sábado, 19 de septiembre de 2020

Spanish Cycling Jargon 101 (Part 2) - Rompepiernas


This is so niche Google translate doesn't know how to translate it, proper Spanish Cycling Jargon. I'll give it a go: "Legs Breaker".

Rompepiernas is an easy concept to grasp. A Rompepiernas is a route that is not flat but is not hilly either. A Rompepiernas route is a constant up and down, it doesn't allow you to set a constant pace. Easy. The challenge is in the pronunciation. If you ever want to make my day ask me how it is pronounced and give it a go. As funny as when I pronounce Literature. 

Today's route was 149.81km, that's less than 150km so it was a short route. Today I climbed 1,328m, that's less than 1498m so today's route was officially flat. (If you don't know what I'm talking about see here https://www.unbiciorejon.com/2019/02/javiers-ride-classification-criteria.html btw. there was a bit of a debate at the coffee stop about how sensible these thresholds are. I think I can say I managed to convince everyone they are pretty sensible. As the post says "Don't even try to argue with me about this classification.").

So, can a short and flat route be a Rompepiernas? You bet it can. Alice warned us and she was right. The route is a constant up and down. All short "climbs", making it impossible to set a constant pace. Hell if you are not in form.

Even worst if you are riding with a group where everyone is stronger than you, that power it through all the "climbs" and even sprint for all town signs. You know that group you hate the whole ride despite you know you love riding with them. Oh my, I sat on some wheels today. A practice everyone would agree I don't need (I probably could claim a phd on wheel sucking) but add some nice wind to a Rompepiernas route and you know I really need sitting on everyone's wheel to survive (just about).

The good news is the optimistic in me believes I'm getting fitter. With a week of holidays ahead, a 200km Audax planned for 4th of October, two weeks of holidays at the end of October, with a bit of luck in Asturias, and my plan to start with 8m and 1m interval sessions in the turbo. I reckon by November I'll be in a decent form. Caffeine is such a great drug.

btw. Spanish Cycling Jargon 101 (Part 1) - "Me llevaron todo el día con el ganchu" is here https://www.unbiciorejon.com/2019/10/spanish-cycling-jargon-101.html Keep at it, by part 10 you'll be a proficient Spanish Cycling Jargon speaker.

Today's ride in Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/4082839233

Take care

Javier Arias González

sábado, 12 de septiembre de 2020

We live in extraordinary times

 We live in extraordinary times (here you have a proof of my lack of originality).

I started the ride taking my fair share of turns in the front!!! Granted it was only during the first 50k. After being dropped like a stone in the first two "climbs" I was put in my place in the group. Consistenly at the back, holding there for my dear live.

Ed, the climber, Richard L, the steady man. and Denis, the GC man, sprinting for all the town signs!!! My reputation as a sprinter is now hopelessly damaged. Couldn't even use my default excuse that I didn't know where the sprints where. I actually knew where some of them where, didn't even try to sprint once.

The ride was announced as a ride to Lasham Gliding Club and we didn't even consider stopping there. Apparently it is open to members only these days.

I had a coffee at the stop. First time I had a coffee in six months!!! Caffeine certainly has a positive effect. From km 50 to km 100 I was yo-yoing at the back of the group. Feeling the emptiness in my legs. After the coffee I felt kind of ok staying in the group. From km 50 to km 100 each time I say 300w in my Garmin I panicked. After the coffee I was seeing 300w and thinking "yeah, this is fine"... for three or four seconds. Caffeine doesn't do miracles, it doesn't solve the empty legs problem.

Richard L. did a T-Y and took a shortcut!!! When you live long enough you see these things. We decided to give him a points penalty and that costed him any chance of taking today's green jersey that went to.... wait for it... Ed!!!! Ruben Blades said "La vida te da sorpresas, soorpresas te da la vida ¡Hay Dios!" (Life gives you surprises, suuuuurprises life gives you. Oh God) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hcoNykaI3k)

I took a couple of turns (literally, it was just two turns) in our approach to Hampton Court!!! I know if you weren't there to see it you are going to have a hard time believing this. But it is true. I barely recognise myself.

 Well, you don't celebrate your 52 birthday everyday. It is great that when you do extraordinary things happen.

btw. Got home and saw the the packages with the presents. I inmediately could tell none of them was a bike. I don't think I can consider that extraordinary :-D

The ride in Strava https://www.strava.com/activities/4048857914

Take care

Javier Arias González

domingo, 12 de julio de 2020

Today was humble pie eating day

Lets start recognising I felt tired from the first pedal stroke. Having to admit that I was still affected by yesterday's 128km, not particularly fast, pan flat route was the first piece.

As early as Hamptom Court a group of five riders passed me, when I was in TT position. Excellent! I thought. A group riding at a similar pace as the Saturday gang. Let me see if I can hold on their wheel.

I managed to hold on their wheel but at the expense of yo-yo-ing at the back of the group. By the time our routes diverged near Windsor I was hapy about it. I have had enough of being battered, welcomed the opportunity to ride at my own pace.

