domingo, 7 de abril de 2024

Paris Roubaix 2024

First time in my life riding cobbles.

Like many things in life there is nothing that can be explained to you that prepares you for what you are going to feel the moment you experience them. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the first half of the ride. I massively missed T-Y and JFW. They were supposed to ride with us today. But I also missed the rest of the Saturday gang. This is a fantastic event to ride as a group and have fun. The route is flat and we ride easy on the tarmac. Every now and then a sector of cobbles comes and the fun starts. We regrouped after each sector and that is the time to chat, smile and ride easy. The anecdotes and experiences accumulate as the ride goes on. 

The second half of the ride was a bit of a different history. It was pain management. Not leg or bum pain as it usually is on big riding days. I have never been on a ride where my hands, wrists and forearms have hurt that much. Testimony of a privileged life, I’m sure my grandfather, who was a miner, wouldn’t have this problem. Each cobble sector was now a matter of deciding how to grab the handlebar to feel less pain. Inevitably there is a point where you ask yourself what the hell are you doing here. 

Each cobble sector has a number of stars. One star the easiest, five stars the longer and harder sectors. 

On the approach to the finish we were treated with two 3 star sectors, followed by a 4 star sector and one 5 star sector. At that point I have had enough. It was at that point where I asked Adam to take a picture of my hands.

But the organizers are clever. Following the theory that says that no matter how painful a experience is if you finish it with a pleasant feeling you have great memories of the whole thing, last 15kms of the ride are two 2 star sectors, a final 1 start sector and a finish with half a lap at the iconic Roubaix velodrome. 

By the time I received my finisher medal I was already thinking of doing this ride again. 

The ride in Strava:

Take care of yourself

Javier Arias González

domingo, 31 de marzo de 2024

Riding in Asturias ep1: Pola de Laviana

For someone based in Lugones a ride to Pola de Laviana is the equivalent to a Windsor ride to someone based in Kingston Upon Thames.

A ride as flat as you can get in this area, rewarded by a specific cake.The Bartolo, an almond based cake, would be the equivalent of Windsor’s Cinnamon Bun.

No cake for me today though. As I would do in a Windsor solo recovery ride, I rode to Pola de Laviana very easy and non-stop.

What I did today as I was riding, thinking about the similarities to a Windsor ride, was to spot all the town signs. You can’t be too prepared for the next visit of the Kingston Wheelers to Asturias.

I now even know the exact location of the final sprint line. A power sprint, more similar to the Esher sprint than to the flat sprint at Hampton at the end of a Windsor’s ride.

Of course, I won’t tell anyone where that line is. Being the only one that knows where the line is gives you a small advantage and I need any advantage I can take. 

The ride in Strava:

Take care of yourself

Javier Arias González

domingo, 24 de marzo de 2024

Bidders and Noel, the loving cycling parents

The best way of riding into a strong head wind is to be lucky and have Bidders and Noel with fresh legs joining your ride. 

They'll go and sit on the front the whole way. Keeping the pace steady. Chatting away.

Behind them you just hang there. Thinking it is all fine until a tiny bump on the road appears. That's when the gap opens.

You feel orphaned for a few seconds. You know you won't be able to close that gap. The wind is too strong. Like a baby seeing his parents moving away you are about to start crying to call their attention. Please don’t go. Please don’t leave me here. 

Like loving parents they'll ease the pace before you start crying. Seeing the gap closing down will make you feel loved and cared for. 

Bidders and Noel will do that for more than four hours and you’ll learn that in cycling, like in live, it is important to have loving parents.

The ride in Strava: 

Take care of yourself

Javier Arias González

sábado, 9 de marzo de 2024

Don’t ride with The Pope in Kent if you want to feel strong


My 2nd best time up Chalkpit Lane ( Only 6 seconds slower than my PR.

My 2nd best time up Toys Hill ( Only 13 seconds slower than my PR.

A PR up Ide Hill ( 1m11s faster than my previous PR.

A PR up Star Hill ( 1m23s faster than my previous PR.

You’d think I felt strong today and you would be wrong. 

Feeling strong is a relative feeling. It all depends on how strong the rest of the riders are. If everyone is strong you don’t feel strong, no matter how hard you are riding. 

Well, unless you are The Pope. If you are The Pope, and the ride is in Kent, you are not only allowed to feel strong but you will show it to everyone attacking every single climb and even taking the final sprint.

Don’t ride with The Pope in Kent if you want to feel strong.

The ride in Strava:

Take care of yourself

Javier Arias González

domingo, 3 de marzo de 2024

A recipe for a hard day

Four equally strong riders. A Rompepiernas ( route. Riding steady all day. 

Plenty of water in the roads. 

A great scone at the coffee stop. The coffee wasn’t that great but I went for the large option and the caffeine worked. Felt better in the second half than in the first.

GC Denis doing the best JFW impersonation I ever seen taking tree town sign sprints no one knew that were there. What made it realistic was that he was second in a fourth one even in the absence of challengers.

If it didn’t kill me it made me stronger, right?

The route in Strava:

Take care of yourself

Javier Arias González

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:

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:

Take care

Javier Arias González