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
Publicar un comentario