5 Random Things I Did This Weekend

With a bunch of mid-summer travel to all sorts of places complete, it’s back to a few weeks at home in Amsterdam before…well, a bit more travel for Eurobike and some excitement. Until then, here’s what I was up to!

1) Picking up Ikea’s new SONOS Speaker:

Sometimes things happen by pure chance, and this is one of those things. I had seen tech coverage earlier in the day that the new Ikea Symfonisk, which is basically a rebranded SONOS Play:1 speaker (an original, which we have and love) was now available as of that morning. At $99 it’s a good deal compared to the usual $149 for the SONOS variant. Sure, it doesn’t have Alexa voice control, but I don’t really care about that. I primarily just use Spotify to control it via phone and laptop.

As it would happen The Girl ended up wanting to go for a late afternoon field trip to a store nearby Ikea. So afterwards I got permission to do a quick two-block away detour to Ikea. In what has to be an IKEA world record, I was in and out of Ikea in under 9 minutes – including walking deep into the store to get the speaker and checking out, and getting back to our carshare thing. From door close to door close – 9 minutes.

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I ended up getting the non-lamp variant (as it’s $99 instead of $179). Though I will say that the lamp variant looked way better in person than any of the ads/product shots make it look. In promo materials it looks like crappy plastic, but in real-life the texturing is better than I expected. Or maybe my expectations were so low that anything was an upgrade.

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Here’s the one I got though instead. It sets up just as a normal SONOS speaker does. No special app or anything, they just tell you to go grab the SONOS app. It found it instantly, though stumbled a few times during the firmware update process. But eventually it finished and life was happy.

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I put it on the shelf in the main office area. It fit in quite nicely there:


It has the usual SONOS buttons (Play/Pause, and then Up and Down volume). And honestly sounds basically the same as the Play:1 speaker best I can tell. I’m perfectly happy with it. I did see a few dropouts in the first 15-20 minutes, but then it was fine after that. Not sure if that was a Google WiFi thing, a phone thing, a SONOS thing, or just a Friday afternoon thing.


I suspect I’ll pick up another one or two for the remainder of the Cave space (upstairs/downstairs). We also have a Play:3 at home, but honestly that’s a huge overkill for us. We never play loud enough for that to matter, and the spaces aren’t that big anyway. I might take the Play:3 down to the downstairs of the Cave and then buy another Ikea one for home. Either way, my non-review review of it is ‘Solid deal’.

2) Amsterdam Pride Canal Parade

This past week was Pride week in Amsterdam, which is heavily celebrated by not just the population of the city but many businesses. For example on Thursday I pedaled past a building that had just freshly put out bicycle seat colors on all the bikes parked out front the building:

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Or the front (maybe it’s the back?) of the Rijksmuseum:

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But all of this culminates in the huge canal parade on Saturday afternoon. It’s a pretty crazy event, also fairly heavy in drinking. It would have been a bit tricky for us as a family to get down into the middle of it all. So instead I took the older Peanut down to watch some of the boats, as I had to pick up some ingredients for dinner at a specialty store nearby.

The place was packed!

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I put her on my shoulders, both because it gave her a better view – and because she really didn’t want to be anywhere near the ground. Fair enough, if I was not yet three feet tall, I’d probably want up too.

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But mostly, she wanted to see the boats:

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And it certainly didn’t disappoint in her mind:

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We didn’t stay terribly long – we had to get back and prep dinner, but she enjoyed watching the boats and all the ‘rainbows’, which she now assumes means ‘love’.

3) Drills, Trainers, and Bikes:

It seems that as of late I’m spending almost as much time with trainers atop bikes as bikes atop trainers. I’ve had a stack of five different unopened trainers to get relocated from home to the office. They had mostly come in while we were out of town (friends were staying at our place then), and so they kinda piled up.  So for example, here was a trip the other day getting the Kinetic R1 down to the studio:

And then there’s this trainer here. It was simply next on the pile to relocate.

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As for that drill, the day prior I had gone to the hardware store to pick up a replacement faucet…and walked away with a new cordless drill. I mean, how can you not walk the entire hardware store while there?

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I had actually bought this exact one a month or two ago when it was also on sale. It was marked down just as much, so a really solid deal (and it comes with an extra battery). That one was originally for the Studio, but then we realized we used it just as often for projects around home. So I got ‘approval’ to get a second one, so we’d have one in both places. And being identical helps with fleet logistics, obviously.

Plus, the entire cave is concrete, so virtually all drilling I do involves going through concrete – so I didn’t want something wimpy (even with a concrete/stone drill bit).

Anyway, with all that set I loaded up Peanut 2 and we took a brief road trip. On the way back, we stopped to watch the horses.

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All trips between home and the studio include a stop to watch the horses. Except when the horses aren’t there and are working (they pull carriages or something, sometimes). In which case you better hope the goat is at least out for viewing instead!

