sábado, 31 de diciembre de 2022

Last ride of 2022

The perfect day to finish a great year.

First a nice easy spin to Nava with Xuancar and Rober.

Then a good effort climbing La Madera against the wind. 18 minutes at 285w (https://www.strava.com/activities/8315910713/segments/3044249500521788748).

Finishing with a sprint to get two wind assisted PRs (https://www.strava.com/activities/8315910713/segments/3044249500523065676 and https://www.strava.com/activities/8315910713/segments/3044249500525580620).

2022 was a fantastic year for me.

The 6th of August I declared myself in the form of my life (https://www.unbiciorejon.com/2022/08/i-am-in-form-of-my-life.html).

I finished “the season” at the beginning of October getting PRs up Broome Hall Road and Box Hill (https://www.unbiciorejon.com/2022/10/end-of-season.html

From October to the end of the year I was mostly focused on steady, endurance rides. Still happy with the numbers at the end of the year.

18,829 Kilometres. My biggest year so far, 8.16% more than my previous record (17,409 in 2021). It is now obvious that in 2023 I’ll target 20,000 kilometres.

4,002 of those kilometres, 21.26% of the total, were on the turbo. I think this highlights how important turbo sessions are for me. 

By bicycle:

  • 8,549 (45.40%) with my summer bike

  • 8,465 (44.95%) with my long distance bike

  • 1,343 (7.13%) with my old bike (I will use this bicycle only on the turbo now)

  • 472 (2.50%) with my Mountain Bike. I was considering buying a new MTB but with these numbers I don’t think I can really justify it 

The ride in Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/8315910713 

Take care

Javier Arias González

sábado, 26 de noviembre de 2022

Dai's ride to Dabbling Duck

 Short and flat (https://www.unbiciorejon.com/2019/02/javiers-ride-classification-criteria.html)

As you would be expected to ride at the end of November.

Mind you that short and flat doesn’t mean easy.

It was a “steady k2” ride. 

Somehow, “steady k2” it’s becoming synonymous with K1.5. Something that is completely against my idea of “steady k2” but totally expected if you have Dai leading a ride with two “climbs” in the first 20 kms and with an espresso in his veins (I don't have proof, nor doubt).


Even if he had been out of the bike for weeks. Even if he said he wasn’t going to sit in the front. 

To be fair I also had a coffee at home (although mine wasn’t an espresso), I hadn’t ridden much in the last three weeks, and, me too, found myself sitting in the front more than I had planned to.

Surprisingly (in my case, not a surprise at all in Dai’s case) I felt ok(ish). Enough power to be there in all the climbs and enough endurance to last the whole ride. 

To put the cherry on the cake I played the “fair sprinter” role (there is always a first time for everything) and gave Calum all the details about the Esher sprint when we were at Cobham. My mother would be proud of me.

 Playing the “fair sprinter” doesn’t mean to play it wrong from the tactical point of view. I was the fourth wheel (out of eight riders), in the drops from the first “ramp”, paying attention to every potential move. Yet, I almost screwed it. 

Calum attacked.

Not sure where but certainly too early.

So early that took me by surprise. I wasn’t expecting it. 

Yes, I know I said I was paying attention. That was my intention but, somehow, I got too relaxed and distracted. Not the first time that has happened to me. I guess I have to work on my attention span. 

I had to put in a big effort to close the gap. Never doubted I was going to it, but it certainly took me to the limit.

A few seconds after I reached Calum’s wheel he looked back, saw me there and flicked his elbow.

To hell with the “fair sprinter”, I thought. I refused to move to the front and stayed on his wheel (I’ll omit this part of the story to my mother).

Calum gave it another go.

This time I wasn’t taken by surprise but that didn’t help much. He was pushing hard and I was struggling to keep up. 

The thought of letting him go crossed my mind. In fact I started to look for a decent excuse but before I found one (and that is a very short period of time; I’m very fast finding excuses) Calum slowed down a little bit. And then a little bit more. 

I stayed on his wheel. Waited and waited. It felt like an eternity but I was fearing another attack from Calum and I knew I didn’t have the legs to sprint all the way to the line. Wait and pray. A sprint tactic I’m very familiar with.

It doesn’t normally work but in this case it helped that Calum didn’t know where the line was (Rupert wasn’t riding today so I definitely knew where the line was).

I attacked at the right point (for once) and managed to open a gap big enough to get me to the line. 

A win!!!

