domingo, 1 de octubre de 2023

Evaluating the impact of popcorn in recovery

Yesterday we decided to go to the movies. 

That’s actually a pretty good recovery activity if you ask me. You don’t have to move much, you can always fall asleep and blame the film for it and you get to eat popcorn. 

I didn’t know much about popcorn’s recovery properties but I’m always happy to run a scientific experiment and find out. 

So, when I was asked what bucket size I wanted I went for the biggest one. The only right answer considering I was pretty hungry after yesterday’s ride ( 

Now, when I saw the size of the thing I almost panicked. The thing was quite big, even for a pretty hungry cyclist.

Luckily I managed to control myself and pretend it was ok. I wanted my wife to believe I knew exactly what I had ordered. I think there is still a (small?) chance she doesn't think I’m stupid.

After all, I told myself, the film, Oppenheimer, is three hours long. Plenty of time to finish it.

I started at a very good pace. By the time all the trailers had finished I had gone through a quarter of the bucket.

An hour into the film I had gone through half of it but my pace was slowing down dramatically. That thing of starting a bit too fast and slowing down seems to apply to other things in life beyond cycling.

Not long after that I found myself with my stomach threatening with a big explosion and very, very thirsty.

Yes, it was salty popcorn and I didn’t order water.

Totally on purpose. You don’t want other elements to confound in the effect of popcorn in your recovery. It could ruin the science behind the experiment.

Somehow I survived the rest of the film. I didn’t eat the whole bucket but I’m confident saying I ate all that was humanly possible. 

How did I feel today?

Well, n=1 and all those details scientists insist on mentioning, but I felt pretty good actually. Legs felt fresh.

As soon as we started to ride I found myself at the front of the group. Not only that, I returned to the front of the group a few times. And you know that rarely happens.

The pace felt easy all day, the final sprint felt easy (we had to call it off due to a car though) and legs are not that tired after the ride. 

So, as far as I can tell, eating salty popcorn (without drinking any water) until you feel you are about to puke contributes positively to your recovery.

I would recommend conducting additional research with a smaller popcorn dose and, maybe, combine it with some water as a potentially better recovery strategy.

Follow me for more sports science knowledge.

The ride in Strava:

Take care

Javier Arias González

sábado, 30 de septiembre de 2023


The picture is not from today's ride but it works well to illustrate the post

 “I’m exceptionally keen for a chatty k2 pace” said the ride organizer.

And I was exceptionally happy with that approach. As soon as the pace as agreed I started to plan in my head my assault at my PR at Ditchling Beacon, 5:46 on 15th of June 2018 (, more than 5 years ago.

In that ride I had also targeted a PR at Ditchling Beacon. I had a very simple strategy. Ride easy all the way to Ditchling and give it all at the climb. And I did it. PR by 26 seconds!!! From 6:12 to 5:46.

A “chatty k2 pace” was my opportunity to repeat that strategy. 

Unfortunately for me it didn’t work. I did 5:53 ( 7 seconds too slow. 

To make it worse I was beaten at the KOM by Sep Kuss.

The funny thing is I didn’t know it at the time. In fact I was convinced I had beaten my PR.

I was so happy with my performance that I didn’t care I didn't take Juniper’s KOM or Horton’s sprint despite having great legs. 

I’m not that happy now. 

I could be sillier but I’d need to train for it.

The ride in Strava:

Take care 

Javier Arias Gonzalez

domingo, 24 de septiembre de 2023


 I knew I had done a good climb up to Green Dene (

You kind of know that when you see yourself a handful of seconds behind Dani, Robbie, Creme Brulé and Dai.

But I didn’t expect to improve my PR by 21 seconds (from 5:14 to 4:53), especially considering I wasn’t on fresh legs.

Before I get too excited I have to admit I was sitting on the group wheels. For as long as I managed to stay in their wheel anyway. Also, looking at power numbers it feels to me we were assisted with a bit of tail wind. 

In any case, I'm very happy with it.

The problem was that my legs noticed the effort. Not the best news considering the pace was punchy at times and I wasn’t sure how the rest of the route looked like and how far the coffee stop was.

We eventually got to Seale and that was my opportunity to get coffee and a scone; plain, with jam and cream. My weapon of choice when urgent recovery and energy is needed.

It worked very well at the beginning (if being a bit over excited and over confident on how strong you are counts as “very well”) but it didn’t last long.

Moved to the front a couple of times and that felt hard. Tried to sprint once (Ripley) and I wasn’t even close (Dai took it).

The always optimistic Javier still had great hopes for the Esher sprint but as soon as the key move happened I found myself with no legs and in no man's land. 

The group from behind caught up with me. Creme Brulé did a monster turn in the front but he was going so strong I struggled to pass him. In fact more than me sprinting it was him just slowing down.

4th in the line.

With my sprinting dreams destroyed I checked Strava as soon as I got home. I knew I had done a good climb up to Green Dene and I needed any bit of positiveness I could get to recover my morale.

Went into the shower dreaming that I’m a climber now. Let’s see for how long the dream stays alive.

The ride in Strava:

Take care

Javier Arias González

sábado, 23 de septiembre de 2023

One of those days

 Today was one of those days.

Everything was meant to be perfect. 

Nice weather. Chill but not too cold and mostly sunny.

A big group (10)  to have plenty of opportunities to sit up. X

Legs feeling fresh after a good night's sleep. X

Morale high after a strong coffee in the morning.

A flat route to show off your sprinting skills. X

And today, the day you were feeling fresh on a flat route and able to sit on the wheels of a  big group while the caffeine was convincing you are the best sprinter in the world…

Today was one of those days when your di2 runs out of battery. 


From km46!!!!!

