Headed for hills

I decided to bike for ascent, rather than for distance, this morning.  And my legs were feeling good, so I shot right out to tie my PR for the segment closest to my house, then headed downhill a ways to get onto Military Road.

And I started with the same route I did once last week, going up and down Military (which is all hills).  I was close to finishing my third trip up when a biking group (a racing team, I'm guessing) passed me on the penultimate ascent.  I stayed with them for a couple of miles (setting the pace for the line for at least a mile of that, on a slight incline), then broke off to go up Williamsburg Dr.

I took that to the point where I could easily head home or do a hilly lap going away from home, and decided that I'd do the hilly lap, figuring that'd get me finished with 2k feet of total ascent (and get me home in time to get the kids ready for school).

That worked out about the way I planned, except that I finished 26 ft short of 2000.  I was a bit irritated about that.  But I was happy to beat my record on that hilly lap (though only by eleven seconds, which was not as good as it felt), and felt like I especially crushed the last hill on that lap (though no PR on it, which shocks me).  I did beat my record on the whole uphill leg of that loop, but again, by less than I expected (only four seconds, on a four minute climb).

Still, it's good to see that I'm making progress, in terms of sustained power and climbing ability.

I also had a nice (sort of) teaser, yesterday.  I weighed myself right after the ride (before eating), and got 154 and change, which is my target weight.  It was a little suspicious, though, as I'd been 160.0 the day before (weighed after riding, but also after eating and showering).  And today showed it'd been a bit of a mirage, as my post-breakfast weight was again 158 this morning.

Still, it's again progress.  And not quite as cruel a teaser as Strava's power estimates telling me that I was pushing 300W on my hybrid almost from the start (as average, not peak).

The other interesting thing about this morning's ride was the power distribution.  To whit, my average power was 150W, which is a bit low for me (I think because there are some long downhills, one of which requires a near-stop at the end).  But my weighted average (per cyclemeter) was 205.  Still a bit low, but incredibly high, given that average.  I had a lot more 400-500W chunks than is normally the case.

[went away for a bit, came back] Just looking at the segment data from Strava, and the power data is pretty suspect.  Supposedly, I tied that PR on that first segment while pushing 54W.  Not a chance in the world that that's correct.  I'm pretty sure I was pushing 3-400 on that stretch (most of it, at least; I might have let up a bit at the very end).  And there's some other suspicious drop-outs.  Another segment, .3 miles w/84ft ascent, I did in a hair over a minute on 25W of power.  Again, not a freakin' chance.  Again, probably over 400W.

I have to conclude that Stages is not very reliable via Bluetooth.  They tell me that it's better under ANT+ (and I'm glad to have the choice).  I hadn't been using that, as ANT+ is not as good for me (further battery burn of my RFLKT+, as we as being a bit dodgy using both systems), but maybe I need to do so.  They told me Bluetooth would improve under iOS 8.1 (and it did), but there's obviously some issues remaining.

Oh, and one thing that baffles me a bit.  I've gone out twice, this morning (in my car, that is), and seen quite a few bikers.  I don't understand why almost all of them have been wearing jackets and/or knee warmers.  I had a light jersey, my lightest shorts (the supremely comfortable Santini's), and my lightest gloves (worn for the kevlar palm alone) and I was completely comfortable.  And it was a good five degrees cooler when I was riding.  Weird.


Riding through damp

Things were definitely warmer, this morning, than they'd been.  Friday and Saturday, last week, I was needing to take very regular drinks to ensure the water in the tube of my camelbak didn't freeze.

In fact, in one stretch on Saturday, I took a little too long, and found it mostly frozen.  I was able to suck warmer water through, by sucking really hard, but it took so much that I was literally gasping for air for a minute or so afterward.  (And that was the ride that seriously pissed me off, because my phone ran out of batteries really quickly.  The meter kept running for about an hour into the ride, but the phone only had the first 3/4 mile recorded, somehow.  Missing out on the other thirty-three and a half miles, or so.)

