viernes, 2 de febrero de 2018

The will to win

During today's turbo session I watched the video The Hard Work of Understanding the Constitution by Thomas B. Griffith which I enjoyed and where the presenter mentioned the quote:

"The will to win is not nearly so important as the will to prepare to win."
Vince Lombardi

I like this quote. It is not that I'm going to win anything but I certainly enjoy the preparation.

Take care
Javier Arias González

sábado, 9 de diciembre de 2017

Show some manners unknown cyclist

I learnt my first cycling lessons sitting on "grandpa" Raul's wheel. One of those lessons is you should always wave cyclist riding in the opposite direction and if you pass a cyclist you always have to say hello, no excuses. Think about it, there is no good excuse to not saying a simple hello when you pass a cyclist, as simple as that.

In fact passing a cyclist and not saying hello was kind of a capital sin in Raul's book, and that meant it was the same not only in my book but also in everyone's that had learn cycling manners sitting on "grandpa" Raul's wheel.

Being close to a capital sin passing a cyclist, in particular, passing "gradpa" Raul and not saying hello had to be punished. In Raul's book when that happened it was totally justified to jump on the offender's wheel and sit there silently until the next obvious sprint appeared, being it a town sign or a hill; it was totally justified to jump out of the wheel without any warning and outsprint the offender.

Now, Raul is a mountain biker, and so I was when I learnt this lesson. Sometimes we would be riding on the road and a road cyclist would pass us without saying hello. Without a word Raul would jump on the offender's wheel and everyone riding with him having a gram of energy would do the same. At the next obvious sprint everyone would jump and outsprint the offender. Most of the times to the total surprise of the rider that couldn't figure out what the hell was going on with that bunch of crazy mountain bikers.

As you can imagine we were proper choppers (we still are) and every now and then a strong road cyclist would pass us saying nothing. It those situations we felt exempted from teaching the offender any lesson; but, of course, we would comment on the lack of manners and wish for a puncture on the offenders rear wheel.

All this came to my mind today. Denis, Mark, Richard and myself were in the final kilometres of our ride to Arundel. We hadn't ride full speed, it was more of an endurance, base miles ride but, hey, we had already something like 150k and 2,000m of climbing on our legs so it is fair to say we were tired.

Today was one of those days we had left our knifes at home and instead attacking each other we had been riding collaboratively all day, we didn't even "race" the hills. We were approaching the Esher sprint and I can assure you I had no intention to dispute the sprint. There was no point in a ride like today's.

But there it comes this cyclists and passes us without saying hello. As far as I can tell without even looking at us. Had he said a simple hello and I would had replied back "hi" and I would had carried at our own pace.

The destiny had it that I was in front of our group of four and without even thinking about it I did what had to be done. I jumped on his wheel.

I'll admit it didn't feel easy. The bad-mannered was putting some effort and very quickly got a gap that forced me to sprint to get his wheel.

But I got him.

And I sat on his wheel as silent as possible, riding toward his left to make sure he would not see me if he looked back.

I'm not sure if he knew I was on his wheel or not but he definitively tried to attack the two small ramps before the final one. But I had him and he was not going to drop me. I was certainly not fresh but he was not that strong (otherwise I just had wished him a puncture in the back wheel) and I could tell he was fading out. This made the case even worst for him, I started to suspect he had accelerated beyond his cycling capabilities just to pass us. Another no-no in any cyclist's book. I started to savour revenge.

When we approached the final ramp I looked back and I saw Richard was on my wheel. Excellent, double lesson to the offender.

I waited for it and when he was clearly slowing down I jumped out of his wheel and sprinted. I knew I had dropped him.

Richard appeared on my right and clearly took the sprint. I didn't care. I normally would, it would have been just another bad executed sprint, and I don't like to lose a sprint, even if I'm not a sprinter. But today I didn't care, all that mattered was we had taken the sprint from the offender, even if he didn't know why.

We stopped in Esher to wait for Denis and Mark, the rider passed and I wonder what he was thinking of us. A shame I'll never know.

While we were waiting I explained Richard the reason for my behaviour and when Denis and Mark I gave my explanation again. Another of Javier's rules said Denis.

