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? Wll, 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 bend 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.


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 28 and no 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 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.

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 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.


Take care
Javier Arias González
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