Challenges met

I haven't been writing lately for the simple reason that I've been really tired at night.  Last night, I turned on the Caps game right after putting the kids to bed (I didn't, earlier, because I thought I'd missed recording it, but was pleasantly surprised to find that I had when I checked).  Part of it was that they looked terrible (to be fair, some of it was that Philly looked quite good), but I couldn't even watch past the end of the first period.

In any event, there were two days I was especially worried about.  One was last Wednesday, when we were scheduled to get 8-12 inches of snow.  It turned out to only be four or five, which helped a lot.  Regardless, it turned out that the only real challenge was getting going fast enough to get my second foot clipped on to the pedal.  Once I did that, which required going the opposite direction out of my driveway from my usual, it was pretty smooth sailing.  I didn't do a lot of miles (partially because it was still really cold), but the ride had very little drama.  And the only drama it had came from my concern about stopping fully, and having to deal with clipping in again.

The route was, perhaps, a little interesting.  I went down George Mason Dr, as usual, but then turned right on Wilson (which I occasionally do, to get to the trail at Bluemont Park).  But from there, I went all the way to Seven Corners (not something I would normally do on a bike), and turned right on Rt 7 (something I generally avoid, even in a car).  In any event, I took Rt 7 all the way down to Haycock, followed that over to Westmoreland, then turned up Williamsburg towards home.  All in all, a good eleven miles.

One thing I did discover, before the end of the ride, was that being in a very low gear helps a lot on snow.  And that's kind of interesting, because it's exactly the opposite in a car.  Driving, you want to be in a higher gear so you don't over-spin the tires (sometimes I'll start the car moving in second gear, for instance).

Thursday wasn't terribly interesting.  It was nine degrees, and I just rode down into Shirlington, turned around, and came home.  It being that cold, I did have to speed up a bit over the last mile and a half or so, just to keep warm.  But that did work out to a bit over twelve miles, so it wasn't bad.

Friday was the second challenge, when it was supposed to go below zero on my ride.  And it did, although barely; the forecast had called for -4F, but it only got to -1F.  I did roughly the same ride as Thursday, and again had to crank it up a little bit at the end.  But I did manage to keep my heart rate within my target zone for all but three minutes, so that wasn't too bad.

What was kind of funny was, later in the day, I needed to do laundry because I was out of my warm base layers and of my liner socks.  I didn't expect that to happen; quite a statement on the recent cold snap, I think.  I was also close to the end of my tights, but that's a bit less weird.

Saturday the roads were clear enough that I finally got to ride my road bike again.  And I was happy to do that, as I wanted to do a much harder ride.  It was 10F, and I went into the hills.  I actually couldn't wear my Assos jacket, because I knew that the phone would shut down from cold, within it (no jersey with pockets).  But I was riding hard enough that I knew that my PI PRO Softshell jacket would be warm enough (with my heaviest base layer), and would keep the phone warm enough as well.

My average power on the ride wasn't quite as good as I was hoping (193W), but the weighted average was excellent (233W, per Strava, 255 according to Cyclemeter).  I'm not sure if I set any records on my power curve, but I was close to the top for everything longer than about half a minute.  And my power zone distribution wasn't too bad; 7:34 anaerobic and four minutes and change neuromuscular.  I think I could have done better, but that wasn't bad.

It ended up with fourteen miles, 1440' elevation rise, and 15.1mph avg speed.  Nothing to set the world on fire, but numbers I was fairly happy with.

Sunday was a bit warmer (finally), right around freezing, so I was thinking of doing a longer loop.  And technically, I suppose, I did, but the roads were pretty treacherous.  I actually put my platform pedals back on my hybrid, to kill two birds with one stone: warmer feet and insurance if my chain decided to give up the ghost.  I'd cleaned and lubed the chain again Friday, but I saw, doing so, that it was in really terrible shape (the rust particularly worries me).  I'll replace the chain soon, but I'm going to try to use the old one until the snow stops.

Anyway, the loop I did Sunday ended up being only eighteen and a half miles.  I had to stay away from the trails, and some of the roads had me pretty worried as well.  Also, I knew my speed was pretty bad, thanks to being on the hybrid with hiking boots.  I knew I wouldn't have the clip-in problem with the boots, but the traction in parts of the ride was made worse when my feet slipped off the pedals.  Definitely some mixed blessings, going to hiking boots and platforms.

But I got through it without major problems, so I'll definitely call that victory.  And I did a good job keeping my heart rate down, as well, averaging 106 and keeping it under 125, except for the last hill before home (oops... should have gone around it).

So those were the challenges, and I'm proud to say that I beat them into the ground.

This morning, I went out and only did ten miles (on the hybrid again; I was worried about ice).  But it was a nice ride; the first time in a couple weeks where I wasn't cold.  I didn't have to ball up my fists in my mittens a single time (though I did still wear the mittens).  But the route was very weird, as I again had to completely avoid the trails (I thought about changing that, but didn't like the looks of things when I got to one).  I went through Falls Church again, but this time on Sycamore and Washington/Westmoreland.  And I went through to Powhatan, where I took the hills (slowly; trying to keep heart rate down).

Physically, in fact, I felt great this morning.  Better than I have in a while.  I hope that's a harbinger of things to come.

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