Now you know, always say hello when you pass a rider, specially if it is a chopper, Spanish looking riding in the UK.

Take care
Javier Arias González

domingo, 10 de septiembre de 2017

Milland Hill Surrey League Road Race 3rds - Race

TY, Andrew and Rupert warned me about Milland Hill (and the drag that follows), I knew the theory. I drove down it, saw the 25% sign and felt the fear. Climbed it during the warmup and I knew I wasn't going to last the whole race. Still, despite my low expectations I managed to surprise myself with a new poorer than expected performance.

Dropped the third time we went up Milland Hill, managing to slow down poor Ed on his way up. That's how unfit for road racing I am. As little as three one minute efforts at 400W is enough to empty my legs and drop me like an stone.

Once dropped didn't see any one. No one passed me, I didn't pass anyone.

The typical mental games started.

First it is the hypochondriac. "There should be something wrong with me".

Well, maybe, ride another lap and you'll take a good rest (next two weeks i'm travelling).

But the marshal at the top of Milland Hill said "well done" and I didn't stop, I kept riding.

Then was the "What am I doing here, I shouldn't be racing". Well, I told myself, finish the lap and retire from racing.

But when I got to the top of Milland Hill the marshal shouted "carry on, carry on" and I carried on.

Finally was the "You are embarrassing Kingston Wheeler colours" and when I was ready to stop at the top of Milland Hill someone next to the marshal shouted something I didn't get.

Somehow I managed to shout back "What?" and I understood "Maryka (!!??) would be proud of you!" (he might well have said something totally different but it doesn't matter, that's what I understood).

Well, I definitively didn't want to disappoint him (or Maryka) so I kept riding.

I knew it was going to be my last lap (if your are dropped you are pulled out in the last lap) and I was feeling better so I tried my best. Managed to finish just seconds ahead of the race.

I, obviously, once again, was last in the race, but as soon as I finished I thought "That was great fun, I like racing".

How can I be so silly!

The ride in Strava

1st full lap - 18:09 - 247w (normallized)
2nd lap - 18:36 - 246w
3rd lap - 21:26 - 226w
4th lap - 21:44 - 226w
5th lap - 21:19 - 230w
6th lap - 20:55 - 242w

Take care
Javier Arias González

martes, 4 de julio de 2017

Chris Boardman on pacing yourself

There's an equation that goes through your head: 'how hard am I trying?'; 'how far is there to go?'; and 'can I keep this up?'. 
If the answer to the last one is 'yes', you're not going fast enough. If the answer is 'no', it's too late you've already blown too much. 
The answer you want to the last part is 'maybe'.
Chris Boardman

domingo, 18 de junio de 2017

Quebrantahuesos 2017 (English)

My objective was to go below 6h30m.

How is it possible that I'm feeling happy about my ride if my time was 6h49:02? Well, it's all in the context.
QH's profile. Somport-Marie Blanque-Portalet-Hoz de Jaca
I was doing very well, matching my fastest time all the way to the top of Somport despite of having head wind. But two minutes into the descend, when I was riding at 52km/h, my front wheel blew out. I managed to brake and keep the bike controlled although the final stop was against a wall at slow speed. I managed to stay up right but the bike took a tumble. I was quick changing the inner tube, but maybe too quick because when I was about to jump back on the bike I hear a second blow. I guess I had pinched the inner tube. Was a bit more cautious with my second (and last) inner tube and my second (and last) CO2 canister. All in all 11 minutes stopped.

That meant two things. The first one is I descended the rest 15 km quite tense and not trusting the bike. The second one, and even more important, is I had lost all the fast trains for the 25 flat kms between Somport and Marie Blanque. More time lost (although I took the time to relax a bit after the stressful descend).

When I got to the Marie Blanque I still had great legs so I set a good pace, I was passing riders left and right. But at km5, when the hard section starts, I tried to load the 28 at the back and the derailleur started to rub against the spokes. I stopped to check what was going on and realised the derailleur was bent from the unconventional stop descending Somport.

