sábado, 19 de octubre de 2019

Spanish Cycling Jargon 101

"Me llevaron todo el día con el ganchu"

Google translates it as: "They took me all day with the hook" but that is not a good translation. Let me explain you.

I arrive home. Carmen looks at me and asks "How was your ride "darling"?".

You could say we know each other well so I know that just looking at my face she knows how was my ride. I detect a mild tone of amusement in the tone of that "darling" so I guess my face is telling all the story but wanting to make my feelings clear, something that always help in a relationship, I answer "Me llevaron todo el día con el ganchu" making the gesture of that picture. That says it all, off I go to the shower.


"Me llevaron todo el día con el ganchu" is saying your riding mates carried you hooked by the chin all day (notice I saying "ganchu" wich is the Asturian pronuntiation of "gancho", which is the proper Spanish word. In my opinon using "ganchu" gives the expression added dramatism making it at the same time funnier to all non Asturian Spaniards).

It is a great expresion, it expresses the feeling of holding there by your dear live. Noticing every push in the front, every single bump in the road, every time a new rider moves to the front with fresh legs. Taking every single opportunity to give your legs the opportunity to rest. But still holding there, hoping you will be able to hold in the next push, asking yourself how far the coffee stop is. That's how I felt today.

But it wasn't for the whole day. To be fair I'll have to admit I felt fairly well at the begining I even took two turns in the front (I had promissed that in the mailing list so I figured to take that out of the way as soon as possible).

Then Green Dene came and they killed me. In a 6 minutes "climb" (nothing that is 6 minutes is a climb) my colleagues were at least a minute faster than me. Adding insult to injury two riders from another club passed me half way up the climb. None of the looking particularly lean, fit or fast. I was at the edge of crying.

From Green Dene "Me llevaron todo el día con el ganchu". Needless to say I didn't take a single turn in the front for the rest of the ride.

Well, that's a not totally correct. I took the front for 5 meters. Those needed to take the Esher sprint.
I explained to my riding mates, once again, that I was suffering all day, always at the edge, always risking being dropped. But approaching Esher and finding myself in the game somehow I was able to sprint.

Apparently they took it well. Didn't hear the word sandbagging and if anything the criticism came after my unorthodox way of sprinting, sitting on the saddle and spinning the legs at 125rpm. But, hey, a win is a win.

Let's see if next week I'm still part of the email list.

The ride in Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/2800448646

Take care
Javier Arias González

sábado, 12 de octubre de 2019

Dai's ride to Windsor

Short and flat (https://www.unbiciorejon.com/2019/02/javiers-ride-classification-criteria.html)
Does it even count as a ride?

Mood of the day.
By the time I get to LW: "Great JFW is here, I'm not the weakest link"
By the time we got to Hampton Court: "We should ban coffee for both Dai and Denis"
By the time we got to Drift Rd: "S**** JFW is even taking turns in the front. I'm the weakest link here"
Half way through Drift Rd: "They are going to drop me, they are going to drop me, they are going to drop me"
Approaching the "climb" at the end of Drift Rd: "Where is JFW?"
At the top of the "climb" at the end of Drift Rd: "I made it, they didn't drop me.... And I feel I can sprint. Who cares I didn't take a single turn in the front, jump out of Dai and Denis' wheel and got of it"
At the finish of Drift Rd sprint: "Second in the sprint. I have to change my tactics, this one is already well known. I'm sure Denis was waiting for it."
Also at the finish of Drift Rd sprint: "S**** I think I have burn the only match I had for today. How long until the coffee stop? [25km]"
At Windsor: "Change of guard. Again." We have to walk to the chocolate cafe. "Let me switch of my Garmin"
At the Chocolate Cafe: Dai and Denis are having a coffee. "A latte and half cinnamon bun for me"
First sprint after Windsor: "I didn't see that coming. A shame because I'm feeling all right"
Second sprint after Windsor: "Yess!!!!. I took it fair and square. Dai and Denis were contesting it. Never mind they almos bump on each other. I was first across the line. I'm an unstoppable machine"
A few meters after the second sprint after Windsor: "S****, I forgot to re-starting the Garmin at Windsor"
10km after the second sprint after Windsor: "Still trying to decide how to calculate the kilometres and TSS points I should add to riding log to compensate for the missing data"
Approaching last sprint: "Denis, once again, taking one for the team"
Last sprint: "Dai goes for it, I follow his wheel. We have to stop it because there is a long queue of cars. Deep down I know I would have lost it".
Summary of the sprints of the day: Second to Denis at Drift, completely missed a sprint, didn't record the one I took, second to Dai in the last one. JFW took a bunch of sprints only him knew they were there.
If JFW doesn't stop riding now I'm going to start worrying for TY at Paris-Roubaix.

The ride in Strava (without the bit from Windsor to the second sprint after Windosr :-( ): https://www.strava.com/activities/2782552636/

Take care
Javier Arias González

domingo, 30 de junio de 2019

Ditchling Devil 2019

The Ditchling Devil is probably the most important event in the Saturday gang calendar.

This year the pace was fairly easy for the first hour. Controled mostly by the mentioned group.

As every year there was a bit of a debate about the first control. Bacon roll or not bacon roll. I dare to say I'm recognised as a strong defender of not bacon roll and keep rolling but this year we agreed on a short stop ("three minutes") to allow bacon lovers to satisfy their gluttony. I was on gels, measuring the carbohydrates I needed in my body. That's how serious this event is.

