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


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