Clean sweep

I went and washed both of my bikes today.  They certainly both needed it; neither had been washed well over the winter.

The hybrid was just a god-awful mess, covered in salt and dirt.  And I hadn't cleaned it at all.

I washed it pretty well, but now need to put the road tires back on, fix the front brakes (they somehow ended up misadjusted after cleaning), and replace the chain (getting rusty, and I put it off until I was sure the snow was finished).

The road bike I hadn't done a whole-body cleaning in quite a while, but I had washed the drive train recently.  So I expected it to be... not great.  But it was just horrible.  The brakes were really bad, which wasn't a surprise.  But the cassette was also terrible, which was.  And there was crud around various parts of the body, none of which was horrible, but none of which was a surprise, either.

Anyway, doing a really thorough cleaning (basically, the only things I would have liked to have done, but didn't, involved disassembling the brakes and derailleurs) took quite a while, but things look really nice now.

My only regrets are that I didn't do it sooner, and that no one but me will be able to tell how good a job I did.  Still, it felt good to get it done.

I made a lot of use of Gear Floss to clean the brakes, derailleurs, and cassette (didn't want pull that one again).  I've used it before, but I made much better use of it this time.  So much so that I think the pieces I used might not be terribly useful again (generally speaking, they can be cleaned and re-used, but these were both filthy and somewhat shredded).  Oh well; if so, they will have gone in use, rather than in disuse, so it's hard to really complain about that.

Once, twice, three times a-riding...

Saturday's ride can be summed up in one word: cold.  Most of the ride was in 21-22F temperatures.

Despite that, I wanted to take advantage of having a little more time than usual to ride, so I started out with a slightly longer route than I've been doing, lately.  I went down to Shirlington, as usual, but went all the way into the shopping district, then up the big hill behind there, and around.  From there, I went my normal route up the W&OD towards Falls Church.

Twelve miles in, I looked down and realized that the reason my feet were getting a bit cold, already, was that I forgot to put my booties on before leaving.  Not sure what happened; I've never forgotten them before.

Still, I pushed on, and even decided to tack a few more miles than usual on by taking the trail all the way to Idylwood Dr.  That adds about three more miles to my normal route.  And I took Idylwood all the way up to Powhatan, which meant that I had to deal with both hills on Powhatan, rather than just the second, as I've been doing recently.

Despite the chilled feet, it was a pretty good ride, and one in which I had little to no trouble keeping my heart rate down.  I hit 129 briefly, and only spent 84 seconds above 125, so that's just about perfect (especially for a ride of 1:45).

And distance was pretty good, at 21.75 miles (1200' of elevation).  Speed was 12.3mph; not bad for an easy ride.

Yesterday, on the other hand, wasn't nearly as cold at just below 40F, but it rained a bit. Because of the rain, I had my rain jacket on, which has a very tight collar (if I zip it up all the way).  I did discover that having that collar zipped all the way definitely makes it hard to keep my heart rate down, although unzipping it a bit only helped a tiny bit (I still had trouble).

How bad was the heart rate trouble?  I hit 144 (and cleared 140 more than once).  I spent more than half an hour over 125.  Geeze, I didn't realize it was that bad until now, writing this up (though I knew it wasn't good, of course).  And I just saw that one of those times clearing 140 came when climbing a hill (ok, no surprise there) where there was a jogger on the sidewalk who was actually going faster than me.  I definitely wasn't trying to push.  Ouch.

I wish I knew why I had so much trouble with heart rate.  I know part of it, earlier on, was the collar.  And another early part was that I spent a little time in the drops.  I can't believe how much the latter affects heart rate; just seems weird, to me, somehow.  I'd expect some effect, of course, but nothing that pronounced.

Anyway, other than the heart rate, it was a pleasant ride.  That's a very nice temperature for ride; maybe a few degrees below ideal, but not far.

This morning was a little... weird.  I checked the temperature before leaving, and saw that it was supposed to be (currently, not forecast) 45F.  That's generally the temperature at which I start thinking about cold-weather preparations, so I almost didn't question it, and put on lighter gear than I'd planned to take.

Thank goodness I didn't tone down (other than that I didn't wear my skullcap, I'll come back to this), because it was cold.  It was mostly around 35F, getting all the way down to freezing over one stretch that's always a few degrees colder than the rest of my rides.

Despite that (or maybe because of it), I had no trouble keeping my heart rate down.  I didn't do quite as well as Saturday, but I kept my max to 132, and had only 92 seconds above 125.  That's not perfect, but it's pretty darned good.  I was quite happy with it.

And that was with an average speed of 13.1mph (yesterday was 12.6).

The only real difference was that my cadence was a little lower today, but with more power pushed (99W vs 85).  I'd really like to know how I pushed more power at a lower heart rate; the cadence is the only thing I can think of, although the difference was pretty tiny (54Hz vs 56).  I'm surprised the difference is so small, though, because I was constantly aware of it while riding.  I wouldn't've guessed I was anywhere near that sensitive.

And now I'm looking at Saturday, just for comparison.  Saturday was 86W and 59Hz.  No pattern there.

In any event, two days out of three were quite good, as far as reaching my goals.  Tomorrow will be a hard ride, but I'll have to think about where I'm going.  Maybe I'll try to get up fifteen minutes early, and do my big loop of Arlington (with bits of Falls Church and Alexandria).


A minor set-back

I haven't talked about it a lot, but I have talked, a few times, about progress being made by the LBGT movement over the last few years.  It's inevitable that things will improve drastically in the next twenty-ish years (the younger set shows no interest in continuing the hate that drives much of the discrimination), but there will be set-backs on the way.

The newest are bills passed, or pending, in statehouses, that legalize discrimination under the rubric of religious freedom.  It's a sad tactic, using Jesus' name to further vitriolic hatred (even the most cursory reading of the gospels would show that Jesus was invariably kind and loving toward the downtrodden and hated), but Indiana is the most recent example.  Arkansas, I understand, might well be next.

What they did was pass a bill that attempts to make it legal to discriminate against anyone, for any reason, if it conflicts with your religious belief.

With any other Supreme Court in history, there's no chance that this would be upheld in a First Amendment challenge, but who knows, with this Court.  Actually, I think this court would find a way to rationalize saying that it's ok in this one instance, but would acknowledge that it would never be allowed outside the legal contours of this exact case.  That's pretty much the MO of the right wing of this court.  I'm not sure whether to call that extremely ballsy (it's chutzpah, for sure) or completely spineless (because they don't have the courage of their convictions to make broad rulings).

In any event, while this has no long-term impact, I'm sorry to see the short-term hurt it will cause in that state (and in any other states that pass similar laws).

I am glad that some big companies are stepping up, and saying that this is unacceptable.  I'm disappointed that Gen Con (a huge gaming convention, to which I've been a couple of times; fantastic experience, both times) is staying in Indianapolis for at least the next five years.  It goes so completely against the ethos of the gaming community that I'm more surprised than disappointed.

I'm also very disappointed that the NCAA, which certainly has a significant number of LGBT constituents, is also rather mealy-mouthed about their reaction.  I'd agree with Olbermann that they should have immediately pulled out of Indianapolis for the Final Four, regardless of where that forced them to have it.  Indiana's government needs to be smacked in the face, and it would have been good to see the NCAA give that first smack.  The NCAA would have taken a significant financial hit, this year, but would more than make it up down the road.

The hills are alive...

Friday's ride was quite uneventful; it was rainy and chilly (37F), but nothing special in either dimension.  I did my normal fifteen miles, then got ready for the working day (being glad that I didn't have sick kids to look after again).

This morning, the group ride fell through.  The group was riding, but an hour too late for me to join them.  Very disappointing.

I hadn't really made a back-up plan.  I hemmed and hawed a bit, and finally decided to do my hill route, which I hadn't done in a bit.

I started with a PR on the first section I hit, although that really had more to do with taking that segment gently in the past (ice concerns; it's steeply downhill with turns at the bottoms) than with trying especially hard today.

But I was happier to tie my PR on the first big uphill.  The bigger surprise there was that I hit two potholes (one with each tire) at the bottom, before going up (so I was doing about 30mph), so I was a bit tentative to start.  I was worried that I'd flatted one or both tires.  Thankfully, both survived, so I started pushing.  And I guess I pushed pretty well.

From there, I was going hard, but not especially so, until close to the end.

I think I'm getting better at pacing myself, although I suppose it's debatable if that's a good thing.  For going well on the ride at hand, it's good, but for training purposes, it probably isn't.  I'll need to give that some thought in the future.

In any event, getting back to the end of today's ride. My route takes me to just below the peak of a very steep hill (not from the steep side).  I hadn't taken that hill in a while, so I decided to go up and over, then down the road a little.  From there, I made a U-turn and attacked the steep side.  I've done that a number of times before, but not recently (partially because I have to avoid it, on easy rides.  It's steep enough that it isn't possible to keep my heart rate down while ascending), so I wasn't sure what to expect.

I felt good when I got to the top.  I felt like I could have pushed a little bit harder (maybe a fair bit harder, if it'd been closer to the beginning of the ride; that's hard to say), but also felt like I'd kicked its ass.  When it started leveling out, I was able to downshift a couple times before hitting the peak; always a good sign.

