sábado, 24 de abril de 2021

First 100 metres uphill

The first pedal strokes of the day are always very important for me. First thing I have every ride is 100m slightly downhill and then 100m slightly uphill. I always believed that I could accurately predict how I was going to feel during the ride depending on how I feel in those 100m.

Not today. When I rode those 100m I told myself. You should ride conservatively. You are not that fresh.

And that is how I started. First climb of the day and I manage to just hang on there. Could I have sprinted at the end? Probably. Did I sprint despite Dai accelerating in the last part of the climb? No way. I was in “ride conservatively” mode.

Second climb of the day and I was dropped like a stone. Yes, there was a car that got between me and the rest of the group but the gap at the top of the climb was probably more than a minute. In a 4 minutes climb!!! I panicked. A little bit.

But then the rompepiernas (https://www.unbiciorejon.com/2020/09/spanish-cycling-jargon-101-part-2.html) section of the ride came and it felt like the pace dropped a little bit. I started to tell myself this is endurance pace. I can manage this.

Coffee stop came and I was feeling kind of ok but I knew the second half of the ride would be harder. I ordered a latte (apologies to my italian friends).

Caffeine did its magic and as soon as we started to ride I felt great. The pace felt easy and my brain started to have thoughts like “I can sustain this pace for ever”, “I am a super duper endurance machine”, “Should I up the pace to make the ride challenging to everyone or should I wait for the climbs?”. Still, following the first feeling in the morning, I ignored the urge to ride faster and I kept riding conservatively.

Third climb of the day came and I liked it. It is a climb I know well and I generally “enjoy”. I did well. I wasn’t dropped. I survived a few of Denis’ pushes and I still had some energy for the last few meters. Maybe I don’t need to ride that conservatively. Maybe how I feel in those 100 metres is not a reliable way of defining how I should ride. Maybe I can attack in the last climb.

I did everything well. I’m very good at the theoretical game. Got a gel ahead of the climb, in the traffic lights got rid of the arm warmers and the gilet. Ready for the climb.

At least for the first 20 metres. That is how long it took my riding mates to get me dropped and for me to move from I’m so going to smash it to I am so smashed. Not the best feeling when you are going up Ranmore.

From the top of Ranmore it is mostly downhill to home. But we still have the last sprint of the day. My last opportunity to save a little bit of my pride. Just for the record, in my book there is no sprint win that could compensate for not doing well in a climb, but a sprint win is better than a no sprint win.

For some unjustifiable reason for someone that a few lines up claimed to be “very good at the theoretical game” I took the front in the first ramp approaching Esher.

When I was passed I moved onto Dai’s wheel. Not because I chose it but pure chance but that was the right position. Richard led the group in the second climb and then Denis took the front in the approach to the final ramp. Dai following him, me following Dai.

At this moment I knew what was going to happen and how I was going to play it. Denis will do the lead out. At some point Dai will start the sprint. I’ll jump on his wheel and wait, wait and wait (we had head wind) and will pass him in the last 10 metres. Perfect. Beautiful.

Dai started the sprint a bit too early. For a reason no one would be able to explain, I thought that was good news for me. I jumped on his wheel and three seconds later he dropped me. Three seconds more and Richard passed me flying. Moved into the small chainring and dragged myself to Esher.

Maybe I should start paying attention to how I feel in those 100 metres slightly uphill when I start my rides and use that as the way I pace the rides.

Maybe at some point I’ll learn. It wasn’t today.

The ride in Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/5182969575/

Take care

Javier Arias González

lunes, 5 de abril de 2021

Positive thinking

A short, not-flat ride (https://www.unbiciorejon.com/2019/02/javiers-ride-classification-criteria.html) with Dai, Denis and Ruper on the menu and the feeling after the first few pedal strokes is “uhm, you are a bit tired”. Probably not the best spirit to start the ride. 

It started with 30km of punishment.

Being taken to the limit, and dropped, in every single “climb”.  

I put it in the "this is good for you" account. Not from the ego point of view but from the training point of view. You'll get better… (from the training point of view, I’m a lost case from the ego point of view). Positive thinking, positive thinking.

