sábado, 29 de enero de 2022

How to get a "feel good" ride?

Make sure it is a ride long enough to suit you. 150km is just fine. Don’t choose a longer one because you won’t be able to manage it. Ah!! Make it flat. A hilly ride would kill you.

Somehow you have to make sure Ed shows up injured and Denis tired. Don’t try to do this when they are in half form, that would be the best way of making sure you don’t have a “feel good” ride.

Make sure you don’t have a coffee in the morning. Coffee gets you too optimistic and you would do too much work at the beginning of the ride. That would be a “feel good” first 30 minutes of the ride followed by an “I’m so silly” ride of five hours and a half.

Of course you have to make sure you get head wind on the way out and tail wind on the way back. That is not easy to get but it is essential to give you the feeling of speed needed at the end of a “feel good” ride. You need that speed and you won’t have the legs so tail wind on the way back is key. 

You also have to convince everyone that riding steady is the best strategy to deal with tiredness, injury and head wind. Riding steady is good. Intensity is bad. Would you be able to remember that?

As you approach the first “climb” (we said this had to be a flat route) make sure someone gets a puncture half way up the “climb”. That would cancel any KOM competition and allow you to pass it “easily”.

Take the opportunity the puncture gives you and dump as much weight as possible. Offer a CO2 canister. That is 16g less. Offer an inner tube, there go another 100gr. Even a gel wrap, they are worth 2grs at the very least.  

If possible, make sure the coffee stop comes a bit late in the ride. Around kilometer 85 would be ideal. Even better if the coffee stop is at the top of a “climb” (I said flaaaat!!). You know it always feels hard after the coffee stop so better to start with a short flat and a downhill.

Now.. At the coffee stop. Order a latte!!!! A big one. You want all the caffeine you can take without needing to stop for a pee every five kilometers. In case of doubt, err in the more caffeine the better side. Without caffeine you won’t get a “feel good” ride. You still have 65km to get home.

That’s all.

I’m not saying making all this happen for a given ride is easy. If you make it happen that’s all you need.

Being tired will hit Denis and being injured will hit Ed. They’ll allow you to take the front. Enjoy it because you are not there very often. Your power numbers will still be useless but the tail wind will give you the speed that you need and the caffeine will make you feel happy and optimistic.

That’s it. That is a “feel good” ride. A ride in which your power numbers don’t matter. A ride in which keeping speed feels easy. A ride you finish happy and optimistic.

Ah, ah, ah. One last thing. 

Make sure you make the last sprint void. After all this effort, you don’t really want to screw a “feel good” ride losing the last sprint to Denis or Ed. And you know it is possible, much to your despair. So, find any excuse and well before the sprint tell everyone we are not sprinting. Pray they buy the excuse.

Can you believe today was a “feel good” ride?

Well it was. It is in Strava https://www.strava.com/activities/6599543557/

Follow me in the GCN App for more high quality cycling advice https://gcn.social/javierariasgonz

Take care

Javier Arias González

sábado, 22 de enero de 2022

Sprinting like I was about to take the road worldchamps

Two months have passed since my last proper KW Saturday gang ride. 

What normally happens in these circumstances is you feel fine for most of the ride but, inevitably, the pace and duration of the ride gets you and you end up feeling the ride was at least an hour too long.

It was a bit worse for me today.

Picture this.

I woke up and had a coffee. I don’t normally do that. That was a sign of fear. I knew 4 out of the 5 mates I was riding with were stronger than me. 

Give me a coffee and my brain will be tricked into thinking I am way stronger than I really am. That meant that the first one to get the head of the group was me. 

Javier leading the group from the get go??!!?? That is an unusual sight. 

Full of caffeine induced optimism I managed to do a bit more work than I should have in the first 45km. Those that were pan flat. Those before the 5 climbs started.

Miraculously I survived the first, second and third climb. But the fourth and fifth...

The fourth and fifth were a bit of a struggle. Not a disaster but fairly close. The coffee stop could come soon enough.

It came at about km 100. I had a second coffee. If my morning coffee was a sign of fear, the second one was a sign of panic.

The problem was that all my riding mates also had coffee. I knew I was in trouble. 

It only took 11 kms, the distance to Drift Road, for my troubles to be revealed to everyone. 

Drift Road is typically ridden as through and off. Very soon Steve disconnected and the group was reduced to four riders. That meant the pace was faster. Not good for me.

Worse that I was following Pope’s wheel. The Pope was pushing the pace (effect of the caffeine I’d guess) and I was struggling to pass him and hit the front.

When the “climb” came I had to miss a turn. I knew if I tried to move to the front I’d be dropped, if I missed the turn I would have a chance.

