lunes, 31 de mayo de 2021

Let your endurance come to the rescue

 Not flat endurance ride (

I’ll admit I was worried about this ride. I knew I was the weakest rider of the group. That, when you are going to ride all the way to Brighton and back, is tricky.

I suspected Seb would put the hammer down from the get go and I feared I was going to be dropped early in the ride. It wouldn’t be the first time it happened to me. 

So I had a plan. A coffee at home to make it easier for me to react to the initial intensity. Total focus on energy conservation the first part of the ride. Let my endurance come to the rescue as the ride goes.

I have to say I executed the plan to perfection. You can bet I had a coffee at home. The first part of the ride I was so focused on holding the wheel in front of me and saving energy that I think everyone that was riding next to me thought I was being rude. Didn’t say a single word. Talking consumes energy. As the ride progressed my endurance helped to make it “easier”. Did a decent climb up Ditchling Beacon and felt surprisingly well up Devil’s Dyke, always challenging for me as it comes straight after the coffee stop, although pasteis de nata, a bolo de arroz and a large latte at the stop might have helped (yes, two cakes at the stop, can’t say I’m on a diet). 

Once we passed Devil’s Dyke I knew I was going to be alright. In my view that is the best part of the route but it can also become hell very quickly if legs don’t hold. Luckily for me the pace slowed a little bit and my legs weren’t that bad. I started to properly enjoy the ride. 

That was the moment Declan joined us. He did very well sitting in the front keeping a reasonable pace for the group. Well, him and Alice. Alice did a fantastic ride today, not only she smashed it in the climbs but also, as always, sat in the front for kilometres to end. Really impressive. Sitting on their wheel felt fast but comfortable.

Juniper’s climb went well until Declan moved to the front, the pace went up ever so slightly and that was enough to drop me close to the top. Still I’m happy with my effort. Better time up Juniper than most of my KW 2 Hills evening rides, considering I had 150km in the legs I won’t complain.

The Horton approach was a bit messy. Attacks, red traffic lights, stopping at two roundabouts, not a steady approach. I knew Declan’s wheel was the right one so when he started the sprint I tried to follow. He took it by a country mile, obviously, but I managed to get second. Pretty happy with that sprint despite numbers not being anything special (600w for 20 seconds).

About numbers… I suspect this power meter (Quarq) measures a bit higher than the one I have in the other bike (Power2Max). That bothers my slight OCD and the data geek in me but today was quite convenient, it gave me a huge morale boost every time I look at my power. Yes, I lie to myself that easily. 

The ride in Strava:

Take care

Javier Arias González

sábado, 29 de mayo de 2021


Short and flat ( Ridden too hard for an easy ride. Ridden too easy for a hard ride. If I had a coach I’m sure I would be told this ride wasn’t that good from the training point of view. My answer, though, would be, you might be right, but this ride was good to create art… Some time in the future.

You know art can be created while riding. I witnessed that several times. That Kingston Wheelers train on the coast road between Milan and San Remo with a big group on our wheels enjoying the spectacle. Jasmijn and myself leading a peloton of thirty odd riders into Paris at 2:00am finishing PBP2019. Every time Julian and I ride together. The ride home by 5 Kingston Wheelers after climbing the Angliru. Denis and myself last weekend. The Saturday gang is not strange to creating art while riding, it is normal for us to perform a few well tuned pieces on every ride.

Didn’t look like it was going to happen today though.

Today’s ride was short and flat to try to get the gang back together. And like an orchestra that hasn’t rehearsed for a while we were all over the place. Picture this.

Pope’s brakes making sounds as if he were playing a bird sound instrument in Vivaldi’s four seasons concerto. Completely out of tune of course. Seán’s breaks sounded more like a Louis Armstrong trumpet after two bottles of whisky. Luca would be in shock.

Sprints… sprints were all over the place as well. Richard L. beating JFW despite attacking from afar and JFW being on his wheel. The Pope challenging JFW in a sprint. He didn’t take it, that would have been complete chaos, but the fact that he went for it was already remarkable. Mark beating Seán in another sprint (in reality that was a close one and I’m not sure who took it, just giving it to Mark to make my report more dramatic).