4) Running via Boat

Once Peanut #2 went to sleep for her nap mid-day Sunday, I bolted. Though, this time, I took Peanut #1 with me. She went into the BOB running stroller. I told her we were going for a safari to find bunnies and fuzzy cows, along with a boat ride. Which is technically all very much true. After all, I didn’t want to run into an angry fuzzy cow mid-stride.

No really, I’m serious. It’s a valid issue for the area I was running through.

In any case, I was trying to get some final data for the Polar Ignite GPS Watch In-Depth Review, as well as the Suunto 5 In-Depth Review. The Polar has been on my right wrist since mid-June, with the Suunto making occasional appearances since a bit earlier. I then placed both a Garmin Forerunner 945 (connected to a Garmin HRM-DUAL chest strap), and a Garmin Forerunner 935 (connected to a Polar OH1 Plus optical HR sensor) on the stroller. They were collecting a bit of GPS data, but mostly HR data.


After that, it was off we went towards the fuzzy cows. The Peanut was on the lookout for them, though the only sign of them was cow pies:


Unfortunately, she was a slacker in our scouting responsibilities, and fell asleep on watch. Figures. No worries, I kept running while she napped.


I climbed a vast Col…also known as a river overpass. It’d be my peak elevation for the day – and one of the highest non-building points in all of Amsterdam.


The only trick was I needed to keep following the lake around, which a thin canal blocks. Thankfully there’s a solution for that:


This little passenger ferry will take you across the 40-50 meter wide canal. It costs 50 cents, though The Peanut was free. In the past, I have run all the way down to the next bridge, but that adds like 4-5 miles to the route, and I wasn’t game for that trek today. Fear not, I stopped my watch:


After that, I cruised the rest of the way home. The Peanut kept on sleeping.

From a GPS track standpoint, all the units were actually fairly similar. Some nuances to each one that I’ll nitpick in my reviews, but nobody had horrible tracks, which was kinda nice for once. Here’s the DCR Analyzer set.


And for HR, some blips there during the start – where the Suunto 5 overshot and the Polar Ignite GPS optical HR sensor undershot. The Polar OH1+ and Garmin HRM-DUAL held steady in the proper middle. The Suunto also seemed to struggle a bit throughout the second half.


Fwiw – I used my right arm (with the Polar Ignite) to push the stroller the entire time, whereas my left arm/wrist virtually never touched the stroller (it had the Suunto 5 on it), and was able to swing normally.

In any case, stay tuned for the reviews. The Polar Ignite one should be up later this week.

5) Riding to Ice Cream

After getting back from my run I took a shower timed to less duration than it took for my lunch to heat up in the toaster oven. With that, we were out the door on our family bike adventure. The kids were both fresh from naps, so it’d likely be a halfway peaceful journey.

We headed out towards the Amstel River for a wander down to Ouder-Amstel. It’s about 11KM each way, so roughly 45 minutes at easy pedaling pace with stops for critical things like baby farm animals and ducks. And windmills.


Our goal was simple: Ice cream

It was the central tenet of keeping the kids on good behavior. If they caused trouble, we’d turn this bike around and they’d get no ice cream. In actuality, of course we (The Girl and I) were still gonna get ice cream – whether or not they would get any was an entirely different issue. Thankfully, all went well, and we arrived to the small town where many others come by boat instead.

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Oh, and in case you’re wondering how toddlers could get in trouble in a cargo bike – it’s really no different than two kids in the backseat of a car. The only difference is they can throw things overboard in a solid tantrum and you have to pedal back and get them. Also, if in a solid terrible twos moment, the entire riverbank hears it.

In any case, ice cream:

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It was good…and…a bit messy:

Processed with VSCO with fp8 preset

After which, we pedaled on back home – cooking dinner awaited. And the kids sang the entire way. And there were goats.

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With that – thanks for reading, and hope everyone has a good week ahead!


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    Do you have a strava route for your ice cream ride? We are headed to ams next week, staying near your cave and would love to take kiddos on route

    • Yup, here ya go! link to strava.com

      The first part was a bit messy due to some bike path construction going on. Honestly, it doesn’t really matter how you get to the river (where it says ‘Amstelpark’). There are a million ways to do it, none of them special. Once at the river we like to go down on one side, and come back on the other. They’ll feel quite different.

      The town itself also has two sides. We ate ice cream on one side, but you can take a small pedestrian/bike boat to the other side. You have to pull yourself across though. :)

    • Raindeer

      Next to the Ice Cream is Ron’s Gastrobar Indonesia, an excellent Indonesian restaurant I can recommend (even with kids)

    • Yup indeed – a great spot! We actually went to Ron’s Gastrobar Indonesia first a month or two ago, and then discovered the ice cream place then. :)

      Of course, we had discovered the Indonesia place as their other spot (non-Indonesia) is just a few minutes walk from where we live, roughly near the west end of Vondelpark.

  2. Tom

    I think you got autocorrected— ice cream ought to be a “central tenet,” not a “central tenant.” And now *I* want some ice cream, so I’m gonna go take care of that.

