Here comes Peter Cottontail...

So, after two days of recovery, I cut loose again this morning, with mixed results.

Speed-wise, it wasn't great, at 17.0 mph.  But my power numbers were very good.  The 500W 20s peak was very close to my record (actually, though, that was according to cyclemeter.  I found a 20s stretch on Strava that claimed an average of 574W), while the minute number was a bit further off (429W, vs a record of 458).  I would bet that both numbers are still my second best.

Anyway, the five-minute number was 326W, which was a record, as was the 293W ten-minute peak.  The 277W twenty-minute peak is also a record (and theoretically raises my FTP by a few, though I might not bother to program that in), while the 242W hour peak is a couple Watts off.

Of course, my power meter did cut out at least four times, for a total offline time of at least three minutes.  And I'm sure that would have at least affected my hour peak (possibly the 20-minutes as well, though that doesn't seem terribly likely).

But all this definitely begs the question of how my speed could be so much off my record.  Unfortunately, I don't have power data from that day, but I averaged a full mile per hour faster with a lower average heart rate (no cadence data either).  The temperature certainly had nothing to do with it; it was colder that day than today.  There was a lot of rain today, which might have factored in (especially as I had my rear fender on, to cut down on dirty water on my back).  I suppose, too, the rain clothes aren't as tight-fitting as the other stuff.  But I have a hard time believing those would make that much of a difference.

Overall, I wonder.  My speed was frequently way off; why?  Just not enough time in the drops?  Not enough time standing on the pedals?  Color me confused, for sure.

Anyway, biking is all about sustained power, and I feel good about having made improvements on that today.  Easy rides tomorrow (actually, with Christmas, I'm going to have trouble getting in any kind of ride tomorrow.  But I'll find a way; I don't want to break my streak) and Friday.  Saturday remains to be seen.

Update: I just noticed that there's a bit more than a hundred feet of elevation difference between the two runs as well, although I can't see any differences in where I went.  Dunno what to make of that, either.


Poor-fingered Frodo

This morning was a mixed-feeling ride.  I did twenty miles, and I kept my heart rate within my newly-realized zone (barely, a couple times).  So that was all good.

But I tried using my rain gloves with liners, hoping that'd be warm enough to keep me out of trouble.  Well, technically it might have, with the temperature in the mid-thirties (36F for most of the ride, with the last bit at 34F), but they managed it rather painfully.

I don't think it's the coldest my fingers have ever been; I had less feeling and movement, for sure, at times on the ride to Purcellville a couple weeks ago.  But man, were my fingers hurting when I got home and they started warming up.  I normally insist on eating breakfast before taking a shower, but when my wife heard me and said to get in the shower, I went.

Further to that point, I normally take shoes/helmet/gloves/booties/etc off in the garage when I get home, then bring everything in immediately.  This morning, I brought almost nothing in.  I didn't even take my helmet off until I got to the bathroom.  Oof.  I need a better solution for cold and wet.  I might just need to go to the ski gloves around 36F when it's wet.  That's warmer than I should need to do, but maybe that's what it takes.

In any event, I'm feeling fine for now.  Oh, and I should point out one good thing.  At least the gloves kept my hands dry.  In fact, I was completely dry when I got inside, so that was definitely a good thing.

Tomorrow's supposed to be even wetter, but also warmer, so I think it'll be much easier.  I might even try using just the rain gloves; we'll see.  Just jersey and rain jacket up top, for sure.


Ride diary

I was rather disappointed with my ride Sunday.  I planned to do a 35-mile course, and go, more or less, all out.  I felt like I did a pretty good job of it.  I had my average heart rate up over 160, quite a bit higher than I've managed recently.  My power numbers looked pretty good for most of the ride (when I was riding, at least), and I had some really good short stretches of power.

The best stretch was a half minute or so, where I hit 450W, and then kept pushing harder (I saw 600+ for a little bit after that).

But I was considerably disappointed at most of the data for the ride as a whole.  Starting off, it was my second-fastest time for that course, and was more than an entire mph below my highest.  I still can't fathom that.  I suspect cadence works into it somehow, but I'm not sure exactly how.

I don't have power or cadence data for the record run, unfortunately.  It was a day where I got a mile from the house and had to turn around because I'd forgotten something, but I can't remember what.  Maybe it was my hat (not the helmet, the hat under the helmet).

In any event, I wish I knew how I managed to do so well that day.

This day, I felt like I was in good shape to do well, and I did ok, but I'm very disappointed with how much off of my best I was.  I did manage 300ft more ascent this weekend, and I have no idea how that would be possible.  The only difference in the courses, I think, is that loop-back in the previous run.  That certainly wouldn't decrease ascent.  But 300' could easily make that much of a speed difference.

In any event, my power numbers weren't that great this weekend.  That power spurt I remembered from the foot of Lorcom Ln wasn't the 450-600W power over the hill I'd thought.  I managed only in the high-400s in 20s sustained power.  That's not bad, but it was also off from my best (which is a shade over 500W).

My longer-term numbers were even further off from my best numbers, with the full-ride weighted avg power about 220W, with my record (admittedly, over a slightly shorter ride) being just shy of 240W.  Both are well short of where I want to be, though; I'd like to get to around 300W, sustained.  And yes, I know that's going to take a while, if it's even possible.

