I slept in a little bit Saturday, and did meet up for the group ride I've been trying to do the last several weekends.
When we met up, there turned out to be seven other guys, only two of whom I knew (and one other I'd met once). When we got moving, I ended up (accidentally) at the back, which I was ok with, given how much I'd slowed the group in earlier rides.
We cruised pretty easily across Chain Bridge and into DC, and I was still hanging on at the back. But then we did the climb up Arizona Ave, and the guys I was immediately following (I eventually noticed) were falling behind the guys in front. I decided to pass the four guys right in front of me, and catch up to the ones in front. From there, we continued up MacArthur Blvd to Goldsboro.
We got caught at a traffic light on Goldsboro, at River (I think), where I ended up at the back again. It wasn't, perhaps, as bad as the first time, but a climb started right after, and the same guys started falling behind again. This time, I didn't wait, and closed the gap with the guys in front.
From that point on, I rarely led (only thrice pulling), but I stayed in the front three. What surprised me was that, except when I was pulling, it wasn't a terribly strenuous ride. I wish I'd had power data, but the power meter died only a minute or two into the ride. I really need to get in touch with Stages, because this time it was a brand-new battery, not one that had been sitting around the house for a couple of years.
Anyway, the ride ended up at 96 minutes for 31 miles, which is damn-sure better than I could've done on my own. And the times I was pulling, those were very tough. I actually kept my heart rate over 180 for a couple of minutes at a time, which is far better than I can normally do.
I set a whole slew of PRs, which was not a surprise. What did surprise me was that the PRs on the segments I regularly ride were by very small margins. For instance, the climb from the cemetary to the courthouse, on which I'd set a new PR only a few days before: two of us went ahead of the group to attack that. We charged up, and it felt good when we made it to the top. But I only beat my record from the other day by a couple seconds, and I was actually slower on the last ascent (despite hitting a higher heart rate; actually saw 190 flash across the screen).
In any event, it was a very fun ride, and it really felt good to not be the one holding up the group. And it felt pretty good to be pulling for a bit, too. Looking forward to more of that.
Despite the fact that it didn't feel all that strenuous when we were riding, and not much right after we were done, either, my legs were a bit tired, later. Regardless of whether that would have been the case, though, yesterday was always going to be an easy day. The only question was how long it was going to go.
The answer was that I got up early (yes, even for me), and went for nearly three hours. I went all the way down to the Woodrow Wilson Bridge (though not over), then back up and all the way west to Idylwood Rd. I was a bit surprised to find that all of that was a bit less than 1300' of elevation, but it did cover 38 miles (I probably should have stretched a little to hit 40, but I was worried about time. I ended up having the time, but I wasn't sure of that until after I'd finished).
The one big irritation was that I forgot to put a new battery in the power meter, so I didn't have power or cadence data. Also, I didn't do quite as well on heart rate (though at least a minute or two of that was deliberate), but it's impossible to say exactly how well.
When I first looked down at the heart rate (just a minute in), it said 120, which would be weird, but not inconceivable. Half a minute later, it read 132. Again, conceivable, though a bit more weird, since I hadn't been pushing in the interim. Half a minute later, it said 183, which was impossible (I wasn't pushing anywhere near hard enough to get there), and a minute after that, it said 219 (I have never managed to get my heart rate that high, so far as I know).
It stayed at 219 for a couple of minutes, then dropped back into a sane reading, and mostly stayed reasonable for the rest of the ride. But I did see a couple of impossibly high readings (153, briefly, seconds before dropping back to 115. It also apparently spiked to 202 at one point, without me noticing. And later on, it went all the way to 215 for a while). Given all that noise, I can't say how much time I spent over target heart rate, but my guess would be three to four minutes, total.
The depressing part of maintaining that strict heart-rate limit, though, is that I was passed on hills by seriously overweight people who were pushing themselves. I could have tripled (maybe even quadrupled) my speed, which would have been very satisfying, but I held myself back. It was definitely annoying, however.
Still, I felt good at the end of the ride, and I got home about fifteen minutes earlier than I'd really planned (which was probably a good thing). I was still a little sore, later in the day, but only a little.
Oh, and I haven't felt much like it, but I've forced myself to do my tabata workout each of the last several nights, and that has helped, I think. It doesn't last long enough to create lasting soreness of its own, but I do feel good (if very tired) at the end, after I tag five minutes or so of stretching onto it.
Which brings me to today. It was always going to be a fairly gentle ride, but after looking at the weather yesterday, I decided that Tuesday would be my day off for the week. Which meant that I wanted to push myself even less today. Well, not less strenuous on a minute-by-minute basis, since the whole point of the easy rides is that they aren't strenuous, but less distance.
So I did my recently-normal 15 mile course that has almost 900' of elevation. And I did remember to put a new battery in the power meter, so I had power/cadence data. We'll see if the battery lasts through tomorrow's ride.
The point being, it was easy, I enjoyed it (it was close to meditative), and I got back on time (I didn't wake up early). I kept my heart rate within target range for all but 35 seconds, and maxed at 128bpm. All good numbers.
So the plan, going forward, is to do a long ride tomorrow; something at least sixty miles (and 80-100 would be better). I haven't figured out the timing, or an exact plan, but that's the rough outline. Then I'll probably do gentle rides Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, preparing for the group ride on Saturday (which will hopefully work out again).