I’m now going to forego a well deserved Spanish siesta to write the Spanish version of this report so my mother knows I’m a champion (my wife and daughters are lost cases in that regard). I’ll omit certain details but I’ll make sure I don’t embellish the story too much. It has to feel credible.

The ride in Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/8170788294/analysis/16380/17403

Take care

Javier Arias González

domingo, 30 de octubre de 2022

Drift Rd. then Windsor

 Felt tired to start with but, since it was a ride I proposed, I felt compelled to sit in the front from the beginning. 

Riding in parallel with Rupert, chatting while pretending you are taking it easy only lasted until we hit the first ramp where I was duly dropped. The same happened in every single ramp we managed to find in this pan flat route.

At some point, fairly early into the ride to be honest, I fell back and sat on Calum’s wheel. 

That was super helpful in Drift Road. To the point that I got to the conclusion that aerodynamics, when plays in your favor, is a marvelous thing.  

Aerodynamics helped me all the way to Windsor where I went for the traditional (for me) latte and half cinnamon bum (notice the half bit, I’m such a pro wanna be). 

The caffeine did its magic and on the way home I rode a bit over excited. Riding over excited means I was second to Rupert at the sprint and only because Calum had no clue where the line was (a trick that always works). 

It also means that as we were approaching the end I started to dream about the big siesta I was going to have this afternoon. 

Siesta that starts on 3, 2, 1…

The ride in Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/8042495498 

Take care

Javier Arias González

sábado, 29 de octubre de 2022

LOL (To Oxford and back)

Seen in Oxford. Top trolling

The Kinston Wheelers Saturday Gang... It is October, let's be happy with short rides.

Also the Kingston Wheelers Saturday Gang... Let's ride to Oxford and back. More than 200km.

Luckily for me all the stars were aligned and for once we rode steady the whole route. Keeping the group together. As if we were good friends.

Luckily for all of us the day was perfect for it. Weather was great (although at the end of October we should really have this nice weather), the route was also great. Every so often I found myself admiring the scenery, full of happiness, enjoying the moment. As the Pope said, moments worth capturing in a bottle to conserve them. 

After two weeks out of the bike and the double vaccine this week I was pleasantly surprised with how well I felt. My riding mates blew that feeling a little when they told me in Oxford we had had tail wind all the way out. 

I still did a decent return leg though. True that The Pope dropped me in less than 20 meters in the last climb (Berins Hill) but very quickly I gave myself a great set of excuses to justify my performance (I didn’t know the climb, it was too steep for my liking, you lose raw power faster than your endurance and I was two weeks off the bike. I’m an expert at finding excuses).

From kilometer 160 I started to feel tired so fell for my tactic of trying to convince everyone that we shouldn’t contest sprint. I even took a couple of turns as we were approaching Hampton Court and everyone knows that if I had intention to sprint there is no way I’d take a turn in the approach to the line. 

To no avail. The Pope attacked something like 500m to the line. To make things worse he attacked when I was at the front!

That’s a yellow card mate. Yellow card!

Luckily for me I managed to jump on his wheel and in the cheeky fashion that characterizes my style I passed him a few meters before the line.

Lucky in the sprint, lucky with the pace, lucky with the route (it was brilliant, thanks Harry), lucky with the weather, lucky with my riding mates. 

Lucky man. 

The ride in Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/8037888901 

Take care 

Javier Arias González

domingo, 23 de octubre de 2022

My 2022/2023 "season" starts here


With an “easy” ride to Windsor following a route the road captain named as “Boring Windsor”. 

A road captain that didn’t bother to show up because apparently it was raining.

A ride that was meant to be easy but didn’t feel that easy because two weeks off the bike take its toll.

Two weeks off the bike that marked the end of the 2021/2022 “season” and the beginning of the 2022/2023 one.

A 2022/2023 “season” full of plans imagined from the comfort of my sofa, a place from where everything seems possible. 

Plans are still in draft. There is more imagining to be done sitting on my sofa. For now this is how they look:

My main event for the year is Paris Brest Paris. My time in the 2019 edition was 59h 31m. Beating that time is my main objective. I want to set my fastest PBP and leave it there for the rest of my life. But I also set myself a stretch objective, from the comfort of my sofa, of going sub 55 hours. 

That’s it. Now that I have an objective for the year I guess I should start thinking how I’m going to get there. But that will be next Sunday. Enough thinking from the comfort of my sofa for this week.

The ride in Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/8007408884/ 

Take care

Javier Arias González

sábado, 8 de octubre de 2022

End of the "season"

 That’s it. This is my 2021/2022 “season” done. 

