sábado, 24 de febrero de 2024

The day of number 2

 

Two hours of stopped time in the ride. We were lucky we dogged the rain all day.


Two were the KOMs I lost to Lucas and I consider that a success.


Two punctures today. One before the ride even started.


Two were the sprints that JFW took today. Below expectations performance.


Two inner tubes JFW needed to repair a puncture. Another below expectations performance.


Two pieces of cake for Bidders at the coffee stop. That’s an expected performance.


Two coffees for me at the coffee stop. It helps to explain my overexcitement during the return leg.


But There Can Be Only One Winner of the final sprint. It definitely helps that no one but me knew where the line was.


The ride in Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/10828014905


Take care of yourself

Javier Arias González


sábado, 17 de febrero de 2024

My coach would be proud of me

 (Almost five minutes at 345w with an average heart rate of 49bpm doesn’t seem accurate to me. Either that or my training is going really, really well)


Not sure what my coach, if I had one, would have prescribed as a training session for today, but if you ask me I’d say I got it almost perfect.


Easy riding all day. Chatting, laughing, enjoying the scenery. 


A sprint whenever JFW decided he wanted one. Which, for me, was a bunch of sprints at random moments of the ride. 


Three efforts up the hills trying to hold to JFW’s wheel. Which, for me, was the equivalent to three over the threshold, motor-paced efforts.


One final sprint. Perfectly led this time by JFW. Which, for me, was just another prestigious win added to my plamarés.


I’m guessing the scone with cream and jam I had at Tanhouse was not the ideal fuelling for the ride, but it’s contribution to my overall happiness made it totally worth it.


I almost wish I had a coach to witness how well I executed today.


The ride in Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/10779632238


Take care

Javier Arias González


domingo, 4 de febrero de 2024

Gluttony

 

I felt better today than yesterday.


Weird, but true.


I felt even better when I managed to keep The Pope’s wheel up Hazelwood Lane. 


Even weirder, but also true.


To celebrate I went for a double cake at the coffee stop. Gluttony is one of my sins, probably not the worst though. 


There is no way I’ll skip a Pasteis de Nata if I’m at a Portuguese cafe.


That cost me my chance at getting Juniper’s KOM.


That, and that The Pope took off his arm warmers before the climb (he showed up without gloves). I took my gloves off to compensate. Looking for a fist fight ended up with me swearing (in Spanish) when I saw him (one more week) disappearing off the front in the final ramp.


I blame that defeat on the two aforementioned cakes. Also, on the di2 system that unilaterally decided to switch chainring at the most inappropriate moment. I’d also throw into the mix that I was riding with a rear wheel low in pressure, the sealant was not fast enough fixing a puncture. That’s probably 100w there and then. I wouldn’t have taken the KOM anyway but I would have been closer.


From there it was game over for me. The pressure in my rear wheel was too low to have any say at the Horton sprint. 


The Pope took it after an early attack by GC Denis (definitely not a sprinter).


Gluttony is also one of The Pope’s sins. Definitively not his worst one. One of the weirdest sentences I have written, but also true.


The ride in Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/10694774638


Take care

Javier Arias González


sábado, 3 de febrero de 2024

Fake it till you make it

 Staying on Neal’s wheel while he closed the gap after JFW’s suicide attack up Green Dene almost killed me.


I survived that traumatic experience at the price of knowing I was wasted for the rest of the ride.


A challenge when you want to pretend you are in good form. Time to fake it.


Next climb I used a car coming down as an excuse to slow down and let JFW take the KOM.


At Col du Chemin Fe (I’m not making it up, that’s the name of the segment) a puncture came to the rescue. 


I found myself chasing Neal and JFW again up Punchbowl’s cycletrack. Not the place I wanted to be. 


Five seconds before I blew up JFW did the typical JFW thing and blew up. I took the opportunity to start riding next to him pretending to be a nice cycling mate. I even use the old trick of asking him lots of questions to make him talk and force him to slow down a little bit more.


A mandatory dose of caffeine at a long coffee stop made even longer by another puncture, this time in Denis’ bike (I swear to god I didn’t touch his bike. I would if it had occurred to me, though).