One other bit of good news.  I managed over half an hour of zone 4+ on the whole ride.  That might be the most I've yet managed (I wish I had real power data for all of my rides), and my max heart rate was definitely the highest I've managed (only by a few, though).

Moving on to this morning, I had a hard time getting out of bed; I really wanted to sleep in.  But I pushed out, and got going.  Remembering Saturday, I dressed considerably more warmly, and even ditched my biking jackets.  I went with my North Face shell and fleece liner, put my booties on over my boots, and wore an extra pair of pants.

With all of that, even with it being a recovery day, I was quite comfortable.  Maybe a hair warmer than perfect, but pretty close to ideal.

I also did a good job of keeping my heart rate down to about where I wanted it.  Still not perfect, but pretty close (I maxed at 132bpm, instead of the 140 that I've hit the last couple times).

I did get one bit of good news today, though.  It seems that, in keeping with that video, I need to keep my heart rate only down to 130-ish, instead of the 110-115 I've tried to maintain the last several times, on my recovery rides.  That means I should be able to do a lot more miles, since it increases speed from 12-ish mph to 14-15mph.  That's a big difference.

Anyway, we'll see how it goes tomorrow.  It's going to be relatively warm (right about 40F, supposedly), but probably rainy.  I'm going to try to take it fairly easy, and cut loose again on Wednesday.  Hopefully with better results.


Ten miles of pain

The forecast for this morning, as of my going to bed, was for 30F, and dry.

So I dressed in a light base-layer shirt, softshell jacket, bib shorts, leg warmers, socks, skullcap, and boots.  That is, normal clothes for right at freezing (actually, a tad warmer, as I sometimes just wear a summer jersey under the jacket at that temperature).  It turns out it was only 23F (which I didn't find out until I returned), plus the group ride wasn't happening, so it was supposed to be an easy day of riding today.  The intersection of temperature, clothing, and exertion level was just not right.

It didn't start out too bad.  I was pretty sure it was colder than thirty, just based on the amount of frost on car windows, but it didn't feel bad.

After a couple of miles, I got on the bike trail at the normal place, and things still didn't seem too bad.  I was feeling it a little on my lower torso when I sat upright, but that's about it.  After getting a mile or two down the trail, it started feeling even colder, and that's when things went downhill.  Next, I had to zip my jacket all the way up to the top (which doesn't sound like much, but I hadn't been doing it recently).  Then my fingers started getting chilled (ok, that was no unexpected).

When my legs started getting cold, I decided I needed to cut things short from my planned 20-25 miles, even if only to go home and get more clothes on.  So I turned back on the roads, and even cut it a mile or so shorter than my original turn-back plan.  But it was still painful; I needed to speed up, just to keep myself warm.

I noticed the roads were a little bit warmer, but probably only a couple degrees.  It certainly wasn't enough to stay out longer.

And going home turned out to be a longer trip than I'd expected; by the time I got home, I was almost at eleven miles.  But after getting inside, I didn't even slightly feel like going back out.  I came in, got my daughter to go back to bed, and then got breakfast.

Digesting breakfast was enough to leave me shivering from cold; not a pleasant feeling at all.  I've been ok since taking my shower, but it wasn't fun.

Now I know: for an "easy" day, I need an extra layer, top and bottom, to do it.  The fingers are still an unknown, but I think they'll be decent if the rest of me is warm.  Unpleasant, but decent.

The next two days are supposed to be right around freezing when I ride.  If one is colder than projected, I'll do a harder ride that day.  If both are, I guess I'll need to go back more quickly, and add that extra layer on Monday.


Movie spoilage?

Been meaning to write this for a while, but I keep forgetting.  Gruber quoted a piece by JJ Abrams not long ago, giving Abrams' thoughts on movie spoilers.

As an avid fan of movies and TV myself, I completely understand the desire to find out behind-the-scenes details in a nanosecond. Which, given technology, is often how long it takes — to the frustration of the storytellers. Efforts to gather this intel and the attempts to plug leaks create an ongoing battle between filmmakers and the very fans they are dying to entertain and impress. But the real damage isn’t so much that the secret gets out. It’s that the experience is destroyed.

That might be Abrams' opinion, but it isn't backed up by evidence.  As a careful study reveals, it generally does not ruin the experience.  Changes it, but not ruins it.

It's pretty standard these days for people to offer up "spoiler alert" warnings when revealing a surprising twist in a story that some might not have read/seen/heard. However, a new study, that tested a variety of books both with and without key points "spoiled," found that people actually seem to prefer a book if they've been told a spoiler ahead of time.

I generally avoid spoilers, myself, but I can certainly understand what they're saying.

Riding chill

This morning was pretty chilly, right around the freezing point.  For a recovery ride, that was pretty tough.  My torso actually got a little bit cold, towards the end, which was a first (light base layer and rain jacket, only.  Not quite enough).  Fortunately, my fingers and toes only got a little cold in the process.

The hard part was to keep my heart rate down low enough.  I ended up doing a lot of back-and-forth across the road in a couple places where there were unavoidable hills.  Outside of those hills, I did a great job of keeping things relaxed.

