martes, 17 de marzo de 2020

Proper ride but flat (
I can split this ride in four different parts.

In the first part I felt fear. With head wind, four strong riders aroud me and then Bidders hitting the front like a machine I thought I wasn't to be able to sustain the pace.

In the second part, after the coffee stop at Henley, I felt euphoria. That's the caffeine in action. I felt strong. Confident. Comfortable. By the time we stopped at Lasham bigmouth Javier was boasting about how well he felt and how he could sustain that pace forever.

The third part started at Lasham. Bidders set a pace that very quickly split the group in two. Bidders, Denis and I in the front group. Denis and I holding on Bidders' wheel the best we could. At the beginning I felt just fine. The first few ramps, not a problem. Denis and I yo-yo'ed a bit but Bidders would slow down every now and them to allow us to jump back on his wheel. Until in one fo the ramps I dropped. Clearly. Bidders and Denis waited for me but I knew I was done. It came as a surprise, I wasn't expecting it but I recognsed the feeling very quickly. I refused to accept it but I knew it was over. I hold with them for a few more kilometres but at the next ramp it was game over, I was definitively dropped. I still tryied to catch them in the descend, it was a desperated effort, futile. More the result of angryness than any real chance of being successful. I put myself in aero position and pedalled as hard as I could but at some point I took the wrong turn and the sound of the Garmin letting me know was like the bell waking me up.

The trio that was behind caught with me very quickly. I joined the group with a sense of joy. Good, I thought, we will work together and we will have a great ride. But it wasn't like that. Not at all. Very quickly I realised I was having problems to follow their pace. I was struggling at the back. And then started to rain. It hasn't been a dry day so far, we had plenty of light showers but this one felt heavy in my demoralised soul. And then Richard told me I had a puncture in my back wheel. I'm so glad I was riding tubeless. I'm not sure how I would have dealt with a puncture if I had to stop at that moment. Close to the Premier control I was dropped from the group. Dean was nice enough to wait for me to make sure I was fine. I wasn't totally fine. The third part was the part of the disappointment.

At the Permier I realised my back wheel was running very low in pressure. Somehow I used that as an excused for being dropped a few kilometros before the control and I felt comforted. Put more air on the wheel, visited the toilet, ate an energy bar and the six of us went back on the road.

I felt fine. Perfectly fine. Sure the pace was now much more sensible than the rest of the day. Yes, I wasn't doing any work on the front. But I was holding fine and as soon as I realised I felt peace and joy. Floating in my comfortable numb, my brain pumping endonphirnes I loved the ride, my riding mates, my bike, the fact that we didn't sprint at Hampton Court. Inebitably I finished with a great smile in my face dreaming of how fun the 300 is going to be.

The ride in Strava

Take care
Javier Arias González

sábado, 22 de febrero de 2020

Following JFW across the Surrey Hills

Dai had proposed a route. It was a great route. Short, but it headed to Tanhouse. Tanhouse is always a great stop. I like stopping at Tanhouse.

For reasons I still don't fully understand at LW we were discusing alternative routes. JFW said he wanted hills and that was it. Off we went towards the hills.

The problem, for me, was we (or at least I) had no idea what hills, in what order, how long was the ride going to be. Too much for my (slight) OCD.

Try to imagine. Me, the guy that carries two garmins, one on the handlebar a second one in his pocket. Both of them with the route of the day. Now following JFW into an uncertain number of unknown hills. Not really sure how I survived that.

Maybe it was I know very well the roads we were in. As soon as I realised we were heading to Staple Lane I knew that meant problems for me. I really don't like that climb and today it was very exposed to the wind. Last at the top at the edge of a heart attack.

Houndhouse Hill is another hill I dislike. Not sure why. Today I just took it steady. Not knowing what else to expect in the route was killing me. Being last again, by a big margin ate into my morale.
I recognised the climb out of Peaslake. I don't know where I'm going but at least knowing the climbs allowed me to regulate my efforts. This one I wasn't last.

Next one was Tanhurst Lane. You could have put a gun in my head and I'd swear I never have gone up this climb. Strava says today was the fith time though. It also says today was the slowest time. Still didn't do that bad compared to my riding colleagues. In fact I was starting to feel great on the bike.

And you know what. The moment we descended, in km 55. JFW says, we are tired, lets head home.
Wait a second. I'm starting to feel alive now!!!