No surprise that it was a PR.  I thought I'd completely destroyed my PR, but my PR was a bit better than I'd remembered.  I still beat it by 10%, though, which is no small amount.  Three seconds faster would be enough to put me into the top ten.  I'll need to try again sometime soon.  In any event, I averaged 489W over the 36s of the climb; nothing to sneeze at, though quite a distance off my 36s record (701W).

I mentioned improving my peak power numbers each of the last couple months.  While I did fairly well this month, I broke that streak.  Perhaps I did too many hard rides.  For sure, though, I haven't been consistent enough with doing my evening exercises and stretching.  In particular, I haven't been doing the tabatas exercises (just haven't been feeling well in the evenings, mostly).

Anyway, tomorrow morning is going to be very cold again (24F), but it should warm up quite a bit after that.  I'm looking forward to trying the new jerseys I've collected (almost all at significant to huge discounts) over the last couple weeks.  A few of them are really nice, in both look and feel.


Long run

Yesterday, I was kind of able to do my planned long ride.  I rode out nearly to Gaithersburg to meet my dad for lunch.  That mostly went ok; I got a little lost on the way, though.

I went through much of DC on MacArthur Blvd, then turned right on Seven Locks Rd, both as planned.  At one point, Google Maps suggested leaving Seven Locks to cut over to a bike path (which, it turned out, was just beside the road).  In any event, I saw that cutover, but had previously decided to stay on the main road for the last little bit.  So I was going to go to my road (Wooten Pkwy), cross over, then take the bike path there, then follow some other roads I couldn't remember.

Well, I had the directions in my pocket, but was too lazy to stop and look at them.  I somehow remembered the road I was looking for as Moorcock.  Shortly after the cutover I mentioned, I crossed Montrose.  Kind of close, but I know Montrose, and I knew that wasn't it.  But I didn't see Moorcock, and I knew my road was supposed to be shortly after that cutover.  Finally, I came to Wooten, sure that I had overshot, and turned right onto the road itself.

For a while, that was fine.  Thirty-ish mph speed limit, but three lanes each way, so about what I'm used to.  Not a great situation, but not terrible either (especially as this wasn't a recovery ride).  Then I passed through a light, and there was no shoulder, and woods on the side.  Then I noticed that the speed limit was now 50mph.  Oh, shit!

I booked like you wouldn't believe until there was finally a shoulder, at least (and a wide one, so I felt safe there).  I kept my eyes open (not that there was much to see, in this stretch), until I saw Gude Dr coming up ahead.  I knew Gude appeared at some point in my directions, so, given a generous break in traffic, I turned left there.

Gude didn't start out too bad, but quickly widened to three lanes each way, with, probably, a 40mph limit.  Not good.  When an 18-wheeler decided that he needed to be in my lane (the next lane was empty), and honked his horn when next to me, I was decidedly peeved.  I wish I'd seen if there was a company name or number.

Anyway, the right lane soon became more manageable, and then I ran across Crabbs Branch Way, which was also on my directions.  After gratefully turning there, I finally stopped to check my directions, and saw that I was exactly on them.  Apparently, my directions would've had me go up Wooten on the other side (god, I wish I'd realized that), turn somewhere, wind around a bit, and get on Gude just before Crabbs Branch.

Feeling confident again, I forged ahead.  I'd worked out an alternate route a little ways ahead of there (it seemed safer, based on Street View shots), but forgot it when I got to that point.  Thankfully, that stretch had a dedicated bike path, and was actually quite nice.  From there, the ride was uneventful until I got to my destination.

Thirty-one miles, a bit under two hours, 17.11mph average.  Not bad, especially as I was carrying a bit more than usual.

Also, I forgot to mention the weather.  It was supposed to be a little light rain (maybe) just as I was starting out, quickly tapering into nothing, and about 38 degrees.  I knew I'd be chilly to start, but I left the house with a windproof jersey and shorts on.  There was enough rain, though, that I quickly turned around and returned home to get my rain pants on.  Good decision.

I almost turned around again just after leaving the second time, so that I could get my rain jacket, but decided I could do without it.  Probably not the correct decision, but it was ok.  The rain didn't end up being hard, but it lasted for quite a long time.  My shoes and pants were disgusting, and don't even ask about the bottom half of the bike.  Thank goodness I put the rain guard on the back wheel; I wish I'd done the same for the front.

The other part that was weird was that I was carrying rather more than usual.  Both water bottles (I usually don't even use one), though they were only filled with powder mix, and my bigger camelbak with camera, tripod, and sandals in it.

All in all, probably almost ten pounds of stuff to which I'm not accustomed.  Given all that, I wasn't terribly upset with the average speed.  A little less than I'd hoped, but not bad.

So I met up with my dad, and we had a pretty decent lunch.  And I should point out that I finally ate one of my quest bars up there.  Texture's not great, but the taste is delicious.

Heading home, I actually didn't feel great for the first mile or two after leaving.  But I continued to improve (I blame it on digestion, generally, and suspect that it was milder than it otherwise would've been because of being in ketosis, and not having the huge insulin spike), and kept going.

I went back the same way as I came, except that when I turned back onto Gude, I saw the Charles Henn Millennial Trail on the far side, and got on that.  Wasn't much of a trail at that point, just a strip of asphalt next to the road, but it was a godsend, safety-wise.  I had checked what my designated turn-off was (Dover Dr), but skipped it when I saw the trail continue.  I took the trail all the way to Wooten, and saw that the trail turned there, also.  So I ended up being on the trail all the way to Seven Locks Rd.  Awesome.

So the ride home passed with no drama at all, which made me happy.  The rain had had a chance to largely dry up, as well.  I didn't stop to take the pants off (too much of a pain to go through the process), but did take the shell gloves off.

Plus, I kept feeling better as I went (well, other than somewhat sore muscles), which is why I suspect a mild digestion issue.  Towards the beginning, I was thinking, "I hope I can make it home", whereas at the end, I was thinking, "Maybe I can finish off the century".

I got home, refueled and changed a bit, and was just about to get back on the bike, when my wife called to tell me I needed to pick up my son from school, as he wasn't feeling well.  Ugh.

I hadn't even finished the metric century, so I still got on the bike, but just for a quick loop around the neighborhood to put me safely over that mark (cyclemeter actually had me over already, but only by a couple tenths of a mile, which meant there was a danger of strava disagreeing).  I think it was just as well I wasn't able to go for the imperial century, though, because I wasn't feeling great by the end of that little loop.  And finishing the century would've been two hours of pushing the speed (time would've been a constraint, regardless.  Our lunch just took a bit too long).

So, I ended up with 66 miles, which wasn't bad.  A couple of PRs and, ironically, a fifth overall on that stretch of Gude where the truck honked at me.  At least something good came out of that mess.

But I was really sore afterwards.  In fact, when I got up this morning (expecting a thunderstorm), I still wasn't feeling great.  I did my fifteen mile loop, though, and actually felt better at the end than at the beginning.

And that thunderstorm?  It didn't materialize.  In fact, there wasn't any rain at all until 0930, or thereabouts.  And the day turned quite nice after that.

Recovery again tomorrow, and maybe a hard group ride on Saturday.  We'll see about the latter.

Update: Forgot to mention that the one real annoyance about the rain not appearing was that I was wearing my amfib tights in anticipation of the rain.  I like the tights, but would have preferred to save them (even if only to cut down on laundry space needed) for later.


Double duty

As planned, did an easy fifteen miles this morning.  I wore my Assos leg warmers for the first time in a while, and confirmed that, not only are they not worth the price premium over my PI Elite (no, not even the PRO version) warmers, but they aren't even better.  They're thinner, I think, and as warm, but not as comfortable.  Today, they were bunching a bit at the back of the knees, and they still have that seam running down the center of the front.  They aren't terrible, but definitely not worth getting.

It was a few degrees above feezing, and I decided to go in a different direction from what I normally do for easy rides.  I wore a heavy base layer, a hincapie jersey (long sleeve) that I just got at huge discount, and a thin windbreaker.  I was pleasantly surprised to be very comfortable, although the mittens looked pretty goofy on top, I'm sure.

The ride itself was uneventful, going the same path that I've done a number of times lately.  That is, down to Shirlington on George Mason, then right on the W&OD to Wilson, Wilson to Roosevelt (in Falls Church), cut behind the Metro back to the W&OD, on to Grove St, to Haycock, to Orland, to Powhatan, and back home.  As I said, about fifteen miles total, with 850' of elevation change.

I did have a fair bit of trouble keeping my heart rate down again, although the fact that I needed to get home a little bit early didn't help that.  Hopefully, it won't mess with things tomorrow.

Anyway, the double in the title refers to heading down to the bike shop to get the shifting looked at at lunch time.  It hasn't been quite right in a bit, and I have been wanting to get it looked at (or to figure out how to fix it myself) for a while.  The long ride for tomorrow decided me that today would be a good day to get it done.

Getting down there and back was a fairly easy six-mile ride (400'), although I didn't take my heart rate meter (plus, my power meter crapped out again just shy of the bike shop.  This time I'll go ahead and change the battery).  It had warmed up since this morning (to around 45F), so I wore the same togs as the morning ride, except that I ditched the leg warmers and base layer, and exchanged the mittens for lighter gloves.  That all worked out well, and lunch was excellent.  Win-win-win.