After what felt to me like an eternal stop we decided to start rolling. Unfortunatelly The Pope was still busy, eating a third bacon roll I can only guess.

By the time he caught with the group (we were softpedaling waiting for him and Will... Kind of) he shauted something too strong to my delicated ears and "attacked" the group.

It was one of those attacks that is not an attack, he just sat in the front and set a pace we were abel to match. Not even close. Away he disappeared.

We climbed Dichling Beacon and we all got to the top. While we were softpedaling waiting for Will. Shaun, Denis and Richard "attacked" in the front leaving Rupert and myself alone.

This "attack" didn't look like an attack either. They just rode a bit faster. Rupert and I were just riding easy counting they'd wait in the T junction with the main road. But they didn't.
And we didn't wait for Will either.

And we took the wrong exit in the first roundabout we found (my fault as Rupert didn't have the route in his device).

Still we managed to close the gap just before starting to climb Devils Dyke.

To my surprise Will was with them. He had made a TY. Legal under the Audax rules but cheeky nonetheless (ps. I was told that, apparently, Will didn't do a TY in that sector, he passed us when we took the wrong exit in the roundabout. Oh well).

By this time (km85) I was finally starting to feel some power in my legs. Seeing The Pope descending as we were climbing fueled my optimism.

We all respected the agreed lunch stop. Pasta and rice pudding can't be skipped. The Pope was there waiting for us.

A group of 7 departed the control. Stayed like that for 20km. But then a gap opened. The Pope, Denis, Richard and Shaun in the first group. Rupert, Mark and myself in the second group.

I was not worried. We had 26km to the next control ("the cake control") and somehow I got to the conclusion they were going to get there just three minutes before us. Three minutes in a control full of cakes is nothing. We agreed on keeping a sensible pace and let it be.

Sure enough we got to the cake control (three pieces for me) and we set off all together again.

At some point Rupert and Mark got droped.

In one descend Richard had a mechanical.

It was down to four of us (The Pope, Shaun, Denis and myself)

I have to confess I was worried about Combe Lane. I knew my companions were stronger than me and I was probably going to be dropped at that climb. I decided not to take a single turn in the front (not that I had taken many before. Race craft they call it).

Combe Lane came and we let The Pope lead the group but not for long. Denis upped the pace and opened a gap. I knew I could follow him but I thought I'd better stay next to The Pope fearing a strong push in the last ramp (the steapest part).

But the ramp was approaching and his pace was even slowing down. I kept my own pace and managed to open a gap.

Denis was softpedaling at the top and so I was. It took some time for the idea to cross my mind.
I got to Denis and asked "Do you want to wait or attack?"

"Lets attack" he answered.

That was all I needed to hear. I moved to the front and upped the pace.

Looked back and saw The Pope and Shaun very close. Kept pushing. Looked back again and I saw the gap opening.

Denis came to the front and gave it another push. So strong I almost regreted my idea. Looked back again and couldn't see them.

An attack from far away. The dream of any racer.

We descended fairly fast but by the time the descend was finishing Shaun was next to us (great descender he is I learnt).

We had a short conversation and agreed to keep pushing it until Esher and wait for The Pope there (The Pope was the clear favourite for that sprint).

We kept the power on. Denis more than anyone. It was hard to just stay on his wheel.

Imagine our surprise when we were approaching Cobham when we saw The Pope in front of us. I first thought that was a true miracle but then realised he too had done a TY (big influence has he left in the group) and had taken a shortcut.

Things were not looking great in my head. The Pope in the group. Denis had just demonstrated he was very strong and I had Shaun regarded as a good sprinter.

The Esher sprint was going to be contested.

First Denis (the most generous rider when a sprint is approaching), then The Pope, then myself and Shaun closing the group. Not bad positioning I thought. Just pay attention in case Shaun goes from afar.

At some point Denis moved to the right and The Pope moved to the front. That could only mean he is feeling strong. My alarms were all over the place.

Denis waited a little bit on the right expecting me to follow The Pope. Not in a million years that would happen. I slowed down and let a gap clear for him to move to the second wheel.
The pace was very slow for this sprint. That's good for me I thought.

As we were approaching the last ramp I was expecting Shaun to jump but it was Denis the one that did the first move.

This is great I thought. I got your wheel.

Not for long. The pace was slow and we were in reach of a sprint so I jumped.

No one followed me.

I took the Esher sprint!!!!

Probably the most important win in my (quite limited) cycling palmares.

We kept a brisk pace to the end.

The Pope claimed he got first to the finish just because he turned right first.

I claimed it was me because I was the first one to cross the line that limits the pub (the best way of wining sprints is deciding the line is where you crossed first).

None of that mattered because we got there before the control had opened. We ordered our pints, the control opened, they convinced me to go for a second pint, Mark arrived and he was the first getting his brevet stamped "wining" Ditchling Devil 2019. My senses numbed by the alcohol I was only fifth (I think).

When we decided to go home The Pope decided to punish me and made me climb Nightingale Lane straight after the pub. My legs hate him, such a great friend....

(apologies for the length of the report but TY needed a full report to have all the information, as impartial as possible, for the after game in our WhatsApp group)

(Just to be clear. Ditchling Devil is an Audax event. Audax is not racing and has nothing to do with racing. No one cares who finishes first, sprints or tactics. All this report is just a joke)


Take care
Javier Arias González

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 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 Not-Flat Ride.

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

Any ride shorter than 150km is a Short Ride.

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

Any ride longer than 200km is a Proper Ride.

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

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