Today would have been an absolutely glorious ride, because it got so much warmer (started at 61, and actually got warmer), except that I looked a gift-horse in the mouth, and wore my rain gear even though the rain had stopped by the time I got on the road.  That meant I got a lot warmer than necessary.

Also, because Saturday and Sunday were so tough (both around thirty-five miles, pushing hard), my legs were still tired, so I tried to make it an easier ride.  The downside, there, is that the ride went fifteen minutes or so longer than I wanted.

Despite all that, getting back home without cold fingers was a very nice change of pace

One thing I've been chuckling about a bit, lately, is how empty the trails and roads are, especially of other bikers (there's fewer joggers as well, but a larger percentage of the joggers are still coming out, I think).  Today, that was not the case; there were a bunch of people out, even with it having just finished raining.

I suspect tomorrow will be pretty similar; it's supposed to be around fifty, with no rain.  I'm looking forward to it.  After that, it's getting colder and is supposed to snow on Wednesday.  I'm definitely NOT looking forward to snow.  One bit of preparation I have not yet done is get tires for snow and ice (and I apparently can't get them for my road bike; I wasn't aware of that.  Riding the hybrid is fun, but the road bike is a blast, so that's disappointing).

One bit of weirdness, post-ride, was that my iPhone wasn't working for data connections.  It first manifested as trouble uploading the ride to Strava, but after a bit, I realized that other things weren't working either.  The IP stack must've gotten corrupted, or something, because rebooting fixed everything, but that was weird.  I've never needed to reboot my phone before (although my iPad2, after upgrading to iOS 8, did reboot itself from time to time), so it was entirely unexpected.

Oh, and one bit of amusement.  I needed to do laundry, and especially with the winter tights (all but one of my tights, plus both sets of knee- and leg-warmers were dirty), there's quite a bit of it.  It used to be that I had a little bit of cycling clothes in my laundry.  Now the cycling clothes are my laundry, practically.  Which means that the dryer is startlingly close to empty, when I run it.


Riding for warmth

Freakin' cold, this morning.  So cold, in fact, that my iPhone shut itself off half a mile or so before I got back home.  The irony there is that the message when I tried to turn it back on was that the phone needed to cool off.  Heh.

But I wish the forecast would understate the cold, rather than saying it'll be warmer; that's several days in a row that predicted several degrees warmer than what we got.

The ride itself was pretty nice, though.  I debated taking the shorter route again this morning, but I'm glad I didn't.  I felt pretty good once I got a little further down the road (or path, as the case may be).

In fact, I only took two gloves this morning, and I think that worked better than the three I used yesterday.  Shifting was a little more annoying, but my hands didn't get as cold.  I wonder, too, if that had something to do with riding harder this morning.

One thing I certainly noticed was that the inside of my jacket was very sweaty when I got home.  I'm thinking that's not a good thing, although I'm not sure what can be done about it. That was the softshell jacket, and I think I'll be going with that anytime it gets below twenty, if for no other reason than that it has an inside pocket for my phone.  I didn't like losing part of my ride, and I'd be seriously pissed if it lost a bigger chunk.

One thing that surprised me, this morning, was that there were more people running and biking today than yesterday or (less surprise there) the day before.  And I thought I'd get through my whole ride before someone returned my "good morning", but two people (both close to the end of my ride) did end up returning it.

If the weather forecast isn't off, again, tomorrow is supposed to be right around freezing.  I'm looking forward to that as a nice change.  Then a couple more days around the mid-twenties, and then it gets warmer for several days (if wet).

Fighting off being sick

Wasn't feeling well, last night, and went to bed very early.  I felt a little better, though, when I woke up (I also slept in a little bit), so I decided to go for my normal ride.

It was supposed to be about 27 or 28 degrees when I got out, but it turned out to be more like 22 degrees.  I was glad for the extra pair of socks and the extra set of gloves (I wore liners, a light glove, and a heavy one).

