domingo, 31 de julio de 2022

Kingston Wheelers' Saturday Gang as female pro-riders

In today’s ride The Pope suggested the idea of equating members of the Saturday Gang to female pro riders and we started playing with that concept.

Ed would be Annemiek van Vleuten (

I would be Elisa Longo Borghini (

Bidders would be Ellen van Dijk, that’s an obvious one.

I think we settled on GC Dennis being Kasia Niewiadoma because he is always there.

Willo suggested he would be Anna van der Breggen because she is retired but looking at how well he rode today I’m tempted to give that one to Luca.

I suggested Dai would be Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig but The Pope didn’t like that one and he suggested someone else. The problem is my after-ride siesta deleted any memory from my brain (that’s the reason why my ride reports are half invented) and I can’t remember who he was suggesting. Was it Lotte Kopecky or was it Elisa Balsamo?

The problem was I already hit the extent of my female pro-peloton knowledge (don’t tell my employers because they think I’m a walking cycling encyclopedia that can restart a computer).

My options were to either kick people out of the Saturday Gang (how the hell we got to such a big group) or I get educated on the topic rather quickly. The latter seems unlikely and the former a bit too rude, even for me. 

A third option occurred to me in a moment of lucid genius. I sent a similar version of the Saturday’s Gang WhatsApp group and the group continued the fun while I was taking notes. 

Let’s start saying that The Pope confirmed that Dai was Elisa Balsamo. Which has to mean that Rupert is Lotte Kopecky.

Bennett was quickly assigned to Victoria Pendleton. Not sure why. I actually had to google who she is (that shows that I’m not a walking cycling encyclopedia). Didn’t really matter, even after my search I couldn’t figure out why but I won’t challenge it. Bennett is Victoria Pendleton. Happy to hear your hypothesis of why?

He had hesitation with Leishman. We were looking for a “femme with sculptured calfs”. That was a relationship too hard to make so we went for making it a bit easier for ourselves and looked for an age relationship. Marianne Vos immediately was mentioned. Beryl Burton too (I knew who Beryl Burton was, in case you were wondering). I think we should settle for Vos though.

Finally T-Y was assigned to Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig. “That balletic dance on the pedals” was the reason. But I kind of challenge that. 

I think I should be Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig!

Did you watch the Tour de France Femmes stage 7? Did you see how she sat in Kasia Niewiadoma’s wheel all the way up to Gand Ballon only to outsprint her to the line? If we all agree that Denis is Kasia Niewiadoma then I must be Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig.

But wait, wait. There is one more key reason why I must be Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig. 

We share the same ride report telling style. Just watch her report of Ronde van Vlaanderen 2019 

I rest my case.

You can follow me for more in-depth knowledge of pro-cycling, male or female.

The ride in Strava:

Take care 

Javier Arias González

domingo, 24 de julio de 2022

I want my money back

A rant ahead, be warned.

GC Denis had put up the ride as “K1.5 to Windsor via Twyford - just under 100km”

The start of the ride was at Old Kings Head (OKH) instead of the traditional Sunday club starting point at Laithwaite’s (LW) . A cheeky way of confusing me and making me late. Even worse, to make me ride 5 extra kilometers and getting me even more tired than I was feeling when I jumped on the bike.

The post said “just under 100km” and my ride was 111 kilometers.

As close as Hampton Court, Denis got lost.

The coffee stop at Twyford was closed. So we had to ride 5 extra kilometers to get coffee at Wargrave. Did I mention I was tired? Well, by the time we made it to Twyford I was also hungry and craving for coffee. 

Is this enough to ask for my money back?

Wait there is more.

The ride was K1.5. A code for “let’s ride as fast as we can while pretending we are friends”. Richard L. has signed up for it and I was happy about it. He would bring some sense to the pace. Sense that I really needed because, as you know, I was feeling really tired.

In the morning I learnt Richard L. was not coming. At the start point (OKH, don’t get confused) I learnt Ed van der Poel was joining the ride. Forget about any sense in the pace. I almost cried there and then. I was so tired!

And then there was the wind…

Look it is ok to order wind for a ride you organize but when one does that you order head wind on the way out and nice tail wind on the way back. What did we get today? Wind all over the place all day. To make things worse Denis is so aero that you don’t get any benefit drafting him. I had to constantly pay attention and make sure I was sitting behind Ed van der Poel to get some cover.

