets as they are more prone to falling over. As mentioned below, you are either a tourist or a ‘special person’ when you do wear a helmet while out and about on your city bike.

    • The goal of the helmets was specifically for when we are cycling with the kids.

    • HWW83

      Honestly, it would make a lot of sense if we would start wearing helmets when cycling. Only this morning it was in the news that most deaths in traffic are cyclists now. Given the amount of traffic on the cycling paths, fast electric bikes and other developments, wearing some additional protection as a cyclist would make sense.

      And that is ignoring the “giving a good example to your kids” part ;)

    • Thijs

      Yeah, it’s not necessarily the higher risk of falling, but for a kid, falling from 5 feet is a lot. Especially when you’re strapped in and have no real method of saving yourself.

      I agree that it would be better for kids, and if we’d lived and biked in a very busy city we might have gotten helmets for them too.

  5. Thijs

    You do know that all the bike helmets you see in Amsterdam are foreigners? Dutch people hardly ever wear helmets at all :P
    If you want to blend in, taking off the helmet is an easy method.

    • Jordan Yard

      I normally like to blend in to the local population. If it means taking my helmet off while riding the bike, however, I won’t do it. I have seen too many head injuries that could have easily been prevented by wearing a helmet. A simple fall at slow speed from a bicycle can result in a dangerous head injury. I love the fact the Dutch people ride their bikes so much. It is a great thing. But I will encourage my Dutch friends and cyclists to wear a helmet. Helmets are cool.

    • Joop

      Indeed we never wear helmets on our normal bike rides (commutes etc). However, 20 years ago we also didn’t wear helmets on a race bike. Nowadays that’s pretty normal here. For speed pedelecs they must be worn (40 km/h) and for electrical bikes some people are having one (25 km/h). So it is changing. As mentioned above, the death toll of bikers in traffic is rising and in the cities it is getting busier with bikes, so government might be starting making policies for this as well

  6. Mike Richie

    Glad you made it down to Big Sur. I used to have a house on Partington Ridge, just before Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park (McWay Falls). I was thinking of making a trek out there last year. With the landslides, you had to “hike in”, and it was almost exclusively locals. So, much like it was back in the 60s, when I first was there. Alas, I never made it, and it’s back to backed up traffic, as you noted, heading back to Carmel. I must say, your photos from your trip made me homesick.

  7. Marc

    Hi Ray, i’m one of The volunteers of the Utrechtse Heuvelrug trails. I’m more than willing to show you around on said trails!

  8. Michael

    We adored Big Sur so much we named our kitten Bixby… brought back good memories. Thanks Ray.

  9. Hank

    I don’t know exactly where to put this, so here goes. You are the worldwide number one source of the possible answer to this question.

    Although I shamefully admit it has nothing to do with Sea Otter or your cool move to Amsterdam (how cool is that? Paris to Amsterdam!)

    We know that power meters are judged (a) against themselves (in the sense of, does accuracy vary?) and (b) against other power meters (the classic DCR multiple power meters at the same time test).

    However, I have a Stages left crank only. I now have a Feedback Omnium trainer, which of course means you just pop the bike with the Stages on it and go.

    With a power meter, you can do Zwift workouts. Zwift takes the power, the cadence, and I assume estimates speed. It takes actual heart rate and its fine. Not smart trainer but it works.

    However, I would swear, swear mind you, that the watts on the trainer do not correspond to watts on the road. The trainer feels at least 20% harder: as in “150 watts feels like 200” harder.

    My first guess was that I just did not have alot of indoor experience. My second guess was because the Omnium uses a form a “constant resistance” with no momentum that that accounted for the feeling.

    My third guess was that it was just the difference between the ability to coast on the road and the fact that if you put out 150 watts for 15 minutes on the trainer, its 15 straight minutes.

    But I now think that none of those is the answer. I wonder if there is something about it from a tech standpoint. Its not like there is an easy cross-check, because its the same power meter, obviously.

    My specific wonder is whether the Stages has firmware to account for the differences (however slight) in the circumfrence of the pedal stroke where dead spots exist, specifically on the one sided version. And, on this trainer there are no dead spots, its constant resistance with no momentum.

    I am at the end of my engineering speculation.

  10. Adam Okoye

    Wait, you mean that Tacoma isn’t a full of natural wonders?!

    That said, I do love the Museum of Glass. Save for having friends who live in Tacoma, it is essentially the only reason for me to visit Tacoma during my trips up to Seattle from Portland.

  11. Jarek

    Is this where they shot the opening scenes for Big Little Lies Tv series?

    • Mike Richie

      Yeah, Ray’s photo is of Bixby Bridge, (named after the above kitten). But the sequence suggests a short commute to Monterey, where most of the filming was done, and that’s not really the case, even without the traffic on Highway 1 Ray mentions.