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