I'm hoping this will help me to be able to improve my "base", so that I can get my recovery speeds up to 14-15mph.  That's a ways off, alas, but I hope this is the right path to get there as soon as possible.


The Caps went into last night's game looking to avenge being on the losing end of the longest shootout game in league history.  Again.

Meanwhile, Columbus had finally gotten most of their players healthy, and were riding a seven game winning streak, and a four-game overtime winning streak (tied for the longest in league history).

Well, the first period played out about as you'd expect, with a very hungry team and one that might be a tiny bit complacent.  The result?  The Caps took a 2-0 lead on the back of a 15-5 shot lead (with Columbus leading in blocked shots by 7, so it was even more unbalanced than that appears).  It is true that part of that edge came from both power plays being in the Caps' favor, but they were plenty dominant at even strength as well.  In fact, Ward's and Chimmer's goals were both at even strength.

That period certainly left me feeling a bit complacent, and contemplating going to sleep early, but I didn't.

And Columbus didn't either, coming out firing in the second.  Nine minutes in, they scored on the power play on a nice passing play giving Jack Johnson a slam-dunk of a goal.  Three minutes later, Foligno tied it, also on the power play, and then all hell broke loose.

First, Wilson was manhandled by Dalton Prout (never seen that happen before), then Boll and Latta went at it two seconds later.  Half a minute later, the penalty boxes filled up as Brouwer and Tyutin exchanged a few niceties, resulting in roughing minors for each.  Almost a minute later, Carlson was hit hard, and responded by going after the first Blue Jacket he could reach.  A bit of a dive there, I think, but Carlson also went off for roughing (yeah, it was mighty crowded in the box at that point).

The Caps did kill the penalty successfully (finally), but Brouwer decided he wasn't done, as he and Chaput fought only a minute after that (it didn't go terribly well for Brouwer, but he wasn't hurt).  Chaput got the extra call for instigation on that, but the Caps weren't able to convert.

That finally got us to the end of a period that saw the Jackets outshoot the Caps, 15-9, and left the score knotted up.

The third started very poorly for the Caps, with Foligno scoring on the rebound of Morin's shot from a sharp angle.

It took a bit over six minutes for the Caps to answer that, and the answer came in the surprising form of Karl Alzner.  He found a busted clear in the high slot, skated out to the left, and shot back across the goal, sneaking it in off the inside of Bob's arm.

That left things very tense, and they got more so for the Caps, when, eight minutes later, Chaput got his first NHL goal off a rebound near the net.  He put it over the sprawled Holtby to give Columbus the lead with only a few minutes left.

A minute and a half later, Green got the puck in his end, and did his old "one-man breakout" routine when he saw Columbus changing.  He took it all the way into the zone, cut across to the opposite side, then threw it back across the rink where he perfectly hit Troy Brouwer, who was making a back-door cut to the open net.  I really wish Green would do that sort of thing more often; it's a lot of fun to watch.

The last three minutes passed in anxious waiting for something to happen, but things were quiet.

That sent the game into overtime again, where Columbus' record is far better than Washington's.

But things worked out well.  Half a minute in, Green got it back in his own end and saw a lot of open ice in front of him.  He took it all the way up, staying on the same side, and threw it to the front just before he passed behind the net.  Fehr was charging in, there, and put a one-timer between Bob's legs for the win.

It was quite an exclamation point for a roller coast of a game.

The win leaves the Caps in third place in the division, and hanging on to the edge of playoff position.

Next up, the road trip continues in New Jersey, Saturday evening.  Go Caps!


Riding right as rain

After about a week of my legs feeling pretty dead, they felt pretty good this morning.  So I decided on my first up-tempo ride in a week.  And while my speed wasn't great, my power numbers were up, much closer to where I want them to be (plus, I have yet to have problems with my replacement power meter.  *fingers crossed*).

My one surprise was that I didn't set any PRs on Strava.  I was feeling good, so I thought it likely (and was certainly hopeful).

The closest I came was tying my PR on one segment down near Shirlington.  In a way, it was surprising I was close, as I wasn't standing up for any of that.  In another, it wasn't, as I was going faster than a car on the road below me.

The point of all that is that the gentler rides I've been doing for the past six or seven days finally paid off.  And my heart rate was well up (avg 160, which is 9-10 bpm faster than I'd managed over the last couple weeks).  Rock on!

I'll definitely be coddling myself tomorrow.  Saturday, it'll depend.  I'd like to do the group ride where I always get my butt kicked, but we'll have to see if the timing works out.  If it does, I'll go as hard as I can.  If not, I'll do an easy (if long) ride, and maybe push it a bit more on Sunday.

Either way, the plan is for easy rides Monday and Tuesday, then another hard one on Wednesday.  Let's hope I feel up to that.

One interesting thing about the ride this morning is that I put down my camelbak, finally.  I got a little under-seat bag for my tools, and was going to use a water bottle (but forgot).

I have mixed feelings about it.  My left shoulder definitely appreciated not having the pack up there (it never even occurred to me that that could be a factor in that chronic problem), and I certainly felt more aerodynamic.  But it's certainly tougher to get a drink from a water bottle, so that might be enough to push me back that way.  For sure, I'll keep using the camelbak on very long rides (where, so far, I've used the camelbak for water, and a water bottle for gatorade, to good effect).

