fI've been falling further behind, it seems, on talking about my biking progress. The last week has been a very mixed bag, in terms of success and pleasure.
The first several days, I was riding at night and doing eleven miles or so, as I described previously. That was almost all taking it easy, with a couple exceptions, and I'm just going to talk about the exceptions today.
Two of those days, I did that loop, but decided to attack a hill on Williamsburg Rd near my house (the last hill before I get home; the segment is called Wmsburg Riser). The first of those times, I planned ahead, but forgot where the segment started, and started pushing a (short) block early. I still got a PR of 36s, but definitely gave up something. Two days later, I didn't plan ahead, but as I reached the correct starting point, decided to charge up it and set a new PR of 34s. Both times I failed to keep pushing after cresting the hill; if I want to challenge for KOM, I need to do that.
Another exception was that I took Friday off, and did a ride of a little over an hour. I decided to challenge the Arlington trail loop (Custis/W&OD/Mt Vernon trails) that I hadn't done since October 28th. Call it a benchmark of progress since then (and while I knew it had been a while, I didn't realize it had been quite that long since I did that ride). How did it go? Swimmingly.
I did fall off considerably from the penultimate hill to the end, but still did get KOM. In doing so, I beat my old record by just over two minutes; not bad for a sixteen-mile loop (fifty minutes down to forty-eight, roughly).
Oh, and at the end of my fifteen mile loop on Saturday, I finished with a slight variation on my normal route, coming back via Little Falls Rd/Yorktown Blvd instead of Williamsburg. There's a stretch along there that I used to try to tackle vigorously, but which I hadn't done hard in quite a while (since March, I think, looking back at my times).
Well, I decided to go all-out along that stretch, and actually caught and passed a couple of cars that were probably doing the speed limit. Man, did that feel good. Actually, it felt remarkably good just pounding along there; I'm not sure what it was, but I found the perfect cadence or something, and it just felt like flying instead of riding. I was working hard (420W avg), but somehow, it didn't feel like it.
The cars started with a lead of 1-200 yards, and I didn't think I'd ever catch them (especially since I stayed seated the whole time), but I did it with room to spare. I kept hammering the pedals up the hill just after the end of the segment. I was seriously beat by the time I got to the top, but it was a good feeling.
When I first started out, I was doing that segment in just about a minute, but this time was 36s. Back then, I knew I'd be able to improve, but would not have guessed that I'd be able to do so by so much. Now I wonder if there's any more room for improvement, although I doubt I'll try anytime soon.
Actually, I created the segment, and I think I did it after my first round of improvement, where I got 10-15s better, and wanted to see myself beating other people. It was pretty eye-opening to see how much faster the other people were at the time. Definitely motivation for me to improve.
Once thing that has come out of the last few days is that I've found that I really enjoy riding at night. It was more of a scheduling thing that got me to be doing that (my wife needing to go to work early, mostly), but it works pretty well. I play Puzzle Quest in the morning, finishing competitions (right at the end is a bad time to not be playing). And in the evening, I play some more of that, but when I get to a point where I need an hour or so of healing, I take a break to ride the bike. Works out pretty well.
And I'm surprised that I find the roads and trails less crowded at night. I don't see the joggers running in the road, which is nice (that still bothers me quite a lot, especially the ones playing chicken), and there are actually fewer cars as well. The latter shocked me, but I certainly enjoy it (other than the jerk who passed me at 75 in a 30mph zone, last night. And who couldn't even be bothered to get all the way in the other lane. Was seriously wishing a cop had been there).
So I might just keep riding at night, instead of switching back to the morning. The one fly in the ointment is that I haven't been sleeping enough, and playing that game is the primarily culprit for that. I might talk about that part some more, but suffice it to say that it's probably unsustainable for me to keep sleeping so little. We'll see.