In fact I knind of enjoyed climbing up Henhurst Lane. Another hill I thought I didn't know but Strava says I have climbed six times. Today not the slowest time though.

Then it was Ranmore. Another climb we don't do that often. One that I like. One that I enjoyed going up.

And that was it. At the top of Ranmore I was feeling great but I knew from there it was all downhill to home.

We still had to go through the sprint at Esher. Feeling great and looking at the sprinting pedigree of my riding companions I started to add one more win to my palmarés.

We get to Cobham and JFW decides we are not going home the usual way. We took a road that, again, I thought I didn't know but Strava disagrees with me. In any case no sprint win. I think JFW did it on purpose. I wonder why I still consider him a friend :-)

Take care 
Javier Arias González

sábado, 23 de noviembre de 2019


KW - Dai's Drift Then Windsor (non-stop)

Short and flat (

I find it fascinating how sprinting plays in my mind.

At Drift I felt ok(ish). I even took a few turns in the front. But the truth is at some point it was my turn to go in the front but I simply couldn't pass Denis. His pace had already took me to my limit. Dai and the Pope passed me. Final ramp comes and all I'm telling myself is "stay with them, stay with them". We got to the top together and now my mind switched to "wait for it, wait for it". When I saw Denis accelerating I jumped on his wheel and when I was ready went for it. It took me about 7 minutes to recover from the effort.

The approach to the sprint before Hampton Court was slow. That suited me well. Denis and the Pope ahead of me and Dai on my wheel. I knew I had to keep an eye on Dai but that was a pretty good setup for the sprint. Sudenly a train of 5 riders passed us. Didn't hesitate for a second and jumped on their wheel. That was the biggest power effort for the whole sprint. That situation stayed for about 40seconds (I'm actually looking at my power data). At that point the rider in the front moved to the left signing he was done. "That's five of us then" I thought. Pace went up a bit with the fresh legs at the front. A new push. Not very long though, around 20 seconds and the rider moved to the left. "That's four of us now, this is shaping well". Another push by the rider at the front and the rider just ahead of me let a gap open. It happened so quickly I didn't even have time to react. The gap was just about too big to jump across without killing myself. "You'll get third" I thought knowing I was going to be able to pass the rider just ahead of me and as I was thinking that Denis passed me. That's exactly what I needed. Jumped on his wheel for a few seconds and then went for the sprint. I'd argue I took the sprint but it is true that only because the two riders in the front stopped pedaling aproaching the left hand bend. Doesn't matter. I was happy with my effort and my tactics.

I normally leave my riding companions at Hampton Court but it was so early and the route so short I decided to ride with them to Kingston just to make it a bit longer. Very quickly I jumped to the front with Denis and the Pope on my wheel. I knew I had to pace myself if I wanted to be able to sprint at Kingston. I did fairly well. 2 minutes average poser 286w. But the truth is I was feeling my legs dying. Not slowing down massively but knowing that if I tried to sustain the pace I woudn't be able to sprint. As I was thinking that Denis and the Pope passed me. That allowed me to recover for a few seconds before I saw the Pope accelerating. Jumped on his wheel and went for the sprint.

You could wronly believe that I did well in terms of sprinting. No, not at all. All Dai, Denis and the Pope kept taking sprints through the whole ride. My excuse is most of them I didn't even know they were there but looking at the celebrations I'm sure they were giving lots of points toward the green jersey classification in today's ride.

There is, obviously, no mention of JFW performance today. He had landed at 5am after a couple of weeks somewhere in APAC. We all know that those circumstances are a sure recipe to be slaughtered. I dare to say he was.

The ride in Strava:

Take care
Javier Arias González

sábado, 19 de octubre de 2019

Spanish Cycling Jargon 101

"Me llevaron todo el día con el ganchu"

Google translates it as: "They took me all day with the hook" but that is not a good translation. Let me explain you.

I arrive home. Carmen looks at me and asks "How was your ride "darling"?".

You could say we know each other well so I know that just looking at my face she knows how was my ride. I detect a mild tone of amusement in the tone of that "darling" so I guess my face is telling all the story but wanting to make my feelings clear, something that always help in a relationship, I answer "Me llevaron todo el día con el ganchu" making the gesture of that picture. That says it all, off I go to the shower.