I took this picture after the ride, no time for pictures during the ride
Tried to unbend it a bit by hand and all I managed to do was to block the derailleur. One of the cyclist that passed by said "It's not the bike, it is your legs!". I didn't lose my cool, but I was confused, I was not understanding what was happening, it took me a while to realise the derailleur had gone into protected mode. Did a reset of the unit and it was operative again, the 28 was still rubbing against the spokes though. I didn't want to lose more time so no 28 in the hard last 4 km of the Marie Blanque. 4m30s lost at that stop.

That's me appearing at 00:46 on the right hand side of the screen

I never managed to feel comfortable descending the Marie Blanque and, also, I realised the 11 didn't load because of the bend in the derailleur. So no 34-28 and no 50-11... Still looking at the numbers I see I was only 30s slower than my time in previous QH (2014) .

In the flat section between the Marie Blanque and Portalet I face the same problem as in the last flat section. The group I was in was riding too slow. This time I moved to the front and started to work to keep the speed as fast as possible. At the end I only lost 25s to my fastest time in that segment, which is not that bad at all. The difference is on that occasion I was just sitting on a fast peloton and today it was me doing most of the effort. Not ideal.

As soon as the Portalet started I set a good tempo and, again, I started to pass a lot of riders. The Portalet is a long climb (28km) and you have to pace yourself but at some point I thought "why is everyone riding so slow? Is it me the one that is getting it wrong?". But I felt ok so carried on. The problem was I realised the front wheel was low on pressure. Didn't have any more inner tubes or Co2 canisters and it looked like the pressure was being lost very slowly so decided to carry on and not stand on the bike all the way to the next feed station where I could do something about it. 2m30s lost finding a pump and pumping the wheel up.

I made it to the top of Portalet in a decent shape but that was 5h28m after the start so I knew it was going to be impossible to meet my objective but decide to give it my best shot anyway.

In the flat before Hoz de Jaca I matched my 2014 time despite riding on my own that section while in 2014 I rode it in a group that was working together taking turns on the front.

And then, finally, in the descend/flat section from Hoz de Jaca to Sabiñanigo (25km) a group formed very quickly but seems to me no one wanted to do any work on the front. I guess, in a way, it made sense, everyone was tired, they also knew they were not going to be below 6:30 and they were going to be clearly below 7:00 and there was still a tiny climb to deal with just before Sabiñánigo. I had other idea in my mind and so, it seems, another rider, so I think everyone felt more than happy to let the two of us take all the work. Together we managed to get a PB for me on that segment, although only for 14 seconds.

When I crossed the line I saw the watch on 6:50 and the official time turned out to be 6h49:02. A clear miss on my objective of going below 6:30:00. But looking at Strava I see moving time was 6:32:54 so I "know" on a "normal" day I would have gone below 6:30. Not by a lot, but I'm convinced I would have got it.

No excuses in any case. The objective for next year is going to be more ambitious and I will have to think what I have to change to make sure I don't fail again next year. For a starter I'm going tubeless. I'm a terrible descender yes, but riding a mountain stage not trusting your bike on the descends is too much of a burden if you want to make a good time.

On the other hand a bunch of things went very well.
  • The tumble I got on Wednesday didn't have any influence today
  • I set a PB at Somport (despite the head wind) and at the Portalet (despite of the stop and the front wheel on low pressure the first half). I also set my PB on Mean Maximal Power all the way from 9 minutes to 30 minutes (at Somport)
  • My nutrition plan worked to perfection. In fact I think I'll keep it very similar for next year. 
Yes, I know, I missed my own objective, as I did in 2014, then I was disappointed because I knew I had failed for my own fault, but not today, I'm very happy with my effort, and that is what counts for me.

DorsalPos.NombreCategoríaSomportEscotBiellePortaletBiescasTiempo final
41206OSCAR PEREIRO SIOE (Hombres 35-44 años)1:38:122:26:093:29:445:29:236:12:256:50:10
524ABRAHAM OLANO MANZANOF (Hombres 45-54 años)1:29:152:15:293:02:044:37:435:14:585:51:08
10249MIGUEL INDURAIN LARRAYAF (Hombres 45-54 años)1:34:092:21:463:16:074:58:595:36:306:11:43

Take care
Javier Arias González