I should also point out that I recently ran across this video on training polarization.  The idea is, instead of pushing as hard as you can, as often as you can, you mostly go at jogging pace, or thereabouts (I wish he'd discussed it in different terms than lactate concentration.  I'm sure it's less ambiguous, but it's not terribly helpful if you don't have a way to measure that).  And then, a couple times a week (10-25% of your overall training), you go as hard as you can.

The goal, I think, is to be well-rested when you want to go hard, so you can go really hard.  That way, you get your heart rate more elevated, and get more benefit out of your hard workouts.

For me, that was a real eye-opener.  And that's why I was willing to do five or six easy workouts in a row and keep resting my legs.  I'm certainly going to be thinking about this for a while (I wonder about a couple factors related to the studies mentioned), but I won't be trying to hit zone four every day now, for sure.

Trying to do that had led me into what is described, at the end of the video, as the black hole.  Where your "easy" rides aren't easy enough, and your "tough" ones aren't tough enough.  I'm hoping it'll help me get over a hump.  Plus, I need to start doing intervals; that one's mostly a question of figuring out the mechanics.

Shooting out the lights

I wasn't able to watch Tuesday's Caps/Panthers match-up, that night.  I wasn't able to start it before the kids were in bed, and then crashed right after putting them in bed.  Ugh.

But that's why we have DVRs, so I watched it last night.  And man, was that a game.

Until it started, I didn't realize how closely matched the teams were likely to be.  I assumed the Caps were way ahead of the Panthers in the standings (just based on past history).  Well, if so, then one point is the definition of "way ahead".

It didn't start especially well for the Caps.  Through the first half of the first period, they weren't allowing a bunch of shots, but also weren't taking them.  And they spent entirely too much time in their own end.  It was a game featuring a heavily-clogged neutral zone and a lot of hitting.

The Caps weathered the storm after bending a bit on a rough forecheck, though, and by the end of the first, things had evened out a bit.  The Caps were ahead on shots (9-6), though I was guessing they were also ahead on blocks.  Not so, after checking: Florida was ahead there, 9-2.  For those who want to figure full Corsi or Fenwick, missed shots were even, at five a side (WSH CF% 64, FF% 56.  Great numbers!).

The second period also didn't start great, with Florida getting an early power play, but the Caps killed it off (painfully; three shots plus one blocked).  The Caps got a chance back a minute later when Wilson drew a hooking call on Flash.  They weren't able to really get set up, though, and got only two shots off (both by OV).

A few minutes later, the Caps got another chance when Backstrom drew a hooking call.  This time, they quickly cashed in.  Brouwer's first shot was blocked, and went out to OV.  Sasha put it back to Troy, whose second shot was blocked as well, but Brouwer got another shot immediately with the puck right next to the blocking defenseman, and this one not only got through, but went over Luongo and into the top of the net.

It looked like the rest of the period would be played at evens, but Orpik was called for slashing with 2:06 left, forcing an end-of-period kill with a regular PKer in the box.  Despite that, it went well, with a successful kill, allowing only three attempts (one wide, two blocked) against.

For the period, shots were even at ten (even at seven, at evens), WSH CF% 46, FF% 48.  At evens, 46% and 47%.  Not disastrous, but not good.

The third period had a ridiculous amount of cloggage and hitting (hits for the game were 50-48, in favor of Florida), with no penalties or scoring.  Play was heavily in favor of Florida, though, with shots 11-3 in their favor.  Yuck.

Going to full Corsi or Fenwick doesn't really make things look better for the Caps, either.  WSH CF% 27, FF% 29.  Wretched numbers.  Truly wretched.

The only thing that made it look better was that, at one point, Laich appeared to score.  But it was ruled to be kicked in (though I feel like pointing out that it was not a dangerous kick, being sideways by a trailing foot), so it was disallowed.  And man, was that a pig-pile in front of the net when it happened.  I think there were seven or eight players inside, or next to, the crease.

So, it went into overtime, where the Caps looked a little better.  Shots were even, with Washington having the only missed shot (and there were no blocked shots, by either team.  Very weird.  Makes me wonder how much the percentage generally goes down at 4-on-4).

Overall, WSH ES CF% 49, FF% 46.  Definitely a "needs improvement" rating on both of those.

And that's when the game really got interesting.  It didn't seem like much when all three shooters, by both teams, were held scoreless.  It didn't even seem like much when the fourth shooter from each team scored (OV and Jokinen).  It started to seem a little weird when the next two shooters from each team were held out.

And quite a bit weird when the next two from each team scored (Ward and Carlson vs Mackenzie and Bergenheim).

Then things turned downright bizarre as the next five from each team all failed.  Surely, someone wants to win, right?

Orpik and Olsen both did, so they cancelled each other out.

Alzner completed the list of options for Trotz, and was kept away.  Mitchell (ironic, picking the captain last), similarly.

Backstrom and OV went next, and were each denied (OV beat Lu, but put it over the net).  Jokinen was stopped in his second attempt, but Bjugstad ended it with a snap-shot that Holtby couldn't follow.

Yeah, twenty rounds.  The Caps have now been involved in both of the longest shoot-outs in league history.  I say they should have given the goalies a chance (at least the back-ups) before starting through the line-up again.