And the chance materialized. The pace slowed a little bit, enough to allow me to go back into formation. This time behind Denis’ wheel. That was good. Denis’ wheel is good for me, a bit more manageable than The Pope’s.

There are two kms from the “climb” to the end of Drift Road. A more sensible pace and a favorable formation meant I had time to recover. I was game for the sprint. 

I’d claim I took it. After all it is me deciding who takes the sprints and it is very human to have biases.

The disadvantage of sprinting when you are already very tired and you still have an hour of riding to get home is that hour is going to feel very, very long.

The Pope, arguing he was too cold, hit the front and kept the pace spicy. Ed contributed to the game. Denis started to pay for the race he raced yesterday (Denis was riding on racing tired legs). I had to use all the tricks in my wheelsucker book. 

Tricks that allowed me to take another sprint. Somehow I recognised the road and I realized a sprint was coming. Jumped from the third wheel and took it. Clearly. True that no one else contested it. Also true that sprinting wasn’t the best idea from the survival point of view. Something that didn’t take me long to realize. 

That was not the best news as we were approaching the last sprint of the day. The Hampton sprint. The Pope in the front, Ed second wheel, me on third, Denis closing the group (Steve had disconnected again from the group a while back).

At some point The Pope makes a clear sign asking for the rest to take turns at the front. Ed passes him. Denis passes me and The Pope. I drag myself to pass The Pope and keep sitting on the third wheel. Having The Pope on my wheel was not ideal but there was no way he would allow me to stay on his wheel. 

At some point Denis passes Ed and hits the front. Typical Denis. I don’t pass Ed and keep myself on his wheel. Typical Javier. 

Still third wheel. Still The Pope on my wheel.

At some point I feel The Pope starting to make his move. You know how that is. You don’t really need to see him, you just feel him. And it was not only me Ed also felt it and also started to make his move.

I love those moments. The tension, the speed, all the options that cross my mind. 

Don’t get it wrong. We are still choppers sprinting for a random sign but for me these sprints are like we were about to take the road worldchamps.

I let The Pope pass me. Ed jumps on his wheel and I keep myself on Ed’s wheel. Almost immediately Ed passes The Pope and I make my attempt to pass Ed and end up passing him.

A shame that as soon as I passed him I realized we were already close to the traffic lights and a few weeks ago we had agreed the line was at a sign that was a bit earlier. I replay the sprint in my head and I have to admit it was The Pope the first crossing it. You can’t imagine how much it hurts me conceding this win to The Pope. I’m about to cry.

What type of sprinter forgets where the line is when is feeling like he is sprinting to take the road worldchamps?

That would be only me :-(

The ride in Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/6563541130

Take care

Javier Arias González


domingo, 16 de enero de 2022


So good to be back in the UK and riding with the Kingston Wheelers.

Even if was up for a painful reminder of what that means.

After a couple of months riding mostly solo, slow and steady I found myself in a group of nine strong riders riding at a pace that felt brisk and spiky.

Part of it my own fault. 

Despite of me trying to follow a carefully designed plan that included me not showing up at the front of the group for the whole ride and then taking the final sprint at Hampton, somehow, I found myself at the front and pushing the pace. 

Clearly not that great at following plans. Even if I consider myself a great planner and disciplined executor.

I almost took the whole group down when I thought we were going left at a roundabout and we were going straight. 

Clearly not the best at navigating routes. Even if I believe I have a great sense of direction.
I failed to take a clear win at Drift road. And that was contesting the sprint against two riders that didn't know we were sprinting.

Clearly not that great at taking sprints. Even if I think of my self an opportunist that took lessons from the great Will Rostron.

I also managed to take the wrong exit at a roundabout just when I was trying to catch up with the group after a pee stop. I even managed to take two riders with me. 

Clearly not the best way of rewarding them for being so nice that they had stopped to wait for me while I was attending the call from the nature.

Although I have to say I'm glad they were there with me. Otherwise I would still be out there, probably wondering what I was doing riding across Brighton and how far Windsor would be.

Did I mention I was planning to take the sprint at Hampton? 

Well, I didn't take it.

The sprint was called out due to the amount of traffic.

Judges gave it to Denis who, as always, was leading the pack at that point. Even if I was fast to shout out the sprint should be awarded to me. 

I was sixth wheel and I had "I'm saving my legs for zwifting" Rupert on my wheel. As far as I can tell me taking the sprint was the most likely outcome.

Maybe not the most realistic thinker out there but I like to think of myself as an optimistic person.

So optimistic that I'm already designing the plan I'll definitively follow next Saturday's ride. ​

The ride in Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/6532414546

Take care
Javier Arias González