(Mind you that I use “season” only to pretend that I have all my cycling perfectly planned. Something that is only partially true, like all my riding reports).

I’m now going to take two weeks off the bike. As if I needed to rest.

The reality is this break comes due to the circumstances. 

On one hand it’ll be good (I guess, I hope) to have a break and to reflect on my objectives for my 2022/2023 “season” (oh, this sounds so pro).

On the other hand, it is a shame to have to stop now that I’m in the form of my life. Not every day you get a PR up Broome Hall Road (https://www.strava.com/activities/7930304942/segments/3013809713553065704) with 95k in the legs, 75 of them ridden solo, followed by another PR up Box Hill (https://www.strava.com/activities/7930304942/segments/3013809713546034920) and end up beating Rupert at the Horton roundabouts sprint. 

Two weeks of imagining my form slowly disappearing and anticipating how bad I’ll feel in the first ride. It is well known that if you take two weeks off the bike on your first KW Saturday ride you’ll be mercilessly slaughtered. 

Still, the naive, positive thinker in me, believes that finishing this “season” this strong is a great sign that next “season” I’ll get even stronger and it is going to be amazing.

As if I knew for sure how to get stronger.

All delusional thinking but it feels good. 

The ride in Strava:

Take care
Javier Arias González

sábado, 1 de octubre de 2022

Alice Holt

Flat endurance ride (https://www.unbiciorejon.com/2019/02/javiers-ride-classification-criteria.html)

My today’s track record as road captain.

Misjudged the weather and showed up for the ride way overdressed. I took off several pieces of kit even before we started the ride.

A rider that didn’t announce they’d join the ride showed up 5kms into the ride. Of course he wasn’t the best behaved rider of the pack.

10kms into the ride a coup d’etat formed and my navigation instructions were ignored completely. Several times in a row. 

Something like 20kms into the ride the unannounced rider decided to peel off. Who can plan a ride with such a level of anarchy.

I missed a right turn. I wouldn’t read too much into it because we miss that turn everytime we do this ride.

I wanted a K2 ride but looking at the success at my last “Proper, steady K2 ride” https://www.strava.com/activities/7790384597 I announced the ride as K1.5. It turns out it was closer to K1 than to K1.5. 

The good news is after today’s experience I came out with a great way of classifying rides. I’d put a given K value, say today’s K1.5, and then would warn everyone to discount 0.1 for each person that joins that have the letters E and D in their name. As Ed “The Pope”, Ed van der Poel and “GC” Denis signed up for the ride the adjusted K value was K1.2. Which sounds about the pace I had to survive today.

I only realized we were climbing Hog “hill” (https://www.strava.com/activities/7894281917/segments/3011276855885634848) when it was way too late to save my legs for it. Blew up 50 meters before the top.

A second coup d’etat, instigated by the same rider, changed the route to the end of the ride only to make sure I didn’t know what the final sprint was. I was preparing for the sprint at Hurst Rd in Hapmton Court and suddenly I started to see signs suggesting we were heading to Esher. A sprint I wasn’t prepared for. Luckily for me there were too many cars around so we didn’t have a final sprint.

In my favor I have that we actually stopped at Alice Holt which is a clear improvement on the last ride I was ride captain. In that one we were supposed to stop at Henley and after another coup d’etat, by a different rider, ended up stopping in Twyford (https://www.strava.com/activities/7790384597).

Let’s think long term and with optimism. I reckon in 40 or 50 rides I’ll master the role. 

The ride in Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/7894281917

Btw. I checked my last three rides to Alice Holt and they were:

26th of January 2019 https://www.strava.com/activities/2104636782

25th of January 2020 https://www.strava.com/activities/3042232307

29th of January 2022 https://www.strava.com/activities/6599543557 

I guess we now know the route for the 21st or 28th of January 2023

Take care
Javier Arias González

martes, 20 de septiembre de 2022

Collada Fancuaya. Solo Non-Stop. Climbed from the right side

Collada Fancuaya was the final climb in stage 8 of La Vuelta 2022 (27/Aug/2022). Jay Vine won that stage.