Cimbs… All I have to say is the Pope was dropped in the three “climbs” we had. The ones in the know will appreciate that this doesn't happen when the world is in order. In fact, that happening is one of the signs the world might be about to implode.

Luckily Henley came. Coffees were drunk, bacon sandwiches eaten and we got back to normality. Like a Gremlin eating after midnight the Pope got converted into a monster and started to visit the front of the ride pushing the pace. Sense was recovered.

What better place to prove it than Drift Road. Seven riders riding through and off. Beautiful. I took the sprint attacking when no one was contesting it. Yes, we were back to normality.

What else would you call Denis and the Pope sharing most of the work in the front, JFW completely wasted all the return leg, me avoiding the front like the plague, preparing for the final sprint for 30 or 40 kilometres, Richard on my wheel doing the same. Yeah, it is great to have the gang back.

Once you are back to normality, with these artists, there is only one way the ride could have finished. Denis did the approach to the line. The Pope knowing I was on his wheel and asking me to pass him. Me not biting and knowing I had Richard on my wheel. Denis and the Pope being passed when the sprint started. Seán in the mix. Richard and I sprinting but none of us really sure where the line was. Mark taking the first step to be back. JFW... participation award.

I wouldn’t stretch it and call it a masterpiece but it was a decent performance as a first rehearsal. 

The ride in Strava: 

Take care

Javier Arias González

sábado, 15 de mayo de 2021

Riding with or without power?

 What is the worst nightmare for a cyclist data geek?

I’d say being forced to ride without power data. At least that is the case for me.Without power data I won’t be able to spend a fair amount of time looking at the numbers while I relax sitting on my sofa. For me, that is a part of the fun of riding. I just love playing with data.

It is also that I tend to use power to pace myself and today I really needed to pace myself. 

Today we were riding to Sumners Ponds. This is one of our classic rides. We were not riding the “official” route, we were riding one of Dai’s variations, slightly shorter and easier than the official route but a ride to Sumners Ponds is always dangerous. A while ago I wrote a general warning for everyone invited to join a Kingston Wheelers ride to Sumners Ponds (You need to read this if you are invited to join a Kington Wheelers ride to Sumners Ponds - Long story short is, if you are the weakest rider of the group you’ll be killed riding to Sumners Ponds.

I was riding with Ed and Denis. I knew what was coming. I definitely needed to pace myself.

First half of the ride went fairly well. We rode steady. That always helps me. 

The climbs to Green Dene and Houndhouse Hill followed the same pattern. Ed hits the front and sets a pace that feels reasonable at the beginning but as the climb goes and goes it starts to feel more and more challenging. Denis looks effortless and is always there. Me? Praying for the pace to remain stable, it is already challenging enough. Praying for not being dropped. 

Surprise, surprise. I wasn’t dropped. I was so happy a “yes” came out of my mouth at the top of Houndhouse Hill. 

Could I have sprinted to take the climb? Maaaayyybbeeee. 

Did I sprint? No waaaaay.

We were riding to Sumners Ponds. I knew what was coming. I knew I needed to pace myself.

And that is exactly what I did. With great success I’d say. By the time we got to the coffee stop. I was feeling reasonably well. Knowing this version of the ride had an easier second half gave me confidence.

Until we went back on the bikes. That was the moment the battery of my power meter ran out. There goes my afternoon fun. There goes using power to pace myself. I had to ride the second half of the ride sad and blind. Not sure what felt worse at that moment.

I can say now that it was way worse missing the data (and the afternoon fun). Rigid blind wasn’t actually that bad.

I knew I was going too hard in some of the bumps on the road but for most of the ride all I needed to do was to follow Ed and Denis. Easier said than done but I’m always happier if I have a plan (although not happy enough to compensate for the sadness of not having power data for half of the ride, not even close).

Surprisingly I wasn’t dropped climbing Juniper. Even more surprisingly I managed to take the KOM with a cheeky sprint after sitting on Ed’s wheel in the last part of the climb. That is unusual. 

