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.


Feeling a chill

The mercury rolled a little colder today, hitting the 20's for the first time this "winter".  My biking boots didn't arrive Wednesday, as I'd mentioned they were supposed to, but were still here yesterday for use this morning.

And boy was I glad of that.  They're made by Northwave, and I was in love when I first put them on, yesterday.  I was lucky in that they fit perfectly, but I also love the closure.  I have high insteps, so it's not unusual to end up with my circulation being cut off at the top of them when tightening laces really tight.  No issue with these SLW2 closures.  Awesome.

When I got outside, my opinion didn't go down, as I didn't feel the cold there at all.  In fact, I didn't feel it even at the end of the (hour:forty-five) ride.  A very nice feeling.  I don't know how cold it'll be before they aren't enough, but I still have the options of booties and more socks.  I'm thinking that it's unlikely it'll get cold enough around here for that to be insufficient.

One bit of weirdness is that I needed to adjust my pedal width, as the boots are a bit wider than my shoes.  I did that (glad that I have pedals that allow that), and we'll have to see how that works.

My remaining question relates to how waterproof they are.  They're GoreTex-lined, so they should be pretty good.  There are air vents on the bottom, though, and I don't know if that'll ruin things.  If not, then I'll be over the moon, I think.

My other experiment was on the top half.  When I went for a long ride last Saturday at around the same temperature (ok, technically a couple degrees warmer), I wore a Pearl Izumi Transfer baselayer and Pro Softshell jacket, which did well.  Today, I went with my colder weather baselayer, and my normal windbreaker.

And those worked just fine.  I felt the chill a little bit, when the wind was blowing and I was doing 20-ish mph, but it was sporadic, and never enough to bother me.  And there was a bit of sweat on the shirt when I'd finished; definitely not overly cold.

The one downside to the ride was that I think I rode too far.  My wife's alarm woke me a bit early, so I decided I'd ride a bit further than I'd originally planned.  But my legs were a little tired when I started, and a lot tired when I finished (and my power was down a lot, too, which is probably a sign of overdoing things lately).  And Friday is not a good day for that to happen; I want to do more riding tomorrow and Sunday, not less.  We'll see how I feel, I guess, but I definitely should have taken it easy today.


Columbus feeling blue from OV/MarJo double-team

I didn't watch all of the Caps game last night; I was putting the new wheels on my bike (finding that I didn't have enough vertical clearance for the 28mm tires meant I had to put the tires on twice, so it took considerably longer than it should have).  Anyway, I had watched the first period live, but that delayed me until late enough that I was too tired to watch the third period on delay.

I didn't miss much, though.  In fact, I wouldn't have missed much skipping the second period.

The game opened decisively, with MarJo putting the Caps on the board.  The goal was a bit of a weird one; Brouwer had gotten the puck up top, in the middle, and threw it towards the goal, where MarJo was headed.  The puck bounced around a bit between defenders and goalie, with MarJo swooping in, kicking it across the net to his stick, and calmly sliding the biscuit into the basket.

It took only six minutes for the Caps to strike again, this time on a 5-on-3 advantage (hey, another advantage of Trotz over Oates; the Caps can score 5-on-3).  It was a normal OV PPG one-timer.

The Jackets cut the advantage in half two minutes later, when Atkinson took a one-timer shot off a clean face-off win, but the Caps still seemed fully in control.

And they asserted more of that control several minutes later when OV intercepted the puck in neutral (hey, he's playing defense now... how about that?), facing his own net.  His second touch was a pass backwards to Backstrom cutting across the ice, who sent a one-touch back-pass to Beagle, charging up the other side.  OV, meanwhile, has skated around behind Beagle and took the very nice drop pass (I don't take back any of what I've said about Beagle and scoring chances, but this was a beautiful drop pass) for a quick slap shot to the upper corner.  Gorgeous play from start to finish.  The Jackets never came close to recovering from the turnover.

So the period ended with the Caps ahead 3-1, and leading in shots 13-5 (and frankly, it felt less even than that).  So there was definitely some temptation to head straight to bed after finishing with the bike.

But I did turn on the second, and though Columbus scored the only goal for the period, and even though play was much more even than in the first, it still didn't feel like Columbus had any chance of winning (especially not the way they've been brutalized by injuries).  So I went to bed there.

Therefore, I missed Hartnell's breakaway (off a steal from a Beagle pass.  Making up for the nice drop-pass earlier, I guess) that rang off the crossbar, and, with five minutes left, MarJo's insurance goal.  He broke into the zone, dropped to Bura, kept skating around, and Bura hit him with a return pass as he was going behind the net.  He carried it around and scored on a wraparound (looking much like one of a couple of goals he scored two seasons ago).  Nice eyes by Bura to see it developing.

A couple of notes of interest.  I've noticed the Caps, this season, have gone to a different configuration on a 5-on-3.  They lay it out like a big X.  OV and Green at the points, Brouwer at the apex, Backstrom on the goal-line, right, and Ward on the goal-line, left.  I hadn't realized that was the configuration at the time, but this is what Ward scored one of his power-play goals on, several games ago.  I had wondered how he got that pass in that position, and now we know.  It's just a set position.

And to get back to MarJo a bit.  It was hard not to see last season as a disappointment, even though most of his lack of scoring was due to an abysmally low (unsustainably so, especially accounting for where the shots were originating) shooting percentage.  This season, he's shooting more, and scoring on a higher percentage.  There was no reason to suspect he'd be tied for the team lead in goals at this point (nor is there any reason to expect him to sustain that position) in the season, but there was certainly room for a lot of optimism.  Especially when he compared favorably, at the beginning of the season, to several eventual Hart Trophy winners at that age.

Anyway, he's looked fantastic so far, and not just on those goals.  He also drew one of the penalties (the second, I believe) that led to the 5-on-3.  And it's certainly fair to attribute some of his success to being centered by Bura (conversely, MarJo is a significant factor in Bura looking so good, as well).

All that said, next game is Friday against New Jersey.  The Devils aren't nearly as hot as they were the last time the two faced off, but they're certainly not ones with whom to be trifled.