Time to see how tomorrow goes; it'll be a sixty-mile round trip, plus I'll add on some more miles (ideally, around forty), somehow.  I haven't figured out exactly how, or, more to the point, where.



Mix of feelings on the bike riding, this weekend.  Saturday, I was hoping to join a group ride, but it seems that just about everyone was out of town (the one guy who wasn't apparently slept in).  So I showed up, hung around for a few minutes to see if anyone else made it, then decided to get riding.

Showing up was already a little interesting, though.  I'd worn my heavy jersey, which I figured would be ok for a hard ride at right around freezing.  But I had a pretty light base layer underneath, and was chilled on the way to the meet-up.  So I turned around a couple minutes in, and went back for a jacket.  Luckily, I was a little early to begin with, and still made it on time.  Not that it mattered.

By the time I'd gotten there, I realized that I hadn't seen anything from my heart rate meter, and my power meter had cut out after about a mile.  Not feeling in tip-top shape, and missing both of those, I decided to make it an easy ride.  I ended up doing about 14.25 miles, and didn't go any further because my hands were cold (god, that sounds way too familiar).  It was a peaceful ride, though, so no major complaints.

I replaced the heart rate meter battery afterwards, and took the battery out of the power meter.  But, upon opening the power meter cover, I noticed that the battery wasn't seated, so I tried reseating it and checking on it.  Everything looked good.  Not terribly pleased about that, as a long-term prospect, though it was nice not needing to change the battery right now.

I had gotten a new saddle as well (slightly wider; I figured it wouldn't hit that spot that got me to switch over to the moon saddle for a couple days), and meant to change that, but I had already gotten distracted by the hockey game.  So when I remembered it, I decided it was already too late, and I needed to go to sleep.  Which I did.

So I got up in the morning, planning on a hard ride.  Since I didn't sleep much, I debated if I should do a hard ride, or not, but decided that I had to get one in.  I didn't set out to break any records, but managed sixteen PRs, two of which were KOMs.  One of those KOMs, in fact, was on that long stretch from Yorktown to Four Mile Run on George Mason Dr that I tried to break the other day.  Actually, I tied the KOM, but still beat my run from the other day by a good forty seconds.  The only explanation I can come up with is that I had to slow down less for the lights; my power was 216W avg both times.  Well, and it was a little warmer; that should make a tiny bit of difference.

Anyway, the point being that I completely kicked ass, as far as Strava was concerned.  What was weird, though, was that my average power was actually lower than the other day (181W vs 188W).  And my power curve for the ride didn't look that great; the only place I raised the curve was for times over an hour-seventeen.  It wasn't even that close until about fifty minutes.

And speaking of fifty, my other KOM on the ride was a climb up Pendleton St in Old Town, Alexandria.  I wasn't actually trying hard on that one, but still managed to cut my time by two seconds, which was enough to move me from a tie for second to a tie for first, at fifty seconds.  I guess I must have just been pacing myself better.  The power numbers for both rides are identical.

Anyway, the ride does show that power isn't everything, when it comes to riding fast.  I wish I knew what I did so well, though, as I'd like to repeat it.

Also, I should point out that the ride was 32 miles, a bit longer than I usually do, and I set more records on the back half than on the front.  I kind of wish I'd had some electrolyte drink for the tail end, though; water was all I took with me.  Next time I'll definitely do better with that.

The other upshot is that I ended up very tired, but very satisfied, with the performance.  In fact, the average speed for the whole ride was 17.9mph, which is pretty decent given both the distance and the elevation gain (1400'). Plus, I was going into a lot of wind for a goodly chunk of it.

Also, in a chunk of that windy part, I decided to try pushing really hard, really consistently, and I think I've got a handle on my lactate threshold heart rate, so that should help with setting heart rate zones.

I'm a bit amused, too.  I thought Strava's March climbing challenge had ended the day before, with me completing it by a tiny bit.  But it turns out that yesterday was the last day, so I blew it away by like 500m, when I thought I'd just barely finished.  I like the jerseys, too; I'm tempted to get one (I've never bought a Strava jersey before; they're quite expensive).

That left today's ride.  Obviously, after pushing like that yesterday, I was going to take it easy this morning.  No excitement with the kids before getting out, today, which was good.  I had to take my second-choice jacket, which wasn't.

It was a pretty calm ride, and mostly went well.  The only bad part was that I was having a little trouble keeping my heart rate down.  I'm looking now, and I only had three minutes and change over 125, which is better than I thought, but I'm betting that more than half of the remaining time was between 120 and 125.  That would bother me a lot less if my power numbers weren't so low: the average was only 85W, which is terrible.  At that heart rate, I should be pushing 120W or so.

I don't know... I'm still not feeling completely better, but I'm also not feeling terrible.  I don't know what to make of it.  Anyway, tomorrow will also be an easy day, and I'm trying to figure out what to do after that.  I need to take a day off before the end of the week, and it'd be nice to get a 100-ish mile ride in.

It'd be good practice for the Tour de Cure ride, as well as completing the Strava Grand Fondo 150 challenge.  I'm kind of looking to the weather to decide, and it looks like the weather doesn't really want to cooperate.  We'll see, I guess.


Moving on

Yesterday, as I'd planned, I did a hard ride around one of the longer of my Arlington loops.  This one was about 23 miles, and, as I indicated I was thinking, I went with just the jersey and a baselayer, rather than a jacket.

Clothing-wise, that worked out very well.  It was very comfortable, and I was warm enough all the way.  I went with the Assos glove tandem (bonka glove and shell), which was also a great fit for the day.

Being so comfortable, I started out riding hard, trying to get at least into second on the long segment on George Mason Dr on which I got fourth on my last hard ride.  The first part of that, I was surprised to be eight full seconds behind my time the other day, but I was also feeling much better at the end.  I also lost some time at the other end, but made up for it in the middle.

It was the first time I'd really set out to ride hard on a segment anywhere near that long, and it was rough.  I was quite tired at the end.  And I was semi-successful; I ended up tied for second, meaning that I only beat my time from the other day by a few seconds.  And that's without the mechanical stop.  So a bit disappointing all the way around, even if it looks better.

Overall, I only had three PRs, but I had a slew of second- and third-best segments.  So I guess I'd chalk it up as being moderately successful, if a little less so than I'd hoped.  There's a five-minute-ish segment covering four hills right around Ft Myer and Courthouse that I was really hoping to kill.

I felt really good, and did set a PR on the first hill, but the rest of it was second- and third-best times, ending up twelve seconds behind my record.  Still, I kept on, and finished the route averaging 18.6mph over the hour and thirteen minutes.  Nothing to set the world on fire, but nothing to be upset about, either.

I kept my heart rate solidly in zone four, with a good six minutes in zone five.  Loving that last bit, especially.

My power-based zone distribution was not as good, although I think a significant part of that was not having as many hills (just under 900' total elevation) as my hillier hard-riding route.  I got eighteen minutes at or above threshold, which isn't bad.  Not as much as I hope for (I'd like to get closer to thirty), but again, not bad.

That left today as a recovery ride, with the caveat that snow was forecast to start just before I got on the bike.  I was lucky not to see the snow, as I'd decided to not ride the hybrid, and got on the road only a little bit late.

It was raining, however, which was not fun, at a hair above freezing.  Also, I wore my Assos jacket, thinking that it was more sealed than the North Face shell/fleece liner that I normally wear on cold recovery rides.  That didn't work out well; the FuguJack is not completely sealed, it appears.  I finished with damply wet arms.  Not enough there to be worrisome, but it definitely didn't feel good.

Also, I went with the same gloves as yesterday.  Today, it was not such a good decision; my hands were considerably chilly well before finishing.  In fact, I wanted to do fifteen miles, but cut back to only twelve because of that chilliness.  Given that the snow was just starting as I finished, anyway, it might have been a good thing regardless.  Still, I don't like having that sort of thing forced on me.

I also might have gotten legs a little wet, somehow.  I was wearing the PI AmFibs, so I'm not sure how that might have happened.  I hope they haven't already lost their waterproofing; I guess we'll see, next time I wear them.

One good thing is that I mostly kept my heart rate down.  I was a bit worried, over the long stretch where I couldn't see the meter, but I killed it through there.  In that stretch, I kept it entirely between 114 and 123, which is basically perfect.  Just after, though, I blew it on a hill where I got up to 140.  Very annoying.

But I did keep it going right the rest of the way, so I think things will be fine for the group ride I'm expecting to do tomorrow.

The one thing that bothers me, a bit, is that my power was off, at that heart rate.  That was only with an average right around 100, and I should be putting out more like 120W at that heart rate.  I'm hoping that's just because I'm (still) not feeling well (although much better than a couple days ago).


Another day

Something strange happened this morning, relating to my bike ride.  I started a little early, getting out the door at 0527.  I was wearing tights and a heavy jacket, since it was back right around freezing.

Since I'd started early, I did the same loop as the day before, except I added a couple miles through Shirlington (including going up the big hill on S 31st St).  I usually do about an hour and a quarter, and I figured that'd add about fifteen minutes (while writing this, I figured out how to determine it.  It ended up adding 3.5 miles, and took 18:18.  So I was pretty close; in fact, I ended up with 92 minutes of moving time, so I was just about dead-on).

According to Strava, however, I actually started the ride at 0540, not roughly 0530.  I can't figure out where that ten minute discrepancy comes from, although my arrival home about fifteen minutes later than planned would seem to support Strava having the correct time, there.

