Do not go gently, into that good [morning]

I haven't talked about riding in quite a while.  Last Saturday was very cold (19F), and I decided to carry water for the first time in a while.  Well, I didn't drink the water, and it ended up freezing (at least, the hose from the reservoir) before I'd even gotten halfway through.

Other than that, the ride out to Potomac was quite nice, and I had a good time.  My fingers were a bit chilled, but nothing overwhelming.  I'm certainly glad that, despite the hard ride, I chose the mittens.

My only disappointment with the ride was that I didn't manage to set hardly any PRs.  I'd felt like I was doing very well, but apparently only ok.  The long hill at the end of MacArthur, I'd felt like I'd done very well.  Not that I managed to push my hardest, but I felt like I'd maintained my power quite a long while.  But that wasn't quite what happened: I set a PR for the bottom half, but not for the whole hill.

Not a big deal, but I was certainly hoping for better.

Sunday wasn't all that interesting.  I did a long, but slow, ride that was chilly but mostly pleasant.  The one oddity was that I was wearing my balaclava, and was feeling the cold (for a while, anyway) through the top of it.  It also kept trying to ride up around the left edge of my mouth.  Nothing disastrous, but it was fairly annoying.  I might need to find a nicer balaclava (I need to look it up again, but I remember seeing an Under Armour one that looked really nice).

Monday was gentle on the road, though a decent distance, which I supplemented with half an hour or so on the trainer (mostly to do some intervals).  The only really interesting thing about it was that I tacked on a couple miles (unplanned) at the end that went over a new route through Falls Church.  That stretch also ended up adding a lot of hills (which was good, I guess).  And I should mention that the temperature was relatively balmy, being just above freezing.

Tuesday was pretty cold, getting down to 19F, but I stayed on the same route as Monday.  Again, since I did intervals later Monday, it was a gentle ride.  And again, I got home right when I wanted to (both days, I was a bit worried).

On Wednesday, I started out on the same route as Monday, taking George Mason Dr into Shirlington, but I decided to come back a different way, taking the W&OD trail back all the way to the Metro station.    From there, I turned the same way towards home, ending up with a slightly shorter, and less vertical (and colder), route.  But I stayed warm and got through it.

Thursday, I'd planned on a much harder ride.  When I woke up fifteen minutes early, I was going to do my long trail ride, but at the last minute decided to do hills instead.  And thank goodness I did.  I went on a new route of my own devising, and I liked what I ended up with.  I took 26th down to Military, took Military to Nelly Custis to Lorcom, back up Military, all the way to Glebe.  I turned around there, but decided that I wouldn't do all of Military again.  I went back over two hills, then turned around, came back over one of them, then turned off onto 35th to Dittmar to Glebe.  From there, I went over to Williamsburg, and turned somewhat towards home there.

But I took Williamsburg past Old Dominion, and was going to do a lap or two around Kirby and Powhatan when my chain came off at the bottom of a hill.  I got off to put it back, and saw that it had actually snapped, with a link coming apart.  I did have my tools with me (not a given, as I had forgotten them the couple days before), but don't carry a spare chain pin.  So I had to walk home (well, I could coast down the couple of hills along the way).  Not fun.

In a way, I was still lucky, though, as that could have happened at several worse places (the foot of Powhatan, for instance, would have been a nightmare).  And, while eight miles wasn't a lot, it was enough to be a pretty decent workout, as I was riding quite hard.

And, getting back to my route selection, if it had broken on the trail route instead of the hill route, I'd've had to have called a cab to get home.  And that would have made me quite late.  That would not have gone over well, to put it mildly.

I got the chain changed that night (I did have a spare), although that was a close call.  And I had forgotten the trick to getting the chain on, but reminded myself after a few minutes of frustration.  Hopefully, next time I'll remember right away.

Today was a gentle ride, and when I woke up early again, I decided to do the shortest of my various trail routes (nineteen miles).  It was going well, despite the cold (12F instead of the 17 forecasted), until I got to about 13.5 miles in.  At that point, my torso started feeling cold, despite the heavy layers, so I decided that I needed to start biking much harder.

I didn't set any records, the rest of the way, but I was close a few times.  And I was pushing pretty hard.  In fact, on George Mason, I pushed about the hardest I'd yet done, but was quite a ways from my fastest attempt.  That's happened several times lately, and I wish I knew why.

Anyway, most importantly, I made it home safely, and without hypothermic issues (beyond mild discomfort).

What was weird was that the new chain seems to've solved my front shifting issues, but introduced rear-shifting ones.  Not too bad, but slightly annoying.  The front issues from earlier were more serious.

I wondered, too, about trying to fix the old chain.  I realized I was close to 3000 miles on it, and that's what decided me against it - I've heard that chains generally last about that long, although I think that was an unusual failure mode, even with that.  This morning, though, I finally figured out how many miles I had on the old one.  It was 2985, so I really felt good about my decision to not try to resuscitate it after that.

Anyway, after rough (if shortened a bit) rides the last two days, tomorrow will definitely be a "take it easy" day.  And the weather looks like it'll cooperate, as it's forecast to be in the high 20's.  That certainly isn't warm, but it should be warm enough.

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