Of course that is a challenge in itself. Imagine yourself having to pass any van der Poel to give him a turn in the front. You need an effort that will make lactic acid come out of your eyes. And I was tired!!

Can I please get my money back?

It’s only fair. What kind of experience did I get?

Denis took the sprints at Twyford, Wargrave and Drift rd. Let that sink for a minute. 

One joins a club run hoping to have a good experience and “GC” Denis takes three sprints. I didn’t pay to ride with someone that is transforming himself into another Pogacar.

To make my experience more miserable at some point we passed a group of Kingston Wheelers. They were riding at what looked like a K3 pace (Club pace for those not initiated). They looked so relaxed, so chatty, they were even smiling. 

I felt ride envy. That was the experience I could have had and instead of that I was hanging at the back of the trio for my dare life. Things were getting hot because we were getting close to the final sprint.

As always I did everything well. In the last meters I was sitting on Ed’s wheel and had Denis sitting on mine. I was paying attention to a potential attack from Ed from the front, something you always have to have in mind when you have a van der Poel in the front. I was also paying attention to a potential attack from Denis, now that I considered him a sprinter I had to take him into account.

At the right point I attacked…

And none of them contested the sprint.

If we are sprinting we are all sprinting. If we don’t sprint none of us sprints. Me sprinting WHEN I WAS ON TIRED LEGS and no one else sprinting is a terrible experience.


I’m going to report Denis to the committee for terrible road captain performance. I’m pretty sure he is going to be banned from organizing Kingston Wheelers rides for a few weeks. He’ll be missed but I hope when he is back he has reflected on his sins (and stops taking sprints).

The ride in Strava:

Take care

Javier Arias González

sábado, 23 de julio de 2022

What does it take?

What does it take to keep up with Ed van der Poel, Seb and Denis?

Cheating. Let’s be clear about it.

I’ll start from the very beginning, bear with me because this is going to be a long one. 

Knowing the ride was going to be challenging, I had dinner with plenty of boiled potatoes. Lets get some carbs in the body.

Went to bed at 10pm. Making sure I had a good 9 hours sleep night. 

Porridge for breakfast. More carbohydrates to the body. 

And a coffee. That was the first cheat of the day. I was so scared that I felt the need of a coffee!

When I jumped on the bike I didn’t feel fresh. Not that I was tired but I definitely wasn’t fully recovered from Thursday’s ride (

The Pope sent a message saying he couldn’t ride today giving some half baked excuse. From Old Kings Head to Hampton court it was just three of us. I spent the whole time trying to decide if being three was better for me than being four. I certainly would have preferred The Pope joining us but the question was what was better for my performance. 

A theoretical question because I didn’t have any intention of taking my fair share of turns in the front anyway, but still an interesting, theoretical, I insist, question.

Did you notice that I said I didn’t have any intention to do my fair share of work in the front? That was the second cheat. It is just part of what it takes.

But there is more…

From the start of the ride I made sure I was in 50 grs of Carbohydrates per hour. One gel at o’clock, one sip to energy drink at quarter past, another gel at half past, another sip to the energy drink at quarter to. Keep doing that for the whole ride. 

Eating is cheating, they say. Now, if I had a coach it would be a coach proud of how disciplined I was. As precise as a clockwatch. Anyone paying attention could know the exact time of the day just observing what I was eating or drinking.

Fourth cheat was a gel with caffeine. 75grs of caffeine. Delivered to the blood about half an hour before the “climb”. The only “official” “climb” we had today. 

I went for it. Full of caffeine powered confidence. Only to see Seb attacking me. Because that wasn’t him moving to the front to give me a rest, in my mind that was him attacking me. I sprinted to close the gap (see the image). As soon as I got on Seb’s wheel he started to open a gap. Slowly but surely. One of those painful gaps that keep growing and growing slowly and you can’t do anything about it. Seb ended up doing to me what Rupert also did to me on Thursday. I was smashed up the hill.

I’m kind of getting used to it. Kind of because I wasn’t happy about it…

So I cheated a bit more and had a latte at the Lasham gliding club. 

Big mistake. Overexcited with so much caffeine in my body I started the second half of the ride a bit too excited. Big, big mistake because me pushing the pace woke up Ed van del Poel, Denis and Sebas and after a few minutes of believing I was invincible I found myself at the back of the group thinking the pace was a bit too hard. 

