sábado, 16 de febrero de 2019

Weird

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

Javier's ride classification criteria

This is how I classify rides.

Any ride shorter than 150km is a Short Ride.

Any ride that is longer than 150km and shorter than 200km is a Endurance Ride.

Any ride longer than 200km is a Proper Ride.

Any ride longer than 150 miles (241.402 km) is a ride worth doing as it counts towards my live long objective of getting to E150.


Any ride that has less than 1000m of climbing per 100km is a Flat Ride.

Any ride that is between 1000m and 2000m of climbing per 100km is a Non-Flat Ride.

Any ride that has more than 2000m of climbing per 100km is a Hilly Ride.


Don't even try to argue with me about this classification.


Take care
Javier Arias González

domingo, 13 de enero de 2019

Alice and Bidders. Bidders and Alice

Flat but a decent distance and with Bidders and Alice in the ride, even if she was on tired legs, I knew it was not going to be an easy one.

Going west meant strong head wind on the way out, tail wind coming home (I still have this philosophical debate on what is best for trainig purposes head or tail wind first?)

Six in the ride, I had never ridden with the other three so had this first few kilometres trying to asses if the ride was going to be hard or super hard.

Everything started nicely though. We rode very well together, turns in the front fairly distributed (although I have the feeling that Alice sits there more than anyone else).

Come the first "hill", Playhatch, just a tiny bump in the road. Bidders was in the front and I was on his wheel. He set that pace that I love. He pedaling efortless and me in the pefect equilibrium between I can hold him and I'm dying here. I didn't outsprint him, not because I thought I couldn't but because I didn't know where the hill finished and he kept pushing it in the flat so I thought there was more climbing ahead of us.

A few kilometres later the second hill came, Pishill. Bidders sat in the front and I was second wheel. He did his usual game sustaining a constant pace ignoring competely that the hill was getting steeper and steepr.

I honestly thought I had him. I even was thinking on where to start my sprint. All wishfull thinking, he kept the speed in the steepest part of the hill and I blew in pieces mere metres from the top.

We stopped briefly at Henley (km100) for a refill and right after the stop we had White Hill. I put a nice effort and I made it first to the top but that was only because the rest of the gang couldn't be bothered to push it that hard after the stop.

I was feeling strong and I was happy to push the pace.

At some point I realised we were heading to Drift Road, a sprint I'm terrible at. This road goes on forever (6km), it always feel so long that I always have problems to know where it finishes, where should I start the sprint.

But this time I had a plan. Follow Bidders, sit on his wheel and only jump when you see the roundabout.

Easier said than done but I gave myself a fair chance.

Started cautiously at the end of the group. The rider ahead of me left a gap and I passed him easily. I was now fith wheel and cool like a cucumber.

Bidders took the front but I didn't panic. As always with him the pace didn't went up that much, just ever so slightly. I was happy just sitting.

But he kept increasing the pace, very slowly and at some point I noticed there was a small gap between Bidders and the second bike (don't remember the rider).

What do I do? what do I do? I decided to wait a little bit to see if the rider were going to close the gap, but in a few seconds I realised it wasn't going to happen so I went.

Passed the three riders and closed the gap. By the time I managed to look back I saw the rest of the riders didn't follow us. It was just Bidders and myself. Good!!!

Or maybe not.

Very quickly I noticed the effort of passing the three riders and closing the gap had taken a bit too much of me. Tried to hold the pace hoping that Bidders would easy a little bit.

It seemed reasonable at the time but now, from my sofa is even funny.

There was no way that was going to happen!!!

He just carried on pedaling as it were easy and the inebitable happened. I was dropped.

Not like a stone, but properly dropped. Being in no man's land was silly so looked back and saw the group approaching. Easied a bit and when they passed me I jumped at the back.

Miraculously I managed to recover a little bit so I moved to the front to help to keep the pace. Alice took the front in the home straight and I still managed to sprint with her.

Pretty happy with my effort.

I was still feeling strong and happy to keep pushing the pace in the short steep climbs that we were riding through.

But that feeling didn't last long.

Slowly but surely it started to feel harder and harder to keep up with the pace that Bidders and Alice were sustaining.

Not that I was in trouble but just that sudden realisation that you are not feeling strong anymore, that you are happy just to hold in there.

Decided to sit all the way to the final sprint.

Bidders takes the front.

This time there was no way I wasn't going to allow anyone between me and his wheel.

Second wheel I was. Alice on my wheel.

She knew I was going to sprint.

I knew she knew.

I knew she was going to sprint as well. I don't know if she knew I knew.

No idea what Bidders knew but I would say he didn't cared at all bout the sprint.

Hands on the drops. Wait, wait, wait....

And...

Actually I'm wasted and there is no way I can sprint.

Alice noticed it and she went for it. And took it!!

By the time we made it to Hampton Court I was over the moon.

Yeah, I know, I didn't take any of the sprints and I was wasted, but who cares. Sprints are just games and being wasted is the logical result of a ride with Bidders and Alice.

What really matters is how well we rode together, how much I enjoyed the route (despite being flat), how well I felt and, best of all, my left knee didn't hurt.

I was riding the same bike, same shoes as when it hurt me and not a slight sign of pain.

By the time I made it home I was smiling despite having a flat on my rear wheel.

I'm so tired and writing all this took me so long that I'll repair tomorrow :-)


Take care
Javier Arias González

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