domingo, 5 de noviembre de 2023

Maybe it is all psychological


I'm of the opinion that head wind out, tail wind back is not a good deal. Somehow you really feel the head wind the first half of the ride and you don't feel it at all on the way back. I’m guessing it is just psychological, that the wind is there helping you. It doesn’t matter, if you don’t feel being helped it is not worth all the effort of fighting against the wind during the first half of the ride. Not a good deal.

I think I shouldn’t have had coffee before the ride. My excuse is that after a week of not riding much and the feeling I had after yesterday’s session at the turbo ( that my form is disappearing quickly I was scared of today’s ride. So I had a coffee before the ride. Having a coffee before a ride makes me feel optimistic and strong. My guess is those effects are mostly psychological, on the other hand, the physiological effect of having to stop to pee a bit too often is very real. Having The Pope joking about it is also a very real effect. Having a coffee before the ride is not a good deal for me.

After the Brace of Bramleys’ disaster (, where I lost every.single.sprint. One of my objectives with today’s ride was to recover my self confidence as a sprinter. What better way of counting all the sprints you take during the ride. It certainly helps keeping the count in your mind and not mentioning out loud so your riding mates don’t challenge your objective. It is also convenient to ride with a GC rider and a climber in a short and flat route. It is true that no one contested any of the sprints I won so you could argue those wins don’t really count. It doesn’t matter. After three weeks of disgrace I feel much better now. Relieved. Maybe it is all physiological but my reputation is now restored.

The ride in Strava:

Take care

Javier Arias González

domingo, 22 de octubre de 2023

A conocer la subida a Banduxu


Banduxu is a beautiful climb, but harder than what the profile suggests. Not really the best climb for a day I wanted to ride easy.

In a huge display of self discipline I manage to control myself and take the climb as easy as possible.

A shame that self discipline blew in pieces the moment an unknown rider passed me a few meters behind the top of the Fuejo climb. 

Inexplicably, I jumped on his wheel. Started to whistle to make the point I was riding easy clear and stayed a few meters behind his wheel all the descent. I'm a very bad person.

We passed another rider and that was the sign for me to take the front and start pushing the pace and show them how it is done. I'm a terrible person.

Luckily for me very soon I was turning right and they were going straight. We told each other goodbye as we were friends. 

All in all 10 minutes of not that great self discipline and just another behavior I'm not very proud of.

As penance I punished myself by riding slowly and pledging that I wouldn't flinch if a cyclist passed me.

The fact that I knew that road was not heavily traveled by cyclists detracts a little from my penance. But I can't really count on my self-discipline to get to heaven.

The ride in Strava:

Take care

Javier Arias González

domingo, 8 de octubre de 2023

Don't ask me

I don’t think people understand the amount of risk they are taking when they join one of my rides.

Today seven reckless riders joined my ride to Alice Holt. Judging by the number of questions I got I came to the conclusion that people expected me to know the route. I was even asked how many more kilometers to the coffee stop.

Every time I was asked I had no idea of the answer. Too arrogant to admit my ignorance, I made up my answer every single time. For the space of 30 minutes I gave the answer “about 20 kms more” the three times I was asked about the coffee stop.

I’m sure the group came to the conclusion I was not as reliable as my confident answers looked. It didn’t help that we got out of route a couple of times and the coffee stop was at the 90 km point when I thought it was at km 72. 

So, let me be completely open on how this works in my case.

I select routes based on distance. I normally don’t look at the amount of climbing. 

I always know the name of the place where the coffee stop is. I usually have no idea of what kilometer it is.

In fact, for half of the coffee stops out there, I know the name we give the coffee stop but I only recognise the place when I get there.

Even for routes I’ve ridden many, many times I don’t know where I am 80% of the time. Even when I know where I am, half of the time I’m wrong. 

I consider a successful ride if I made it home and didn’t see a “Welcome to Scotland” sign. 

What I now check in every single route is what is the sprint at the finish (too many sprints missed for not checking this basic fact).

Today was not an exception. 

Knowing exactly what line we were sprinting for contributed to my win.

The fact that none of the others knew where the line was contributed a little bit too.

So you now know. Don’t ask me anything about the route that is not what is the sprint at the end. Don’t expect an accurate answer in either case.