A few moves to the front at key moments to make everyone believe Javier is contributing and seems he is coping is an essential part of the strategy.

 

A strategy that changes radically 20k (or more) before the last sprint.


From that moment, fake anything you need to fake to avoid sitting in the front. Taking time to clip your pedal, a pee stop, waiting for others at crossroads, moving to the left of the road when we are turning right. Whatever it takes to avoid the front.


Now, the moment you get to Cobham make sure you are in the right wheel and stay there no matter what.


Give thanks because you have a quiet hub and that gives you the chance to be forgotten by those at the front.


Bet everything on Neal going a bit too early, Neil following suit and you have just that little extra energy to open a gap. 


Look back and if you see them sitting down, sit down yourself and hope they don’t come after you.


Fake it till you make it.


It is not the most honorable win but it is a win and you don’t have any honor by now anyway.


Enjoy it while it lasts because you’ll pay for it tomorrow.


P.d. My proposal to enter the 24 hours of Ultracycling (https://www.transiberica.club/24h/) in 2025 was very well received. A group of us will likely give it a go.


The ride in Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/10687692473/ 


Take care

Javier Arias González 


domingo, 28 de enero de 2024

Surprise! Surprise!


GC Denis said he was tired, DD said she would consider joining but never did, JFW said something about a pain in a knee (an excuse clearly overused by my riding mates if you ask me) and he did his typical of showing up for a few kilometers and then peeling off.


So it is just me and The Pope.


We were, what?, 20km into the ride? 


The Pope came to me and asked me if I knew the profile of the ride.


Yes, I said, Devil’s Punchbowl and then two climbs.


One of them is Barhatch. He replied back to me.


Ooooooooooohhhhhhh!


As Cilla Black sang (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uwIER9eeOrw) “Surprise, surprise, the unexpected hits you between the eyes”. 


I know that “technically” this was my route and “in theory” I should have studied it. 


But the reality is that I just copied Dai’s route and the result of me studying the route was “Flat until Devil’s Punchbowl, where the climb will be neutralized due to gates and pedestrians. Stop at the top. Two hills on the way back”. 


True, but not very precise.


Anyway, time to re-think my strategy. 


The thought of suggesting avoiding Barhatch crossed my mind but I feared it would damage my cycling public image so I opted for a coffee and a (fruit) scone at the coffee stop. Caffeine will save me.


Now, Back on the road I knew Barhatch was coming but I didn’t know when (I definitely should have studied the route a bit better).


And that is a problem because I wanted to avoid starting it at the front. Let’s say it is less than ideal to start Barhatch with The Pope on your wheel if you want to have any chance of success at taking the KOM.


Luck had it that at some point I was sitting on The Pope’s wheel and I saw him removing his gloves.


That’s it! That’s the sign. I knew then the climb was coming. I stayed on his wheel and refused to take any more turns at the front.


My plan was to stay on his wheel all the climb and out-sprint him to take the KOM.


I think it was the great philosopher Mike Tyson who said best “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth”.


And The Pope didn’t have gloves…


I don't know what killed me more: the 21% slope or the envy of seeing him disappear going up the hill.


Got to the top and I was happy to see my morale was intact. 


Either caffeine is an amazing substance or I’m more stupid than I thought possible.


Regardless, I fancied my chances at Combe Lane.


That is a climb that allows you to sit on someone’s wheel and out-sprint that person to take the KOM.


I might be a bit of a one-trick pony rider but I value simplicity so it suited me. 


The climb started. Me sitting on The Pope’s wheel. Dido’s White Flag’s song (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-fWDrZSiZs) came to mind “But I will go down with this ship. And I won't put my hands up and surrender. There will be no white flag above my door…”.


It didn’t matter. 


Whenever The Pope wanted he hit me again and I surrendered immediately (he still had his gloves off). My morale was not intact anymore.


I started to doubt I could take the final Esher sprint so I talked The Pope out of it. I couldn’t care less about my cycling public image, my ego couldn’t take another gloveless punch.


So we crossed the Esher town sign line riding in parallel while talking about running.