I'm not a fan of the shoot-out (I think it's a terrible "solution" to the problem of preventing ties, and playing for ties), but that was an interesting one.

The one thing I can't figure out is how Holtby didn't end up one of the stars of the game.  For that matter, why wasn't Luongo first star?

Next up is the rubber match against Columbus, tonight at seven.  Go Caps!


Ride of the century?

I mentioned that I was taking a day off, last week, and going for a full century on my bike.

The temperature was kind-of in-between, and I wasn't sure what to wear.  I went with my new Assos shorts (T.cento), leg warmers, heavy base layer shirt, jersey (worn just for the pockets), and a windbreaker (mostly ditto, though that's not the only reason I'm glad I wore it).

Things didn't get off to a great start, though, as I grabbed the wrong gloves and turned back after only a minute or two.  Unfortunately, the gloves I grabbed instead were also the wrong ones (the first lacked windbreaking ability, the second were ok there but still not warm enough), and that's most of the story of the ride.

But not entirely.  I'd alluded to being tired the night before, and that kept on, into the day.  In fact, it took about an hour before I started to feel good, and I never did feel great.  But to get back to the gloves...

Basically, I was expecting the ride to start at 35F, and quickly warm up to ~40F, and stay there for most of the ride (I did check the forecast, though only for the near end).  Instead, it was right around freezing for most of the day, and it felt like it.  At one point, getting close to Purcellville (my destination), I came to an intersection and tried to stop, as visibility wasn't great, but there was definitely a car coming.  But I wasn't slowing down much, so I tried squeezing harder.  After a minute, I realized that the reason I wasn't stopping was that one of my fingers was in the way of the brake.  Thank goodness I didn't try to squeeze even harder, and that the car wasn't as close as I thought.

I stopped a couple minutes after that at some benches, just so I could put my hands under my jacket and shirts, and warm them up.  Not a pleasant stop at all.

When I made it to Purcellville, I was against extremely cold, and stopped in a local bike shop there to look around.  While they were happy to have me there (even though I didn't buy anything), the shop was almost empty because they just fired their distributor, and are waiting for the new one to ship stuff.  Weird to see a mostly-empty shop right before Christmas.  Not their finest hour.

Nor my finest hour, come to that.  On my previous trip out there, I'd averaged eighteen miles an hour all the way (not including stops, of course).  This time, I was a bit below 16.5; quite a drop-off.  The cold certainly didn't help that, nor did the headwind I was going into just about all the way.  Regardless of what caused it, though, I was very disappointed.

In any event, after fifteen or twenty minutes, I turned around and headed back for home.  I actually felt a little better, heading back, than I had in my previous trip.  In fact, I averaged slightly better time on the way back than on the way out (not much; one or two tenths of a mile per hour, but it was interesting).  But the cold was even worse.

I put the liner gloves I'd carried on before I left, and they helped for a while.  But not for a long while.  By the time I got back to Ashburn, I ended up stopping at a BBQ place there as much to warm up as to eat.  Though I did eat a sandwich platter without a problem.

By the time I finished the platter, I was ready to head home, and that's what I did.  But by the time I got to Vienna, I was cold enough to seek out another bike shop just off the trail.  I didn't buy anything there either, though I thought about it.  But I noticed it wasn't quite as late as I thought, so I hurried out after a little warming up, and went to run an errand my wife wanted (that I thought I wouldn't have time for).

I hurried up a little, but still got to the place my wife wanted me to go a couple minutes after they closed.  But I was still able to get my errand done, as they were very nice.

After that, I decided to head straight home, even though it was going to leave me a few miles short of a hundred.  A disappointing end, but I wasn't feeling terrible.

I did finish the second half a bit faster (and a bit less sore) than my first attempt, but I still definitely wasn't feeling great.  In fact, I felt a bit worse the next morning than I had after the first long trip.

It's also left me wondering a bit about my selection of gloves.  Especially for the options just above freezing.  The PI 3x1 Pro Softshell gloves are good, in that range, when things are dry, but not for wet.

I got some Assos rain gloves, but they're not warm enough to get down to freezing (and my first pair wasn't big enough to make liner gloves an option.  I've since fixed that, but haven't been able to test yet).  Also, my Black Diamond Guide gloves turned out not to be warm enough for a long ride at 35F a couple days ago (at least part of the problem is that I wasn't riding as hard, undoubtedly).  I think I need a bigger size for them, as well.  I'm working on that.

Anyway, I've done easy (if long) rides each day since then (except the first day, which was easy and medium length).  My legs have not been happy.  Maybe I just need a short, easy day to help.

Backstrom bolts Lightning

The first period started out very well for the Caps, if, perhaps, like an extension of the prior game.  Bishop was definitely on, and was called on to make a number of good saves.

Tampa didn't get many chances, though one of those found the back of the net, when Stamkos put in a pass from behind the net.  But Callahan was called for incidental contact with Holtby (he did remove Holtby from the net, unquestionably), getting the goal (and shot, which would have been their first) called back.

I'd like to say that the relative times on the power play had a lot to do with the massive shot imbalance in the period (12-2 Caps).  But I'm not sure it did, since a) the Caps got, I believe, only one shot on those power plays and b) Tampa got a couple of short-handed chances, though I can't remember if those chances resulted in shots on net.