The ride in Strava:

Take care

Javier Arias González

domingo, 1 de octubre de 2023

Evaluating the impact of popcorn in recovery

Yesterday we decided to go to the movies. 

That’s actually a pretty good recovery activity if you ask me. You don’t have to move much, you can always fall asleep and blame the film for it and you get to eat popcorn. 

I didn’t know much about popcorn’s recovery properties but I’m always happy to run a scientific experiment and find out. 

So, when I was asked what bucket size I wanted I went for the biggest one. The only right answer considering I was pretty hungry after yesterday’s ride ( 

Now, when I saw the size of the thing I almost panicked. The thing was quite big, even for a pretty hungry cyclist.

Luckily I managed to control myself and pretend it was ok. I wanted my wife to believe I knew exactly what I had ordered. I think there is still a (small?) chance she doesn't think I’m stupid.

After all, I told myself, the film, Oppenheimer, is three hours long. Plenty of time to finish it.

I started at a very good pace. By the time all the trailers had finished I had gone through a quarter of the bucket.

An hour into the film I had gone through half of it but my pace was slowing down dramatically. That thing of starting a bit too fast and slowing down seems to apply to other things in life beyond cycling.

Not long after that I found myself with my stomach threatening with a big explosion and very, very thirsty.

Yes, it was salty popcorn and I didn’t order water.

Totally on purpose. You don’t want other elements to confound in the effect of popcorn in your recovery. It could ruin the science behind the experiment.

Somehow I survived the rest of the film. I didn’t eat the whole bucket but I’m confident saying I ate all that was humanly possible. 

How did I feel today?

Well, n=1 and all those details scientists insist on mentioning, but I felt pretty good actually. Legs felt fresh.

As soon as we started to ride I found myself at the front of the group. Not only that, I returned to the front of the group a few times. And you know that rarely happens.

The pace felt easy all day, the final sprint felt easy (we had to call it off due to a car though) and legs are not that tired after the ride. 

So, as far as I can tell, eating salty popcorn (without drinking any water) until you feel you are about to puke contributes positively to your recovery.

I would recommend conducting additional research with a smaller popcorn dose and, maybe, combine it with some water as a potentially better recovery strategy.

Follow me for more sports science knowledge.

The ride in Strava:

Take care

Javier Arias González

sábado, 30 de septiembre de 2023


The picture is not from today's ride but it works well to illustrate the post

 “I’m exceptionally keen for a chatty k2 pace” said the ride organizer.

And I was exceptionally happy with that approach. As soon as the pace as agreed I started to plan in my head my assault at my PR at Ditchling Beacon, 5:46 on 15th of June 2018 (, more than 5 years ago.

In that ride I had also targeted a PR at Ditchling Beacon. I had a very simple strategy. Ride easy all the way to Ditchling and give it all at the climb. And I did it. PR by 26 seconds!!! From 6:12 to 5:46.

A “chatty k2 pace” was my opportunity to repeat that strategy. 

Unfortunately for me it didn’t work. I did 5:53 ( 7 seconds too slow. 

To make it worse I was beaten at the KOM by Sep Kuss.

The funny thing is I didn’t know it at the time. In fact I was convinced I had beaten my PR.

I was so happy with my performance that I didn’t care I didn't take Juniper’s KOM or Horton’s sprint despite having great legs. 

I’m not that happy now. 

I could be sillier but I’d need to train for it.

The ride in Strava:

Take care 

Javier Arias Gonzalez

domingo, 24 de septiembre de 2023


 I knew I had done a good climb up to Green Dene (

You kind of know that when you see yourself a handful of seconds behind Dani, Robbie, Creme Brulé and Dai.

But I didn’t expect to improve my PR by 21 seconds (from 5:14 to 4:53), especially considering I wasn’t on fresh legs.

Before I get too excited I have to admit I was sitting on the group wheels. For as long as I managed to stay in their wheel anyway. Also, looking at power numbers it feels to me we were assisted with a bit of tail wind. 

In any case, I'm very happy with it.

The problem was that my legs noticed the effort. Not the best news considering the pace was punchy at times and I wasn’t sure how the rest of the route looked like and how far the coffee stop was.

We eventually got to Seale and that was my opportunity to get coffee and a scone; plain, with jam and cream. My weapon of choice when urgent recovery and energy is needed.