The extra glove worked great for a while, but I'm not sure it didn't end up backfiring.  I was toasty for a while, which was great.  And I had no brake/shifter problems, which was also fantastic.  But I was getting cold towards the end, and I wonder if it was due to my hands sweating, and the sweat getting cold.  Wish I knew.

In any event, I did get ice in the tube of my camelbak, which was annoying.  I think the only way to avoid that is to drink with regularity (to keep flushing the cold water out of the tube).

I did cut the ride rather shorter than I'd planned to do; I still wasn't feeling great.  But I still got in fifteen miles, so not too bad.  There's a strava challenge for climbing, and I'm way behind on that one.  I might do something weird tomorrow or the next day, where I do a small loop with a large hill in it, to try to catch up.  Not sure how well that'll work, but I've been thinking about it.  We just don't have any really large hills around here.


Bad bounce finishes homestand with loss

I just realized I haven't written about Friday's game with the Devils yet, hence the out-of-order posting.

It was a typical Devils game, with lots of clogging, close defensive play, and few good scoring chances.  It was also Schneider's seventeenth straight game shouldering the load of the crossbar.

You'd think that'd mean Schneider was tired.  Well, if so, he didn't show it.  He had one hell of a night, stopping everything the Caps could get through to him (the defense blocked 19).

Holtby had as good a night in stopping the puck.  Unfortunately, in the middle of the third period, he corralled the puck behind the net, then failed to get it past Camalleri in the corner, who fired it on a one-timer, into the open net.

So Holtby literally stopped every shot thrown at him, and still lost the team the game.  Hockey's a weird game, sometimes.

Because despite the Caps big advantage in shots, that was the only goal in the entire game.  Such an anticlimactic way for a tense, defensive struggle to end.

The Caps did well, overall, though.  It's hard to get too upset about outplaying an opponent through almost an entire game, and one small mistake losing it.

But make no mistake, the Caps do need to improve.  They're still at seventeen points through seventeen games, and that isn't going to get them a sniff of the playoffs.

Their dominant possession numbers should get them there, though.  I just wish they were doing a better job of converting those possession numbers into wins.  It should follow, so I'm not hugely worried, but it hasn't yet, so I am (a little).

Next up will be Arizona, tomorrow night.  Go Caps!

The Caps were blue, too

I didn't watch Saturday's Caps game until yesterday, and almost wish I hadn't bothered.  I think it was the first game this season where they never felt competitive.

I thought it was odd to have Peters in net (so far, he's been in for the second half of every back-to-back), although he did more than respectably.

The Caps were just blown out of the water for the first ten-fifteen minutes of the game.  The Blues only scored one goal, but that was thanks to Peters and some puck luck.  It felt like that entire span was spent in the Caps defensive zone.  The shots were only like 12-5, but it felt worse than that.  The Blues getting the only power play didn't help that either, although the Caps killed that penalty with only one shot allowed.

The ending bits of the first period felt better, although the shot numbers were really getting closer, so it might have just been in my head that it was better.

The second period certainly started out better, culminating in Ward's goal in the seventh minute that trickled through Elliot's arms and pads.  But that was pretty much the high point.  There were a few good shifts that didn't result in goals, but it was still fairly well controlled by the Blues (and again, the Blues were helped by getting the only power play).  And six minutes after Ward's goal, St Louis re-established their lead.

The Caps held them off, including keeping them shotless in that power play, but still went into the second break down a goal.

And the third opened very quickly, with Peters mishandling the puck behind the net leading to a nice pass (from Berglund, who took the puck from Peters, and probably could have finished himself.  But he took no chances) to a finish into the empty net by Backes.

That was enough for me.  I usually wait for a larger margin before turning a game off, but I was fairly disgusted with what I'd seen.  And I was right; the only remaining score came from Berglund with three minutes and change left.