Being a little late ended up being ok, though, since I didn't have to get breakfast.  I got in, got the paper, then went right up to get the kids out of bed and dressed.  We came downstairs and I got them breakfast, then did my morning ablutions.  So it wasn't really a problem.  Yay.

The one annoyance was that, late in the ride, I noticed that the sun was rising.  I didn't know, to the minute, when that was, but I knew that that indicated that I was running late.  So I had to rush the ride a little bit, which resulted in my heart rate getting a bit higher than I wanted several times towards the end of the ride.  But I think that will work out ok, too (it got up to 133, which is only about 7bpm higher than my target max.  And there is some evidence that my target max might be too low).

The point of keeping it down, of course, was that I did decide to make it an easy ride because of the doctor's appointment.

As far as the doctor, it went... up and down.  They took my height and weight, putting me an inch shorter than last time, and at 152#.  The latter is a pound and change more than I'd weighed myself at home, but does include wearing shorts and having my necessities in those shorts.  So basically the same, I think.  The height is a little weird, although I was slouched a little bit (I would not have guessed an inch, though).

Temperature, surprisingly (since I've been feeling sick for several days), was at my normal.  Blood pressure was pretty low (a tiny bit lower than I normally measure, but not ridiculously so), but pulse was way high.  That is, they measured at 110, and my average on the bike ride was only 117.  So something was going wonky, there.

Because that was so high, they wanted to do an EKG, but everything came out just fine on that (including a pulse of only 71).

I also asked for a ketone test, which I got.  The answer (I figured out after I got home, since they gave it to me in mg/dL instead of mM/L) is that I am in ketosis.  That made me happy, except that I had to listen to the doctor tell me to eat more carbs, that I shouldn't be "emitting so many ketones".

She did say that it's not a dangerous number, which I would have known if she'd given me the other units, but that I needed to eat more carbs to have more energy.  I've never had more energy (well, rarely).  So I think she really doesn't know anything about ketosis, other than the diabetes 1-related ketoacidosis (ironically, the nurse who initially took my vitals suffers from type 1 diabetes).  But acidosis requires more than ten times as many ketone bodies as what I had; I can't get there from here.

The somewhat sad thing here is that I did tell her I went on the diet in order to put my body into ketosis.  So she knew that was the goal.  So her telling me to ingest more carbs really doesn't make a lot of sense.

Anyway, the confirmation about having gotten there was pretty cool.  Maybe I'll just start doing weekly checks on that, to verify that I'm continuing.

In any event, hard ride tomorrow (it'll again be right around freezing).  I'm looking forward to it.  I just got my first long-sleeve jersey (ironic, I know, but I got it at 65% off, so it's hard to argue with that).  I might try wearing just that with a heavy base layer.  If it's warm enough, the freedom of movement will certainly feel nice.


Catching up on riding

Hadn't realized I had so many days up on which to catch, for biking.

Friday was a gentle (too gentle, really) ride in preparation for a hard group ride on Saturday.  It was chilly again; right around freezing, but at least it was dry.

Saturday, I wasn't feeling well at all.  A result of that is that I overslept by half an hour or so.  That forced me to miss the group ride, but feeling the way I was, that wasn't much of an issue.  Going on the group ride still would have been a terrible idea.

Because I wasn't feeling well, I took it easy (extremely easy, actually).  I managed to do fifteen miles, though it was at a very slow pace.  Not helping matters, my power meter died only four miles in, giving me no pacing feedback.  So I can't really say how hard I was riding (even compared to my usual easy rides), though I did do a good job keeping my heart rate down.

In any event, I went out again Sunday, again taking it easy (and after replacing the power meter's battery.  Which had lasted a hell of a lot less than the 200 hours they advertise.  More like 10-20, this time).

I generally took it easy, and did the 25-mile loop that was my standard for a while.  I did a great job with my heart rate (though the power was quite a bit less than I prefer), with the result that the ride took a couple minutes short of two hours.  But I still made it home in time to get the kids ready for church, so no issues there.  All in all, quite a nice ride.

Oh yeah.  Almost forgot.  I'd been having slight soreness right next to one of my sit-bones for several days, and put my moon saddle on the bike Saturday night.  One minute into Sunday's ride, I knew it wasn't positioned correctly (too high and too far forward), but decided not to turn around for that (and I wasn't able to adjust it with my multitool.  I couldn't turn two of the three adjustment screws with it.  Not cool).

It felt quite a lot different.  I think there's some good facets to it, if it's adjusted well, and I wonder if it'd be good to use more regularly.  I ended up using it again Monday, but taking it off Monday night.

It definitely forces me to do a better job distributing my weight between my feet, hands, and bottom.  But it feels incredibly different, mostly in not-good ways.  I'm not convinced it isn't good, as a long-term change, but I still took it off last night, and put the old saddle back on.

Yesterday, I wanted to do a hard ride, but I again wasn't feeling at all well.  After debating a while, I decided that I'd still do a hard ride, but further debate got me to thinking that a shorter one would be a better idea than the longer one I'd originally been thinking about.  Annoyingly, the temperature had gone back to just above freezing.

I went out, and felt ok for the first ten minutes or so, but then the illness (cold, flu, whatever) caught up to me, and I started struggling.  I held on long enough to get eleven miles in (with a lot of elevation, at that), but still bailed earlier than the fourteen-ish miles I'd planned on (which was eleven miles less than the path I'd originally planned, though with more elevation).

It was not a good morning when I got home.  I was tired, my wife was tired (she had stayed up all night to do work), both of us (and our youngest) were sick... Not a fun day.  I had my iPad with which to attempt to do work, and that actually worked pretty well.  But that was the only bright spot until, in the evening, I got the aforementioned good news about the iMac.

But I was feeling better, illness-wise, towards the end of the day, so I was pretty sure I could get a good ride in.  I went to bed a fair bit later than I should have, but still managed to get up.  And of course, with the hard ride yesterday, I was taking it easy this morning.

I did the fifteen-ish mile course I've been doing, of late, and felt pretty good.  I worried, towards the end, that I was getting home too late.  That got me to push a little harder than I would have, but it all worked out ok.  I was still at a significantly lower power than where I really wanted to be, but not nearly as much so as on Sunday.

I'm still debating about tomorrow; training-wise, it would be a good time for a hard ride, but I also have a physical at 0900, and need to show up for that in a fasting state.  The good part is that I'll get done the bloodwork I've been curious about, but fasting for an additional two hours or more after a hard ride doesn't sound pleasant (perhaps not even terribly healthy).  I'll think about it some more; at least I have that going for me.

Update: I forgot to talk about the weather for yesterday's ride.  The forecast was for 51-53F, although I checked before going outside, and saw it was only 48F.  That's above the level where I normally put a jacket on (45F is my usual rule of thumb), but I decided to put one on anyway (my lightest windbreaker).

And man, was I glad I did.  I was pleasantly surprised my hands ended up ok for the ride (I was wearing my summer gloves, which are full-finger, but have no wind breaking ability at all).  The average temperature for the ride was around 45F, but it got down as low as 39F, so I was a bit chilled for a while, in there.  Still, not too bad overall.  And my legs were fine (ironically, I'll wear shorts for normal daily activities down into the twenties, but I start wearing leg warmers for biking at around 40F), so maybe I should stop wearing so much leg insulation.

And I never noticed it before, but I definitely noticed the flapping that the jacket I was wearing was doing, while riding.  I wonder if a more form-fitting windbreaker would be a good thing.  I probably won't bother, but it does bear some thought.

A fly in the ointment

Things have been going pretty well, lately, although I ran into a pretty big snag back on Friday.  I went to use my iMac, and hit the key to enable unlocking the screen saver, and nothing happened.  That happens occasionally, so after a few tries, I gave up and held down the power button.

After five seconds, still nothing happened.  Uh oh.

Finally, it occured to me that it was probably not on, for some reason (I knew I had left it on, Thursday night).  So I turned off the external drive, and realized I couldn't hear anything.  Uh oh.  Not only was it off, but I'd already hit the power switch with nothing happening.

I checked that the power hadn't come out, and that the UPS was still on (my kids have been known to turn it off without knowing what they're doing.  I thought I'd gotten that out of their systems, but you need to check).  Everything was fine there.

Just for grins, I took it down (wall mount) and tried plugging it in elsewhere.  No surprise, nothing doing.

So I got online to see when I could take it to the Apple Store.  Saturday, 1230.  Set it up, then realized that wouldn't work.  Couldn't do anything sooner.  Well, maybe I can do better taking it directly to the Apple Store.

Got there, was told I'd need to wait an hour and forty-five minutes for a Genius Bar appointment.  Ugh.  But, I need it to do work, so no choice.  Waited around a bit, reading some documents for work (did take the iPad with me for a reason).  Was debating what to do about parking, as it was only free for two hours, and decided it didn't matter.  I'd just stay as long as it took (I was only half an hour or so into my wait).

Then, quite a break.  One of the Geniuses came up to me and said they could talk to me immediately.  Awesome.  Talked, was told the problem was most likely going to be the logic board (not something I wanted to hear, both because of the expense, and because I had come in 100% sure it was the power supply).  They had the logic board in stock (a bit of a surprise, for a machine almost six years old), but not the power supply.  They said they'd try the logic board right away, and that they'd order the power supply, just in case, and they'd call me within 48 hours with the status.