It worked very well at the beginning (if being a bit over excited and over confident on how strong you are counts as “very well”) but it didn’t last long.

Moved to the front a couple of times and that felt hard. Tried to sprint once (Ripley) and I wasn’t even close (Dai took it).

The always optimistic Javier still had great hopes for the Esher sprint but as soon as the key move happened I found myself with no legs and in no man's land. 

The group from behind caught up with me. Creme Brulé did a monster turn in the front but he was going so strong I struggled to pass him. In fact more than me sprinting it was him just slowing down.

4th in the line.

With my sprinting dreams destroyed I checked Strava as soon as I got home. I knew I had done a good climb up to Green Dene and I needed any bit of positiveness I could get to recover my morale.

Went into the shower dreaming that I’m a climber now. Let’s see for how long the dream stays alive.

The ride in Strava:

Take care

Javier Arias González

sábado, 23 de septiembre de 2023

One of those days

 Today was one of those days.

Everything was meant to be perfect. 

Nice weather. Chill but not too cold and mostly sunny.

A big group (10)  to have plenty of opportunities to sit up. X

Legs feeling fresh after a good night's sleep. X

Morale high after a strong coffee in the morning.

A flat route to show off your sprinting skills. X

And today, the day you were feeling fresh on a flat route and able to sit on the wheels of a  big group while the caffeine was convincing you are the best sprinter in the world…

Today was one of those days when your di2 runs out of battery. 


From km46!!!!!

As I’m running out of new ways to embarrass myself I’m starting to repeat the ways I embarrassed myself in the past.

The ride in Strava:

Take care of yourself


sábado, 12 de agosto de 2023

Psychopaths Anonymous

Even if you think a WhatsApp group called Psychopaths Anonymous is a good match for your personality, all alarms should be ringing if you find yourself riding with two members of that group.

Even more when one of them suggests to turn right in the middle of a descent and warns you to move to the small chain ring. 

What else would you think if you suddenly find yourself on a very steep road. A road you didn’t know existed. A road is so unknown it is not in Garmin maps.

The last sign of the ambush was the brick-like size of the cake at the coffee stop. It was not only (very)big but also very tasty. I ate it all. 

Climbing La Campa from Villaviciosa is when I realized I fell into the trap. Not a killer pace but fast enough to start collecting one PR after another. 

To make things worse I embarrassed myself by sprinting for the KOM in the small chainring.

After a quick stop to get water in a fountain we keep riding at a decent pace and the PRs kept falling. All pretending we were riding at a conversational pace.

Krabbé described it perfectly. I found myself “silently wishing for a puncture so you I could just end the suffering with dignity”. My wish was granted and Rober got a puncture as soon as we got to Pola.

Once again, saved by the bell.

The ride in Strava:

Take care 

Javier Arias González

domingo, 30 de julio de 2023

Good karma paying back

I know yesterday I said I was going to mislead Powell about today's sprint at the Horton roundabouts ( but couldn't live with the guilt  so when we got to Epsom I told him the real number of roundabouts to count (8).

At some point I thought karma was paying me back for my good action of the year. I was fourth wheel, looked back and I saw a gap between me and the rest of the group. It was one of those gaps that form as you sprint out a roundabout. It was a considerable big gap. So big that I thought they wouldn't make it back. Perfect position for the sprint if you ask me.

There was only one problem. When I looked back I think I saw Bidders at the front of that group. 

That's not good. If you know Bidders you don't need any explanation. If you don't know him, be assured you don't want him chasing you. More often than not he will catch you.

I looked back again, in full panic, to confirm what I thought I had seen was correct. To my horror it was correct. Bidders was at the front of the group that was chasing us.

Just to give you all context at no point crossed my mind to move to the front and contribute to the pace of my group. What kind of sprinter do you think I am?

Besides, the gap was still big. Bidders had beaten me in the sprint for the KOM at Juniper. I was betting on him being too tired to catch us. 

It just happened next time I looked back, about two seconds later, he was on my wheel. I almost started to cry.

At the edge of a sprinting career depression the thought of him now being really tired after the sprint up Juniper and having to close that gap gave me comfort. 

