sábado, 27 de octubre de 2018

Alternative Realities

This was a special training session.

Gave it all in the first 80k of the ride. And then, once my legs were empty, rode the last 60k at recovery pace. It was so good! I almost could feel my capilar density increasing in my legs, the mitochondrias growing, my hear getting stronger.

That would have been very cool if what happened in reality wasn't that the gap between what the pace I think I can sustain and the pace I actually can sustain wasn't that big that I ended up blowing in pieces half way into the ride forcing drop from the group and ride the last 50k at real recovery pace.

Oh well, at least I took a sign sprint today. And that was very cool. Marc told me it was approaching and that gave me enough time to get ready. Marc was boxed so he was out of the game. I was sitting on Luca's wheel which is a great place to be because he is very strong these days. I knew I had Will behind me and I had to be careful because he is a hitter. I saw the sign and still hold my attach a little bit to make sure I could sprint all the way to the line. And then, I attacked. Fearless, didn't look back, gave it all and reached the sign almost a bike ahead of Luca.

That would have been very cool if what happened in reality wasn't that we were riding two abreast, no one even considered sprinting and I probably did something like 200w in the last 30 metres to cross it first. I still celebrated. A win is a win :-)

You see, in an alternative reality I'm a sprinter and very advanced in my training.

take care
Javier Arias González

sábado, 20 de octubre de 2018

You need to read this if you are invited to join a Kington Wheelers ride to Sumners Ponds

That was an easy ride to Sumners Ponds.

That's something I never said.

Nor today. It doesn't matter it was a shorter version than the "official" route and supposedly ridden at "Dai's recovery" pace.

Don't get me wrong, the pace was not crazy at all. But there is something about riding to Sumners Ponds that always slaughters the weakest rider of the group.


It usually goes like this.

The victim goes reasonably well in the first two climbs. But at the moment the second descend finishes the victim realises has been too optimistic. It doesn't matter if the victim knows the route or not, it's only 40km into a route that is 125km in the "official" route and 100km in Dai's short version and the victim knows that has spent a bit too much.

There is still hope though. "I'll recover at the coffee stop" the victim thinks. But the coffee stop can't come soon enough. The road goes up and down; not any climb to mention but with very little flat. That kind of terrain that eats your legs.

By the time the group makes it to the café stop the victim knows the return leg is going to be tough. A tiny bit of hope that recovery is still possible is there but it blows in pieces the moment the group hits the road again.

That's because very soon there is a climb, nothing crazy, just a bump on the road, but hard enough to make the victim agree with the say that goes "hell is the pace of the others". Because the victim see the others and realises, "they are going well and I am not".

It is not hell what comes, no dramas here. It is just the realisation that legs won't keep up and the slaughter is inevitable. There is no way out, it is just a matter of time.

The time that takes to get to the next proper climb (Broomhall in the long version, White Down in the short one). There's where the slaughter will happen. The victim sees the group disappear up the hill and all the victim can do is to load the longest gear available on the bike and take it as easy as possible. The gap at the top will be immense anyway, it is better to save the legs as much as possible because there are at least 25km to the end of the ride. They are mostly downhill, but the victim knows that once you are killed every single km feels very long.

Believe me, I have seen this happening to a lot of riders. Doesn't matter how strong you are. You go on holidays for two weeks, come back on the bike after a cold or simply join the wrong group to Sumner Ponds and you'll be slaughtered. That's a fact.

Today I was the victim.

In the second climb, I even put my Garmin in my pocket so I couldn't see how hight my heart rate was because that would make me hold myself. I did well, third after Denis and Joe, respectable.

The hope to be able to recover at the coffee stop made me to take a turn in the front in one of the few flat sections. That was plainly silly.

Got to Sumners Ponds and I was under no illusion the second part of the ride was going to be tough, there was not coffee stop that could recover the mess my legs were in.

I didn't fight my destiny, just tried to do a decent job holding with the group. Came White Down the inevitable happened. Loaded the lowest gear and went up as easy as possible (there is no really any way to go easy up White Down). Last at the top by a huge margin.

And that was it. Would you believe me if I tell you I really loved the ride?

