Distance: 33.1 mi.
Avg. Speed: 20.5 mph
Weather: 71-68º, 35-49% humidity, wind NW6-WSW9, overcast
Song stuck in head: The Things We Do For Love - 10cc
Goal for today: ride the Saturday MRC route with a moderate effort (had moderate to hard effort yesterday) so that I could do some climbing as well as familiarize myself with route because I volunteered to lead a 18+ mph group, should one form.
MAINTENANCE: Pulled cranks, cleaned, greased, reinstalled them. Cleaned, lubed chain. Adjusted FD (chain rubbed when on largest freewheel cogs). Still getting some noise from "down there"...
BRIEF ASIDE: I must comment on the my brain's radio. Years of photographing weddings, bar mitzvah's and corporate parties repeatedly exposed me to the canonical playlists of party DJ's which has embedded the worst of the worst earworms in my cerebral cortex. On today's ride, I noticed that the song that propagates might be one that has a rhythm that closely matches my pedal cadence. This requires continued observation...
Back to business. Here's the route: clicky. I rode the same roads as shown on the route, in a slightly different sequence. I set out without my usual 3 lap warmup around the streets of my neighborhood, intending to take it easy for the first 10 minutes or so. Well, that went out the window as soon as I crested Pompositticut, less than a mile from home. I hustled to my first waypoint (the intersection of Red Acre and S. Acton Roads) in just over 12 minutes, not a bad start.
OBSERVATION: Just as riding with others helps you to "get over yourself" and ride faster, it seems I may need to ride with others to do those "spin" or "recovery" rides. On my own I just seem to end up pushing hard even when I don't want to. Next scheduled recovery ride, I'll target a really low HR, like 130 or 140 and see how that works.
The turn put me square into a moderate headwind, I kept low and made my way over the little rollers that lead to W. Acton road where I was able to take advantage of the wind at my back and cruise along at 20+ mph the whole way to the left onto Summer St. Summer St. took me across Rte. 111 onto Liberty Square Road and the increasing taller hills it presents. I typically dog a bit along this stretch and sure enough, my speed dropped a bit as I worked my way up each incline.
Over the top and down the other side (now Taylor) at a decent 33 mph clip towards Littleton Station, turn left and the right to head up Oak Hill Road. I noted my elapsed time when I passed the stop sign at the bottom: 00:45:36
So up the long climb of Oak Hill I went, feeling pretty strong. I switched my comp. to monitor my cadence instead of HR this time, knowing that my HR would probably max out but wanted to keep my rpms at around 90 or better if at all possible. I climbed while doing what I call "tractoring" - where I pedal continuous effort circles while sitting pretty far back on the saddle, hands on the bar tops. When found a flatter spot, I'd drop down a gear, get out of the saddled, spin up, sit and "tractor" at this new, faster speed until it got steeper again. This worked really well all the way up and my speed only dropped below 10 mph for about 30 seconds or so about 2/3 the way up.
I was huffing and puffing hard, but concentrated on getting deep breaths via my diaphragm rather than just expanding my chest. I got to the mailbox at 233 Old LIttleton Road in 10' 35". I'll call that a baseline time to beat as the season goes on.
Across Pinnacle and down the other side towards Harvard Ctr. where I hit my top speed of 41.2 mph. A short section on Rte. 111 and onto Bolton Road where I'd have to pay attention to the turns I then made as this is the part of the route I was only vaguely familiar with, having followed others every time I'd done it before. The climb up Bolton Road is not too steep, but I plodded along below 15 mph apparently having blown my wad on Oak Hill.
Left on E. Bare Hill Road, left on Cameron (turns into Westcott) all descending nicely with curves that keep things interesting... and then I spaced out. I guess I was enjoying all the speed but I didn't realize I was already on Stow Road when I passed under Rte. 495. I felt like I'd missed a turn, but just didn't recognize this familiar stretch that I almost always ride in the other direction. Need to look for some landmarks next time. Anyways, I stayed on Stow as it became East End Road and dumped me onto Rte. 117. Hehe, oops!
I'm not fond of riding 117 and here it was approaching 4 p.m. and traffic was pretty heavy but the last look at the radar map before I left showed approaching storms (of course as I write this at 8 p.m. it hasn't rained yet) so I buckled down and cranked home all the way on 117, maintaining a nice 20+ mph clip, getting some help from a school bus and a couple of tractor-trailers.
I was very surprised to find my average speed for the ride to be above 20 mph (I just checked my comp to be sure I didn't misread it), considering how much of the ride was sub-20 climbing, but then quite a bit was either descending or rollers which brought the average back up. Saturday morning, it will be TWO laps on this route...