At the footsteps of the "climb" after Henley a rider passed me standing on his bike and saying something about being uphill and giving it a go. Sounded a bit like a challenge but I didn't bite. He was riding way too fast. In fact I was impressed by his speed. I figured he was attemting his PB.
Funny enough I saw him blowing up in pieces 200 metres ahead of me. That was too tempting to let it go. I accelerated to get to him and before I passed I accelerated even more. Said to him "Allez, allez" as I passed him way before the top of the "climb".

Proud of myself I continued riding at my own pace only to notice, at a cross roads a few kilometres later that he was 10 metres behind me. I didn't think much of it, nor it spiked my competitive side I continued riding at my own pace.

It was only a few kilometres later, when I had taken a left turn that I noticed he was still there. To his credit he rope next to me and told me "I swear I'm not following you, this is also my route". Well done mate! We chatted a bit, enough for him to tell me he was only 30k into his ride and it was only his sixth week riding. Well, I said, that explains why you went way to hard up the climb. What I didn't mention is that meant a second piece of humble pie for me.

From km 75 I started to feel tired. I knew this was going to be the hardest part of the ride. I knew it was going to last until Sunningdale, km100. From Sunningdale I know the route home and knowing that I knew I was to feel better.

I was in TT position most of the time. Not putting much power but trying to spin the legs to keep a good speed. At some point I felt someone behind me. For a second time in the day I didn't care (I almost cannot recognise myself), I kept riding at my own pace. Not for very long. I felt he was accelerating to pass me. Oh that feeling. When he was passing me he said "It this the first time in my live I pass someone in a TT position". I wish I had the legs to challenge that, instead got my third piece of pie. It was almost welcome, I was starting to feel hungry.

I was still chewing the last bite of the pie and I felt another rider on my wheel. I started to wonder if today was "jump on Javier's wheel" day.

Looked back and yes. There was a rider on my wheel. He said hi. I said hi. I carried at my own pace. He sat there for a few kilometers and by the time we were arriving to Ascot he rode up to me and said "Thank you mate. I'm finishing my ride here. That's whay I was not riding that strong". I managed to answer with a smile and got my fourth piece of cake.

For me arriving to Sunningdale is like being almost home. I still had 30k to go but knowing the roads helps me to manage my efforts and you can bet I needed that today. I was really tired.

Walton-on Thames is also a special place for me when I ride with the Saturday gang. At this point I always disappear from the front of the group. I'm either too tired to hit the front or fresh enough to start thinking about the sprint at Hampton Court. I couldn't hide today. It was all my effort.

Riding on TT position I saw two riders ahead of me. They were riding approximately at my same speed, it took me ages to close the gap. I thought it might be a good idea to just sit on their wheel. Being there they surely were heading to Hampton Court. It was only that by the time I was almost there I realised they were riding touring bikes and they were actually riding very cassually, not even trying to ride fast. By the time I was in parallel to them I saw they were fully loaded, carrying handlebar bags, frame bags and saddle bags. You can sin with your thoughts I was told so I got my fifth piece of pie.

That's it. Got home exhausted. Carmen asked me what I was going to have for lunch. Nothing, I said, I'm not hungry.

The ride in Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/3750863309 (surprisingly I was 12 minutes faster than yesterday)

sábado, 11 de julio de 2020

My brain

Left home thinking longer ride than last weekend, ride easy.

Before Windsor a rider passed me and my brain started to sing Forzen's let it go, let it go, let it goooooo!!!!! (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L0MK7qz13bU).

But only for a few seconds. Heck, I don't even like that song! I accelerated a bit and passed the rider and drop him soon after.

From that moment my brain got hooked in the mantra "Deeeespacito" (slowly) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJQP7kiw5Fk).

Last time my brain did that to me was climbing Marie Blanque at Quebrantahuesos. I certainly was riding despacito. Is there any other way of going up 4km at 12% when you already have 130km in your legs a you have burnt a few too many matches?. But having to do it with that song in your head is tortue. I almost quitted on the spot!

There is probably something wrong in my brain because from Despacito it switched to Leonard Cohen's Bird on a wire, this version in particular https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGvwvxA83Cs Such a weird jump!

It was an improvement though. I do like Leonard, that song too. The problem was that is not the best song to have in your mind when you are trying to spin your legs at 90rpm. The disparity between the rythm of the song and the cadend in my legs drove me mad for a while.

It was all solved when a SUV driver decided there was enough room in the country line for me, his machine and another car that was coming in the opposite direction. All songs disappeared from my brain in a fraction of a second.

From km 100 I started to feel tired, my brain stopped completely. I think that is a survival mechanism. Thinking consumes energy, even more if your brain is wasting sugar with pointless sonds.

Brain came back to live briefly as I was approaching Hampton Court. Just enough to think "this is the point were the sprint should be launched". Theoretical sprint training today though. There was no way I was going to sprint against myself. I was too tired.

Got home, got a shower. Ate a magnificent paella and now my brain is telling me it is siesta time. Time to switch the brain off.

For the first time in the day I'm going to listen to my brain.

The ride in Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/3745690242

Take care
Javier Arias González

martes, 17 de marzo de 2020

Bentley Bentley 200 - 2020

Proper ride but flat (https://www.unbiciorejon.com/2019/02/javiers-ride-classification-criteria.html)
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 (https://www.unbiciorejon.com/2019/02/javiers-ride-classification-criteria.html)

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: https://www.strava.com/activities

Take care
Javier Arias González