"Me llevaron todo el día con el ganchu" is saying your riding mates carried you hooked by the chin all day (notice I saying "ganchu" wich is the Asturian pronuntiation of "gancho", which is the proper Spanish word. In my opinon using "ganchu" gives the expression added dramatism making it at the same time funnier to all non Asturian Spaniards).

It is a great expresion, it expresses the feeling of holding there by your dear live. Noticing every push in the front, every single bump in the road, every time a new rider moves to the front with fresh legs. Taking every single opportunity to give your legs the opportunity to rest. But still holding there, hoping you will be able to hold in the next push, asking yourself how far the coffee stop is. That's how I felt today.

But it wasn't for the whole day. To be fair I'll have to admit I felt fairly well at the begining I even took two turns in the front (I had promissed that in the mailing list so I figured to take that out of the way as soon as possible).

Then Green Dene came and they killed me. In a 6 minutes "climb" (nothing that is 6 minutes is a climb) my colleagues were at least a minute faster than me. Adding insult to injury two riders from another club passed me half way up the climb. None of the looking particularly lean, fit or fast. I was at the edge of crying.

From Green Dene "Me llevaron todo el día con el ganchu". Needless to say I didn't take a single turn in the front for the rest of the ride.

Well, that's a not totally correct. I took the front for 5 meters. Those needed to take the Esher sprint.
I explained to my riding mates, once again, that I was suffering all day, always at the edge, always risking being dropped. But approaching Esher and finding myself in the game somehow I was able to sprint.

Apparently they took it well. Didn't hear the word sandbagging and if anything the criticism came after my unorthodox way of sprinting, sitting on the saddle and spinning the legs at 125rpm. But, hey, a win is a win.

Let's see if next week I'm still part of the email list.

The ride in Strava:

Take care
Javier Arias González

sábado, 12 de octubre de 2019

Dai's ride to Windsor

Short and flat (
Does it even count as a ride?

Mood of the day.
By the time I get to LW: "Great JFW is here, I'm not the weakest link"
By the time we got to Hampton Court: "We should ban coffee for both Dai and Denis"
By the time we got to Drift Rd: "S**** JFW is even taking turns in the front. I'm the weakest link here"
Half way through Drift Rd: "They are going to drop me, they are going to drop me, they are going to drop me"
Approaching the "climb" at the end of Drift Rd: "Where is JFW?"
At the top of the "climb" at the end of Drift Rd: "I made it, they didn't drop me.... And I feel I can sprint. Who cares I didn't take a single turn in the front, jump out of Dai and Denis' wheel and got of it"
At the finish of Drift Rd sprint: "Second in the sprint. I have to change my tactics, this one is already well known. I'm sure Denis was waiting for it."
Also at the finish of Drift Rd sprint: "S**** I think I have burn the only match I had for today. How long until the coffee stop? [25km]"
At Windsor: "Change of guard. Again." We have to walk to the chocolate cafe. "Let me switch of my Garmin"
At the Chocolate Cafe: Dai and Denis are having a coffee. "A latte and half cinnamon bun for me"
First sprint after Windsor: "I didn't see that coming. A shame because I'm feeling all right"
Second sprint after Windsor: "Yess!!!!. I took it fair and square. Dai and Denis were contesting it. Never mind they almos bump on each other. I was first across the line. I'm an unstoppable machine"
A few meters after the second sprint after Windsor: "S****, I forgot to re-starting the Garmin at Windsor"
10km after the second sprint after Windsor: "Still trying to decide how to calculate the kilometres and TSS points I should add to riding log to compensate for the missing data"
Approaching last sprint: "Denis, once again, taking one for the team"
Last sprint: "Dai goes for it, I follow his wheel. We have to stop it because there is a long queue of cars. Deep down I know I would have lost it".
Summary of the sprints of the day: Second to Denis at Drift, completely missed a sprint, didn't record the one I took, second to Dai in the last one. JFW took a bunch of sprints only him knew they were there.
If JFW doesn't stop riding now I'm going to start worrying for TY at Paris-Roubaix.

The ride in Strava (without the bit from Windsor to the second sprint after Windosr :-( ):

Take care
Javier Arias González

domingo, 30 de junio de 2019

Ditchling Devil 2019

The Ditchling Devil is probably the most important event in the Saturday gang calendar.

This year the pace was fairly easy for the first hour. Controled mostly by the mentioned group.

