viernes, 27 de agosto de 2021

SB Asturica Augusta 2021 (1200km Audax)

  Flat, but a proper ride (

A list of things that went well and others that didn’t go that well.

Letting drop your TSS from 112 in mid July to 85 before this ride was not the best tapering strategy.

Fracturing a rib on Friday wasn’t ideal either.

With this in mind my plan for this route was I don’t have a plan. Let's start pedalling and we shall see.

A fractured rib means breathing heavily was painful. The good news was that it incentivized me to ride within myself, which is always good in these types of rides. If I’m honest I’d have to admit a fractured rib was more an advantage than a disadvantage. 

Riding in the front group through the first night was great. The terrain was benign and the group was strong. 

Riding with part of that group the second day was not that good. It was brilliant for the most part, but twice I followed the group decision against my instincts. First one was deciding to eat in Segovia. I wanted to eat, the group wanted to carry on. I followed the group. Those kilometres until we stopped for lunch were probably the hardest of the whole ride for me. 

The second one was after lunch. I wanted to sleep a big siesta. My reasoning was that sleeping at those hours when the temperatures were at its highest would allow us to be fresher to ride through the night, when temperatures are more bearable. I followed the group and didn’t sleep. Only to find out a few hours later that I was so sleepy that I could cause a crash in the group. I told the group I was dropping.

That was a good decision. 

I booked a hotel room in Soria and had four hours and a half sleep. Had breakfast at the hotel and hitted the road at 8:30. That went very well.

Much better than forgetting to carry chamois cream. As the kilometres piled in, all ridden in sunny, high temperatures, sweaty weather I paid a high price for this rookie mistake. That certainly didn’t go very well.

What went a bit better was that I had sent chamois cream to the control at Salas de los Infantes. The damage was already done, but at least it helped to alleviate the pain.

What didn’t go that well was to forget the chamois cream a couple of controls later. You couldn’t make this up. 

In my defense I’d argue that in the control in Astudillo, at 7pm there wasn’t anywhere to eat. In the next control, Ampurias, there was only one place open and they didn’t have any food. I asked for a raw egg, a litre of milk and half of a cake. Mixed everything and that was my dinner. Not ideal if you plan to ride through the night.

At that place I put my head down on the table and had a good hour of sleep. I woke up half zombie and that is the moment where I forgot the chamois cream.

That area is flat and exposed to the wind. Of course the wind was head wind. But I had my aero bars. First super brevet using them. That went very well. Flat and straight road without traffic. Sat in an aero position, tried not to change position as that was painful (I can confirm that butt pain triumphs rib’s pain), and set for a sustainable pace riding in the middle of the road. Plenty of time to think in other things

That was the tone for the rest of the night. Head wind, empty roads, mostly flat, aero position, not moving around to avoid the pain.

Breakfast in Leon was great. Sitting outside, early sun in my face. I ate two breakfasts. 

Tackled the last climb at a steady pace and as soon as I got to the last control I realised that I could finish just before midday, that would mean less than 66 hours for the whole ride. It wasn’t going to be easy but it sounded doable.

And like that I found myself pushing the pace. The terrain was favourable and I wasn’t pushing it too hard (I couldn’t) but that kept me entertained for the last couple of hours.

I was on track to finish before midday but what didn’t go that well was that I took the wrong turn at the top of the last climb. Suddenly I found myself at the bottom of the climb, but on the wrong side, heading to a motorway. The extra kilometres meant 11 minutes on top of the 66 hours. That didn’t go well.

But what went very well was the overall feeling with the ride. At the finish I was told I was third back home (remember, this is Audax, this is not a race) and about a third of the field were DNF. I had my set of challenges but I managed to adapt and enjoy the ride. After all, most of the secret was to sit on the saddle and not move around. 

The ride in Strava:

Take care

Javier Arias González

sábado, 14 de agosto de 2021

I should have known better

 Not flat endurance ride (

In my cycling book there is an unalterable fact, if you don’t ride your bike for more than a week, next time you ride with your riding mates you are going to be killed.

I have seen this many times. Of course the extent of the killing depends on how long you have been far from your bicycle. One week? You might be lucky if the ride is particularly slow and not challenging. Two weeks? You better hope for a short, flat and slow ride. Three weeks? You better assume it, you have no chance.

I was 10 days out of the bike. But I had ridden two hours on Thursday ( and another two hours on Friday ( So when Xuancar suggested riding with Rober today and going to Peñas del Viento the thought that I was going to be killed didn’t even cross my mind. I should have known better.

These are all the details that will give you a measure of how arrogant I was. I didn’t think anything of how scary Peñas del Viento sounded, Peñas del Viento literally means rocks of wind. When Xuancar mentioned we wouldn’t be back home for lunch I just thought, great, an endurance ride, exactly what I need. The fact that I had no idea of the route and that Xuancar didn’t share a track of the route didn’t bother me in the slightest, not even when he mentioned the route would be well beyond 150km. I, literally, couldn’t care less. If he would be proposing riding to hell I’d be responding how fast.

And with that attitude I showed up for the ride today. 

And everything went very well. 

We never rode very fast.

You see those four little climbs before the big climb? I was super comfortable in all of them. Gentleman pace in those short but punchy slopes.

You see the big climb? I’ll confess in the last ramps I missed an extra gear but still no problems whatsoever. We rode together keeping a manageable pace.

But then things started to change.

You see the little climb in km99, the one after the big climb? When I got to the top the “I’m starting to feel tired” alarm was triggered. But the panic was over because very soon we stopped to get a tortilla sandwich.

When we got back to the bikes the legs complained a bit more than usual but the terrain was favourable so didn’t really pay attention to them.

So much so that when the next small climb came, km120, I was in the front the whole climb. Power numbers weren’t looking that big and I was feeling my riding mates were riding comfortably (although they both got a PR in that climb) but my legs were feeling terribly. By the time I got to the top, km 123, I knew it was over. It is not that I was bonking, it was simply that my legs were not able to keep up with the (not that fast) pace.

My survival instinct kicked in. They don’t have to notice that my legs are empty. Moved to third wheel before the descent started to get cover. Poker face time I thought. I even started to hum Gaga’s tune on the descent. “P-p-p-poker face, p-p-p-poker face”.

You see that tiny bump just after that climb? Yes, that tiny thing that starts at km125. That was where my riding mates knew it was over for me. My poker face game lasted exactly 2km. 2 downhill kilometres. As soon as the road went uphill Xuancar stood on the bike and I was dropped. You now know why I never play poker.

So there you have me. I knew it was done, my riding mates knew I was done and, still, I was thinking there was nothing to worry about, home was only 25km away.

I knew where I was but I didn’t have a sense of how much was left to get home. Of course, it was not 25km, it was 46km. To be fair to my riding mates I have to admit they didn’t go hard on me. They slowed a little bit and they made sure I was keeping up. I was, but just about. 

By the time we got to the last climb I knew exactly where I was and how much was left. Struggled a lot on that climb but I knew I was effectively home from there.

I am now writing this and thinking not only that I really should have known better but also that I now have a big problem. My endurance seems to have disappeared and I have to ride a 1200km ride, mostly on my own, in exactly 8 days. I wonder if I should put on my poker face from the start on that ride; there is a (very) remote possibility that could help in some kind of way.

The ride in Strava:

Take care

Javier Arias González