Avant le deluge

Ok, that's a little bit overstated, but it sure didn't feel like it by the time I got home from my ride this morning.

I mentioned the possibility of taping my boots bottom vents closed, and tried that.  Unfortunately, I did something wrong with my pants (pulled them up too high, I think) and got water going in the top.  And my gloves ended up letting water in the same way.

So by the time I got home, I was literally pouring water out of both extremity covers.  Yuck.

Even worse, those boots don't dry quickly.  So I was definitely wishing I'd worn my shoes and booties, since they will dry overnight (and might not have gotten as wet to begin with).  The gloves usually do dry fairly quickly, but I've never gotten them nearly so drenched before.  Fifteen hours later, and they still feel soaked.  Thank goodness I have several (mostly, not quite as good) alternatives.

In future, I think I'll be wearing my shoes (w/booties) in the rain.  I'll save the boots for below-freezing days.

I had further trouble with my power meter today.  They've agreed to take a look at it, and see if something's wrong (I'm pretty sure there is).

As far as the riding itself, it went pretty well.  The roads and paths were basically deserted, which doesn't bother me.  Although there was the one pedestrian walking across the path who almost walked right in front of me when I was doing close to 20mph.  Glad they stopped at the last second, because that would have been ugly.

And there was the one truck that turned into my lane just as I was getting there.  That also was nearly ugly.  Good thing I wasn't in the main lane (I go fast enough through that section that I normally am), although that's partly because I was watching the truck all the way.

Regardless of all that, it was good to get my miles in, and I actually didn't feel too bad, despite how wet I was at the end.

Now, I'm just hoping that the rain we've gotten today will dry from the roads before it gets down to freezing temperatures.  I've ordered studded tires, but they won't arrive for a while (I was going to say at least a week, but DHL's estimate is actually Friday.  Color me skeptical on that estimate).  So I'm not ready for icy roads, but I'd hate to break my streak of days riding (now getting close to four months).

Oh, and barring ice, I'll break 2000 miles tomorrow.  Was pretty psyched to notice that, earlier today.


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.


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.


Don't watch the flashlight, or something

A friend just sent me this video, and I'd heard of the problem before.

And this report is very misleading, to put it mildly.  First, they never say it's android-only (though they do say you have to download via Google Play store).  Second, all their pictures of phones are of iPhones.

Finally, I'm a little amused that they keep saying that everyone uses a flashlight app.  I've never downloaded, or used, one.  When I need light, I just turn the screen on.  If that isn't bright enough, I get a real flashlight.

And man, finishing the video, this is quite the scare-fest.  I wonder how much business Miliefsky got out of it.

How big was the bubble?

I just noticed, randomly, the other day that the Nasdaq index is now sitting roughly where it was at the peak of the late 90's bubble.  Yes, it took about fourteen years to recover from that.  Wow.


POTUS stops hemming and hawing...

on net neutrality.  I got a pleasant shock, today, to hear him call for broadband classification until Title II, which would require making internet access about nothing but dumb pipes.  And that's as it should be.  Either that, or going after Comcast, Verizon, AT&T (and maybe RCN and Time-Warner Cable) under anti-trust laws is needed.  I think Title II is the better approach of those two.

So I was very glad to hear him make such a public comment.  I hope it has the desired effect; the change is definitely needed.

Oh, and it was pointed out to me, earlier today, that Ted Cruz tweeted something like "Net Neutrality is Obamacare for the internet.  The internet shouldn't run on government time".  I really wish I knew how effective that tweet is for its intended audience, because it's a completely moronic thing to say.  I guess we can hope that the people for whom it would be effective do not have twitter accounts.

Feeling pretty good

Feels like a good day, without a lot going on.  Got a good ride in, this morning (despite the temperature being five degrees colder than predicted, the night before).  And got an amazing amount of stuff tossed out of the house (mostly huge amounts of recycling).

For whatever reason (and things having warmed up a lot since getting up didn't hurt), I was feeling really good after putting all the recycling out.

"The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind..."

I don't have a whole lot to say about the Caps win over the 'Canes on Saturday.  I missed the '+' in the channel indication beforehand, and didn't get the game recorded (plus, I was really tired that night, and probably wouldn't have watched nearly all anyway).  So I turned it on to see the Caps up 3-1.  Being that tired, I was tempted to turn it off immediately, and the goal scored eleven seconds later did nothing to disabuse me of that notion.

But I held on long enough to see them cough up the rest of the lead, but turn up the intensity in overtime enough to win it.