I waited until Monday to call them back (giving them a break on the 48 hours, as 24 of those hours were Sunday), feeling a lot of trepidation: that logic board's expensive.  At least 2/3s the value of the whole machine.  That, needless to say, did not make me feel good.

Anyway, called Monday, talked to repair people in California (or wherever the call center is that Apple uses; you can't call the local store directly).  The automated reply said it was in progress, and nothing further.  After talking to a person, they were able to forward me to the service department.  The service department said it looked like things were complete, and they called the store to find out more.  After being on hold for a while (they offered a call-back, but I preferred to wait), I finally got someone from the store, who confirmed that it was available.  Yay.

It did turn out to just be the power supply (1/5-1/4 the cost of the motherboard), thank goodness, so I was happy to pay the bill and get it back (though they did threaten to take my power cable, saying that they never took those for repairs.  Even though they had.  But they agreed to give me one after hemming and hawing for a minute or two).

So, a few dollars poorer, I'm back in business (literally and figuratively).

It was my first time doing a non-warranty repair for one of my Macs.  No complaints.


Short Caps update

I missed the Buffalo game entirely, the other night.  I didn't watch it live, because my kids were watching something, and didn't watch it the next day as another game (Philly vs NJ, of all things) came on the same channel, and recorded over it.  Now I remember why I'd set that channel to save two recordings, instead of one.

Then, last night, I forgot to check the channel beforehand (I should have been thinking that it'd be on NBCSN, being on Wednesday night), and didn't set it to record.  The good thing was that the game started at 2000, instead of the normal 1900, so I didn't miss nearly as much.  But I did still miss the first period and a chunk of the second while getting the kids ready for bed.

I knew, beforehand, that there were some injuries (I've been close to keeping up on twitter, lately).  So I knew the defense was a bit of a mess (Orpik and Green were both out.  Hopefully not for long), with Schmidt (glad to see him back from injury) and Schilling on the back line.

Bura also got sent down, again, for reasons that mystify me.  I suspect the proximate cause is to get him playing time when Trotz wants to sit him, but I don't understand why Barry doesn't want him on the ice.  He's not a perfect player (geeze, he's 19, what do you expect?), but he's pretty damned good.  More to the point, he improves the team when he's there.

My suspicion is that Trotz is getting a biased (in the technical sense; I forget what this particular bias is called) view of Bura, where he sees the mistakes and downplays all the good stuff.  Net, he's heavily positive, but it's certainly true that he makes some mistakes.

Anyway, the rest of the second period went about as badly as possible, given that the Caps didn't give up any goals (they were already down 2-1 when I turned it on).  I don't have a count from that point forward, but they only had four shots on net for the whole period.  That's not a record, but it's really terrible.  Not surprisingly, two questionable power plays (I don't understand how the hit that Glencross responded to wasn't a penalty for being a hit to the head, which would have made it matching penalties.  And I didn't see anything wrong with the hit that sent OV to the box, either) didn't help with that.  But even without those, they were spending way too much time in their own zone.

Still, being down only one, the third opened with a bit of hope.  And the Caps really took it to the Rangers, keeping them hemmed in.  Particular kudos on that to Schmidt for one unbelievable shift, early on, where he kept it in three or four times in a row.

Unfortunately, the only goal in the period came when Carlson and Schmidt both messed up (Carlson's pass was errant and slow, and Schmidt came forward too much to try to get it), leading to a two-man breakaway with Kreider and St Louis.  No surprise when MSL buried that one for the two-goal advantage.

That came with a bit over two minutes left, but basically left the Caps hosed.  They continued pressing, and took Holtby out right away, but it wasn't enough, and the Rangers skated away with the win and a tie for the President's Cup (four-way tie; how weird is that.  All four division leaders are tied with 91 points).  And it's only technically a tie, too, as the Rangers have 1-3 games in hand against each of the others, as well as the best goal differential.  Nashville has the best Fenwick differential of the four, though (by a lot, compared to the Rangers.  Amazingly, the Rangers are barely positive in Fenwick +/-).

Disappointing game, but no real reason to be particularly discouraged.  Frankly, Talbot had an amazing game to keep the Caps behind.  They'll do better.

And not so boring

I got out this morning a little earlier than yesterday.  I knew I was a little overdressed when I left, but I was expecting the temperature to drop, perhaps by as much as six or eight degrees.  It did end up dropping by five, but I can't say as I noticed it.  I was probably bathing in sweat by the time it did.

Still, I decided that I was going to push it today, and I did that, right from the start.  I turned left onto George Mason Dr, as usual, though taking the turn a little faster than normal.  I then stood up and tried to crank, but I did a good job in that I didn't burn myself out in the first twenty seconds (as I sometimes do).  I was trying to improve my time on a segment that I'd worked hard on, last year, but on which this was only my second attempt of the year.

And improve I did.  I took seven seconds off my record (and I had seven more tries within three seconds of that), putting me in a solid second for the segment.  I'm in no danger of getting KOM, there, as the current one beat me (yes, my new time) by another nine seconds, but I was still very happy.  And I might be able to knock another second or two off, actually, because I wasn't completely wasted at the end (which I was in my previous PR run), and apparently tailed off a little in the last second or two (I thought I was finished).

Anyway, I crossed Rt 29, had a mechanical problem that forced me off the bike for, probably, half a minute (which didn't show up, somehow.  I'm curious why.  I'm also curious why it felt like the chain was stuck for a minute).  Then I started cranking down George Mason, eventually setting a PR for Yorktown to W&OD.  That was largely accidental, as I was only seriously cranking at the very end, but it was cool to see.  In fact, I finished fourth overall on the segment, and probably would have been bucking for first (definitely, I would have been solidly in second, as I was only three seconds out of second) without that chain problem.

A little disappointing to be so close, yet so far, but I'm glad that I did well in the segment of that at the end, where I was really trying (to say nothing of how happy I was to have killed that first segment).

By this point, though, I had noticed that I wasn't seeing anything from my heart rate meter, and I was pretty pissed about that, as the current battery only had 15-20 hours on it.  That's just terrible.  It never came back, either, so I'm forced to conclude that it must have been the battery.  Nothing to be done about it, though.

But my heart rate was definitely way up there; I think I did a better job of keeping it up there than I had in a long time.  For sure, I finished the twenty-three miles at 18.65 mph (per Cyclemeter.  I just noticed that Strava has 0.35 miles less in over two minutes longer time, with an average speed of only 17.9mph.  Curious), which is considerably better than I've done in a while.  And that's with almost 900' of elevation, which isn't bad.

One thing I didn't do, which I'd talked about, was ingest some carbs before the ride to try to improve my top-end power.  Well, my top-end power was still quite good.  In fact, I was only a few watts off my all-time best, and maintained that power for a couple seconds (right before the end of the ride, at that).  So definitely nothing lost due to the diet, there.  I still want to improve significantly, there, but that's encouraging.

As far as the diet's concerned, I've weighed myself at 149 and change for three of the last four days (after breakfast, but nearly naked).  The fourth day, I was 151.2, but that was taken after lunch.  So maybe 150# is stable.  We'll see.

I have started doing my Quick4 workout at night again, and I've noticed that that helps with my breathing.  I definitely should not have stopped doing that.

And I got a weight bench, mostly to do squats and leg curls, but haven't set it up yet.  I need to get that set up.  The squats, I think, I'll do daily, and probably do the leg curls every other day.  At least, that's the plan.

Tomorrow will definitely be a coasting day; I'll probably aim for 13-14 miles at an easy pace.  Saturday will probably be a hard day again, as I'll try to join up with that group ride again.  I still don't think I'm in any danger of kicking their asses (especially not over any length more than a minute or so), but I'm hoping I can at least hang with them.  Last time I went, they were dragging me along; it'd be really sweet if that weren't the case next time.

The one thing I really need to do (preferably before tomorrow) is adjust my rear derailleur.  I'm not sure how (other than that the LOW setting is definitely too high), but it's got some issues at the moment.

One good thing is that I took my crank and cassette off, a couple days ago, and gave them a sickeningly-complete cleaning.  That might have caused the rear derailleur issue (it felt like the cassette might not have gone as far onto the hub when reassembling), but it seems to've fixed the front derailleur issue I was seeing before that.  Baby steps, and all that.

Update: I did confirm that the heart rate meter problem was totally battery-related.  Annoying, but better than a defective meter.


Boring ride?

Not much going on with my ride this morning.  I got up early, but somehow managed to not get out of the house any earlier, which was annoying.

I rode down to Shirlington (almost), but turned right instead of left at Four Mile Run.  I took the bike path from there all the way back up to Wilson Blvd, took that across to Roosevelt/Sycamore, then got back on the bike path to West St, turned a block early for Great Falls Rd, and found myself on Highland (which is basically just a big hill, up and down, running parallel to I-66).  That took me all the way to Haycock, which was fine (I was going to take Great Falls to Haycock anyway), and I cut across the back way from Haycock and Westmoreland, over to Powhatan.

From there, it was a straight shot home.  A total of almost fifteen miles, which is a little shorter than I really wanted to do.

However, it's a good thing I didn't try to do any more, because I got home a few minutes later than I'd wanted, anyway.

