(Don't) hit the brakes, sweetheart!

Last night, I lubricated everything on the road bike just before going to bed, and felt pretty good about where things were.

This morning, I got everything ready (except, for the second day in a row, I forgot my camelbak, which has my tools and repair kit.  Not good), and got moving.  I realized, almost right away, that I could sporadically hear something, and quickly narrowed it down to the front brake.

I stopped, after a couple minutes, to adjust that (it was hitting on one side), and then went on.  I was pushing, but still didn't feel like I was getting anywhere.  Five or six miles in, I tried to push it on a segment on which I hadn't pushed in a long time, just for comparison.  I felt good about the effort, but wasn't sure beyond that.

I went another half mile or so, and came to the big hill going up from Shirlington (Walter Reed Dr, for those who know the area).  When I found myself in my top gear almost immediately, I knew I was dead meat as far as a competitive time.  Struggling up, I realized that I was still having brake trouble, so I stopped at the top to take another look.

It turned out that both brakes were still touching (though the front far more lightly than earlier; that adjustment at least did some good), so I played with them until both wheels were spinning freely with only a small gap between wheel and brake.

And man, did it feel easy to pedal after that.  I suddenly felt like riding took no effort at all.  I went back downhill, into Shirlington, then up the long hill on S 31st St.  I didn't set a PR, there, but missed by only nine seconds.  Not great, but with the extra work I'd already made for myself on the ride, I wasn't terribly displeased.  Again, the effort felt good.

From there, I waffled a bit on whether to ride hard, or to slow down, but finally came down on the side of pushing.  I found myself on Braddock, heading towards Alexandria, and decided to really push on one segment there (I was trying to knock a friend of mine out of KOM position).  I made the light perfectly at the bottom of the hill just before the segment, and flew through.  I wasn't able to knock my friend off the top position, but did manage to make him share it with me.  Perhaps a hair disappointing, but it was still a five-second improvement for me (on the PR I set only three weeks ago), so it shouldn't be.

From there, I finished the ride calmly, pushing a bit, but not setting any records.  That was a little disappointing; there were two sections where I was outright trying to do so.  One of them (I just checked), showed up as third-best, but further checking shows that it was actually a three-way tie for first.  That segment was part of a longer one (my PR is 5:00), on which I missed my PR by only eight seconds.  Not something with which to be satisfied, but not something to be upset about, either.  For sure, I was gasping for air at the end of that segment (four hills, and ends on a steep one), and it looks like six of those seconds were lost on that final hill (which is also its own segment, hence my knowing).  The latter surprises me, as I thought I'd done better than that.

The final place I was really pushing is coming off the Custis Trail, onto George Mason Dr, and going north to Rt 29.  Actually, now looking, and it appears that my "2nd" was also a tie for my PR (impressive, considering my previous PR was set at the end of a six mile ride, rather than a 25-mile one).  I'm still disappointed, though, as I was trying to catch another riding acquaintance, and I missed him by three seconds (though I again beat, by a bit, the friend I tied on the Braddock Rd segment).

From there, I was toast, and basically coasted home.  Sometime soon, I need to try pushing again on the segment that goes from Rt 29 back down to Yorktown Blvd, but there was no way in hell that was happening this morning.

All in all, a good ride, although the brakes thing was frustrating.  I also got a (heavily-discounted) time trial helmet, and I didn't think of trying it until I was well on my way (probably just as well, but a variation on the ride I was taking today would be perfect for testing that out.  And I was strongly considering that variation).  Most frustratingly, my heart rate meter crapped out again; I need to check the battery.  Maybe I just need to get new batteries; I have quite a few left, but they're all several years old.  Not even lithium ones keep forever, I guess.  Regardless of the cause, though, it's frustrating.

Tomorrow will definitely be a gentle ride; after that, I'm not sure.  Friday's supposed to be beautiful, so it'd be great to do a hard ride in 60F weather.  But it's also supposed to rain, putting a bit of a damper in that.  Plus, I'd like to do that group ride on Saturday, if possible, and going hard Friday would make that tough.  Probably still doable, but really tough.

Well, still time to think about it.

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