domingo, 30 de marzo de 2014

My sixth race at Preston Park

Saturday 9:00 pm. Everything ready for my second audax of the year, The Dean 300km. Last look at my twitter before going to bed and I see this twit
My first thought was "What is that crazy guy doing riding The Dean the day before is meant to be?". My second thought was "Because The Dean is happening tomorrow, right?". And I went and checked, and it turned out The Dean was actually on Saturday!!!

Cool! I had blew up all my cycling plans for the following months (it is not that easy to re-schedule a 300km ride in my already tight calendar). What can I do? Lets go racing. A quick look at the races for today gave the a straight answer, if you want to race today Preston Park again will have to be. Instead 300km I'll ride 30km. Not quite the same, but, hey, I didn't have to wake up at 3:30!!!

Number 1 should be reserved to those that have won at least one race. I haven't
I didn't have to wake up at 3:30 but still I had to wake up one hour earlier to change the bike setup (remove lights, e-werk, mudguards, rack, tyre in the rear wheel, change front wheel and remove handle bag), I can't afford to give the other riders that much of an advantage carrying all that stuff.

Nice day today in Brighton which means lots of riders, some of them faces that I could recognize but to be honest I couldn't tell if they were strong riders or not. Anyway I didn't care, my plan was simple. The wind was not that strong so look out for promising breakaways and try to jump on them, otherwise wait for the likely bunch sprint and try to get it better this time.

And so I did. Well positioned and alert but hidden in the fifth to tenth position in the bunch, a few riders tried to when solo, but I thought they had no chance so I waited for others to bring them back. Apart for some spikes in the pace it felt easy to keep up with it. 

There was one effort that brought me well into the red zone when I jumped into a group that were trying to get away with 20 minutes to go. A solo effort wouldn't make it, a two riders effort, being me one of the riders, would have little chance, but a four or five riders breakaway was another history so I didn't want to miss it. 

Sadly it didn't stick; I guess everyone had the same thought I had. So a bunch sprint was going to be; again.

Fifth, again, as you can see in the picture above; but this time very happy with how I sprinted. My wife had sent me a message reminding me not to stop sprinting until I have crossed the line and I took that as an order. 

The graph below is rather surprising. I thought my maximum heart rate was 184, or at least that is the highest I have seen in the last two years, but today I hit 199. Can I go back to being 21 years old?

BTW is there any price for placing 5th most of the times? Four out of five times I have placed (if I include the Kingston Wheelers 4th cat championship) I came 5th.

Now I have an additional objective for the year. To win a race! 

It will have to wait at least until July now that I had to readjust my Audax calendar and my training for the Quebrantahuesos, but there is plenty of time from July to the end of the year.

Take care
Javier Arias González

domingo, 23 de marzo de 2014

Man of Kent 200

[I'll try to keep it short because I'm tired ;-)]

Third year in a raw that I ride Man of Kent 200 as my first Audax of the year. This ride is mostly flat so it is perfect for getting the body used to long distance after six months of not riding anything "long".

8:00 and we are sent off. Very quickly I found myself in the front group. A guy passed me and disappeared up the road, I looked back and there were like six riders on my wheel. No trace of Gavin and Dominic, the other two Wheelers that were riding the event. I kept pedalling at my own pace.

Around Km 28 (I think) we were about to catch the guy in the front. A red traffic light made the task easier. I looked back and recognized Stuart among the riders (we rode together part of the Oats and Coats 300 last year; on that ride he talk me into racing; he is the non-Wheeler more responsible for me trying racing) When the traffic light turned green, he was in the front, Stuart and myself on his wheel chatting and the rest of the riders on our wheel. A hill appeared and the rider that was in the front dropped that quickly that I had to manoeuvre to don't run over him. Not sure why riders push themselves that hard at the beginning of a 200 if they are not that fit.

We arrived to the first control (50k) and there where nobody there. Stuart and myself decided to keep it going. Three other riders came with use.

Second control (79km) was in a café. The three riders decided to stop for a coffee. Stuart and I decided to keep it going.

Not much happened. We were riding fairly hard, sometimes taking turns; which is probably a sacrilege in an Audax event but, hey, we had head wind!!

We kept it going and only stopped at the control that was at km 176. A quick coffee and a banana and back to the road.

We arrived to the head quarters at 16:05, 5 minutes more than 8 hours in total. Not bad, the second pair of riders arrived 30 minutes later and the next riders an hour later, including Gavin that did great in his second 200k
Rice pudding as recovery meal
Great ride, lucky with the weather (we only had a four showers, two of them with hail), nice riding with Stuart and happy with the power 218, which is 6.8% more than last year (204). Good start of the Audax season.

The ride in Strava

Take care
Javier Arias González

lunes, 17 de marzo de 2014

My fifth race at Preston Park

The plan was simple, wait for the last lap and sprint with half a lap to go. Win!

Somehow I was convinced that I was going to win this race. Just had to wait patiently all the race for the final sprint.

I was well positioned, but not riding that well. Twice I was called out for not holding my line and twice they were probably right (I had the chance to apologize to the TCC rider during the race, I'm not sure who was the other one).

With two to go a rider in my left got our handlebars tangled. He complained loudly but I think it was his fault. Anyway, luckily we both managed to solve the situation and keep pedalling.