Part of that was not getting out of the house as early as planned.  The other part was that I was going slower; I couldn't see my RFLKT+ for much of the ride, so I couldn't use the power meter to pace myself.  And my power output was much lower than the 120W that I target (91W, actually, although that includes averaging in the two minutes or so of the meter dropping communication).  So despite doing a lot of riding in the drops, I was definitely going quite a bit slower than normal.  Having a bit more hills than usual also didn't help.

The one good thing was that there was supposed to be quite a bit of rain, and there turned out to only be a little bit.  It was enough that I'm glad I dressed for it, but most of the ride was still fairly dry.

Tomorrow is supposed to be a bit cooler, but completely dry.  Not sure if I should consider that exchange to be a win.


Or not sprung

This morning's ride was supposed to be fairly warm (40-ish F), but turned out to be a little chillier (34-37F).  My first hint at that came before I'd even closed the door to the house, but I decided that it would be fine once I got moving (even though this was going to be an easy ride).

Well, my rain jacket (it was supposed to rain, if not right away, then soon) was not quite warm enough.  I managed, but a long-sleeve base layer would have done much better than the light jersey I was wearing.  And I should have worn the shell gloves over the gloves I wore.  They're supposed to be fine down to 20F, and they weren't.  The irony there is that I wore them yesterday, with the shells, when it was a few degrees colder, and that was fine (but also on a more vigorous ride).  I'll have to see how they do in that temp on an easy ride, with the shells.

Other than that... well, I only wore knee warmers on my legs, and those were fine.  I had the rain covers on my shoes, which turned out to be unnecessary (and possibly silly, since I eschewed my rain pants).

For the ride itself, though, I got out a little early and did most of the trail loop around Arlington (I cut off a couple miles by taking George Mason Dr all the way to Shirlington instead of detouring at I66).  It ended up at 19 miles, which worked out perfectly, timing-wise, so I'm glad I did (although the temperature did factor into the decision, as that section of trail tends to be several degrees colder than anywhere else around).

Somehow, the rain still hasn't arrived, but is still projected as imminent.  Tomorrow is currently forecast for mid- to high-forties, with rain.  Rain doesn't sound too bad, with that temperature.  I might well do the trail loop again, maybe with those extra miles.

Apple news

I haven't posted anything about the upcoming Apple Watch, and hence, nothing about yesterday's press event that was sure to be the "coming out" party for the watch.  Basically, I had no intention of buying one, so, while I found some of the discussions about it interesting, I wasn't thinking about it on any kind of deep level.

Nevertheless, I watched much of yesterday's event via live stream (and the rest via liveblog; I had a couple things going on for some of it).

I did find the price reduction of the Apple TV mildly interesting, as it shows that Apple wants more of those devices out there.  And they're good devices; I do have one, although I don't use it a whole lot.  But what it would take to get me excited about them are a couple things: a faster processor (A7 or A8 should be easy enough), an app store, and a real gigabit connection (for playing high bit rate, HD content).  Lopping thirty dollars off the price is nice, but doesn't come close to addressing any of those three issues.

The HBO thing is a little bit tempting.  I don't watch any HBO shows, although I'd like to watch 'Last Week, Tonight'.  The bits of that that I've caught on youtube are just incredibly good.  Best in-depth news show on the air (and no, that's not meant sarcastically.  I don't think anything, on any network, even comes close.  Better in width, perhaps, but not even close, in terms of depth), and I like the specific issues they've been tackling.

The point is, I'm not sure if that show is worth that much, but it's tempting.  I'll probably at least take advantage of the free month, next month.  And it might get me to take a look at some of the other shows (Game of Thrones should be right up my alley, although I've actually had zero temptation to watch it.  Not sure why).

If I still used notebooks, I'd be going bonkers over the new MacBook.  That looks like an incredibly sweet machine.  They weren't kidding about all the work going in to making that one possible; there were some really nice improvements.

Like Siracusa, I'm wondering why there isn't a second port (symmetrically on the other side), but that's the only thing close to a weakness that I can see.  Well, and, to a lesser degree, that access to that port is going to be a bit of a mess, wire-wise.  But if I still used laptops, I'd be all over that thing.  I certainly want to see a Magic Trackpad for my iMac with those technologies built in.

With that CPU, and that much memory, the MacBook isn't a workhorse of a machine, but it looks amazing for light-duty work.

ResearchKit is definitely an example of Apple putting the right foot forward.  I'm a little skeptical about adoption, but the potential is there for a major game-changer for medical research.  And I'd love to see it happen.  Heck, it'd make it easy enough (at least, it might), that I might get involved in some studies, even without compensation.

This is something that probably wouldn't've happened under Jobs (I'm 90+% sure it wouldn't have, at least before Jobs became so ill), but that is a great idea.  Cook, I think, has very different strengths and weaknesses than Jobs, but I find it far from clear that he is an inferior CEO, despite all the nay-sayers I've heard.

Getting on to the meat of the event, they finally got to the Watch, itself.  And I'm still not terribly excited about it, although much of that has to do with not being a watch-wearer.  It occurred to me, while watching the event, though, that it would probably be a great fit for my wife.  So I'll probably order one for her on day one.  For me, I'll think about it more seriously when the second generation comes out (next year, presumably).

Basically, the fitness stuff would be nice, and I'd really like having Apple Pay so easily available.  But those are really the only things for which I, personally, would use one.  Those aren't worth that much to me.  But there were some really cool apps they talked about.

The funniest, I thought, was the speakerphone.  Nothing new, technology-wise, in that (although you do have to wonder if developing that was what drove the development of the Continuity features in iOS and OSX), but what I found funny about it was what it would likely do to battery life.  Still, it's a great capability, even if it will chew your batteries in no time.


Spring has sprung?

Impressive variation in the weather over the last several days.  Two days ago, my ride was in 12F temperatures, with lots of snow and ice on the roads.  So much, in fact, that I rode my hybrid out of fear of that ice.

And because of that, I did only 12.5 miles.  Ironically, after the day before, where I struggled to keep my heart rate down in my target range, this day I had trouble keeping it up above 115bpm or so.  And basically, whenever it was lower than that, I was getting cold.  I ended up doing a pretty decent job, working hard enough not to get cold with not working too hard.

Yesterday was where things got a bit weird.  My ride was right around the freezing point, which is actually pretty warm for the last several weeks (to illustrate, we drove along the Potomac later in the day, and it was mostly frozen over.  That doesn't happen very often; every five years or so, maybe).

I debated back and forth for a while, but ended up doing an easy, if long (for my time constraints), ride.  The difficulty with this one largely had to do with external factors.  We'd had friends over that night, who stayed quite late.  Then my daughter didn't sleep well, waking me up several times during the night.  Finally, we lost an hour to Daylight Savings Time.  Add all that up, and I only got a couple of hours of sleep.

It actually didn't make the ride itself much worse, but I got home, ate breakfast, and then crashed for a couple of hours.  I'm glad I didn't compound things by making it a tough ride.

What really made things wacky, though, was that it was over 55F when we rode up the Potomac, later in the day.  It really felt like spring, and looked like it too, with so many people out riding, walking, and jogging.  In a way, I was glad I wasn't out riding later in the day, with the crowds.  Although the temperature would've been glorious.

This morning, it was back to right around the freezing point, but I definitely went for the hard ride.  Almost 1400' of elevation in 47 minutes, averaging almost 17mph.  Yeah, I was tired at the end, although a little less than the last time I did the same ride (despite the prior being roughly one mph slower with seven watts less normalized power (per Strava); eleven watts, straight average).

I think I'm probably into ketosis, at this point.  I haven't tested (I found the strips much cheaper than I mentioned, and did buy them), but I don't think there's any way I could have done what I did this morning, without that being the case.  What I do need to do, though, is to start eating some carbs of some sort right before starting my harder rides.  I've done some more reading, and I think that'll help a little bit with top-end power (as long as I don't overdo it, and push myself out of ketosis).

Further to the ketosis point, I'm now down about eight pounds since starting the diet, and my weight loss rate might have actually increased (I've been doing better, lately, about keeping the carbs down).  And that comes despite eating huge amounts of food.  I haven't counted calories, but it's well over 3k a day, for sure (4k wouldn't surprise me).  The one thing I'm a little concerned about is whether I'm eating too much protein.  And I've done well on getting enough vegetables the last few days, but I need to keep that up.  That's still the toughest part for me.

Anyway, getting more specific, I tipped the scale below 150# today for the first time since I was 16 or 17 (I know I was at 155# when I graduated at seventeen).  That's already lighter than I expected to get, at all.  Kind of wondering where the elevator bottoms at, at this point.

According to the Navy Body Fat Estimator, I've gone from about 13% body fat (when I started biking; several months pre-diet) down to seven.  What I find particularly interesting about that (other than that getting much lower isn't terribly healthy) is that I was measured (using skin fold measurements) at 7% a few months before high school graduation (and again, that was at 155#).  That's why I thought getting to 150# was actually unachievable (at least, while maintaining fitness; wasting away would certainly let me get there).

What's weird about that, though, is that it indicates about thirteen pounds of lean mass trimmed as well.  That seems very weird, to me.  I haven't lost strength, as near as I can tell.

Ah well.  The forecast indicates that it shouldn't get below freezing (even at the lows) for the next ten days.  I'm looking forward to that, even if it means I'll have to watch out for people more.