Move to second wheel in the last roundabout, that will trigger him to start the sprint, jump on his wheel as soon as he passes you, wait for the right moment, start the sprint, beat him to the line. Don’t ever tell me I’m not fast at coming with plans. 

The plan had two steps and the first two went as planned. At the last roundabout I moved to second wheel and that triggered him to start the sprint.

The bit about jumping on his wheel as soon as he passed me didn’t quite go as planned.

It wasn’t my fault. He just sprinted too hard. 

It is impossible to execute a plan if the others don’t stick to it.

I didn’t blame Bidders though. 

What kind of karma payback is this? If I knew I would have told Powell there were only 6 roundabouts.

The ride in Strava: 

Take care

Javier Arias González

domingo, 23 de julio de 2023

What makes a ride hard?

The first and obvious answer is distance and amount of climbing. 

But if you have cycled enough you know that doesn’t paint the whole picture. Circumstances are what make a ride hard.

And the first and most important circumstance is who are you riding with as it will determine the pace. Ride with a group that is riding at a high pace for you and very soon you’ll find the ride hard.

That’s what happened to me yesterday. Riding in a group of five and from the start feeling the pace was a touch too hard for me. It took no time for negative thoughts to visit my mind. I’m the weakest rider, I’m going to need to drop, this is too hard for me… That’s hard.

Another circumstance that makes a ride hard is weather conditions. Add low or high temperatures, rain or wind to a ride and it gets harder very quickly. Especially if you violate the principle of "There is no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong gear" like I did yesterday showing up for the ride in my summer kit. What an amateour!! 

Yesterday we had wind and rain.

I wasn’t conscious of the wind in the first 100km which means we probably had tail wind. But the moment we hitted the flat section of the ride I was very, very conscious of the wind. At that point I was riding with Bidders, a very good time trialist, and Richard L, who had aerobars on his bike. I struggled big time just to hold on to their wheel. That, for me, was the hardest part of the ride.

Now, let's add rain to the mixture and you are getting into a really hard ride. I waited a bit too long to put the rain jacket on when it started to rain, which meant that I was very cold in the last third of the ride. 

So there we were with 200km in the legs, riding on to a head wind, wet and cold heading into the last hills of the day. What could possibly make the ride harder?

A mechanical.

And mechanicals we had (and saw) plenty. A broken spoke, a rear wheel hub that didn’t engage when pedaling, a puncture when we were cold and wet.

But we also were lucky with the mechanicals. A bike shop in New Romney managed to repair the broken spoke and the rear hub. A Dynaplug sorted out the puncture with speed. Bad luck can also make rides hard.

Yes. You wouldn’t say it looking at the distance and the amount of climbing but yesterday's ride was a very hard one.

And because of that I’m very happy now. Because I managed to survive the first two thirds of the ride. Because endurance showed up and I felt strong in the last third. Because I loved the solidarity we showed with each other while riding. Because it was a well organized event and a nice route. Because it feels great when you finish a hard ride.

The ride in Strava: 

Take care

Javier Arias González

domingo, 16 de julio de 2023


Circumstances meant I ended up leading a ride following a route that despite having ridden it several times I couldn’t remember any of it, with a new coffee stop.

For some reason when Dai said Beeches Tea Rooms I thought of Seale Tea Rooms (🤷‍♂️). Even when he explained where the alternative coffee stop, JO.CO, was, in my mind, I was thinking of Seale Tea Rooms and his explanations made sense to me (kind of).

No wonder I was totally confused during the first part of the ride. I was constantly wondering how on earth were we going to make it to Seale. I probably should have checked the route at home.

I didn’t tell my riding mates I was completely lost though. My road captain skills don’t have the best reputation at the moment, I didn't want to unfairly damage it further. Also, having the route loaded in my Garmin allowed me to follow this “fake it until you make it” strategy. A sensible approach if you ask me.

By the time we passed by Beeches Tea Rooms I realized where I was and, somehow, I remembered Dai’s instructions (that is as close as a miracle as you can get) and managed to give the group the only navigation instruction the Garmin wasn’t going to give us. That was 20 road captain points there and then.

20 points that I lost when you have in mind the ride was announced as K2 and, in all honesty, we would have to rate it as K1.5. I, of course, don’t take any responsibility for that. It is Robbie and Seán’s fault (obviously) for being strong riders and pushing me into the dark side. I’m at the edge of submitting a formal complaint.