Regardless, it all felt very familiar.

The second period did not get going well at all.  First, Green was called on an iffy slash a couple minutes in.  No goal allowed, but they did get several shots on net (and, probably, several more blocked).  Then, Green got called again, this time for hooking, a couple minutes later.  That led to a scrum in which OV found himself called for roughing.

It was the Caps first time on the season, being down two men, and it wasn't fun.  But they managed to kill off the whole penalty without damage (with one incredible save by Holtby assisted by Orpik blocking the swing of a shot with his skate.  With his back turned), and then proceeeded to take it to Tampa.

It took a couple minutes for that to bear fruit, but Backstrom picked up the rebound of Schmidt's shot from the point, and backhanded it under the crossbar for the lead.  Eight minutes later, Wilson's initial shot was stopped, but OV knocked it from under Bishop before the whistle blew, and Backstrom picked up the trash and stuffed it into the net to double the lead.

Early in the third, the top line got a 3-on-2, with Backstrom carrying into the zone and handing off to OV.  He continued his rush down the middle, while OV went down the wing, when OV passed back to him.  Backstrom fought off the backchecker (by turning sideways to the net), and managed to throw the puck all the way to the edge of the goal on OV's side.  Bishop was already down, and covering the near side of the net by the time Backstrom let it go.

And it looked, for quite a while, like that's where the game would effectively end, with Backstrom getting his first regular-season hat trick and owning the scoresheet.  I came within a hair's breadth of turning the game off with five or six minutes left.

But Tampa fought back, scoring with 4:21 left and again with 2:31 left, both with Bishop on the bench.

That led to a tense couple of minutes, until Fehr intercepted a pass across the middle at Tampa's blue line, and calmly shoved it into the net to ice the victory.

Despite giving up three goals, Bishop played a hell of a game and probably didn't deserve to lose.  But the Caps certainly deserved the win, and it was good to see them bring it home.

Next up for Washington is a date with Florida in Sunrise, at sunset tonight.  Go Caps!

Shooting into a wall

I didn't get a chance to turn last night's Caps game on until nine o'clock or so, but I was able to watch the entire thing.  And I was mostly glad I did.  It felt a lot like the Buffalo Sabres game the other week.  That is, completely dominant performance by the Caps skaters, spoiled by a magnificent effort by the opposing goaltender.

Seriously, stopping 90% of power play shots is quite a good performance; Bob stopped seventeen of eighteen.  And yeah, eighteen power play shots on goal is a ridiculously high number; kudos to the Caps on that.

And kudos to Wilson for being quite the magnet for penalties of late.  He drew three in this game, and several more in the last several games.  If he can keep drawing them like that, then he can stay on the top line forever, in my book.

To get into more specifics, the one power play shot that got through Bob came in the fourth minute, as Fehr deflected Carlson's wrister from the slot over Bob's arm.

It took twelve minutes for Columbus to answer, and it was only on their second or third shot, but Foligno was able to waltz in from the point and deflect the puck off the near post and and in.  Terrible defense by the forwards, there, giving him so much time and space.  And a beautiful shot by him; Holtby probably should have had it, but he didn't leave a whole lot of room for shooting.

Despite more than doubling up the Jackets on shots in the first, the period ended

The second period looked like it would be much more even, with Columbus keeping Washington from getting a shot on goal for the first eight minutes.  But they only got a couple shots of their own in that time, and then they committed several penalties.  Although the Caps didn't score in the period, they still ended up with fifteen shots (to the Jackets' four, so it was less even than the first period).

So the game went into the third tied at one.  Almost halfway through, Brouwer got his first in a while on a beautiful deflection of Niskanen's pass to the side of the net.  I really wish the Caps would try more plays like this, as Bob had no chance on it.

Unfortunately, it took Columbus only a minute and a half to answer (does this sound familiar, if somewhat less so than last year?), as Connauton's point shot trickled through, between Holtby's glove-arm and body.  He had a great game, but that's definitely one Holtby would want back.

Over the last nine minutes, nobody was able to find the back of the net, so off we went to overtime, again.  Laich and Beagle did get a very nice chance, early on, but Beagle couldn't lift his shot over Bob's outstretched leg.  Shortly thereafter, the Caps got whistled for a penalty that was guaranteed to last until the end of overtime.  With twenty seconds left, Foligno's one-timer from the half-wall went over Holtby's shoulder, glove-side, putting the nail in the coffin.

Hard to be upset with the performance, overall, but the result was certainly disappointing.  I'll talk about it separately, but the game after was Saturday with the home rematch against Tampa.


Caps update

It might appear that I've forgotten about the Caps lately, but that's far from true.  I've watched almost all of every game (I missed a little bit of the Toronto game, I think, and definitely all of the Vancouver game).

And the team's play seems rather uneven.  It might seem a bit ungenerous to say something like that after the fantastic effort against Tampa, last night, but it's true.  Possessionally, they've been very up and down.

As mentioned, the game against Tampa was great.  And most of the Jersey game was similarly (though not quite as) good.  Carolina wasn't quite as good either, but was pretty good.

Vancouver wasn't bad, from what I could see, except that the PK died instead of killing.