I call that a cycling success. 


Surprise! Surprise! My ego is intact. 


The route in Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/10647208868/ 


Take care

Javier Arias González


sábado, 27 de enero de 2024

Disappointing my coach

 I’m sure my coach is very disappointed.


The plan for today’s ride was to ride easy all day. Tomorrow I’m leading a ride to Devil’s Punchbowl and The Pope is riding so I wanted to save my legs. Not because I have high hopes of keeping up with him, last weekend’s ride (https://www.strava.com/activities/10601714863) taught me not to be that arrogant, it was just a matter of maximizing my chances of survival.


All started very well when I didn’t have a coffee in the morning so I didn’t get the caffeine induced unjustified optimism I normally get.


Still the plan didn’t last long. A few kilometers into the ride I found myself at the front pushing a pace that was a couple of steps higher than what I was planning.


Even at the “climbs” I was going a bit too hard. 


Nothing crazy, just not quite the pace I had in mind.


It wasn’t my fault of course. It was JFW’s.


I’m only guilty of lacking any personality to stick to the plan and imitating him like a parrot.


JFW moves to the front and sets a strong pace and there I go, following his lead, moving to the front and keeping the pace..


JFW starts at the front in a small incline, soon I pass him pretending I’m riding easy while pushing the pace.


I wasn’t happy with my behavior. I even ordered a decaffeinated coffee at the coffee stop to make sure I went back to the plan.


Back on the road I stuck to the plan. Sat in the third wheel. Rarely moved to the front. Didn’t lead the group up any of the climbs.


I was so proud of myself…


But that only lasted until JFW started to tease me at every town sign sprint.


He would move to the front and start looking at me as if he were controlling me ahead of the sprint.


I very rarely enter those games. I prefer to keep my powder dry for the final sprint.


Today I took the bait again and again.


Soon I found myself sprinting for town signs I didn’t even know existed.


What was meant to be a steady ride home ended up looking more like a HIIT session.


My coach is going to be very disappointed I thought at some point. 


Indeed, I am self-coached and I’m very disappointed.


Taking the final sprint is a small consolation but I’m guessing tomorrow I’ll be even more disappointed.


Stay tuned.


The ride in Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/10639660626/ 


Take care

Javier Arias González


domingo, 21 de enero de 2024

Javier the arrogant

Is arrogance a sin? 

Asking for a friend?


If it is, I'm going straight to hell.


Trying to keep up in the climbs with The Pope and Lucas? That’s me reaching new levels of arrogance.


I have lots of excuses though. I always have lots of excuses.


I had coffee this morning. That always gives me unjustified optimism.


Beating JFW up Green Dene (just about). Was another unjustified morale boost. 


I lost Hound Hose to Lucas, but not by much. Even if I sat on his wheel the whole climb, even if I was just happy to be there, it felt good.


Riding easy in the flat section made me believe I wasn’t tired. 


To make things worse I had a second coffee at Sumners Ponds.


As soon as we were back on the bikes I felt strong. Very strong. Van Aert type of strong. And that is where my arrogance showed up.


I was invincible.


Not for long though. Reality was fast trying to destroy my arrogance.


What else would you call blowing up half way up Broomhall? Arrogance destruction attempt.


I persisted though. Arrogance doesn’t go away easily.


I started to plan how to beat them up Juniper? 


If you know them, and you know me, you know how arrogant, if not funny, that is.


Completely blind to reality I sat on The Pope and Lucas’ wheel all Juniper.


In the final ramp, at the moment I had planned to attack, The Pope attacked. 


That was it. I wasn’t close is the most optimistic way of putting it. Reality kept sending me signals.


I wasn’t receiving them. 


Horton’s sprint was neutralized as the road was a bit too wet and potentially slippery. I declared myself (without saying it outloud) the winner of the final sprint anyway.


Arrogance doesn’t go away just because reality tells otherwise.


Like that, here I am, after my well deserved siesta, thinking I’m a strong cyclist, probably only second to Big Mig. 


Take that reality.


The ride in Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/10601714863/


Take care

Javier Arias González