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5 Random Things I Did This Weekend

After a number of crazy busy weeks for travel between Florida in June and Eurobike related stuff the last few weeks – it’s time to bring back the 5 Random Things series.  Usually, when things get busy during the week, this is the second post to get the cut (the first being the ‘Week in Review’).  But with the schedule looking a bit more normal in a post-Eurobike world, here’s what we were up to on the home front!

1) The Rare Saturday Morning In-Depth Review

It’s incredibly rare that I release an in-depth review on a weekend, but sometimes I just want to push out the door something I finished late Friday night and not wait till Monday or Tuesday.  So I wrapped up the final tidbits late Friday evening, and by the time everything had finished getting uploaded, processed and double-checked by Randy…it was Saturday morning.  Thus, welcome to my Friday night/Saturday morning.

2) Iterating on DCR Amsterdam Cave/Studio Designs

Now that I’m back from Eurobike we’ve been finalizing the designs for the Amsterdam DCR Cave/Studio.  As you may remember I moved into the massive space back in June, but between travel to Florida for three weeks and nearly two weeks for Eurobike/Europe road-trip, I haven’t had much time to focus on figuring out the final plans for turning what is a gigantic pile of boxes/gear from Paris sitting on the floor into a functional and day to day workhorse.

But we’ve made progress and picked a small local design team to help do the build-out and should have the full plans finalized by Monday and submitted to the relevant approval boards.  Thankfully here that’s an incredibly fast process.

Of course, to date I’ve only shown the bottom of the DCR Cave/Studio in all my photos you’ve seen here – which is the industrial looking warehouse-like part.  What you didn’t realize is that above that was an office space of sorts.  Well, very much an office space (no sorts) – just one styled from the 1980’s and with as much functionality as a paper bag.  So we’re redoing that bit to make it roughly this century and more functional to what I need.

Our hope is to have construction complete by the end of September (working around European holidays slows things a bit).

Of course – that puts it right on time for the annual DCR Open House sometime in November or December.  Once we get to September I’ll announce the dates for that.  Ideally I can find some November/December local 5K/10K type race to pair alongside it, like I used to do with the Santa Clause 10K run in Paris.

Stay tuned – exciting stuff ahead!

3) An afternoon exploring with the family

While we had kid’s birthday parties to attend to Saturday midday, by later Saturday afternoon we were exploring the city and surrounding area by bike. Yes, both kiddos and the dog:

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This also included a stop afterwards at a nearby legit French boulangerie to pick up some French baked goodness.  Their credentials were helped by the fact that they actually spoke French (and at least some employees were clearly French), but ultimately, it was the taste that mattered the most (and it delivered)!

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Normally this place has a line out the door – but we managed to get there in early evening and it was surprisingly quiet.  Though, disappointingly they lacked any baguettes left.  That’d be sacrilege in any of our neighborhood boulangeries in Paris, where baguettes are baked till closing time.  But I suppose…this isn’t Paris.

We paired the bread we could get with various French cheeses we picked up, and then tossed some steaks on the grill for dinner.

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We like and eat Dutch cheeses (such as Gouda) for many things, but after living in France for more than 5 years, it’s hard to change some habits.

4) A Morning Beach Ride

Sunday morning I got up and out the door relatively early for a cyclist in Amsterdam on a summer weekend.  There were very few people on the road, and virtually no athletic-focused cyclists out quite yet.  My planned route was a simply 60KM loop out to the beaches and back.  It’s a relatively straight-forward ride that has me using one route for the outbound, then a few miles along the beach before a different route for the return.

There’s one section on the outbound that’s particularly nice where it’s a long wooden bridge that sits over some marshland.  The area is super quiet and this only helps cement that:

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It took me about an hour to reach the beaches, where I snapped a couple of pics before riding south alongside the beach for perhaps 10-12 minutes:

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This area has these little cottages of sorts down on the beach itself.  This is opposed to having super expensive beach real-estate, I presume these small portable sized cottages are more affordable.  Kinda nice – making beach real-estate accessible to more folks (and there were a ton of them, about 2-3 layers deep for miles).