As every year there was a bit of a debate about the first control. Bacon roll or not bacon roll. I dare to say I'm recognised as a strong defender of not bacon roll and keep rolling but this year we agreed on a short stop ("three minutes") to allow bacon lovers to satisfy their gluttony. I was on gels, measuring the carbohydrates I needed in my body. That's how serious this event is.

After what felt to me like an eternal stop we decided to start rolling. Unfortunatelly The Pope was still busy, eating a third bacon roll I can only guess.

By the time he caught with the group (we were softpedaling waiting for him and Will... Kind of) he shauted something too strong to my delicated ears and "attacked" the group.

It was one of those attacks that is not an attack, he just sat in the front and set a pace we were abel to match. Not even close. Away he disappeared.

We climbed Dichling Beacon and we all got to the top. While we were softpedaling waiting for Will. Shaun, Denis and Richard "attacked" in the front leaving Rupert and myself alone.

This "attack" didn't look like an attack either. They just rode a bit faster. Rupert and I were just riding easy counting they'd wait in the T junction with the main road. But they didn't.
And we didn't wait for Will either.

And we took the wrong exit in the first roundabout we found (my fault as Rupert didn't have the route in his device).

Still we managed to close the gap just before starting to climb Devils Dyke.

To my surprise Will was with them. He had made a TY. Legal under the Audax rules but cheeky nonetheless (ps. I was told that, apparently, Will didn't do a TY in that sector, he passed us when we took the wrong exit in the roundabout. Oh well).

By this time (km85) I was finally starting to feel some power in my legs. Seeing The Pope descending as we were climbing fueled my optimism.

We all respected the agreed lunch stop. Pasta and rice pudding can't be skipped. The Pope was there waiting for us.

A group of 7 departed the control. Stayed like that for 20km. But then a gap opened. The Pope, Denis, Richard and Shaun in the first group. Rupert, Mark and myself in the second group.

I was not worried. We had 26km to the next control ("the cake control") and somehow I got to the conclusion they were going to get there just three minutes before us. Three minutes in a control full of cakes is nothing. We agreed on keeping a sensible pace and let it be.

Sure enough we got to the cake control (three pieces for me) and we set off all together again.

At some point Rupert and Mark got droped.

In one descend Richard had a mechanical.

It was down to four of us (The Pope, Shaun, Denis and myself)

I have to confess I was worried about Combe Lane. I knew my companions were stronger than me and I was probably going to be dropped at that climb. I decided not to take a single turn in the front (not that I had taken many before. Race craft they call it).

Combe Lane came and we let The Pope lead the group but not for long. Denis upped the pace and opened a gap. I knew I could follow him but I thought I'd better stay next to The Pope fearing a strong push in the last ramp (the steapest part).

But the ramp was approaching and his pace was even slowing down. I kept my own pace and managed to open a gap.

Denis was softpedaling at the top and so I was. It took some time for the idea to cross my mind.
I got to Denis and asked "Do you want to wait or attack?"

"Lets attack" he answered.

That was all I needed to hear. I moved to the front and upped the pace.

Looked back and saw The Pope and Shaun very close. Kept pushing. Looked back again and I saw the gap opening.

Denis came to the front and gave it another push. So strong I almost regreted my idea. Looked back again and couldn't see them.

An attack from far away. The dream of any racer.

We descended fairly fast but by the time the descend was finishing Shaun was next to us (great descender he is I learnt).

We had a short conversation and agreed to keep pushing it until Esher and wait for The Pope there (The Pope was the clear favourite for that sprint).

We kept the power on. Denis more than anyone. It was hard to just stay on his wheel.

Imagine our surprise when we were approaching Cobham when we saw The Pope in front of us. I first thought that was a true miracle but then realised he too had done a TY (big influence has he left in the group) and had taken a shortcut.

Things were not looking great in my head. The Pope in the group. Denis had just demonstrated he was very strong and I had Shaun regarded as a good sprinter.

The Esher sprint was going to be contested.

First Denis (the most generous rider when a sprint is approaching), then The Pope, then myself and Shaun closing the group. Not bad positioning I thought. Just pay attention in case Shaun goes from afar.

At some point Denis moved to the right and The Pope moved to the front. That could only mean he is feeling strong. My alarms were all over the place.

Denis waited a little bit on the right expecting me to follow The Pope. Not in a million years that would happen. I slowed down and let a gap clear for him to move to the second wheel.
The pace was very slow for this sprint. That's good for me I thought.