In the final sprint I found myself out of the top positions, sprinting for the seventh. I actually found the time to count them.

And counting them I saw some more riders passing me in the last meters

I had a whole lap to blame myself for such terrible sprint.

When I met my wife at the HQ she was clear "everyone passed you because you stop sprinting too early"; and I know she was right.

My daughter told me I did tenth but I know I was eleventh. Instead of sprinting I was counting and I also counted the four that passed me!!

Still, looking at the numbers it was my hardest, fastest, race and sprint in Preston Park, but I was told there is no price for good numbers.

Will have to do a bit better next time chopper.

The race in Strava

[edit 19/3/2014]
The results are out and it seems my daughter was right and I can't count :-)

Take care
Javier Arias González

viernes, 14 de marzo de 2014

Desde San Francisco a Google en bicicleta

Trabajadores de Google hace años que organizan el sf2g (San Francisco to Google). O lo que es lo mismo, 67km de bicicleta para ir desde San Francisco hasta las oficinas centrales de Google.

La iniciativa se ha hecho tan popular que existe una web pública y ahora se forman pelotones ciclistas de trabajadores de un montón de empresas de Sillicon Valley haciendo distintos recorridos y a distintas velocidades.

Incluso del CFO (el director financiero) de Google, Patrick Pichette, se une a estas rutas.

Foto de Seth Sternberg
Lo de los googlers y el ciclismo es para hacérnoslo mirar...

A cuidarse
Javier Arias González

domingo, 2 de marzo de 2014

My second race at CycloPark

The dirtiest bike in the race today (and yes, I forgot to remove the light)
Not sure when or why I decided to ride from home to CycloPark but it was not the best of my ideas. I didn't know the route and Strava gave me one with lots of turns, traffic lights and some off road tracks. I wanted to be as fresh as possible for the race so I rode very slowly. It took me 2h 31m to ride 57km. 

Still arrived with enough time to say hello to my fellow Wheelers, eat a banana, a piece of chocolate and an energy bar, and to sit in the ground to rest a bit while watching the end of the 3rd cat race. It looked a hard race from the outside.

3rd cat race ended late so we only had five minutes to warmup. It was nice to see Nathan, it was him the one that said hello, I couldn't recognized him in his new kit.

Waiting Tranquilo as per rule #80
I don't care about rule #80, this position is more comfortable
This was a 4th cat only race. 70 riders lined up and behind our race a women race, not sure how long after.

I had ridden here in early December and in that race I was dropped in the 8th/15 laps and I knew this is a technical circuit so my plan was to be near the front all race, try to hold on the pace and try to take advantage of a straight home that I think suits me.

I have to say it. That was a great plan. Being near the front means you have more space in the hairpin bends, it also means you have to break less and, therefore, you have to put less power to get out of the bend. Once I experienced that I knew it for a fact, they would have to kill me to get out of that position.

And it was not easy to keep it. Everyone was sprinting out of every corner and everyone was attacking the bunch. As always I was trying to be alert to everything that was happening but I have to admit that around the 3th or 4th lap I had no idea how many riders were ahead. I was lost; but, hey, I had a plan and stuck to it.

Another characteristic of this circuit is there is not such thing as constant pace. The pace is constantly changing. Whether or not we will get out of a corner accelerating like if it were the final sprint looked kind of random to me. This is excellent training for me, because I'm not used to ride that way. I have to confess it killed me but I also loved it. On Monday I'm booking my appointment with the doctors.

At some point it looked like we were all together. I wasn't sure if that was the case but it didn't bother me too much, I was not going to change how I was racing.

Half way through the race we lapped the women race. Another good reason to be at the front in a circuit as many bends as this one. Only a few riders will be able to pass a peloton between two bends, if you are not in the front you will have to break to accommodate your speed to the peloton speed, and that means you'll have to sprint after the bend to catch up with the riders at the front.

In one of the hairpin bends the rider in front of me touched the ground with his right pedal and he fell making a terrible noise. Luckily I manage to go around him and sprint to cover the push the riders on the front took when they heard the crash. That was a close one.

We were passing lots of riders, some of them riding alone, some in pelotons. At some point I looked back for the first time and I was surprised to find out we were 15 or 20 riders. It looked like we had lapped pretty much the whole field.

When the 5 to go sign was up the group accelerated as we were crossing the line and for the next two laps I was at my limit. With 3 to go the group took a rest for two laps. But when we approaching to the bell everyone was sprinting like if we hadn't another lap to ride. I was dying. My wife and my daughter swear they hear me scream "I can't", but I don't recall it.

Last lap was my personal record according to Strava but when we approached the final straight I knew I was not going to win. I pushed but when we were passing under the bridge I was already out of gas. I think I did around 15th, definitively out of the top 10.

Crossed the line and I realized how hard I was riding. It took me ages to get my breath back.

Overall I'm reasonably happy with the race. I'm happy with how I raced and how comfortable felt cornering from the front of the group. 

I was not even close to win but I was there until the last meters. I missed a fresher legs in the final push, but that is fine when looking at the numbers I find the race was hard work for me (96 TSS 0.955 IF in 1h03m) and I remind myself the work I've done during the week and that I had ridden to the course. It'll pay off in the future.

Take care
Javier Arias González