After that, I turned inland and headed back towards Amsterdam.  I missed a turn at one point and went freestyle on the wrong side of the river.  My Edge 520 Plus was heavily displeased, but eventually got happy again about 25 minutes later when I got back on the right side of the river.

As I was nearing Amsterdam the flow of athletic-focused cyclists heading opposite me towards the beaches ramped up considerably, at this point it was close to 9:30-10AM and more of the group riders were headed out.

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Oh, and these two folks:

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Yup, they win cool bike of the day award!

All in all about 60KM in a touch over 2 hours of riding, with a few minutes of stoppage time at the beach for photos and a gas station for drinks.

I was testing power meters along the way on this ride – comparing the SRM Exakt to the Stages LR and PowerTap G3. So-so results. Also testing heart rate sensors too for an upcoming review or two – but I haven’t dug into those results fully yet.

5) Go swimming…sorta.

After my solo bike ride, I cleaned up and then we packed up the kiddos (+ dog) into the cargo bike for a trip down to the forest.  While we had contemplated going to the beach (again, for me) – doing so would have definitely been a haul. Given it took me about an hour on a road bike, my guess is with the cargo bike max speed of 25KPH – we’d be looking at about 70-90 minutes including stop-lights and such.  That’s a long time (each way) for two little ones to sit patiently baking in the sun as we rolled along.

So instead, there’s a huge outdoor open-air shallow pool in the woods not far from us that was a much better choice.

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We got all sorts of stuff for a picnic and just enjoyed hanging out there a few hours.  Plus, it was right below the flight path to Amsterdam Schiphol airport, and we got to have a pile of planes buzz our heads – including an A380, B747, B777, and an endless stream of smaller 737’s and single-aisle Airbuses.

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The Peanut got to practice her colors as each plane flew by.  She loves the airplanes.

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The trip down to this pool is about 20-25 minutes via bike at an easy/relaxed pace – so just the right duration.

After that, it was time to wrap up the weekend and call it donezo!

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

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35 Comments

  1. russell glerum

    Those cottages are a good idea, in America money talks so we could never have anything like that so regular folks could enjoy affordable beach visits.

    • Dave Lusty

      That was the impression I got when I visited Bellevue – a stunning piece of water completely cut off for normal people by expensive houses. There wasn’t even a running path by the water and the houses seemed to go all the way around the shore! It must be very depressing to not be wealthy in the US.

    • To be fair, water-front property in major metropolitan cities in the UK or most other countries isn’t really any different. And in fact, for Lake Washington (which Bellevue is up against), there is a huge running path – the best in the region, the Burke Gilman trail that goes link to seattle.gov – which then turns into the East Lake Samamish trail – in total about 50 miles before you change trail names again – totally paved and bustling with runners.

      Also – as noted below by another commentator – there’s actually a bit of a difference with the cottages I saw at the beach: They aren’t allowed year-round, so they have to be deconstructed/moved each year for the winter, which doesn’t really make them full time residences or such.

      I don’t think there’s really any major difference between water-front accessibility for year-round homes in the US vs Netherlands vs UK vs anywhere else when it comes to dense population centers.

    • Dave Lusty

      Thanks for the link, I’m certain I’ll be back there at some point with work so may try that trail. Most places in the UK with water like that would generally have a trail between the houses and the water but you’re right that we do build around water too.

