Moving along

Been a little busy, lately, and haven't had much time to update.

Friday, I didn't have a lot of time, and just did my normal 18 mile ride just to keep going.  It wasn't a terribly interesting ride, except for the one person who decided that they didn't need to wait for me to go by before turning.  Thankfully, there was an open lane, and nobody running up immediately from behind.  So I drifted over into the other lane, yelled at the inattentive woman, then got back into the bike lane.

It turned out not to be that bad, but my adrenaline spiked all to hell.  So my heart rate spiked all the way up over 150bpm when I'd been doing a pretty good job at keeping it down beforehand.  Otherwise?  Nice weather, no power (just got the second warranty replacement yesterday; will discuss more later), good ride.

Saturday, we did do the group ride, and it was another loop up into MD and DC.  It was a fairly hard ride, and went well.  I was rather proud of myself; a couple of people got dropped (comment when I asked about waiting, "He knows the way home".  ok, then), but I wasn't one of them.  I did fall behind twice, but managed to catch up both times, and went strong otherwise.

I had power for the first ten minutes (warm-up, basically), but that was it.  We averaged 19.2mph, which includes the warm-up time (which was at about 13mph; I should set a lap, next time.  A rough approximation is 19.9mph for the hard part; I like Strava's tools for that sort of thing), so it was a decent ride.  That was over 38.4 miles, with 1500' of elevation.  I managed over 41 minutes in Z4, with another 3 in Z5, so that was great.

And at the end of the ride, there was one segment that I did pretty decently on the last time I rode it, but that I had never really tried to kill.  This time, I pushed pretty hard on that segment (not as hard as I could have, because it started earlier than I remembered), and managed fourth overall.  Rockin'!

The only bad part of that was that nobody wanted to try to keep up, so I had no company on the last mile or two.  But overall, I was extremely happy with the ride; I even pushed the pace a few times (though I wasn't really looking to do that, generally; I really just wanted to show that I could keep up).

That night, we spent the night in a hotel not far from home; my wife wanted to get out of the house for a day for Mother's Day.  Overall, that was a very mixed bag (I seriously killed my diet; I'll talk about that later), but it did have the effect of putting me onto a different route for my morning ride.  On a weekend, when I had a bit more time.

So Sunday's ride was a slow recovery ride that mostly went along the W&OD path.  I picked it up at Gallows Rd, and followed it out to Sterling (the road before Rt 28).  My original plan was to go outward for an hour, maybe an hour and ten minutes, then turn around.  I remembered that as being predominantly uphill.

But I made really good time.  When it got really close to an hour, I decided to turn around at the 16-mile point, since I'd made really good time.  When I got to that, I stretched it out one or two more tenths of a mile to get to an overpass.

When I turned around, I realized that the reason I'd made such good time was that I'd misremembered and it was predominantly downhill.  So now I was going uphill, and wasn't going to match my speed outbound.  That could be bad.

So I pushed my heart rate a little higher (130bpm target, and slipped a little higher quite a few times), to try to maintain my speed.  I made it in a few minutes over two hours, for an average of 15.7mph.  I was pretty happy about that, and about the 850' of elevation, but a tad annoyed that my heart rate was so high.  I was hoping for no bad effects from that.

Oh, and no surprise, but no power data.

Monday was another easy day, though I again got my heart rate a little higher than I wanted.  I'd left a few minutes later than planned, and spent the whole ride worrying about getting back late.  I still managed an average of only 112bpm, which was good, but with a max of 130bpm, which wasn't.

I made it back at my target time, which did make me happy.

There was one jackass, though, who passed me in Falls Church, who almost hit another biker (coming from the other direction) while passing me.  Then, when we got to the next street, I was watching him as he was turning, instead of looking for cars.  That almost worked poorly for both of us; he skidded into his turn as he had to slam on his brakes, while turning, to keep from hitting an oncoming SUV.  And I was going too fast, and went right into the path of the same SUV (though it was already basically stopped in avoiding him).  All in all, the situation didn't work out well for anyone involved.  I was a little disappointed to not see him in the Strava fly-by feature; he really needs to be more careful so he doesn't get anyone (including himself) killed or maimed.

Other than that, it was a very quiet ride, and I enjoyed it.  One thing that was odd was that I didn't change anything, but did have power data for the ride.  Weird how that works.

Yesterday, though, the replacement power meter did come, so I installed it last night.  I couldn't check its firmware since my phone was charging, so I planned to do that in the morning.

In the morning, though, I overslept by twenty minutes or so.  Not good.  I rushed out the door, slowing down before really starting to take a minute to connect with the power meter.  Then I went into the hills to abuse myself.

Several interesting things about that.  One, it was basically light out when I started (nice change).  Two, I saw several other bikers while I was riding.

With the light, I was able to easily set a PR on the long descent along 26th St, especially since I didn't blow the shifting going into the little ring when the steep hill bottomed out.  Showing no regard for life or limb, I actually hit 42mph on one particularly steep section where I have previously sat on my brakes.  Neat.  Plus, I moved up from 19th to 6th overall with the run.  Unexpected.

Coming at such good speed, I got a good push into the first hill.  With that push, I stayed on the big  ring all the way to the top of the hill (though I slowed a lot as I hit the top; I forgot that segment went a bit past that), despite the 8% grade.  Frankly, I was shocked that I was able to do it, and I improved in the standings there from 160th to 20th.  I knocked ten seconds off my previous PR (1:12), despite the slow-down.  Pretty cool.

That was pretty much it for interesting results (although I did get my second-best time ever on the next hill, as well), but I pushed on through for about 11.5 miles of hard hill-riding.  Unfortunately, that number is a little suspect, as I forgot to hit the lap button until I was a couple tenths of a mile past where I'd meant to hit it (and wasn't doing much more than coasting over those tenths).

Despite that, I managed 17.8mph over those forty minutes, with twenty-seven of them at or over threshold (per HRM, not power meter).  That made me pretty happy, as did the fact that I several times blew away other bikers on the hills (though it's true that the only other riders I saw who were probably serious were going the other way the one time I saw them).  Still, it was nice not to have to hold back.

After the hills, I went on another sort-of loop, most of which was over part of my 18-mile route, and with some meandering at the end.  I finished with eighteen miles and change.

What really pissed me off, though, was that the power meter only worked at all for the first eighteen minutes (with some serious drop-outs in that time) and about half of the last eighteen.  Adding a tiny bit to the annoyance, my heart rate meter dropped out for the last nineteen as well.  At least that was there for the hard-riding portion, which is where I really need it.

So I need to replace the battery in the HRM; not a big deal.  I checked the power meter's firmware when I got home, and it was up to date.  I did a zero-reset on it and paired it with ANT+ (stages is far more reliable on ANT+) before putting the bike away.  If it doesn't work over the entirety of the next several days, I'll be talking to Stages about getting my money back.  The meter needs to be reliable to have any value at all, and thus far, it hasn't been.

Tomorrow will be an easy ride; maybe meeting with a group in Vienna (depends on if I wake up early enough) and riding out to Herndon.  Should be fun, if I can make it.  Thursday and Friday should also be easy rides, so I'm ready for the tough ride on Saturday.

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