  3. Kevin

    I love these posts, besides the beautifil pics of your kiddos this is the second time you have me googling Sonos speakers I don’t need??. Btw congrats to you and the missus. If I ever get to Amsterdam again I hope it will be during an open house weekend. Thanks for what you do Ray.

  4. sdallstar

    Maybe a dumb question, but why don’t you and your family, as well as people in Amsterdam, ever wear helmets?

    • This quick comments section explains it fairly well (ironically, from another 5 Random Things involving Ikea): link to dcrainmaker.com

    • Patrick Utrecht

      To oversimplify you have 3 main types of bikes / bike riders in the Netherlands.

      1) day to day, slower transport and commuter bikes. By far the most common but now tending to get more often electrical (e-bike). On these helmets are not common. The only people that do wear them tend to be tourists. There’s some debate on wether or not you should but it seems to go fairly ok as it is. Mind you our traffic rules are heavily catered towards protecting the cyclists (and pedestrians). In so far as in any car-bike accident the car is almost automatically at fault by default.

      2) sporting bikes, the fancy bikes that go fast like the tour the France, also known as racing bikes and other bikes like mountainbike, bmx etc. These are considered more dangerous. Though not mandatory people are heavily encouraged to wear helmets on these bikes. During official events the organizers usually require you to wear a helmet or you can’t join.

      3) rest category, the young, the fragile, the ultra fast. Also wear helmets, the speed pedelec has to use a helmet (mandatory) since it can reach speeds up to 45 km/h. Young children that are learning also tend to wear helmets though not mandatory.

    • Roady

      This article explains it very well. I’ve had it bookmarked for months and I think it came from a link somewhere even from Ray’s very blog (at some point!). link to vox.com

  5. Yonah

    Funny, I was contemplating getting the Ikea/Sonos Speakers just yesterday myself – review coming? :)

    • Haha, no review coming. Just what ya see above!

      If I succeed in picking up a few more this week sometime (an outing planned for Thursday in that area, or I might just ride my bike down there – I think it’d only take me about 25 minutes on the cargo bike) – you might see another appearance in next week’s 5 Random Things. :)

  6. Robert

    “Oh, and in case you’re wondering how toddlers could get in trouble in a cargo bike – it’s really no different than two kids in the backseat of a car. The only difference is they can throw things overboard in a solid tantrum and you have to pedal back and get them. Also, if in a solid terrible twos moment, the entire riverbank hears it.”

    It’s for tidbits like this that I love reading the “Random things I did this weekend” posts.

    I guess a toy overboard drill is like a man overboard one on a boat, the risks of drowning being replaced by the risks of said toy getting run over by a car/bike/cow.

    • Haha…thanks!

      We’re actually gonna get a rear seat put on the cargo bike in the next week or so, mostly to resolve any intra-kid situations. Sometimes on a long journey (like an hour+, or if mistimed naps) if we want to separate the kids we have to put one on my or The Girl’s bike (we both have seats on them, except my temporary Vanmoof bike). But we can get a cargo rack and seat for the rear of the Urban Arrow, and so we’re looking to get that all outfitted.

    • If you are taking a kid on the rear seat make sure that their feet can’t get in the wheel. Most “Coat protectors” as we call them are made of thin transparant plastic and not very strong. To protect children’s feet you can get (a bit more difficult to find) thicker, more stronger versions.

  7. Gordon Goodtimes

    Do you “worry” about not getting your steps counted when pushing the BOB? I appreciate you explaining which arm you used but my wife and I never want to be the stroller pusher, not because it’s heavy but because we want credit for the steps/strides.

    • Andrew

      One arm pushes one arm swings. As long as your watch is on the swinging arm you get full credit.

    • Yup, correct. And to be fair, I don’t tend to worry too much about steps while running. Or honestly, steps any other day. Except CES of course. Then it’s game-on to break 30K a day.

  8. Adam

    I read this while grabbing morning coffee at work.
    Thanks for the little insight to things you get up to.
    (Congrats too BTW)

  9. karl

    “all the ‘rainbows’, which she now assumes means ‘love’.”

    sounds right to me. love is a good thing.

  10. Andrew

    I’m guessing the passenger ferry didn’t accept NFC payment from your Garmin watch?
    Can you make an NFC payment using your watch when you have paused an activity?

    • I didn’t ask if they took non-cash. It wouldn’t surprise me if some of them do actually. I had specifically tossed some coins in the stroller pocket for it, so I just had it handy.

      As for making a payment mid-workout, yup, just tried it! (Well, I got to the payment of it waiting for the cash register, which is close enough in my mind).

  11. Brent Ruther

    I just happened upon your blog again – used to read years ago when I did a lot of triathlony stuff now more into crossfit (FITNESS ADHD) and thought it went away but no! Here it is – best product reviews hands down! Amazing didn’t know you moved or were a father – congratulations and DC RAINMAKER is once again a daily read for me! Thanks for your work.,

  12. edd

    what brand is that black bike???

  13. Milt MacFarlane

    Haha came here from the newsletter for the suttle announcement to see pea 3 e oh (C-3PO ?) so hard to find haha, congratulations