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 (https://www.strava.com/activities/7506505675).

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: https://www.strava.com/activities/7515382205/

Take care

Javier Arias González

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