Take care
Javier Arias González






jueves, 14 de junio de 2018

A very interesting interview with Amelia Boone

A really enjoyed this Farnam Street interview with Amelia Boone. She is a long distance runner but lots of the things she says resonate to me. A few notes (the bolds are mine):

  • "Most of the people I know would think [what I do, long distance racing] is a little bit of crazy... the funny thing is I always considered myself a very regular person"
  • "You left knee is hurting and you think oh God I really did something wrong and then 5 miles later you are fine. I just kind of talk through it in my head..."
  • [Getting mentally strong] "is practice, through habit, through repetition ... "The more you expose yourself to the better you get at it"
  • "It doesn't bother me if someone else beats me in any given day ... what bothers me is when I make mistakes and beat myself". So you are really racing against yourself? "Yeah, I think so"
  • "I realized that it is never going to be enough just to win a race, it is never going to be enough just to sitting on the top because you think at some point, like once I get to X point in my life, once I have achieved this, then I'll be happy and I'll admit it. That is so not true. And so for me racing has really turn into just the love of the entire process. And the love of getting there and working through those really long hard situations, and if the results follow, great. But if they don't it's not as tough for me anymore because I realize I just love the process of getting there"
  • "You can't depend on anyone on your life except you ... If you want something, people will help you all along the way, and that's great, and be grateful for that, but you can't expect it to happen"
  • "I'm a great believer in routine"
  • "I have a little iPod shuffle that I listen to, and it actually has had the same songs on it for probably five or six years" (I don't listen to music when I ride my bicycle outside but I have had my turbo YouTube playlist pretty much untouched for a couple of years now :-D )
  • "I blog occasionally, I'd like to write more than I do. But I do a fair amount of writing, not all of that sees the light of day. But I do most of my writing on my head when I'm running"
  • "One of the most great things that ever happened to me was when I gave myself permission to not to finish a book"
  • "I want to have longevity as an athlete, and when I'm in my 70s or my 80s it would be amazing to still be out running"
  • "For me [running] it's really, it's about relationships"




Take care
Javier Arias González

sábado, 28 de abril de 2018

The Pope

(this post is about this ride https://www.strava.com/activities/1536892949 have a look at the profile to be able to follow the history)

"The Pope" (not sure why this is his nickname in the Saturday gang). If you were to ask me, from the people you know who is the best climber? My answer would have been "The Pope", to my knowledge the fastest Kingston Wheeler at the Quebrantahuesos (6:17, "only" 27 minutes faster than my best time).

He joined us today. After a few months out of cycling, training for the London Marathon, he showed up today for his longest ride in months.

Prove that he was completely out of synch with cycling was that he showed up in shorts and without gloves when the weather looked more Winter than Spring. His bike, a really nice bike, was a symphony of cacophonic sounds. Not sure what was louder, the sound of that chain that hadn't seen a drop of lube in months or his rear brake when he was braking.

I welcomed the opportunity to measure myself against The Pope, I'm probably in my best form ever so I reckoned I had a chance of getting him. This is what happened.

The first two climbs of the day were kind of neutralised. In the first one the focus was in keeping the group together and the second one was not really a climb to make differences. But the third one was the Punchbowl (https://www.strava.com/segments/910091).

Very quickly he moved to the front and set the pace. I jumped on his wheel and waited. This is a 4km climb, it is long enough.

At some point I also moved to the front and started to ride in parallel to him. He looked at me and said something like "muy fuerte", in Spanish. Definitively a compliment. I thought, "wait for it".

About half way through the climb I was feeling optimistic. The pace was hard, I was riding at my limit, but I knew I could keep it all the way to the top and I knew I would be able to sprint hard at the end. This is were I wanted to be.

All my focus was at keeping the pace. "Don't jump too early". "Wait for it, wait for it".

The Pope looked at me and said something.

WHAT??? He was able to talk!!! It wasn't a short expression, no. It was a properly articulated question.

I was there, hanging on the limit of my effort capabilities, I didn't even understood what he asked and The Pope was chatting causally.

I couldn't answer back for my dear life... And he noticed it. And he did what had to be done. He stood up on his bike, pushed the pedals, 1, 2, 3, 4 times and opened a clear gap that he sustained to the top.

And that was it.

You see how many little climbs are in our ride after the Punchbowl? I tried in all of them and The Pope took every single one. The gap was growing bigger in each climb. He even took a town sign sprint.

When we got to the back of Hogs (https://www.strava.com/segments/1150170) I was at the front. The Pope moved to ride in parallel with me and said "This is the last climb of the day". He, again, stood up on the bike, opened a gap and got first to the top. I pushed and pushed and pushed but my legs were now empty. I was last on this climb.