Then 30km of feeling ok(ish). Strava rewarded me with a collection of PRs. I'm guessing taking orderly turns in the front, being that part of the route pan flat and having tail wind was somehow related to those results. The equivalent to my grandmother thinking her grandson is a strong cyclist, I know, but you have to find positive signs wherever they are. 

After the stop at Tanhouse we decided to take the standard way home. Those were excellent news for me. Knowing the way home helps me to dial how much I have left and how much we have to ride. I started to think "this is not that bad". I think I'll be fine for the rest of the ride.

Yes, I was fine. Holding the wheel up Juniper until a dog forced us to brake. Being third wheel I lost all my momentum. Or so I told myself. In any case that served me as the perfect excuse to ride easy to the top of the hill. In my mind I was telling myself I could have sprinted but I’m not sure that was a thought based on the reality my legs were feeling. I still was telling myself I was fine anyway. You wouldn’t say I didn’t master the idea of positive self talking.

Second at Horton’s sprint after Dai. It turns out I sprinted for the wrong line. I was not demoralised, I still was telling myself I was fine. Riding through Chessington I thought I could do the whole ride all over again. That’s when positiveness starts to touch delusion but helps you feel better.

I was almost celebrating how well the ride went and over lunch, after I told the family how the ride went, my daughter said “You look completely shattered. Doesn’t seem you are any good at cycling".

All my positive thinking through the window. I'm still crying on my sofa.

The ride in Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/5072761929

Take care

Javier Arias Gonzalez 

viernes, 2 de abril de 2021

What were you thinking?

What were you thinking?

You were doing so well…

You knew a ride to Arundel is never easy. It is not the distance, just 160km, an endurance ride. It is not the climbing 2,139m, not-flat. It is the terrain, always up and down. It eats your legs. 

Even harder if you have head wind on the way back. Those roads after Amberly are exposed, nowhere to hide.

You knew it and you were doing it so well... When you proposed this route you promised “I'll try my best to convince them [Ed and Denis] to ride at a sustainable, steady pace”. 

It was working. Certainly it worked all the way out. The group rode together, making sure the pace was sustainable for everyone. Apart from the hills, obviously.

Losing any chance of being a Castellin brand embasador

It was also working on the way back when some legs started to feel the effect of the kilometres and the constant up and down. You were still riding steady, trying to help to keep the group together, trying to offer a steady wheel to those in need.

Then, one second you were saying “I don’t mind riding this pace all the way home” and the next you were attacking Ed and Denis every single bump on the road.

You started to attack Ed and Denis!!! What were you thinking????

Can’t think of anything better way to demonstrate you are not the cleverest cyclist out there.

Aren’t you the cyclist that prides himself on always being measured with his efforts? The one that always tries to make sure you have some energy for the last sprint, not always possible, but you always try? What were you thinking then?

Your legs were not dead but you knew they weren’t feeling that great either. You knew Ed and Denis are in great form. You knew there was still one “big” climb left(I refuse to call a 800m climb big, even if it averages 11.9%). You knew it was Whitedown. 

Yes, you didn’t remember Whitedown but Luca’s face at Arundel when he was told that was the last climb of the day should have made all your alarms ring. 

Ok. Yes, you probably made an impression pushing up the pace. Ed and Denis might have raised an eyebrow. Yes, at some point the thought that you were riding strong might have crossed their mind. Yes, they might have thought you were going to be first at the top of the climb to Holmbury.

It's just that they saw you sprinting way too early up that climb. They saw you realising what type of climb was Whitedown. Same as removing a tooth without anesthesia but with 135km in the legs. 

That was it. I think you lost two minutes to them at the top of the climb. I don’t even want to check in Strava fearing it was even more. 

From the top of Whitedown is mostly downhill. That was even worse, it gave you the illusion you had recovered and you had a chance at the Esher sprint. Let’s leave it here just saying you didn’t have ANY chance at the Esher sprint. Zero. None. Nill.

I’ll stop torturing you now. Will only remind you that for tomorrow’s ride you said “My intention is to make that one an easy, eat more calories than what you burn, recovery ride. Not too bothered about the route but putting this107 pan flat kilometers ride to Windsor, ideal to sit in the middle of the group and don't give a single turn, as a proposal”. I wonder at what point will you screw it.

The ride in Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/5055514584/

Take care

Javier Arias González