    • Amelie

      Hi Dave, Ray,

      Man, I fell hard into this dark hole of Seattle suburban communities trivia. I would argue that Dave makes a fair observation, if his point is that Bellevue (a suburb, which historically “bloomed from notions of private and exclusive space”… I borrowed that line from a Seattle Met magazine article about public access shorelines) seems to have a larger percentage of its shoreline owned privately than does, say, its larger neighbor across Lake Washington. Bellevue published a “Parks and Open Space Plan” in 2016 wherein they stipulate wanting to bump that 12% public-access waterfront to something that’s a bit more inclusive (Seattle has somewhere around 40%, by comparison… Although “public access” also includes standing on a bluff overlooking the waterfront, it seems). That said, I was surprised to read in the same parks report that Bellevue is actually more diverse than Seattle (2010 census). But more than a quarter of its residents earn an income below the poverty level.

      But screw all that! Dave, check out Bellevue’s Lake Hills Greenbelt next time. I hear it’s nice.

      Cheers from a chunk of suburban Amsterdam privately-owned waterfront property (disclosure, disclosed!)

    • “That said, I was surprised to read in the same parks report that Bellevue is actually more diverse than Seattle”

      Would be interested to know how much of that is driven by high-tech. The likes of Microsoft and other companies bring in lots of workers from outside the country, and since Eastside traffic is so miserable (I’d say worse than Westside aka Seattle traffic), many want to live close (no matter the ethnicity). There isn’t much in the way of Microsoft employees in offices in Seattle proper (certainly, plenty live there).

      Ok, I looked it up: link to statisticalatlas.com

      It doesn’t specify what counts as ‘Asian’, but what is super-clear is it radiates out from the Microsoft campus. Which, as anyone in the area will tell you – is also where you find some fantastic Asian/Indian food.

      Cool stuff.

  2. Rene

    Quattrovelo by velomobiel.nl, you should do a review of one of those. With a doublecheck by GPLama.

    • That’s awesome. Bike reviews are a bit out of my wheelhouse, but many…I’d love to take one for a spin!

    • Oh my…. I’d happily crash..er.. ride one of those for fun. I saw a similar one here the other day and thought it’d be the perfect candidate for the Garmin Varia radar on the back. I even checked for one on the back as it went past…. nope. These velopeople need to up their safety game. 🙂

  3. Robert

    Hey Ray any timeline for HRM’s as I’m in the market for one. Or is the Tickr X still the way to go ?
    Keep up the good work.

    • Greg T

      In the week in review, he mentioned the schoche 24 review coming soon. I’d wait to see that one 😉

    • Robert

      @Greg,

      I believe that’s an optical armband, no high hopes for that one. I’m looking for the most accurate, price is no issue.
      Thanks,

    • As for traditional chest straps, I generally use a TICKR-X. But any TICKR is fine, I never use any of the ‘X’ features (nor I have I ever, aside from early product review testing).

    • Robert

      Thanks Ray.

    • Dave Lusty

      I’d be very interested in an article detailing all of the features you do/don’t use. As an athlete rather than a reviewer, of course. Personally I think I use fewer features on my watches now than I did with my old Polar S625x 15 years ago, although maybe that’s due to less focussed training 🙂
      It would also be interesting, once you have that list, to work out what the oldest/cheapest device would be that satisfies all use-cases

  4. Bertil

    This is a nice run in November in the area:
    link to olympischstadionloop.nl

  5. Patrick Utrecht

    Don’t forget the Amsterdam City Swim on September 9th (your chance to swim in the canals). Training has started already, though I doubt you need it. Not sure if you need to sign up (probably) and when entry closes.

    Looking forward to the pictures of the cave (both old pre-redesign and after it’s all ready and in working order)

    Also looking forward to the rhythm24 in depth. I hope you will go into detail about the early design issues and how the current state is. I also hope and look forward to a certain wahoo watch in depth review, because I’ve seen some leaked images. But I understand you can’t tell anything about that.

  6. Tom

    Hey Ray, do you know (or can you share) when we can expect an announcement about the Wahoo Rival watch?

  7. Jon

    Hi Ray. Quick question: I’m looking for a bike to take my daughter(s) when we go out. Similar to you, I have a 2-year-old and a 3-month-old. I see you use a cargo bike…how do you like it? Any specific recommendations?