Not later than a week after the La Vuelta route was announced I went to climb it as I didn't know the climb and it is close to my place in Asturias. This was that ride in Strava https://www.strava.com/activities/6403219516/

Two months later, in February this year, I went back. I wanted to know the climb well as I thought it could play an important role at La Vuelta. I improved my time up the climb this second time. Nothing impressive, especially considering this second time I was riding with a couple of strong riders. This is that ride in Strava https://www.strava.com/activities/6740728247

Imagine what was my surprise and disappointment when watching that stage on TV I realized the riders were climbing following a different route. The last 4km were the same I had climbed twice, but the first 6km were following a completely different route.  A road I didn't know and, to make things worse, a road that looked amazingly beautiful.

I know my image as a Road Captain is already damaged but in this case I have to say it wasn't my fault. La Vuelta didn't publish an official track so I followed what seemed to be the most popular way to climb it in Strava.

Anyway. Today was the day to correct that mistake (not mine, I insist). 

Even if I was correcting a mistake I was able to make a few more. You see that collection of PRs at the beginning of the ride?

Yes. That's the typical rookie mistake of starting a bit too hard. In my defense I could argue I had tail wind and it would be true. But looking at my power for those segments it is still true I started a bit too hard. I’m now blaming the coffee I had after lunch. A proper cyclist should have a good repertoire of excuses. As you can see mine is excellent.

In any case I can confirm climbing from this side is way more beautiful. The road has no cars, goes up a close valley full of leafy chestnut forests. A climb to add to the to-do list for the next time Kingston Wheelers visit Asturias.

What I failed to appreciate watching the pros on TV is that this side was also harder. I honestly was expecting it to be easier. It looked easy for the pros!! It wasn’t easy for me. 

Yeah. I have to admit I haven’t had a look at the profile. No wonder I was surprised by a 800m ramp at 15%, soon followed by another 600m at 16% and before I had recovered followed by another one of 300m at 17%. By then the caffeine effect had disappeared and I entered survival mode.

Luckily for me, soon I got to Yernes. A tiny village half way up the climb. From that point I knew the rest of the climb. That was good news… if I had the legs to take advantage of it, which I didn’t.

You can picture me now surprised when I see in Strava I did a PR (2:09 faster) for that section (https://www.strava.com/activities/7834600024/segments/3007011683056547238) numbers are not that great so I’m afraid I’ll have to put it down in the wind assisted PRs. 

That was pretty much all. It was getting late. A quick picture at the top of the climb and settled for a steady pace to get me home. 

I was tired so my efforts at Fuejo and Escamplero were not what I was imagining when I started the ride (I was fantasizing with a PR at Escamplero) but I still managed to get home a good 30 minutes before it got dark.

Not bad for an improvised ride.

The ride in Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/7834600024/

Take care

Javier Arias González

domingo, 11 de septiembre de 2022

"Proper, steady K2 ride to Henley"

Well, this was my (rather short) career as road captain finished.

For some time I have been in the search of what type of cyclist I am. Now that it is clear that I’m not a sprinter (a climber was always out of the question). 

Last few months I was convinced that I was a Road Captain. Even if some of my “riding mates” (I won’t name and shame, you know who you are) were very fast highlighting the many reasons why I was not a good Road Captain. What do they know?!? 

That was until today. I’m not in search of a cycling personality. Road Captain is out of the question. Let me give you the details.

I posted in the Kingston Wheelers forum a club ride for today. 128km, 837m of climbing. Short and flat (https://www.unbiciorejon.com/2019/02/javiers-ride-classification-criteria.html). “Proper, steady K2 ride to Henley”. That’s how it started.

How did it go? Look, even before we started to ride it was decided we were not stopping at Henley. We were going to stop at Twyford instead. That was my leadership destroyed before the first pedal stroke. 

I still felt optimistic. 8 riders showed up. That is way more popular than when any of my “riding mates” propose club rides. A clear endorsement to my Road Captain skills.

I even surprised everyone with a first long turn at the front. Long enough to be worthy of outloud praise by one of my “riding mates”. To be fair it was probably the longest turn I have done in my whole cycling career.

But that was it. As soon as I moved from the front the “Proper, steady K2” description of the pace failed to be accurate. And that is a very polite way of putting it. 

I don’t take any responsibility though. It was clearly not my fault. It was everyone else’s fault. They were all very strong riders. You see that collection of PRs? You can be sure it was my merit.

My leadership was clearly questioned but I still found comfort in the fact that I was mastering the navigation asped of the road captainship. I even suggested a detour to avoid a big queue of cars. Not everything was lost.

A shame that a few kilometers later, at Walton-on Thames, I saw the group turning left when the route was going straight. I shouted and shouted but no one listened, or cared. It turns out that was another detour to avoid a couple of traffic lights. 