Further challenges

I got up a little early the last two mornings.  Yesterday, it was to try to get out before the snow started.  The snow was supposed to start right about the time I was going to leave, so I thought I'd get out a little bit early.

When I got up, I looked and saw no snow on the ground, and thought about riding the road bike (temperature was right around freezing, to boot).  But I was worried about ice on the road, and decided to play it safe.

It turns out I'd've been fine if I'd gone out on the road bike, but I was worried about finding ice the hard way again.  What did surprise me was seeing a couple other cyclists going the other way; I haven't seen hardly any over the last couple of weeks.  Something about the snow and cold, I imagine.  And the hour doesn't help, for that matter.

The one interesting thing is that one of my mittens, in particular, got a lot of water in it (my fault; I could have certainly avoided much, if not all, of that).  That necessitated finally using my boot/glove dryer that I bought a month or so ago.  Glad to see that it seems to've worked well without ruining the equipment; I was a little worried.  We'll see how it works if I need to use it for, say, the Assos gloves.

Today was much more challenging.  That snow that I'd worried about was falling for most of the day yesterday, and it mostly hadn't been cleared.  And I was staying, as much as I could, on the main roads.  It was downright ugly.

And, to add insult to injury, the temperature was down around ten degrees (9-12F).  So it was pretty tough.  I got almost nine miles in, and was thwarted from going further by the tough time I was having keeping my heart rate down.

Essentially, to go further, I'd've needed to go up one or more very steep hills, and there's no way I'd've kept it down on those.  I still got up to 141bpm as it was (target max: 125).

I'd like to say that I conquered the challenge, because I did get out and get miles in, but it's probably more fair to call it a draw, since I did a fair bit less than I really wanted to do.

Tomorrow, I'm not sure.  I might be doing a group ride early, which would require the road bike.  But if not, I think I'll just ride the hybrid again.  I'm not sure I'll find anything except the main roads passable tomorrow (and even those might have some ice on them), so I'm leaning towards playing it safe again.  But if they're doing the group ride, I'll give it a go.


Bibi-tibobbity boo!

I've been largely ignoring this situation, but yesterday, Israel's prime minister, Netanyahu, was given a chance to speak before a joint session of Congress.

This was Boehner's attempt at a direct slap in the face to Obama, and Bibi wants to discontinue talks with Iran on nuclear enrichment and sanctions.  It is also an unprecedented move, to undercut the President in purely international matters.

The rule has always previously been "politics stops at the water's edge", meaning that a unified governmental face is always presented to outsiders.  But the GOP's insistance on politicizing everything having to do with Obama continues, and no social pressure is sufficient to cut back their attempts to keep him from accomplishing anything (witness the continuous use of the filibuster over the last six years, for instance).

But I think this move might have backfired, on a couple of levels.  One, the GOP seems generally fine with giving the President more power (witness their actions on trade negotiations, for instance, as well as their continued inaction on immigration and spending), so knee-capping the office of the President doesn't seem to have gone over well with the base.

Plus, Bibi's speech wasn't terribly coherent.  He said that the Iranian government is composed of genocidal maniacs, and that talks are useless, but that Iranians will nevertheless become desperate for talks if the sanctions are given more time to run their course.  Left unanswered were why economic coercion would work on those "maniacs" and why Israeli polling shows Iran as the fourth-most important issue in the upcoming election if Iran is an "existential threat".

Similarly unexplored was the question of how well Iran's government would possibly function if, as Bibi seems to want, he were allowed to install it (preferably after a war, it seems).

Although I will say that I took a brief look at RedState last night (for the first time ever), and Bibi was being called the "Churchill of our time" there (an insane assertion, on a number of levels).  I think the person writing that particular article didn't much pay attention to what was said, based on his comments.

All of this leads me to wondering about where politics is headed, over the next couple of years.  Thus far, the GOP majority in the House has shown itself completely incapable of governing; hopefully that will turn around, somehow.  I suspect it will require the ouster of Boehner for that to happen (at a minimum).

Caps (roller) coaster

So, I've watched all the games since my last post (including the final two periods against Philly).  And boy, has it been a mixed bag.

The last two against Philly weren't too bad; not great, but not nearly as bad as the first.

The attempt at the season sweep against Pittsburgh was not good.  They looked unready in the first, and incapable through the second and third.  Malkin just being outright dominant did not help matters.  He missed a couple of the earlier meetings with the Pens, but I can't remember if he missed them all.  Regardless, he was easily the best player on the ice for that one.

The Carolina game... Man, the Caps again just looked unready for the first period.  I remember, a few years ago, repeatedly complaining that the Caps let themselves fall behind, then played like demons to win or tie.  By the time I'd watched this game, I was feeling like they were back in that mode.

And then cam Toronto and Columbus, and the difference in those two games, versus the three previous, was night-and-day.  Really, both were dominant games.

Scoring-wise, I guess most of the difference was secondary (or tertiary) scoring, because OV and Backstrom have continued their torrid points pace, and are now tied for the league points record (by themselves, after last night; before that, it was a four-way tie).  But the bigger difference is in possession numbers.  The three losses came with abysmal possession numbers.

I don't know where they're going from here, but it certainly looks a lot more encouraging than it did a couple days ago.

One factor in there is that two trades were made.  Gleason was brought in to round out the top six on defense.  I'm not thrilled with it, but he was cheap and will probably end up getting Green more minutes.

The other leaves me a bit less sanguine.  Glencross was brought in from Calgary, and is costing a second and a third pick in this year's draft.  I'm not terribly happy with his numbers, especially the drop in his possession numbers (and goals) this year and last.  The plan seems to be to put him on the second line with Brouwer and Kuzya.  I guess the pair of breakaways that the line got, last night, is encouraging, even if neither resulted in a goal.

Glencross has generally been used in a shut-down capacity, and that's part of why I'm not thrilled.  There's just no room for him on the first or third line, and those are the lines that face the toughest opposition.  Anyway, I think that was too much to pay for a so-so rental player, but not horribly so.

I hope he ends up contributing.  Next up will be Minnesota, on Thursday; hopefully the good numbers will continue (and maybe Dubnyk can have an off-day).  Go Caps!

Keep on rollin'

The last two days have been pretty quiet, in terms of riding.  I went into the hills along Military Rd yesterday, and pushed pretty hard.  And today I did fifteen miles at a more relaxed pace.

I was moderately pleased with both rides.  Actually, that's a bit off; I was moderately pleased yesterday, and almost completely happy with this morning.

Yesterday, my little bit of disappointment is that I didn't set more records, or have higher power averages.  I also wish I'd ridden a bit further, although I'm not sure where I would have added the miles.  I did put a lot of power in, though, and felt pretty good when I was doing it.  I was certainly tired by the time I finished.

I'd like to improve my short-term power; I expected to do better on that than I have (I've mostly been a sprinter, all my life).  So when I was way short of my records (and even my records aren't all that high, comparatively), I wasn't thrilled.  But my numbers got closer and closer to my peaks, the longer the timeframe considered, until it basically reached them at about 45 minutes.  So, a weird feeling, but maybe that's a good thing.  Maybe I'm getting better at pacing myself.

And speaking of pacing, there was this morning's ride.  As a straight-out recovery ride, I was trying not to push it.  Basically, my goal on those rides is to average as close as possible to 120W without pushing my heart rate over 125.  If I can up my speed at the same time, that's even better (sign of better aero positioning, mostly).

This morning I managed an average of 111W, and spent two minutes at 125-131 bpm pulse.  Not perfect, but pretty darned close.  And I got in almost fifteen miles, which is pretty good.  And I got home at 0700 almost on the dot; that's pretty much always my target, but was especially important this morning, as my wife needed to leave early.

So, damned near a perfect ride.  The biggest question is, can I up my zone two power so I can target 140-150W.  Well, it hasn't happened yet, but maybe it will if I can keep doing rides like this (preferably without those couple minutes over 125bpm).  And I'm still losing weight; if I can lose a few more, that'll help with speed as well.  My real target, I guess, is to get back to doing twenty+ miles every day, but to be doing it in zone two instead of zone four.  Dunno how realistic that is; it would essentially mean getting to 16mph average on fairly flat ground.

Did get a little good news this morning.  The group with whom I've done a few fast group rides has shifted their start time back to 0600 (plus, I can now stay out until 0800 instead of 0730, thanks to a daughter's piano lesson moving), so I should be able to start going with them regularly.  At least, that's my hope.  Will definitely need to save hard rides for Saturday, then, as they'll leave me in their dust if I'm back in zone two.  I have enough trouble keeping up with them in zone four.  At least, I did last time we went out together; hopefully I've improved greatly since them.


Cutting down on carbs

One thing I haven't talked about is that I'm on a diet for the first time in my life.  I've never terribly much needed one (well, not for more than a month or two, anyway); my weight used to fluctuate between 172 (most of the year) to 168 (ultimate frisbee off-season.  Late November through mid-March, roughly).  The only time it's gotten significantly higher was shortly after I met my wife; I gained close to twenty pounds back then.

I lost most of that right after we returned from visiting her parents in Hong Kong.  I got miserably sick for a week or so after (might have been SARS, although I was never diagnosed.  The timing and symptoms were right, at least).  Regardless of what it was, I lost ten or so pounds while recovering.  Then, I got back to my normal weight a couple months later, once frisbee season started again.

