sábado, 14 de agosto de 2021

I should have known better

 Not flat endurance ride (https://www.unbiciorejon.com/2019/02/javiers-ride-classification-criteria.html)

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 (https://www.strava.com/activities/5782376783) and another two hours on Friday (https://www.strava.com/activities/5784431250). 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: https://www.strava.com/activities/5791481272

Take care

Javier Arias González

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