Distance: 34.3 mi.
Avg. Speed: 19.49
Weather: 64-71º, 67-57% humidity, wind W8, sunny and clear
Song stuck in head: Stupidly Happy - XTC
I set out today intending to see how quickly I could do my rollery route that goes through Littleton, Carlisle, Concord and back home. Last year, I did it a few times averaging 20 mph. I would have been happy today if I broke 19 mph. After a 10 minute warmup around the neighborhood, I got going.
Knowing that I'd have to pace myself, I started off with 150 bpm as my target heart rate. Soon enough, I "renegotiated" that to target the mid 150's as I felt like limiting to 150 was not allowing me to apply the effort I felt that I had in me. The adjustment seemed suitable as I cruised up across Rte. 111 and into Littleton. I don't monitor my average speed on these rides, I just gauge my effort via heart rate - and it seemed like I was on a pretty good pace
I knew that I was going to get some help from the westerly wind once I got onto 225 but it didn't seem to impede my progress much as I was going north into Littleton. As I got to the town center, I was heartened to see that they seem to be paving Goldsmith Street - long in need of an overhaul. Out of downtown and past Kimball's, I was able to keep my speed above 20 mph and beyond as the road slopes down for a while.
Up that short hill to the 225 turn, I was able to bound pretty quickly out of the saddle and then get a touch of recovery at the light where 225 crosses Littleton Road. Across 225 into Concord, I felt very strong but also able to modulate my effort to hold onto some juice that I would need later on in the ride. The three hills along this stretch seemed like less of a problem than usual, even with my two largest cogs being out of the mix (need to tune up that RD!). Again, out-of-saddle climbing did the trick - I really feel like my legs are starting to develop some power.
Right turn on Concord/Lowell and I was still able to bound up the rollers without flagging. Across the flats, I was maintaining 22-24 mph - it was on this part of the ride that I realized I was now averaging 160 bpm. It's so easy to pour on the gas and use up stamina you'll need later on those days where you just feel really good. So I eased up a little bit as I came into Concord Center.
I expect to put-put a bit for that block or two in downtown Concord, but since there were (untypically) no jaywalkers or drivers having trouble parallel parking, I got through there without much of a delay. But now I was face on into that slight headwind of 8mph. I made sure I kept into the drops or low on the hoods as I worked my way towards the Rte. 2 intersection.
Instead of coasting up to the light at Rte. 2, I pedaled hard right up to about 60 feet away and then braked to a stop. Once the light turned green again, on I went into West Concord. I was just beginning to feel a bit fatigued but was able to keep my speed over 19 mph until the hill on Lawsbrook Road. Up and over I went, pretty winded at the top, and pedaling hard down the other side.
The last stretch down Parker is where I usually start to flail on this route but I still felt pretty good and cranked over the various rollers all the way to where the route crosses Rte. 27 near home. At this point, I took a peek at my elapsed time and saw that I was off pace from my best from last year (no surprise) but on track for a respectable time nonetheless. I spun up and shifted down a few times as I turned down my street and crossed the "finish" in a not-quite-sprint.
I really pleased with how I was able go regulate my effort to match what was needed to get a decent time on this route today.
Looks like I'll have to game the weather again for the rest of the week. Aiming to lead a 18+ mph "B" group through two laps of the MRC Saturday Stow ride... so it would be a good idea to ride the route tomorrow so I have all the turns down.