The way I see it, I could get them disqualified. They would lose all the KOMs they have taken during the ride and, crucially, the sprint at Horton roundabouts that Robbie took. All those wins and the huge reputation that goes with them would go to me. The only sensible rider of the trio.

I’ll talk to my legal team.

btw. JO.CO cafe is a great coffee stop. Great (strong) coffee, fantastic Portuguese cake.

The ride in Strava:

Take care
Javier Arias González

martes, 4 de julio de 2023

Road to Paris-Brest-Paris 2023

Paris-Brest-Paris (PBP), I’d argue it is the biggest cycling event in the world when you combine how old the event is (older than the Tour of France), amount of riders (around 8,000), how international it is (more than 70 nationalities represented), the distance to ride (1,200km to be ridden in 90 hours) and the support riders get from spectators alongside the road. In my mind, PBP is like the Olympics of long distance cycling. 

I have two objectives for Paris-Brest-Paris (PBP) 2023. The first one is to finish it. 

Arriving to Brest in PBP 2011

I rode my first PBP in 2011. It took me 87h 45m. That was the 86th time in my whole life I had ridden a road bike. I loved the experience so much I set myself the goal of riding PBP ten times

Now, PBP only happens every four years so a simple math exercise told me that I’ll ride my 10th one in 2047 and I’ll be 78 by then. I can’t afford to miss any edition as I’m not sure I’d be able to finish PBP being 82 years old. Hence my first objective for 2023 is to ride those 1200 km within 80 hours.

My second objective, though, is to set a personal fastest time at PBP. That means finishing in less than the 59 hours and 31 minutes that was my official time for PBP 2019 (

At the finish of PBP 2019

I want to have the experience of riding as fast as I can and setting a personal record so in future editions I can focus on other ways of enjoying PBP. I have set my eyes on a stand that offers free sausages to cyclists. I’ll eat two of them in 2027.

As with the Olympics, everyone has to qualify to be able to enter PBP. That means any rider aspiring to ride PBP has to finish a 200km, a 300km, a 400km and a 600km Audax event.

We are very lucky, Kingston Wheelers Audax Chapter organizes a whole series of rides that can be used to qualify for PBP. A luxury at our doorstep.

In those events I normally volunteer in the morning. I love having the opportunity to welcome the riders, to help answer their questions. The atmosphere is fantastic, a combination of excitement and expectation for the ride to come. I always wear Kingston Wheelers kit, I’m proud of the quality of our events and want to show our colors. Once we send off the riders I normally help tidying up the venue and then I’ll start my ride.

For me these year’s qualifiers are opportunities to test the kit I’ll be using and to train the pace I’ll aim to be riding at PBP.

In the second half of the Gently Bentley (200km) ( I tested for the first time my “steady” pace. I was very happy managing to finish the event and not feeling that tired.

Amesbury Amble (300km) ( was my opportunity to test my rain kit. This ride is where I decided the long sleeve Gabba (Castelli Perfetto RoS) will be the jacket I’ll take to PBP.

At the Dauntsey Dawdle (400km) ( I rode with aero wheels and aero bars and I decided I was going to use both at PBP. I also tested in the first 10 hours / 250km the strategy of riding “steady” and stopping only the essential. Tiring but manageable.

Bryan Chapman (600km) ( was my dress rehearsal. Carrying all the kit I plan to take to PBP, riding “steady”, minimizing time in stops and riding through the night. Although the main learning I got from this ride is that I’ll be 100% sure I’ll start PBP with my di2 fully charged.

Since Bryan Chapman, 20th of May, I switched my training focus. June and July is all about intensity. Those 2 hills rides on Thursday evening are excellent for that, even if I always end up dropped.

In August I’ll be in Asturias (Spain). Two weeks of proper tapering to make sure I get to the start as fresh and as relaxed as possible. I’m pretty good at that.

Minutes before starting PBP 2015

I’ll be starting on the first wave, Sunday 18th of August at 16:00 (CET), rider A076 (I believe there'll be some way of following the riders at 

That will be around the 3000th time I ride a road bike in my life. I’ll be able to give you the exact number on the day.

Take care

Javier Arias González