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.

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