Toronto was decent, but some terrible luck (at least at the beginning; it did get worse as the game went on.  Also, I remember now; I turned it off when they went down 4-1 in the middle of the second).  And how often do you see both goalies pulled in the same game?

The two games against the Islanders were mixed; the first wasn't good at all (and I think I missed the first period of that one with DVR problems), but the second was a dominant one.

The game against Buffalo was extremely good, but Enroth stood on his head, and they couldn't solve him.

Colorado, my memories are very vague.  I think they didn't play terribly well, but won with a bit of luck.

My memories of the Arizona game are even more vague (though I remember the Erat embellishment call).  I believe they did pretty well, given the penalty imbalance and the shots being so close.

And I believe they just had their asses handed to them by St Louis.  It was the second half of a back-to-back, and they played like it.  And Peters looked pretty bad in net, to boot (at least, after the first.  I vaguely recall him having a very good first period).

Geeze, I didn't realize it'd been so many games since my last write-up.

After writing all those down, though, I think the team's been doing better than I gave them credit for, up above.  There were a couple stinkers, but they played well to very well in most of them.

Holtby's been coming back to where we expect to see him (outside of the Toronto game, of course).

Peters has been... not good.  I have to figure the team is trying to figure out a way to replace him.  Play-wise, calling Gru up would be better for the team, but it wouldn't be so good for Gru's development.

MarJo has been shooting a lot more, and getting rewarded for that effort.  Brouwer's been pretty decent, though singularly unable to find the net.

Chimmer's been up and down, with a couple very good games, and a number of bad to terrible ones.  And has also been unable to find the net.  I guess that's why he's been dropped to the fourth line, but I'm still not sure that I agree with it.

Backstrom has remained Backstrom, throughout.  OV hasn't been scoring a lot (last night's double aside), but has still been very effective.  I do like that he's been playing the walls this year, rather than always looking for a soft spot to take a shot.  Wilson... last night's excellent effort aside, I don't see him as really helping that line.

Kuzya's been quite good when he's gotten ice time.  I have no idea why he hasn't gotten more.  Similarly, I have no idea what's happened to Bura; why he's been a healthy scratch lately.

Ward's been pretty quiet, of late.  He definitely doesn't do as well without Chimmer.  Fehr has looked excellent; I'd like to see him move back up to the top line.  With him, that was a completely dominant top line.

Laich has surprised me since he's returned; he's looked very good.  Tenacious and skilled.  I'd be very down with putting him, Ward, and Chimmer back together as a shut-down line.

Beagle has managed two pretty goals of late (impressive on multiple levels), but I'm still not sold on him.  I don't question his effort, or that he's making the most of his talents, but he seems like a pretty marginal player for the NHL  My suspicion is that he's playing as much as he is purely for his face-off abilities.  In any event, thank goodness Trotz didn't keep him on the top line; that was a terrible combination.

Latta is also marginal, but I'd rather have him instead of Beagle.

Carlson and Orpik are doing a pretty good job of handling the other team's top lines.  They aren't dominating, but they aren't getting killed, either.  And there's a lot of value in that.

Niskanen and Alzner have been very good in a more sheltered role.  Alzner's been interesting to watch, for me.  He's been pinching in and generally attacking a lot more.  And it was great to see him open the scoring against the Devils, the other night.

Niskanen can't replace Green on the power play, but he's not half-bad.  I was amused at how low he got, playing the point, when he scored last night.  He was taking a point shot from just inside the left face-off circle.

Green... I hope he's healthy enough to return.  There was some talk that he would, against Tampa, but he ended up not even traveling with the team.  In any event, he's been fabulous when he's been healthy, and I love that the D is deep enough to give him the easier assignments.

Schmidt has generally looked very good.  Not as good lately, with Hillen instead of Green, of course, but still quite good.  I've been amazed at how he's been able to match up to some pretty big forwards, lately.  He's taken the body against several of them, and held his own.  I guess his skating is a big part of that.

And speaking of Hillen; well, he's been adequate.  I'll be glad when he's not on the ice again, but he hasn't been a disaster.  And really, that's about the best you can hope for, from a seventh/eighth defenseman.

On the plus side, the team hasn't gotten desperate enough to put Erskine on the ice (of course, he's also been injured for quire a while.  Neck surgery from something going wrong in practice, IIRC).  Let's hope that's the way things stay.

I'd very much like to see Orlov back.  He's a damned sight better than Hillen, and it'd be an interesting call to choose between him and Schmidt.  Get well soon, Dima (and yes, I know you're already at the long end of your projected time out from your injury).

All of which leaves us looking to the future.  I'm still not sure what I'd like to see, as far as lines, if everyone were available.  I'm hoping both Green and Orlov will be back soon.  And I hope Peters regresses back towards where we want to see him.

In any event, tomorrow night the team will be hosting the Blue Jackets.  I don't know what the state of their team is, if they've recovered from all/most of the injuries they suffered earlier in the season.  With the Caps playing them twice in the next week and change, though, I hope not.

Riding update

I've been pretty busy riding, lately.  But it hasn't been all that interesting, really.

