Got the full carbon, super-light, pro-wannabe bike, the one I was riding when I crashed, not because wanted to be any fast but because I had a few daemons to kill with that bike.
Headed to Richmond Park with the intention of riding a lap. Wasn't sure if clock wise or anti clock wise and that question kept my mind busy until I had to stop a King's Road mini roundabout.
The problem was that I had to unclip the right foot (uncliping my left foot is not any more the natural gesture it used to be) and that meant giving the first pedal stroke with the left leg. Being King's Road slightly uphill and my left leg first pedal stroke rather weak I had no time to clip the right leg nor to give the second pedal stroke that would have kept me in movement. Inevitably I had to put my foot back on the ground in the middle of the roundabout while three car drivers were wondering who was that clumsy rider that was so close to make their day having a silly fall in front of them.
I had to use the 34x28 to "climb" the last part of King's Road which put at end my hesitation. I was going to ride anti clock-wise and lets see how I'd deal with Dark Hill.
Two things I found out very quickly. The first one is that as soon as I have to put some power my left leg quits and according to my power meter the right leg takes over, 40/60, 35/65, the more power I try to put the more unbalance my legs go.
The second one is that I managed to stand on the bike. Again, it was not the natural gesture it used to be, but I did it. The left leg protested a bit, but not that much that it couldn't be ignored so, after the flat in the middle of the "climb", I did it again to "attack" the second lump.
Surprised by how hight my heart rate was at that point got to the flat part where I finally could soft pedal and rest a bit before loading the big ring.
Descending Broomfield I was scared to death. Had to force myself to look ahead and get the fingers out of the brake levers and kill the daemon that was telling me the road is wet, the bike will sideslip and you'll find yourself in the ground again. I managed to control myself, but I was really relieved when the road was flat again.
The straight to Roethampton cafe was a paradise. Easy pedaling I managed to over take a few cyclists, including an adult on a road bike. I'm back! I'm back! I thought.
Full of confidence I turned left at roundabout by the Roethampton gate and the head wind was like a slap in my face. I had to switch to the small ring almost immediately and the self confidence vanished leaving me with my stubbornness.
Climbing Sawyer's Hill I tried again and stood up on the bike. This time felt a bit more natural and I even managed to pedal in that position for about 30 seconds. Left leg protested again, this time, a bit more intensely, but I kept looking at the riders that were passing me and playing games in my head. Giving them a No if I thought they wouldn't pass me if I were the rider I used to be or a Yes if they would pass me no matter what. Unluckily the weather was not that great which meant choppers were not riding today (save myself) so I ended up giving more Yes than Noes. The game didn't boost my moral but kept me entertained enough to ignore my left leg protests and get me to the top of Sawyer's Hill.
I loaded the big chain ring as soon as I could and hopped no one realized the embarrassment but it didn't last long. When I had to turn left at Richmond's gate roundabout I went back to the small chain ring.
Bare in mind that in that left turn my right leg was down so the first pedal stroke had to be with the left leg. You might have not realized, but after that roundabout it is uphill. Surely only slightly uphill, but enough to make the left leg protest with enough intensity to make me capitulate and switch down to the small chain ring immediately. No one was around so I don't think anyone noticed.
By the Pembroke parking the road becomes downhill. Slightly downhill, but enough to give the bike some speed and with the speed the confidence came back. There I was planning on attacking the lump after Ham's Gate.
Get some speed in the approximation, keep pedaling in the downhill section to get more inertia, keep pedaling when the lump starts and when you feel the pedals are to heavy stand on the bike and push yourself out of this tiny climb.
The plan was perfect, the execution not so much. When I tried to stand on the bike I realized the gear was too heavy so I had to soft pedal for a second trying to get an easier gear. Thanks God for electrical shifters otherwise I probably would have snapped my chain in this gesture.
This all mess slowed me down considerably and a female rider flew passed me. I gave her a big Yes despite she was a proper MAWIL (she was wearing Rapha) just to get a bit of peace of mind; I wasn't sure I could cope with more demoralization at this point.
When I made it to the top of the lump I sat on the saddle and tried to select an easy gear to relax the legs. To my despair I already was in 50x28 so again I had to go back to the small chain ring. I seriously considered keeping it all the way home but the road gave me a break and soon enough I was back on proper gears.
Got to Kingston's gate roundabout and saw a rider in the ground, covered with a thermal blanket and being attended by a paramedic. Didn't look too serious but a shivering crossed my back. Another daemon killed today.
When I got home unclipped the right leg and took my time to, very carefully, unclip the left one. The first few steps the leg felt a bit funny but a couple of stretches confirmed it wasn't that bad. A bit of rest this afternoon and looking forward to going back on the bike tomorrow.
Javier Arias González
the ride in Strava