The announcers kept saying that the Caps had dominated, earlier in the game, but they definitely weren't doing so when I was watching.

Still, hard to get upset at a win, even if it wasn't the clean one that it should've been.

Looking at the box score, does look like the Caps impressively dominated the first, did well in the second, went to sleep for much of the third, and then dominated the OT.  And that's certainly in line with the Caps history over the OV era.  Which is not a good thing.

What is a good thing is that they kept shots against below thirty again.  If they can keep doing that, and stop taking periods off, then they'll be more than fine on the season.

Next up is Columbus, on Tuesday, who have been hammered by injuries.  Hopefully the Caps can keep the win streak going.

Caps bounce Hawks in Windy City

I can't say as I thought it was nearly the Caps' best game of the season, and their possession numbers certainly went down (playing the number one-possession team in the league, though, I don't see that as a large set-back), but the Caps managed to come away with the victory Friday night.

It actually started out looking like the Caps were going to dominate the game.  In the first five minutes, Chicago was getting nothing without a lot of work, and the Caps were getting chances (especially the top two lines).

But Chicago kept pushing Washington, and it seemed like the Caps couldn't keep up with that push.  It took a while for the chickens to come home to roost; a failed keep-in attempt by Niskanen led to a two-on-one with Hossa and Saad.  Alzner couldn't keep position to block the pass (some canny skating by Saad, not skating his hardest, there), and Saad buried it, five-hole, in the eighteenth minute.

A bit over a minute later, OV got called for an elbow (not sure I agree with the call, honestly; it looked to me like it was only on the follow-through that his elbow came up).  The Caps kept it out for the rest of the period, but Duncan Keith stuck home a rebound a minute into the second.  At that point, things were looking very bleak, as the Hawks were carrying a sub-one GAA (terrible stat to judge a goalie on, but not so bad for judging the team) at home.

But the second line, after being torn up by that Hossa/Saad line (and not just on the goal), started to push back, hard.  Fourteen minutes later, they got a two-on-one with Bura and MarJo, and Bura took it all the way himself, pounding a quick wrister into the far, top corner to bring the Caps back into contention.

Four minutes later, the same line scored on some sustained pressure.  MarJo got the score, with Bura and Niskanen getting the assists, but the whole side touched the puck in the last five seconds before it went in.  Very nice play, all the way around (literally, since the puck circled the zone before finding the net).

It looked like the Caps would count their blessings to go into the break all tied up, but Ward deflected in a Niskanen shot, forty seconds later, to give the Caps their first lead of the game.

In the third, there was no shortage of pressure from Chicago, and Washington wasn't doing a lot more than defending, but they managed not to break, breaking the five-game losing skid.

It certainly wasn't a pretty game, and those last two goals were some fairly lucky bounces, but no complaints about the results.  I'd like to see the Caps get to the point where they can hang with Chicago possessionally, but they're definitely not there yet.

I'd like to say something about the power play, but they only got 53 seconds and did get a shot off in that time.  Not bad, but too short a time to say much definitively.

The short-handed unit had much more time (4:38), and only allowed two shots (taking two of their own).  That's very good, but they did allow a goal, which isn't.  Still, they did well with what they could control.

If it wasn't Chicago (or one of a couple other teams), I'd be very down on them getting taken to town on shot attempts.  I don't have missed shots, still, but Chicago had forty on net and another eighteen blocked, compared to Washington's twenty-four and four.  That's one hell of an imbalance, especially with almost all of that at even strength.  Plus, I believe that's the most shots they've allowed, all season (by quite a bit, I'm pretty sure).

So I'm a bit ambivalent, overall.  The teams will play again on New Year's Day, at Nationals Stadium, and this game is certainly not portending a victory for Washington there.  On the other hand, getting off the losing streak is worth quite a bit, even if only to keep the players from trying to ignore the system and freelance.  Because if that happens, the possessional numbers will go down, and their odds of winning more games will, too.

Washington also played Carolina on Saturday, but I'll talk about that one separately, even though I don't have a lot to say.


Ride north, young man

I haven't gotten much riding in, the last several days, for various reasons (two of them mechanical problems).  So I wanted to get an early start, this morning, and ride a bit further than is my wont.  To make things more complicated, I needed to be back at the house by 0800 at the latest, because of my daughter's piano lesson.

Things did not start out well.  I thought I'd gotten ready last night, but overlooked two things.  One, I put the lights on the charger, but forgot to get them off until after I'd put my shoes, booties, and RoadID on.  So I went back to the bedroom to get them, clomping a bit (we do not wear shoes in the house).