It makes me wonder if I should ride without power data more often. I mean, without seeing power data in my Garmin, I know I definitely don’t want to ride without recording my power data. 

Now, if I remove the power data from my Garmin, what am I going to look at? I'm always sitting on someone's wheel!!!!

The ride in Strava (without power data in the second half):

Take care

Javier Arias González

lunes, 10 de mayo de 2021

Back to Hop Gardens 200

 Proper, non-flat ride (

Not the fastest of the rides. It could look strange considering Julian and I always ride at a decent pace and are fairly efficient with our stops. But yesterday there were other factors.

Let’s start pointing out this event has a lot of controls, both info and free controls. That forces you to stop either to take note of the answer to to buy something at a shop, petrol station or coffee shop. From memory, I think we had 10 controls, an average of one every 20kms!

We also had a fair bit of cross and headwinds for most of the day.  True, the last 60 kms the wind was mostly tail wind, and that was very welcome, but you know 60km of mostly tailwind does never compensate for the 140 initial kilometres mostly cross and headwinds.

Then you had that Julian’s garmin stopped working very early in the ride. That made me responsible for navigating the route. I still claim I am great navigating routes but I’ll have to admit I got it wrong in more than one turn. Fair to say Julian never complained, I’m starting to suspect he even enjoyed the extra distance. 

And finally we got the visit of The Puncture Fairy. First me, then Julian, then Julian again, then me again, then Julian again, then a group that included the rider that lent Julian an inner tube so we felt compelled to stop with them. Each stop was taking us longer as we were being more and more careful inspecting the tyres. It turns out it was not only us. At the end we were told several riders had reported punctures. Weird because the roads weren’t that bad. But, hey, at least we got a good training refresher on how to repair a puncture.

Now, if we were that slow you might ask yourself how come that I got a PR for most of the segments in the route.

There is an explanation for it.

I rode the Hop Gardens exactly 6 years ago, in 2015 ( 8 weeks after I had broken my left femur. With 48 kilometres in my legs as previous training. The Hop Gardens was my first classification brevet in my attempt to ride Paris-Brest-Paris 2015. At the time I wrote the report only in Spanish ( but, long story short, that was a very, very hard ride for me. Probably the hardest ride I've ever done. Had to put the step down and walk three times (me, the one that, unlike some of my Saturday Gang mates, won’t name and shame, didn’t have to walk up the Angliru in the many times I have climbed it). It took me almost 13 hours to finish the ride and that was with only stopping for one hour and a half. That was almost 11 hours and a half sitting on the saddle as I didn’t have the strength to stand on the bike for long. My Brooks saddle got so deformed after that ride because I was compensating heavily with my right leg that I had to scratch it. My moving speed averaged 18.6 km/h, finished with 32 minutes to spare and I was very, very tired by the end.

That is why yesterday I couldn’t care less about our speed. For me it was all about enjoying the ride. Every so often I’d recognise a bit of the road, a climb and I’d remember how hard it was six years ago. Nothing compared to yesterday, I was fresh at the start, legs felt strong all day, I was riding with Julian, weather wasn’t too bad, Kent was showing at its best. 

Was there (just another) control? Relax and take your time. Head wind in the flat section? Hands on the drops and find your rhythm. You have just missed a turn? Put a smile and blame the Garmin, that always works. Another puncture!!??!! That’s a welcomed pee stop, an opportunity to have a chat, to have a laugh. After all, we are definitely going to be faster than I was 6 years ago and my Strava is going to be full of PRs (129, I counted them). That is the right metric to measure the quality of a ride, isn’t it?

Pd. The competitive side in me has just realised that if I ride the 600 I rode 6 years ago 10 weeks after I broke my leg I am likely to get even more PRs in a single ride. Something to consider.

The ride in Strava: 

Take Care

Javier Arias Gonzalez

lunes, 3 de mayo de 2021

Endurance rides

 I’m not really sure why I enjoy these steady, endurance rides. Even if I was riding on tired legs. In fact, I think I enjoyed it even more because I was riding on tired legs. 