By then even the most optimistic Javier was convinced that the Road Captain career had come to an end. Time to improvise. Quickly.

So I fell back to being a sprinter. It was genius. The final sprint was approaching. It is a sprint where almost no one knows where the line is. I avoided the front like the plague and got ready to celebrate my comeback as a sprinter.

The problem was that Ed, a pure climber, and Rupert, a very dangerous competitor, got away and managed to get a decent gap. A big and scary gap. 

The group caught Rupert (some excuses about cramping were heard) but Ed, a pure climber, ended up taking the final sprint. 

It was clearly not my fault. It was everyone else’s fault. Ed and Rupert’s attack was a bit cheeky, the rest of the group was stuck in traffic. Dani did a monster turn at the front but didn’t manage to close the gap to Ed, even if he was riding super strong all day, a clear example of energy misuse. The rest of the group didn’t contribute to the chase, had they contributed we would have caught him before we got stopped by a red traffic light. 

I repeat. Ed, a pure climber, ended up taking the final sprint.

Not a road captain. Losing a sprint to Ed. Time to retire from cycling. 

Looking at how well I took responsibility for what happened during the ride I decided I have a better future as a politician.

Vote for me. You’ll be disappointed.

The ride in Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/7790384597

Take care

Javier Arias González 

sábado, 10 de septiembre de 2022

Back For Breakfast first experience. This is torture


The Back For Breakfast gang torturing me

Back For Breakfast is the ride for those who have a life beyond cycling and can’t go on a long ride on Saturday mornings. I pretended to have a life and joined them for the first time today to see what these rides were all about. 

Well, they are turture. They are all about having fun torturing Javier. And not only because of the uncivilized start time.

Look at the start time of the ride. That’s not me being rubbish with technology. It could have been, but it is not. That’s the real start time of the ride!!

I’ll be quick to admit the ride is very well organized. The organizer publishes in the KW forum the route, the rules ( “Participants are expected to take turns on the front”) and a detailed report of the segments everyone is going to sprint for. 

That doesn’t work for me. Too fair. How on earth am I going to take any sprint if I have to do some work on the front and everyone knows what we are sprinting for!

Getting me to start that early in the morning and demoralized were only the first couple of twists at the turture rack. The third was the route. Yes, there was a gps track. Yes, I had it loaded in my Garmin. Yes, we were riding on local roads. No, I had no idea where I was the first half of the ride. 

Being lost meant I had no idea when the first climb was to come and when it came it took me by surprise. I pushed hard and I thought I have done really well. A shame the “official report” (yes, there is an official report of the ride that apparently people believe more than my report…) mentioned I lost my third place in the last meters of the climb. Out of the podium just because everyone but me knows where the line is. Let’s tighten a bit more the turture rack.

The good news was that eventually I recognised the roads and I knew where I was. We were approaching Juniper Hill. A hill I like, a hill I was prepared for, a hill I was looking forward to.

Less than three seconds (yes, three seconds) into the climb Marek and Adam attacked and opened a gap so big that it was clear the rest would sprint for third. 

I was well positioned and feeling well. The ramp half way up the climb came and Rupert attacked it, moved to the front and I jumped on his wheel. 

That was a genius move by me. Rupert is one of the strongest riders, if he is at the front the second half and I’m on his wheel I’ll have a chance.

The problem was that at some point Rupert flicked his elbow and I felt compelled to move to the front. Not exactly the position you want to be if you want to sprint on the last ramp.

In fact I didn’t even make it to the last ramp. Way before it I was out of breath, flicked my elbow and in seconds I was passed by half the group. By the time I made it to the top I felt like they had executed me following the Blood Eagle ritual. Google images of it if you want to know what I mean. Wikipedia says something like getting the ribs severed from the spine with a sharp tool, and lungs pulled through the opening to create a pair of "wings". Sounds pretty accurate to me.

Played it safe at the Horton roundabouts as the roads were web and slippery. Still I found myself well positioned for the sprint. Harry and Rupert in front of me and conscious of having Tobias somewhere behind. I was excited and worried at the same time. Excited because I was well positioned coming into the last roundabout. Worried because I knew I didn’t have much in the legs. Luckily for me a car forced us to stop at the last roundabout and that gave me the excuse to call the sprint off. That was the last twist at the torture rack. I’m now left with an eternal doubt.

I got home and it wasn’t even 8:30am. My legs were in pieces. Carmen asked from upstairs how the ride was.  


The ride in Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/7783046493/ 

Take care

Javier Arias González