I'm guessing the Caps got the day off yesterday, and got a bag skate this morning.  They just looked outplayed and outclassed six ways to Sunday.  I hope we won't be seeing more play like that, because that would make for a very depressing season.

And the rain came

Got out at my normal time, this morning.  Only did fifteen miles, and I did that in a weird mix of "I'm on a second recovery ride" and "I feel pretty good, so let's push here".

I was a bit annoyed at the air vents in those Northwave boots, though.  As suspected, they did let quite a bit of water in the bottom of the boots.  So my feet got very wet.  Not a really big deal, because this wasn't a super-long or super-cold ride, but definitely annoying.  (Really, despite the water, my feet never got at all cold.)

It will end up having been really annoying, though, if they aren't dry by tomorrow morning, because it's supposed to be really frigid.  As in, I'll be wearing extra socks (and thinking about booties), if the boots are dry.  And if they aren't dry; I'm not sure.  It's a certainty that my summer shoes, even with booties, are not warm enough for 21 degrees, which is what's expected.

And I still need to make sure my cold-weather booties fit over the boots (which are a little wider than my shoes; the shoes are already a tight fit for the booties).  If not, I might need to get an extra-large pair.  Spending the extra money for that would definitely blow chunks.

One thing that is for sure, is that I'll be putting tape over the vents of the boots when going out in the rain, in future.  I'll also be wearing my heavy baselayer with my warmest jacket; I won't be wearing the middle layer I just got, though.  I think that'll be fine, along with my second-warmest pair of tights (saving the warmest ones for wet weather, mostly).


Was warmer, today

After the big dinner last night (and especially after over-indulging in the delicious cake), I wasn't feeling great when I went to bed.  I even skipped most of my stretching routine (probably a mistake).

And I slept in, this morning.  There was a (long) time where that would mean I got up at noon, or later.  These days, it means I got up at 0600.  Weird how that works.  (In fact, I was talking to a friend later in the day, and mentioned that I'd slept in.  He was like, "No you didn't; you answered the phone when I called at 0830.  Sleeping in, for you, means noon, at least."  Yeah, not so much, anymore.)

Anyway, I had a bit of trouble getting moving, but did get things together and got out the door.

The temperature was a lot warmer; right at freezing, supposedly.  I experimented with my knee warmers, and they did fine (though the one-inch gap between them and my socks felt weird).  I also wore non-bib shorts, and worried about a gap there.  No worries, though; everything was copacetic, as far as warmth was concerned.

Outside of that, lots of things went... not well.  My heart rate meter dropped out after half a minute or so.  Even more concerning, my power meter dropped out after seven miles (and I only did eight, as this was a recovery ride).  This is the third time I've had issues with the power meter; we'll see how they handle it.

And then, the crowning insult came when I got home.  The inside door from the garage to the house was locked.  To say I was unhappy is understating it rather significantly.  Hope that doesn't happen again.

Happily, the rest of the day went pretty well.  Well, until I turned on last night's Caps game finally.  But I'll talk about that separately.

"It'll be warmer tomorrow"

[note: wrote this yesterday, but forgot to post until this morning]

That's what the weather forecast said when I checked it last night.  Of course, it still listed a low of 29 degrees, and the up-and-down temperature chart that Weather Underground does (and which I love) went down to 27 degrees.

I put a bunch of warm stuff together for the ride, and got underway at 0530.  Roughly at which point, I discovered that it was actually twenty-four degrees.  Oof.  I was very glad I brought the liner gloves in my jacket pockets.  I got seven miles in before I needed to pull those out and put them on.

By the end of my ride (2:06 duration), my fingers were getting close to numb, and my toes were distinctly cold as well.  So, high twenties is the limit for those boots with my normal socks; will have to put another layer of socks underneath.  And I guess I need warmer gloves.

Aside from the cold, though, not a bad ride.  It helped a lot getting me ready for the huge dinner at my step-mom's birthday party.