As I’m running out of new ways to embarrass myself I’m starting to repeat the ways I embarrassed myself in the past.

The ride in Strava:

Take care of yourself


sábado, 12 de agosto de 2023

Psychopaths Anonymous

Even if you think a WhatsApp group called Psychopaths Anonymous is a good match for your personality, all alarms should be ringing if you find yourself riding with two members of that group.

Even more when one of them suggests to turn right in the middle of a descent and warns you to move to the small chain ring. 

What else would you think if you suddenly find yourself on a very steep road. A road you didn’t know existed. A road is so unknown it is not in Garmin maps.

The last sign of the ambush was the brick-like size of the cake at the coffee stop. It was not only (very)big but also very tasty. I ate it all. 

Climbing La Campa from Villaviciosa is when I realized I fell into the trap. Not a killer pace but fast enough to start collecting one PR after another. 

To make things worse I embarrassed myself by sprinting for the KOM in the small chainring.

After a quick stop to get water in a fountain we keep riding at a decent pace and the PRs kept falling. All pretending we were riding at a conversational pace.

Krabbé described it perfectly. I found myself “silently wishing for a puncture so you I could just end the suffering with dignity”. My wish was granted and Rober got a puncture as soon as we got to Pola.

Once again, saved by the bell.

The ride in Strava:

Take care 

Javier Arias González

domingo, 30 de julio de 2023

Good karma paying back

I know yesterday I said I was going to mislead Powell about today's sprint at the Horton roundabouts ( but couldn't live with the guilt  so when we got to Epsom I told him the real number of roundabouts to count (8).

At some point I thought karma was paying me back for my good action of the year. I was fourth wheel, looked back and I saw a gap between me and the rest of the group. It was one of those gaps that form as you sprint out a roundabout. It was a considerable big gap. So big that I thought they wouldn't make it back. Perfect position for the sprint if you ask me.

There was only one problem. When I looked back I think I saw Bidders at the front of that group. 

That's not good. If you know Bidders you don't need any explanation. If you don't know him, be assured you don't want him chasing you. More often than not he will catch you.

I looked back again, in full panic, to confirm what I thought I had seen was correct. To my horror it was correct. Bidders was at the front of the group that was chasing us.

Just to give you all context at no point crossed my mind to move to the front and contribute to the pace of my group. What kind of sprinter do you think I am?

Besides, the gap was still big. Bidders had beaten me in the sprint for the KOM at Juniper. I was betting on him being too tired to catch us. 

It just happened next time I looked back, about two seconds later, he was on my wheel. I almost started to cry.

At the edge of a sprinting career depression the thought of him now being really tired after the sprint up Juniper and having to close that gap gave me comfort. 

Move to second wheel in the last roundabout, that will trigger him to start the sprint, jump on his wheel as soon as he passes you, wait for the right moment, start the sprint, beat him to the line. Don’t ever tell me I’m not fast at coming with plans. 

The plan had two steps and the first two went as planned. At the last roundabout I moved to second wheel and that triggered him to start the sprint.

The bit about jumping on his wheel as soon as he passed me didn’t quite go as planned.

It wasn’t my fault. He just sprinted too hard. 

It is impossible to execute a plan if the others don’t stick to it.

I didn’t blame Bidders though. 

What kind of karma payback is this? If I knew I would have told Powell there were only 6 roundabouts.

The ride in Strava: 

Take care

Javier Arias González

domingo, 23 de julio de 2023

What makes a ride hard?

The first and obvious answer is distance and amount of climbing. 

But if you have cycled enough you know that doesn’t paint the whole picture. Circumstances are what make a ride hard.

And the first and most important circumstance is who are you riding with as it will determine the pace. Ride with a group that is riding at a high pace for you and very soon you’ll find the ride hard.

That’s what happened to me yesterday. Riding in a group of five and from the start feeling the pace was a touch too hard for me. It took no time for negative thoughts to visit my mind. I’m the weakest rider, I’m going to need to drop, this is too hard for me… That’s hard.

Another circumstance that makes a ride hard is weather conditions. Add low or high temperatures, rain or wind to a ride and it gets harder very quickly. Especially if you violate the principle of "There is no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong gear" like I did yesterday showing up for the ride in my summer kit. What an amateour!! 

Yesterday we had wind and rain.

I wasn’t conscious of the wind in the first 100km which means we probably had tail wind. But the moment we hitted the flat section of the ride I was very, very conscious of the wind. At that point I was riding with Bidders, a very good time trialist, and Richard L, who had aerobars on his bike. I struggled big time just to hold on to their wheel. That, for me, was the hardest part of the ride.

Now, let's add rain to the mixture and you are getting into a really hard ride. I waited a bit too long to put the rain jacket on when it started to rain, which meant that I was very cold in the last third of the ride. 

So there we were with 200km in the legs, riding on to a head wind, wet and cold heading into the last hills of the day. What could possibly make the ride harder?

A mechanical.

And mechanicals we had (and saw) plenty. A broken spoke, a rear wheel hub that didn’t engage when pedaling, a puncture when we were cold and wet.

But we also were lucky with the mechanicals. A bike shop in New Romney managed to repair the broken spoke and the rear hub. A Dynaplug sorted out the puncture with speed. Bad luck can also make rides hard.

Yes. You wouldn’t say it looking at the distance and the amount of climbing but yesterday's ride was a very hard one.

And because of that I’m very happy now. Because I managed to survive the first two thirds of the ride. Because endurance showed up and I felt strong in the last third. Because I loved the solidarity we showed with each other while riding. Because it was a well organized event and a nice route. Because it feels great when you finish a hard ride.

The ride in Strava: 

Take care

Javier Arias González