I tried to do that group ride this morning, but things fell apart a bit.  I got up within a few minutes of on-time (I forget, exactly), then had to spend ten minutes looking for my heart rate monitor (I normally leave it in one of two places, and, in my hurry to get my daughter out the door, did not, yesterday morning).  I ended up getting out of the house only five minutes later than I'd planned on leaving, but that was enough to leave me about ten to twelve minutes late (the meet-up point turns out to be 8.2 miles from my house, and I'd estimated it at closer to six).

As I expected, the group had already left the Vienna caboose, so I took off to try to catch up; always a dicey proposition for an easy ride.

On the plus side, the weather was gorgeous, although the pollen was ridiculous.  I'm used to sinus issues related to that, but there was actually enough to get in my eyes, and physically irritate my eyes.  Despite that, it was a very pleasant ride.

Getting back to catching up to the group, my hope was that they were moving 13-14mph, and that I'd be moving 15-16.  If they were closer to the bottom end, and I were closer to the top, I figured I'd have an outside shot at catching them.  As it turns out, though, I did not, although I might have sighted them just before they turned off to do a loop in Herndon (I was catching up on a bike a few hundred yards ahead when I was getting to the spot where (I now know) they turned.  If they turned there, that'd explain my losing the bike(s) I was chasing.  All that said, I'm only guessing; Strava does not show us close enough to have appeared in fly-by's for each other's rides, so I could be wrong).

In any event, I turned around in Herndon, at the caboose by the side of the trail.

Also, I should note that my phone stopped recording for most of the last couple miles before turning around; I knew the battery was a little low, and had brought the charger.  But I had forgotten by the time I got out that way, and took a while to notice that my time and distance weren't changing (the light still being less than good didn't help).  But a quarter mile or so before turning around, I turned on the charger and re-started the recording.

From there, I needed to hurry home to make sure I got there before it was time to get the kids up.

One thing worked in my favor, by that time, I was able to sustain quite a bit more power at 120-125bpm.  Most of the way home, I was pushing 110-130W, and mostly doing a good job of keeping my heart rate down (though hurrying across a couple streets as lights were about to change made for some short-term disruption).

That made me quite happy, as I haven't really noticed being able to do that for the last month or two.  I wonder if it's just a case of taking a while warming up, and being able to do that reliably after a while (this was a long ride, after all).  Something to monitor, anyway.

Overall, ended up with a bit over 34 miles (Strava says 34.1, but it's definitely missing some distance due to the recording failure) with 1400' of elevation (some correction was made for the distance; I wonder if a similar correction was made for elevation), and took 2:24:00 (or so; it claims no stopped time, but this ride had more stopped time than most of my rides.  I would guess at least three or four minutes.  Regardless, the recording failure probably hosed this as well).  That's an average of a 14.2 mph, which is pretty good for a recovery ride.

All in all, despite missing the group, it was a really nice ride.  The weather was perfect, and I felt really good pedaling along.  I hope the next few days go as well.

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