Night before last, just before going to bed, I decided that there was no way in hell I was going to make it up at 0400 (or a bit before) to make it to that group ride, so I went for the option of climbing hills. It didn't quite work out as I expected, but it was pretty good.
I did a mile or so of warm-up before tackling the hills (probably should have done another mile, really), and that was enough for me to notice that my power meter was failing again. Just got in touch with Stages again; will see their response.
But then I attacked the hills with vigor. The first hill is usually the hardest, but missing my PR by two seconds was enough to have me not even place. It gets a little gentler for the next half mile or so, then you turn onto Lorcom Ln (northbound, coming from Nelly Custis Rd), and hit another. The second isn't as steep, but it's rather longer (though I do think the segment name of 'Lorcom Morale Buster' is a bit much). I actually didn't think I'd done much, there, but I killed my PR and put myself into the top ten. Better pacing, I guess; for sure, I wasn't completely toasted (though close) when I got there.
From there, it was a lot less interesting, but with a lot more up-and-down. In all, I did just over 40 minutes in the hills, then decided to do eight or ten miles of "cool-down".
The idea was to just go at my normal recovery speed for half an hour or forty-five minutes, and that's largely what I did. But I chased down one biker on the W&OD, going uphill; not super-strenuous, but not cool-down. A mile later, I went down a long hill, hit an evil light (meeting Rt 7 on Idylwood) at moderate speed, where I passed the second car in line, and drafted off the first for half a mile or a mile. That spurt got my heart rate all the way up to 190, which is completely the opposite of cool-down.
From there, I took it easy again for another mile or two, until I got to Powhatan. There are two big hills there; I went with a little speed up the first one, then coasted down and attacked the second one. I was disappointed not to set a PR there, but only missed by one second (almost a 40s climb). Not bad.
I turned towards home on Williamsburg, and wasn't really trying to kill it, but had my second best run there as well (seven seconds behind my best over the mile).
Overall, it was 22.6 miles, with just over 1500' of elevation, and I did it at 16.5 mph. The first twelve miles, where I was deliberately pushing (and which had the bulk of the climbing), I managed 17.1mph. I was quite pleased with that, although I really wish I had the power data for it. Also, I did almost forty minutes at or above threshold, which was fantastic, and several minutes of that was in zone five. Love it.
At the end, let's just say that I was tired. Not dead, but certainly tired. An hour and change later, I rode my daughter to school for 'Walk and Bike to School Day' (she rode, I ran interference on my bike, where necessary).
In the afternoon, I had to ride back to pick her up. That was a little more interesting, because I was hurrying (rain was threatening, and she doesn't have the gear for riding in the rain), so I took the main road. Old Dominion, where we are (aside from the two blocks where we live, which have a service road), is one lane each way, with no shoulder or sidewalk. Generally, I avoid it. But there was a big gap for me to slip into, and traffic ended up being directed around construction taking up one lane.
So it wasn't nearly as bad as I was worried about it being. In any event, I made it there and we made it back without incident. Yay. Now I'm thinking we might start riding more regularly. Will have to talk with my wife about that; it'd be very good practice for my daughter.
In any event, I went to bed early last night and got up just after 0400. I figured I'd get a longer ride in, that way, which I did. Since I had a bit of extra time, I did the longer version of my big Figure Eight, the one where I go all the way into Old Town in Alexandria. In all, it was 31.1 miles, 1300' of elevation (exactly; more than I'd've guessed), and I did it at 13.9 mph. Given the elevation, that's pretty good.
The only downer was that I let my heart rate creep up over 125 quite a few times. I spent nineteen minutes over, which is way more than I'd like (though maybe not a big deal, given the 2-1/4 hours riding), and peaked at 135 bpm (chasing someone, again; gotta stop trying that).
Still, I felt great at the end, so it's hard to be too upset.
Tomorrow, I'll go for my normal eighteen-mile ride, I think. Then, later, I'm going to ride over into DC to take some pictures of WWII birds flying over. That won't be a fun ride, though, as I'll need my big camera, big lens, and big tripod (15-20# total weight). Hope that works out ok. I'll know what I'm doing for taking the pictures, though, so hopefully I'll get some good shots.