I've ended up having to send my power meter in to have it looked at (it was mostly working, but occasionally flaky).  I might have to do the same with my speed/cadence meter; it's flaked out a few times recently (though that might have been purely a battery issue; it bears further investigation).

I did figure out that having a well-lubed chain makes a big difference.  I let it go a little too long (which I knew I had; it was a bit noisy), and was feeling really terrible while trying to push.  When I lubed it again, I felt an immense amount better the next day.  I was shocked at how much difference it made.

I'm still trying to figure out what's been going on, though, as far as power and fatigue are concerned.  Lately, I've been feeling really tired except for the day after recovery days.  And I've taken more of them.  I feel like I'm doing something wrong, but I don't really know what.

Basically, my climbing has improved (markedly), but I feel like the rest of my riding has gone backwards.  Not sure what to make of it, but I don't like that I haven't been seeing 18.5-19mph speeds recently.

In any event, I'm going to try for a full century tomorrow, on the same course where I came up a little short a couple months ago.  I figured out that I'd done a hair over 500 miles before that last attempt; now I'm a bit short of 2200 miles.  Plus, I've done a number of thirty-five mile rides, at pace, whereas I'd done only one ride that long back then, and that was at a very relaxed speed.

But my legs are a bit tired, so we'll see how it goes.  I need to do 18-ish mph when I'm moving, and I haven't been going that fast lately.  But I've been doing a lot of hills lately, so that might be part of it (I hope that's the entire explanation, but I suspect it isn't).

In any event, while I still enjoy the riding, it does feel tough, especially afterwards.

But when I'm in the moment, it's fantastic.  Almost meditative.  I frequently find songs from church going through my head, which is a lot more spiritual than I'd've expected from myself (while I've always been a firm believer in God, my feelings tend more towards deism than more humanistic feelings).

Anyway, wish me luck for tomorrow.


Piles of Miles

Well, maybe not.  I'm heading toward an annual mileage of around 7500, which feels pretty good.

Today, though, I was a bit vacillatory.  I was feeling quite good when I went to bed (although I did go to bed late), and had decided to tackle the hills.  Upon waking (about two minutes before my alarm went off), I wasn't feeling nearly as good; my thighs were quite tight.  I did some stretching, and decided to tackle the hills anyway.

I guess it wasn't terrible.  I didn't set any personal records, but did feel good about most of my ascents.  In fact, I was surprised I wasn't closer to setting PRs in a few places.

I'm still looking for someplace nearby that does better than 80-90' climbing per mile.  That stretch of Military is pretty similar to the Williamsburg/Westmoreland/Kirby/Powhatan loop, with both in that range (back and forth on Military is about 3.7m, 300' elevation; the loop is 3.4m, 164' (hmm... thought it was 230-ish)).  I tried to do the Everest climbing challenge, and came way short.  I'd like to see how close I could get if I could find a 4-5mile, 4-500 ft elevation loop.

Anyway, not the greatest of rides, but good to get a ride in.  Thinking tomorrow or the day after will be a recovery ride; we'll see how I feel.

One other note, strava-related.  They have another challenge, currently going.  Complete it, and you get a coupon to Competitive Cyclist for 25% off.  Was seriously looking forward to that, but noticed the fine print yesterday saying that it doesn't apply to Assos gear.  Was seriously deflated by that; was thinking of trying a couple of their items with that discount.  Just heard so many worshipful things about their gear that I wanted to try it, but it's way too expensive (I hadn't realized just how much so until a few days ago).

Ah, well.  Back to the normal daily rides, and tomorrow's should be nice weather.


Handy device

I got a titanium letter opener on kickstarter a while ago, and just wanted to comment on how useful I've found it.  I don't use it as a letter opener all that often; mostly for cutting tape on packages.

But this morning I was tossing out a bunch of boxes we used when we moved in (and haven't touched, since), so I needed to break them down.  And I pulled out that letter opener, and it made very short work of everything.

And getting all those boxes (probably twenty or thirty) out of the house certainly put me in a good mood.

Killing it

Went out on my normal ride, this morning.  It was a bit colder than advertised (44, rather than 50, according to my phone), but I was still ok without anything beyond normal summer riding clothes (though I did feel a little chill when I started).

I had woken up about twenty minutes late this morning, and was going to do a slightly shorter ride (around 21 miles, instead of 25), but decided I would just try to ride as hard as I could and do the longer route.

I did that, and did get back about ten minutes later than I wanted to, but it all worked out ok.  My daughter (who's the driver for not being able to get back later) got up pretty well, and did a decent job of eating breakfast.

Anyway, on the ride itself, I absolutely killed it.  My net connection (or maybe Safari) is having fits this morning (irritating, as moosejaw is having a great sale today), so I haven't been able to get more than a(n incomplete) glance at Strava yet.  But my overall power numbers for this morning were fantastic.  Two-oh-five average watts, with 238 weighted average.  Neither of those is way over what I've managed before, but they're both over.

What I found really interesting is that my peak one, five, twenty, and sixty minute power numbers are not records.  None of them, in fact (though if it did peak one-second, I'm pretty sure I'd've had one there.  On-coming traffic is very motivating).  All were close, but I've done better (though not all on the same ride) at every interval.  Still, I was psyched about the overall numbers.

I still have a long way to go to get where I want to be, but that was very encouraging.