So, I've never really needed to lose weight.  The one time I really tried was... six or eight years ago, when I just decided to try exercising a bit harder than normal.  I got down to about 163 doing that; I was exercising very hard, but only every couple of days (at least, I think that's why I didn't lose more).

I still didn't turn to diet, and I have no regrets about that.

When I started biking heavily, maybe six months ago, I wasn't really trying to lose weight, per se, although part of the reason that I started biking in the mornings was hearing that exercising in a fasted state was much better for fat burning.  And I think my experience bears that out.  I ended up losing about twenty pounds, getting down to 155#, which, partway through, I'd kind of set as my target, as that was my weight when I graduated from high school (and was doing a lot of sports, as well as some running and significant weight lifting).  It was also convenient because biking looks at power as W/kg, and that's almost exactly 70kg.

Through all that, my diet was a bit of a mess.  I did ok on keeping fat intake low, but my carb intake was ridiculously high.  Also, when I realized I needed to cut back a bit on the biking intensity, I gained back a few of those pounds (3-5 of them).

After hearing quite a bit about the benefits of ketosis, I was thinking about a ketogenic diet, although I didn't really know what that entailed.  When I found out the Atkins diet is ketogenic, and reading quite a bit about the benefits (blood chemistry and such), I decided to give it a try.  I eased into it (partially to get food out of the house, partially because I'm not real strict on counting carbs) while I read the latest version of the book on it.

Since I was already basically at my target weight, I decided to skip the first two phases of the diet, and go straight to Pre-Maintenance.  The good part about that is that it's much easier; the bad part is that I didn't have to get real strict about counting (I also eat out enough that it's difficult to do).

But what I've found is that I have lost some weight.  I'm currently down to about 152.  Logically, this seemed likely, but given the extreme disregard I've given to calories, it still feels a little weird.  I haven't told my wife about it either, as she's currently dieting to lose weight (just through calorie deprivation, which she's successfully used before.  After each kid, basically); I suspect it might make her upset.

The hard part, for me, is just making sure that I get enough foundation vegetables each day.  Also, I've had some trouble with wanting to eat more; I suspect that's because I don't eat enough fat (it certainly isn't due to not eating enough, overall).  And I've occasionally had cravings (yesterday, I had the worst hankering for some orange juice, which was part of my normal breakfast before I started the diet).

Overall, I'm not sure what to make of the results.  Biking hasn't suffered at all, so far as I can tell; my peak power numbers for February (I started roughly two weeks ago) are a significant improvement on January, whose numbers were only a hair better than December.  There are some other factors that might be of significance there (in particular, going to a polarized training model from the old "no pain, no gain" model), but it certainly hasn't hurt.

I do need to talk to my doctor, to see about doing bloodwork (and I wish I'd done that before starting, just to have a baseline) as part of my (overdue, most likely) annual check-up.  I don't expect anything to come out of that, but I'm curious.

The one thing I wonder about is whether my body is in ketosis.  I found a simple blood test to tell, and it isn't terribly expensive, but the strips to repeat the tests are ridiculously expensive (almost five dollars per test last I checked).  Maybe I'll break down and start paying that, but I'm reluctant.

Anyway, nothing further to talk about, but it's interesting to me.  I'm very curious to see where my weight stabilizes.

Building miles

Thought things might be improving after writing the other day.  But time, it has not been more present.

Riding has been interesting since my last missive, though not as much so as that update.

It started last Thursday, although that was an uneventful 15-mile ride.  There was snow, but it was pretty warm, so I was able to stretch the ride out a bit longer than I'd initially planned.  The only real excitement was the battery on my RFLKT+ dying before I started.  Really annoying.  Consecutive batteries from the same pack (and Panasonics, so not unbranded, cheap ones): one lasted over two months, while the next one lasted less than two weeks.  Dunno what's going on with that.

Friday, I took off from work, so things were a bit more interesting.  My plan had been a sixty-mile ride, meeting my dad for lunch halfway through.  The first difficulty was when my daughter needed me to be at school in the morning, delaying my start by close to an hour.  Then my dad had to take my uncle to a doctor, though, so lunch fell through.  So I finally rode down to Mt Vernon (it had been on my list of destinations for quite a while, but it's too far for a morning ride and too close for a really long ride).

I did some checking on Google maps to figure out how to get there (I was unsure about a small stretch of Alexandria), and headed on my way.  It gave an alternate route for the southern stretch (south of Alexandria, that is), that was a little shorter than just taking the Mt Vernon trail all the way.  I decided I'd take the MV trail anyway, and set off.

My plan was just fine, and I was feeling really good, until I got a few hundred yards south of Alexandria.  The trail, there, was impassible on my road bike (lots of snow and ice), so I headed onto the road and kept going.  I did a mile or two like that (and I wasn't loving it), then saw the turnoff from where Google Maps directed me, and took that route.

That road, Ft Hunt Rd, ended up being pretty interesting.  I think the reason I was directed there was that it was a little more direct than the Mt Vernon trail, and that it seems to've had a bike path (I say "seems to" because the bits I saw were totally covered, and because I didn't even see the covered parts until I was on the way back).

Regardless, I went that way, and I was killing it.  I managed (without specifically trying) a top-10 on a five-minute segment I didn't even know about.  One interesting bit about the road was that there was a really neat-looking library right after I turned on it (Martha Washington, I believe).  I need to go back and take some pictures, there.  I also noticed lots of churches along the way.  Some of them were big, and some were pretty (and a couple were neither), and I liked seeing them.

I would have assumed, though, that having so many around would mean people would be nicer than usual.  Well, if so, they certainly weren't any more willing to share the road.  I got honked at a few times (I was on the road, since I didn't even see the trail), and a few people drove by (very close) at quite high speeds (for the road).  One elderly lady (seventy if she was a day) even gunned her engine as she passed.  Not so nice, especially since I saw, as I said, going quite fast (in fact, in Alexandria I got passed by a lady (very closely) when I was doing the speed limit.  Really annoying).

Still, the road itself was nice, and I was able to navigate the last mile or so between Ft Hunt and the GW Parkway without incident.  I then rode the last couple miles to Mt Vernon, going pretty hard.  When I got there, I found that I'd managed 18.9mph over the twenty miles to get there.  I was pretty proud of that.

I took a small break to drink a little bit and take a picture, then headed back.  I took a slightly different route, taking Ft Hunt all the way back to Alexandria.  It worried me a little, when I got to Rt 1, but there was a flyover that worked out just fine (without putting me on the Beltway or Rt 1, neither of which is a nice route).

I got another couple miles when I noticed I that my power meter had cut out.  It seems that the battery had died (this sounds familiar), and I don't carry extra batteries with me.  So I had to deal without getting feedback for the rest of the ride.

Once I established that that was probably the problem, I got going again, riding hard up to, and through, Crystal City.  I got to Columbia Pike (although it was a nice day, the trails, as noted, were not in good shape, and this is the only route I know (around there) that completely avoids the trails.

And I pretty much blew up going up the big hill where the Air Force Memorial is.  I kept going, but stopped trying to push hard (mostly; I did push hard up a couple more hills).

Anyway, that was about it for the interesting portion of the ride.  It ended up being just under fifty miles, and I was very sore at the end.

Saturday, of course, was a recovery ride.  It was pretty cold (12-16F), but it went well.  Despite the sore muscles, I had no problem getting almost fifteen miles in.  In fact, if not for the cold, I'd've probably done another five.

Sunday, I ended up getting up an hour earlier (not planned ahead, it just worked out that way) and riding then, thinking it'd make sure I didn't get caught up in the snow that was supposed to start pretty early (that meant I could ride the road bike).  And this time, I did get those extra miles in (it was about 23F).

Other than that, the only real interesting thing was my heart rate meter giving me a bit of a scare.  For the first couple minutes, it was showing 54bpm, which is lower than my resting rate (usually).  I figured on a battery problem, and went to disable it, but wasn't able to do it without stopping.  I decided it wasn't worth stopping for, and kept on.  A minute or two later, I noticed that the data looked reasonable again.  Not sure what happened.

And that snow?  Well, I finished the ride about six, and the snow didn't start until nine.  So starting early didn't end up accomplishing anything at all.

Which leads to this morning.  I knew that I'd be riding the hybrid this morning, as the snow yesterday morning had turned into sleet and freezing rain later in the day.  Then it melted, then it froze.  So I knew it'd be a mess this morning.  In fact, yesterday afternoon I told my wife school was going to be canceled today (it was).  And then I overslept.

I thought maybe I could ride sometime in the middle of the day, until my wife told me school was, indeed, canceled.  So I asked her, and then got on the bike.  Not a long ride: 10.8 miles in almost exactly an hour.

I stayed entirely on roads, and they were just fine, although sidewalks and driveways were a mess (I saw one man fall down in his driveway as I was riding by.  Thankfully, he was fine).

It did warm up, so tomorrow should be fine, although, with my wife home, I'm not sure how I'm going to get my chain cleaned (it needs it badly).  I'll have to figure out a way.  At least I'm getting laundry done (it's needed it since Friday).

Tomorrow should be a decent day for riding; clear and cold (20-ish).  But shortly after my ride, the weather promises to turn foul, raining or snowing for two days straight.  The day after that should be very cold, the following not quite as cold, but things should turn nice after that.  We can hope.