Then I went out, and realized I'd forgotten one other thing: my hat.  I got half a mile down the road before I realized it, but knew I couldn't ignore it.  I went back (clomping, again, which woke the baby a little), and couldn't find the skullcap I've been wearing.  So I grabbed my balaclava, which I'd never worn before.  (Also, I didn't realize it for a while, but in pulling my zipper back up while doing this, I got it tangled with the thing underneath that's supposed to keep it from tangling with other clothes.  This made a mess when I got back.)

To make things worse, when I got a little ways in, I discovered two things.  One, the balaclava (I had it down below my chin, which surely made a difference) started humming very loudly when I got over about seventeen miles an hour.  And two, I wasn't getting any signal from my power meter.

The latter had me really pissed when, at the furthest point of my ride, I was able to power up a very long hill that I'd died on, the last two times I'd climbed.  In fact, I was able to finish the climb by getting out of the saddle and pushing hard.  I felt really good about that, and I suspect I'd have a new FTP if the power meter were working.

Other than that, it was fairly uneventful.  It was very nice, though; I enjoyed myself immensely.  And I was glad I opted for the heavy-duty gloves (without the liners).  A bit of a pain on the right shifter, but I didn't get cold (I definitely would have, after a while, with the lighter-weight gloves I normally wear).  Also, the leg warmers did just fine.  No sagging, and no cold (though as someone who normally doesn't wear pants until it gets well into the twenties, maybe they were overkill.  Not sure, though, being outside for two hours).

I wasn't wearing my coldest-weather combinations, but I was close.  I can wear tights that are probably a tad warmer on the legs, wear a warmer base layer (after reading reviews, I got one size bigger than the size guide, and was glad I did; it's still skin-tight), maybe wear a second base layer (a Pearl Izumi one) or jersey over that, and have liner gloves to go in the heavy-weight ones.  What I haven't figured out is what to do about my feet.  Maybe I can wear a second pair of socks.  But I was feeling the chill in my toes towards the end of the ride this morning.

When I got back, it took about ten minutes to get the jacket off.  And that didn't involve getting the zipper fixed, just down half an inch or so.  I was amazed, though, that it only took half a minute or so to fix the zipper once the jacket was off.  Otherwise very happy with the jacket, though; I was more worried about being too warm (sweating too much) than too cold.  Which is good, since I don't know what I'd wear that's warmer when the temperature gets even lower.

Wave good-bye

I didn't pay a whole lot of attention to the election that just passed, several days ago.  I knew I was voting, and I knew for whom I was voting, but wasn't thinking about it much beyond that.

I had seen some encouraging articles in the lead-up, and did expect things to go a bit (well, ok, a lot) better than they did.

The whole thing largely blows my mind, though.  One group does everything it can to prevent anything substantive from happening (including shutting down the government), and is rewarded with control of both houses of Congress.

I'm thinking the over/under on another government shutdown is three months.  If Ted Cruz maintains the influence he's somehow gotten, then it'll be shorter.  If not, then it might not even happen for the foreseeable future.

So the big question is, are Republicans ready to actually govern.  So far, with one house of Congress, they have shown no interest.  With both houses, they'll need to do so.


Playing with fire

Last night's game against the Flames was a weird one to watch, for me.  It kept feeling like the Caps were comfortably dominating, then I'd blink and Calgary would score.

Both teams got some really lucky scores.  For Washington, there was MarJo's shot that deflected off a defender, hit the back wall, then got pushed into the goal by Hiller's leg pad when he tried to find it.  Ward's goal went off both of Hiller's legs before going in.  For the Flames, there was Giordano's backhand shot through a wall of defenders that slipped through Holtby's legs when he didn't see it coming.  And there was MarJo's attempt to play the puck to the corner, from in front, that deflected off Brouwer's skate and over Holtby's shoulder.  (MarJo, I guess, got karma coming and going.)

Through it all, Washington kept coming, getting edges in shots for all three periods, while Calgary was leading in blocked shots throughout.

I don't have numbers on missed shots, so I don't know exact numbers on Corsi or Fenwick, but the Caps did improve their full-season CF% and FF%.

Hiller certainly had a good game (other than that MarJo shot), to keep Calgary in the game.  A number of the Caps looked very good; OV, Schmidt (and not just on the one play that got highlighted late), Alzner (who made several very good pinches).  The fourth line also did well, although I still think Beagle should be off the line.  He's where scoring chances go to die (for both teams, which can make him a useful player).  Despite that, he looked pretty good, last night.