The ride was announced in the Kingston Wheelers’ forum as “steady K2”. Denis, Ed and myself, no one else wanted to join, not sure why. 

We agreed a truce and we rode steadily into the head wind all the way to Brighton. Endurance pace all the way.

For sure part of it is riding with Denis and Ed. We know each other so well that we ride like a perfect engine. As you probably know by now Ed takes all the climbs, Denis is the most generous with his efforts in the front and I …, well, I’m just happy hanging there. Being part of the group, believing I am getting fitter, enjoying the pace, the scenery, the tail wind on the way back. 

This ride marks the end of another four weeks “training block” (let's pretend for a second I know what I’m talking about). Three consecutive weeks of 2 KW’s two hills sessions during the week and long rides during the weekend had taken my CTL to levels I haven’t seen since August 2019, when I was riding the PBP, and my TSB well into the negative values. Time for me to take it easy. This week I’ll “only” ride a two hill ride on Thursday and a steady 200k on Sunday.

I’ll keep the same pattern for three more 4 week blocks, all the way to the end of July. That will include a 300k in May, a 400k in June and the Maratona and a 600k in July. If everything goes to plan I should be in a decent form for 1001 Miglia in mid August.

That’s another reason why I enjoy these endurance rides. They allow me to dream. Having dreams is part of being happy. I’m happy (although I still don’t enjoy being dropped in the climbs).

The ride in Strava:

Take care

Javier Arias González

sábado, 1 de mayo de 2021

Do you want to do something silly?

 Show up to a Saturday Gang ride with tired legs when Dai, Denis, Ed and Richard are riding and the plan is to ride 195km 2000m.

Guaranteed fun.

Add to it that JFW showed up with the intention to ride only part of the route and you have all the ingredients to get a ride full of surges, sprints for town signs and high pace.

So much so that by km 25 I had decided I was not going to ride the whole route, I’d go for JFW’s short route.

The problem was that around km 60 we had a comfort stop. I was the fastest because I knew we were at the base of a short climb. I started the climb alone knowing the group would catch me but taking to my advantage the possibility of riding the climb at an easy pace. By the time I got to the top of the climb and the rest of the group caught me JFW wasn’t there. He had turned back.

I was tired but my brain was still able to do some maths. It got to the conclusion that being 60km from home I was better off staying with the group and committing for the whole ride than riding back on my own. That, and the not null chance of me getting lost on the way back. I was stuck with the group.

New Alresford couldn’t come soon enough.

A latte, caffeine. Powerful drug for my brain. Like that I went from feeling like hanging to the ride for my dear life to feeling like I could cope with it.

For about two hours. A shame we were about three hours from home.

When the effect of the caffeine disappeared I went from feeling like I could cope with the ride to fearing being dropped in the next bump of the road. I avoided the front of the group like the plague.

By the time we approached the Esher sprint I was telling myself “now that you are here it is ok to be dropped”. I sat at the back of the group.

Ed was leading the group and I was almost dropped on the first ramp. But I wasn’t.

Ed led the group on the second ramp too. The group passed him as we were getting to the top of the ramp. At some point I looked back and saw Ed was dropped. Surprise, surprise!!!

Denis was leading the train now. He stayed there all the way to the last ramp. That was when Dai attacked. 

No one followed. I waited for Richard to close the gap. He started to pass Denis. I waited a little bit more. 

It seemed like Dai was slowing down but Richard was not closing the gap that fast either. I waited a little bit more.

And then I jumped. Typically that would be way too late to take the sprint but we were all very tired by that point. Dai more than anyone, he had sat in the front of the group for kilometres and kilometres. 

I passed Dai about 20 metres before the line and took the sprint. 

We all know it was unfair. I sat at the back of the group for most of the ride and I was dropped in every single climb (no sprint can compensate for being dropped in a climb). Still happy to see I was able to “sprint” after a ride that was so challenging for me.

The ride in Strava:

Take care
Javier Arias González