sábado, 23 de octubre de 2021

GC Denis

Everyone that has ridden with Denis knows that Denis’ nickname, GC, is very appropriate. He is one of the most consistent riders in the Saturday gang. Denis is always there.

Denis is a very good climber. Take any climb we have in our rides and Denis will be there or thereabouts. I use him to gauge my own pace. If Denis is around I’m climbing at the right pace. If I can’t see Denis around I know I’m going too hard, cracking will be just a matter of time and Denis will inevitably pass me while I have to slow down gasping for air. Using Denis to pace myself means I have sat on his wheel literally for hours taking advantage of his constant pace. I normally hang there at my very limit, dearing the moment he stands on the bike. I know he is not attacking, he is just alternating positions while climbing but I have cracked more than once at one of those moments. 

Denis is also a very good rouleur. Excellent at taking turns, capable of riding at a very constant pace for kilometres to end, almost immune to distance. We have ridden together a lot so we know each other very well. We don’t need to talk, without words we know how we both are feeling and what is the adequate pace to be efficient.

Denis is not a good sprinter though. That, everyone knows. Although I managed to lose a few sprints against him (and those were not even close to the most embarrassing moments in my cycling career). But Denis compensates that by being very generous with his efforts when the final sprint approaches. That makes him the perfect leadout man. Today was one more proof of that. 

Denis, Ed and myself were approaching Hampton’s sprint. At the last roundabout, still a few kilometres from the sprint, two riders passed us. There was a moment of confusion as it seemed they wanted to wait for some other riders and we wanted to keep our own pace. At some point three riders passed us at a considerable speed and I jumped on their wheel. It turned out those were some of the riders the other two were waiting for so those two riders jumped on my wheel. All in all we ended up being a group of nine riders. Denis, Ed, myself and six of them. Me sitting on the third wheel. Perfectly placed if you ask me.

But at some point one of the riders that was behind me moved to my side and said something on the lines of “I don’t mind you sitting our our wheel but do it at the back of the group”. Fair point. I know it is very annoying when an unknown rider infiltrates a group that is riding together so I moved to the back. Now it was the six of them, then Denis, then me and Ed closing the group.

The amount of traffic at Sunbury on-Thames meant the whole group had to slow down and start the approach to the Hampton sprint almost from a standing start. At that point I thought the road was too crowded and it was pointless to take part in the sprint. I even allowed the group to open a gap with me and Ed. 

But then I saw Denis looking back and I knew instantly what that meant. He meant business. 

I quickly closed the gap and sat on Denis' wheel. Time to hold on there and admire Denis’ masterpiece.

The pace was fairly fast. Still, at the very right moment, Denis moved to the right and started to pass the group. Sitting on his wheel I witnessed the surprised look in every rider we were passing. That WTF look you give when you are barely hanging on someone’s wheel and still see a rider passing you on your right. 

Don’t be wrong. Denis didn’t attack. If he had attacked he would have dropped me. What Denis did was to check if I was on his wheel and created a constant acceleration that produced the effect of passing the riders we had on the left and, at the same time, consciously and on purpose, giving me a lift to the front. 

Again at the very right moment, Denis moved to the left. He placed me nicely sitting on the third rider. That was the moment I thought of lifting my arms and starting clapping. I wanted him to know that his masterpiece didn’t go unnoticed. Unfortunately I had some work to do. The third rider started to drop and I had to pass him to close the gap to the other two.

Just when I was half way of closing the gap I saw the two riders in the front losing speed, I figured they had called off the sprint so I too slowed down. 

A bit of a shame really. It was far from certain that I would have taken the sprint but I was eager to give it a good go. If only to honour what Denis just had done…

…earning a second nickname. “Leadout” Denis.

The ride in Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/6153961847/ 

Take care

Javier Arias González

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