As we were approaching the last ramp I was expecting Shaun to jump but it was Denis the one that did the first move.

This is great I thought. I got your wheel.

Not for long. The pace was slow and we were in reach of a sprint so I jumped.

No one followed me.

I took the Esher sprint!!!!

Probably the most important win in my (quite limited) cycling palmares.

We kept a brisk pace to the end.

The Pope claimed he got first to the finish just because he turned right first.

I claimed it was me because I was the first one to cross the line that limits the pub (the best way of wining sprints is deciding the line is where you crossed first).

None of that mattered because we got there before the control had opened. We ordered our pints, the control opened, they convinced me to go for a second pint, Mark arrived and he was the first getting his brevet stamped "wining" Ditchling Devil 2019. My senses numbed by the alcohol I was only fifth (I think).

When we decided to go home The Pope decided to punish me and made me climb Nightingale Lane straight after the pub. My legs hate him, such a great friend....

(apologies for the length of the report but TY needed a full report to have all the information, as impartial as possible, for the after game in our WhatsApp group)

(Just to be clear. Ditchling Devil is an Audax event. Audax is not racing and has nothing to do with racing. No one cares who finishes first, sprints or tactics. All this report is just a joke)

Take care
Javier Arias González

sábado, 16 de febrero de 2019


Short, Non-Flat according to Javier's ride classification criteria.

Great group as always. Ten riders riding strong and tight. Riding strong is what happens when you have Dai and Bidders in a ride. Riding tight is what happens when you have experience riders that know each other well. Great fun.

Felt slow warming up today. Took me a while to start feeling my legs.

Green Dene was climbed at a steady pace set by Dai. That's exactly what I needed.

Combe Lane doesn't count, I climbed back to help Slavs with his puncture.

Hound House was interrupted by a couple of cars that were descending and forced us to almost stop. Still managed to finish in the front group with Dai, Bidders and Dennis. I could have sprinted but it would have been very rude to them so I behaved like an adult.

Since I was feeling fine and the ride was a short one I thought it was a good idea to add some intensity so took a few strong turns in the front. Funny enough the stronger I was riding the better I was feeling. So weird!

Sumners Ponds was full so we decided to carry on to Tanhouse. At that moment I knew someone would bonk. One thing is to ride 65km and stop and another is to ride 95km before you stop, specially if those extra 30km are a series of small, steep bumps. They eat your legs. This time it was poor Oli.

Tanhouse was a great as always. Dai went for a double shot late so clever me decided to go for a coffee, I learnt my lesson from my last ride with Alice.

A nice surprise seeing the new tarmac out of Newdigate and being caffeine powered I felt happy and strong the second part of the ride.

Dai generously, as always, sat in the front all Juniper setting a strong but steady pace. Bidders on his wheel, then me and then Dennis. When the final ramp came I attacked and opened a gap.

"That was pretty impressive, I got the climb", I thought while easied a bit.

But that was a bit too early, in fact a few meters before the top early. Looked back and to my surprise Bidders was on my wheel.

Not for long, he acelerated, too late for me to react, he took the climb.

I'd lie if I didn't admit I was a bit disappointed, I knew I haven't gave it all, I could have gone harder. But, hey, I go easy on myself. Bad strategy but I was feeling strong and we still had to dispute the Horton sprint.

From Juniper is all downhill, I you can bet I made sure I rode easy recovering my legs. Always relaxed in someone's wheel.

The Horton roundabouts came and we had a bit of a mess of approach. A split, had to stop in one roundabout to let a car pass, I being last wheel.

Bidders went away and someone closed the gap. Nor me, I was still sitting on Will's wheel, the man I was marking.

Bidders went away again and this time it was pretty clear we were not going to catch him. He took the Horton sprint solo. Strong performance.

Behind him, Dai lead, the Luca, then Will and then myself. Luca went. Will on his wheel, I on Will's. Then Will went, I on his wheel. Then I went.

I'd say I took the sprint (second after Bidders, that is) but somehow Will thinks he took it. Bloddy sprinters :-D

Anyway, didn't reduce a bit how happy I was. I had ridden strong and I was still feeling strong. Happy days.

Still I don't understand how this is possible. I felt today much better than last Saturday's ride and the training I've done during the week cannot justify the progress. Weird.

The ride in Strava.

Take care
Javier Arias González