Whenever I think I am in good form and climbing well I should ride with The Pope, even if it is probably his worst day on the bike in the last years he would show me were I really stand.

btw. I was testing this bike for next week's 400km (LWL). The test was a success.

Take care
Javier Arias González

viernes, 2 de febrero de 2018

The will to win

During today's turbo session I watched the video The Hard Work of Understanding the Constitution by Thomas B. Griffith which I enjoyed and where the presenter mentioned the quote:

"The will to win is not nearly so important as the will to prepare to win."
Vince Lombardi


I like this quote. It is not that I'm going to win anything but I certainly enjoy the preparation.

Take care
Javier Arias González

sábado, 9 de diciembre de 2017

Show some manners unknown cyclist

I learnt my first cycling lessons sitting on "grandpa" Raul's wheel. One of those lessons is you should always wave cyclist riding in the opposite direction and if you pass a cyclist you always have to say hello, no excuses. Think about it, there is no good excuse to not saying a simple hello when you pass a cyclist, as simple as that.

In fact passing a cyclist and not saying hello was kind of a capital sin in Raul's book, and that meant it was the same not only in my book but also in everyone's that had learn cycling manners sitting on "grandpa" Raul's wheel.

Being close to a capital sin passing a cyclist, in particular, passing "gradpa" Raul and not saying hello had to be punished. In Raul's book when that happened it was totally justified to jump on the offender's wheel and sit there silently until the next obvious sprint appeared, being it a town sign or a hill; it was totally justified to jump out of the wheel without any warning and outsprint the offender.

Now, Raul is a mountain biker, and so I was when I learnt this lesson. Sometimes we would be riding on the road and a road cyclist would pass us without saying hello. Without a word Raul would jump on the offender's wheel and everyone riding with him having a gram of energy would do the same. At the next obvious sprint everyone would jump and outsprint the offender. Most of the times to the total surprise of the rider that couldn't figure out what the hell was going on with that bunch of crazy mountain bikers.

As you can imagine we were proper choppers (we still are) and every now and then a strong road cyclist would pass us saying nothing. It those situations we felt exempted from teaching the offender any lesson; but, of course, we would comment on the lack of manners and wish for a puncture on the offenders rear wheel.

All this came to my mind today. Denis, Mark, Richard and myself were in the final kilometres of our ride to Arundel. We hadn't ride full speed, it was more of an endurance, base miles ride but, hey, we had already something like 150k and 2,000m of climbing on our legs so it is fair to say we were tired.

Today was one of those days we had left our knifes at home and instead attacking each other we had been riding collaboratively all day, we didn't even "race" the hills. We were approaching the Esher sprint and I can assure you I had no intention to dispute the sprint. There was no point in a ride like today's.

But there it comes this cyclists and passes us without saying hello. As far as I can tell without even looking at us. Had he said a simple hello and I would had replied back "hi" and I would had carried at our own pace.

The destiny had it that I was in front of our group of four and without even thinking about it I did what had to be done. I jumped on his wheel.

I'll admit it didn't feel easy. The bad-mannered was putting some effort and very quickly got a gap that forced me to sprint to get his wheel.

But I got him.

And I sat on his wheel as silent as possible, riding toward his left to make sure he would not see me if he looked back.

I'm not sure if he knew I was on his wheel or not but he definitively tried to attack the two small ramps before the final one. But I had him and he was not going to drop me. I was certainly not fresh but he was not that strong (otherwise I just had wished him a puncture in the back wheel) and I could tell he was fading out. This made the case even worst for him, I started to suspect he had accelerated beyond his cycling capabilities just to pass us. Another no-no in any cyclist's book. I started to savour revenge.

When we approached the final ramp I looked back and I saw Richard was on my wheel. Excellent, double lesson to the offender.

I waited for it and when he was clearly slowing down I jumped out of his wheel and sprinted. I knew I had dropped him.

Richard appeared on my right and clearly took the sprint. I didn't care. I normally would, it would have been just another bad executed sprint, and I don't like to lose a sprint, even if I'm not a sprinter. But today I didn't care, all that mattered was we had taken the sprint from the offender, even if he didn't know why.

We stopped in Esher to wait for Denis and Mark, the rider passed and I wonder what he was thinking of us. A shame I'll never know.

While we were waiting I explained Richard the reason for my behaviour and when Denis and Mark I gave my explanation again. Another of Javier's rules said Denis.

Now you know, always say hello when you pass a rider, specially if it is a chopper, Spanish looking riding in the UK.

Take care
Javier Arias González