    • We love the one we’re loaning (UrbanArrow) – and it’s working out great so far. The Girl loves ‘driving’ it as well.

      Our kiddos are 2yo (this month) and 8 months. Below about 6 months you’ll need to do more of a baby carrier instead, but that’s easily placed in the bottom of the box, as you’d see all over town. Around the 6.5-7mo part we moved her up to her own little semi-reclined seat.

      I think the biggest thing is simply that the infrastructure in Amsterdam is designed for it. We use it just like a car, taking it everywhere (we don’t have a car). But in the vast majority of America for example, it likely wouldn’t work well unless you had specific routes/paths to go on. In Amsterdam there’s zero concern on sharing space with cars in roadways sans-bike lanes, but I’d be very hesitant to do so in most US cities. But again, totally depends on how your city is constructed.

  8. Derek

    Off-topic but you mentioned the dog … how dog-friendly is Amsterdam? Are there many off-leash areas in the city? Can you bring into shops or bars etc. thx

    • Seems pretty dog friendly to us. A number of off-leash areas in many parks, and many owners will even walk down the street with the dog off-leash (our dog isn’t smart enough to do that).

      I’d say most shops allow dogs, but I think Paris may be slightly more open there, especially with restaurants and such. But it hasn’t really been an issue.

  9. Robin White

    Come on Ray even with my puny legs and lack of training I can keep the UA over 25kph on the flat. Amazed you haven’t fitted some pedal based powermeter to read you total input although I can’t think how you would measure total output.
    I think the upgraded Bosch Nyon screen can give some input output stats.

    • It’s funny, it’s actually easier to keep it above 25KPH if you simply shut-off the motor. I have with the motor on it’s a bit tricky because it tries to assist you and basically causes you to spin out (even on the ‘hardest’ gear setting).

      I have been planning to put some power pedals on there to see what it’s like. It’s really not bad without a motor (I even did it cross-town Amsterdam with an adult male in the box). The only thing that sucks is the stops/starts. Once you’re 3-5 seconds off the line momentum kinda caries you.

  10. Andrew M

    Ray,

    It would be hilarious if you could put a power meter and aeropod on the cargo bike and report the results!!

  11. arnold

    For those houses you have to register on a waiting list as there are no more houses allowed. as the beach and the dunes are protected by very strict regulations (and our defence against the sea. Propably 50-66% of The Netherlands would disappear without the dunes.). 15 years ago the waiting list could take 5 years before you could have the opportunity to buy a house. The houses are allowed between april and october. They have to broken down in the other period. You should go there in autumn and winter it is astonishing beautiful and silent there (no tourists). A must see also if there is a storm (8 beaufort ore more)
    I see you have discovered the wooden bridge on the cycling path between Amsterdam and Haarlem and you have discovered the very popluar Ringvaart route for cyclists. The whole round is approx 80 km. There are some nice parts on that route but also some very ugly parts.

  12. Dan

    I was just in Amsterdam for the first time on business and borrowed a bike from the hotel last night and happened to ride by that pool. I still can’t quite believe how amazing the bike culture is in Holland. I wish we could have it like that stateside. Now if only they had some hills…

    • Joop

      Hills are available in the Netherlands, upto approximately 300 meters high (in the south, near Maastricht). In other areas there are hills up to 100 meters high (near Nijmegen and Amersfoort for instance). The Dutch mountains!

    • Patrick Utrecht

      What we lack in the hills department, we make up for it with wind and lots of it everywhere (always a head wind no matter where you’re headed)

  13. Kenneth Whyte

    Nederland is a fabulous friendly place to cycle and live. Do check out the Randstad ride from Den Haag to Bloemendaal (including the kopje which is a steep hill at Overveen) then to Amsterdam, Utrecht, Rotterdam via Schoonhoven, Massluis and back to Den Haag approx 265 km but with plenty cafe stops. Especially the chocolate cake by Eindpunt (last cafe at Zandvoort.