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).

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