Wilson also had a good night, even if he failed to bury a gift-wrapped chance from OV or Backis.  I loved it when he goaded Giordano into matching minors; too bad he couldn't arrange it to be majors.

Anyway, it felt like a good game, but the game ended when a nice passing play from Calgary, in OT, got behind Holtby.  So the ending was quite disappointing.  But I was pretty happy with the game, overall.  I just hope results start matching process, soon.

Caps update

I've been falling behind quite a lot on the Caps, lately.  Most of which is my fault, for sure.

The short of it is that they're near the top of the league in possession stats (Corsi and Fenwick, 5-on-5), but not doing so great, lately, converting that possession into goals differential.  I'd put money on that coming around, though.  I think they'll just be just fine (possibly even great), as long as they don't panic.

(On a contrary note, have you noticed how abysmal the Sabres are in possession stats?  It's still early, but they're threatening to set all-time records for bad possession stats.  Under 35% Fenwick For, and barely 36% Corsi For.  Ouch.  I'm not sure what the all-time lows are, but I'm pretty sure they're a few percentage points higher than that.)

Anyway, back to the Caps, they've been a bit unlucky, so far.  The only game of the last three that I saw was the one against the Red Wings.  And that was a very good game; fun to watch, especially for such a low-event game.

The first period went, pretty heavily, to the Caps.  Corsi was probably pretty even, but Fenwick was heavily in the Caps favor, with the Wings managing only three shots on goal (I can't find the number, but I think the Caps were around twice that many blocked).  Goals went the Caps way as well, with Kuzya (off beautiful feeds from Holtby and Ward that got him alone behind the defense on the power play) and Brouwer scoring to erase and overcome a Nyquist goal in the ninth minute.

But things went south, badly, in the third, when a pair of goals (one off an impressively opportunistic use of a bad turnover by the Caps D) by Abdelkader, plus another, later, put the Red Wings in front to stay.

As near as I can tell, the following game, against Tampa, wasn't on TV at all, so I missed it completely.  There didn't seem to be a whole lot positive about it, although OV did break his five-game pointless streak (which didn't worry me, in and of itself, but I was worried about the lack of shots during the streak).

Then there was the game against the Coyotes, which I missed, entirely due to fatigue.  It was amusing, the next morning, when a friend told me they'd played one period, and lost 6-3.  I looked it up while he was telling me, and was amused to see the two late goals that brought it within a goal.  But he was fundamentally right; they didn't play a sixty-minute game.  In fact, if you took four minutes out of the game, it would have been a 6-1 blowout.

No, that's not terribly meaningful, but it is a much higher concentration of goals than you generally see.

But, through all of that, Caps have maintained good possession numbers, which is why I started by saying that I'm not worried about the team.  They'll turn it around; just take somewhat better care of the puck in their own end (some really brutal turnovers in there).

That left us at the start of last night's home rematch against Calgary.  I started this before that game, so I'll write it up separately.


Running on empty

I started out on my normal bike ride this morning.  I was thinking that I needed to stop early (I usually do, on Tuesdays), so I was going to do laps in the hills nearby.  But half a mile or so out, I went over something.  I heard and felt it, so I was immediately suspicious.

If I'd been more experienced, I probably would have turned around during this suspicious time, but I just kept going, hoping I was wrong.  I wasn't; I was out of air very quickly.

Having no experience, I worried that I had some sort of flat where fixing the flat would immediately result in the fixed tube getting punctured again, so I started walking home.  I got to a nice and bright streetlight, though, and decided to stop and try to fix the tire there.

Well, I got one tire lever in, though it looked a little strange.  When I tried to get the second, though, I broke the lever (and this lever set only had two).  So, I walked the rest of the way home, and went to fix the tire.

Once I had plenty of light, and such, I saw that the problem was that the first lever had managed to get under both sides of the tire, which likely meant that the second did as well.  So breaking the lever made a lot of sense.

It probably took me a lot longer than it would for someone with more experience, but I had no trouble fixing the tube at home.  I thought I wouldn't be able to ride at all today until I remembered that my normal reason for leaving early on Tuesday didn't apply today.

So I had a little bit of time, and tore out on a high-intensity, short ride around the neighborhood (including one lap around the hills where I'd originally intended to do three or four laps).

The one bonus was getting a somewhat better handle on my FTP, since the reading was coming off a shorter, higher-intensity ride than my usual.  And that's what you're supposed to do when measuring FTP.  I learned that I'm a little closer to where I want to be, but still a ways off (around 3.6 W/kg, and I want to be more like 4-4.5.  And yes, I know that that's a wide range).