If I had a coach it wouldn’t be a proud coach anymore. That’s precisely why I don’t have a coach.

What did I do when I found myself at the back of the group thinking the pace is a bit too hard for me?

Cheated again and my next gel had another 75grs of caffeine. By that moment WADA probably had my name in one of their lists.

Unfortunately it was a bit of a wasted move, a few kilometers later, 20km from the finish, Ed van del Poel got a puncture in his front wheel. When we stopped, a “Thank God” expression came out of my mouth. The caffeine gel was wasted but I welcomed the opportunity to rest.

And had plenty of time. For reasons I can’t explain, it took four cyclists, an inconfesable number of inner tubes, an embarrassing number of co2 canisters and the usage of two different pumps to repair a front wheel puncture in only 34 minutes. As said, plenty of welcomed time to recover.

To secure my victory at the final sprint I cheated just one more time (I have to confess that once you start cheating it is a slippery slope). Do you remember I didn’t have any intention to do my fair share of work in the front? 

Well, with 20km to go, I took my share as close to 0 as possible. Time to show my excellent racing kraft. 

A perfect execution. That’s the only fair way to classify my positioning as we were approaching the final sprint. Denis did the first long turn at the front. Seb, Ed van der Poel and me at the back of the group. Obviously!

Seb moves to the front. I’m now third wheel with Denis behind me. 

Seb’s turn was fairly long. Fine by me. Let him get tired. He is very dangerous.

At some point Ed moves to the front with me on his wheel. Denis on mine. Seb at the back of the group.

We are getting closer to the line. 

I’m fairly confident I’m going to take it. I’m pretty sure Ed doesn’t know where the line is. Seb is last in the line, probably way too back. Denis was not a threat because in an undisclosed WhatsApp chat he had agreed to let me take the sprint (That’s what I was thinking at the time but I now realize he was referring to tomorrow’s sprint).

I looked back to check the situation was as great as it looked. I couldn’t believe it. A victory worth all the cheating.

I looked back again to double check. I was cool as a cucumber.

And cool as a cucumber I stayed when I saw Seb passing the group at a speed way too fast for me to even consider trying to sprint. So I pretended I never had any intention to sprint. 

Not very proud of all the cheating. Not very happy with Seb taking all the KOM and sprinting points. I’ll console myself thinking I won’t have to cheat tomorrow to take the final sprint as Denis will surely keep his word and allow me to take it.

All I need is no one else signing up for the ride…

The ride in Strava:

Take care

Javier Arias González

domingo, 17 de julio de 2022

Domestique Duties For Me Today

I thought that being a domestique would mean having an easy life in the Kingston Wheelers Saturday gang peloton but I was wrong. Very wrong.

Look at today’s ride. For the first two climbs my leader sent me to cover all Enrique’s moves in the first two climbs. Enrique is a strong climber and even if he wasn’t pushing hard today it almost gave me a heart attack trying to keep up with him.

Once Enrique left the ride I figured my role was to move to the front and set the right pace for my leader. Thankfully my leader wanted an easy, sustainable pace. There I went sitting in the front. Quite often! All the way to the coffee stop.

With two more climbs to come, as soon as we jumped on our bikes after the coffee stop my leader suggested I should create a breakaway…

And there I went pushing the pace at the first small ramps. The peloton didn’t fight against a breakaway and very soon me and Nigel went clear.

So, there I was in a breakaway with a proper rouleur. All my hopes of having it easy at the breakaway vanished. 

Luckily for me he allowed me to sit in the front and set the pace that suited me better. Steady all the way. The arrangement worked very well. We stayed away for more than 45 kilometers. The stage was going to be ours. It was going to be a sprint finish.

I figured I had a 50% chance at the sprint. Those are odds I’d take any time I’m not riding with the climbers of the group. A shame that the traffic light just after the last roundabout was red forcing us to stop and calling off the sprint. 

Happy with a neutralized finish that allows me to claim I didn’t lose the sprint I finish my day thinking the life of a domestique is not really for me. 

It requires you to work a lot. Doesn’t really fit with my lazy approach to cycling.

I think DS would be a better role for me.

I wonder if the Saturday Gang would allow me to drive behind the ground while I give them instructions on the radio…

Take care

Javier Arias González