domingo, 29 de enero de 2023

KW - Tanhouse (shortish) - The sausage roll curse

The Opportunist took the first four sprints of the day. 

One could claim some of those four sprints were a bit made up, but he said he took four and we like to keep him happy so we conceded four wins for him.

After his fourth win, just before the coffee stop, The Opportunist said “Just give me the green jersey”. Confidence was running high.

But The Opportunist made three mistakes.

The first one was not realizing that Alex Wout van Aert was second in all those four sprints.

The Opportunist’s second mistake was going for a sausage roll at Tanhouse. You shouldn’t blame him though. Tanhouse’s sausage rolls are fantastic, you should definitely go for one if you ever stop there. Just make sure you don’t intend to dispute any sprint after the coffee stop.

I took the first sprint after the coffee stop. That was Newdigate’s sprint, a rather prestigious one. Alex Wout van Aert and I were riding two abreast at the front of the group and I just made enough to make sure I passed the town sign first. Looked back and saw The Opportunist at the back of the group. 

Zero points for him. 

That was the curse of the sausage roll starting to show its effects.

You wouldn’t say Newdigate’s sprint was heavily contested. And that was The Opportunist’s third mistake. He was way too far at the back to realize the Canyon team’s strategy was working. 

He probably even didn’t realize there was a Canyon team or a strategy going on. You can’t consider that a mistake though. We, Canyon team members, are so attuned we don’t even need to talk to each other to agree on a strategy. It just happens naturally.  

Came the last sprint, the Horton Roundabouts, the Canyon team acted like the Jumbo team at the Tour of France 2022 (just to be clear this is not to suggest The Opportunist is in any way similar to Pogacar). 

First it was my turn to get to the front. Would you believe it? 

In the second roundabout I sensed a gap behind me so I attacked. 

I have such a killer instinct.

The group blew in pieces and a group of three was formed chasing me. The Opportunist, Alex Wout van Aert and The ExRower (There is always an ex-rower and it is always there. In every climb, in every sprint. Today was not an exception).

Eventually I was caught by that group and soon after that Alex Wout van Aert attacked. 

The Opportunist moved in parallel to me and made it clear that was expecting me to close the gap. 

Not in a million years. That is not a good strategy to play with me, just ask The Pope.

Eventually The Opportunist jumped to try to close the gap. I, of course, jumped on his wheel. 

By the time we got into the home straight Alex Wout van Aert was clearly going to win.

The Opportunist sprinted for second but I also started my sprint and overtook him.

Unfortunately before I got to the line I saw a wheel in the corner of my right eye. 

There was no way that could be The Opportunist. The sausage roll should have been feeling in his stomach like a stone by now. I quickly realized it was The ExRower 

Too late for me. I was already coasting and he passed me just before the line. 

There is always an ex-rower there and, as I said above, today was not an exception.

I didn’t mind being third. All I always care about is for my team to win.

Also, I got my reward as soon as I got home and stopped my Garmin. 

My device was quick to tell me that after today’s ride my FTP has improved by 1 whole watt.

Winning big today.

The ride in Strava:

Take care

Javier Arias González

sábado, 28 de enero de 2023

Wargrave. Not a Z2 ride

Dai showed up in excellent humour today and as he wanted a Zone 2 ride he, for once, allowed everyone, including me, to take turns at the front.

That is a good base for a great ride. That, and the nice weather. So nice that two out of the eight in the group were riding without gloves. I wasn’t one of them.

At the coffee stop we had the opportunity to comment on the most recent Zwift racing results. We marvelled at Denis’ results at Zwift racing and despite the effect those races have in the quantity and quality of his work at the front, we all agreed that’s the right thing for him to focus on. Dai in particular also seemed very interested in taking on Zwift racing.

The other part of the conversation at the coffee stop was about what a training ride is. Not that we came to any conclusion beyond Back For Breakfast rides are NOT a training ride. Something about missing “through and off” riding. Don’t ask me.

To show THEM how it is done we rode through and off at Drift Road. The result was not very impressive if you ask me. A solitary rider was able to keep up with the pace of our eight riders group despite him leaving a good gap to not be in our wheels. The Pope attacked at a very random point (to be fair I don’t think anyone was surprised about that one). Marek and DD formed a mini train and caught almost everyone despite the gap the rest of the group had on them at the “climb”. Marek still claims that was not one of the “few mini efforts” ( that took him out of riding at Zone 2 all day. Apparently the sprint was taken by Calum, the same Calum that was telling me minutes before he was considering focusing his training in Time Trialing.

Decided to get things back to normality I prepared myself for the last sprint. A sure win for me, despite all the work I have done at the front, was lost because Ed van del Poel decided to have a puncture a few meters before the sprint. 

As punishment we took back the old tradition of timing puncture repair time. Ed van del Poel is now leading the board with a performance he described as “Work to be done!” ( Always understanding Dai was more magnanimous and rated it as “Top quality puncture repair 🏆” but I’m asking myself if he is being ironic, something I never seen Dai doing..

That’s it. Apologies for the few Saturday Gang inside jokes in today’s report. Although, paraphrasing the GREAT Tim Krabbé at The Rider, “Non-Saturday Gangers. The emptiness of your lives shocks me”.

 The ride in Strava: 

Take care

Javier Arias González


domingo, 22 de enero de 2023

The Opportunist

It was cold, yes. But nothing crazy. 

I was wearing only two layers. The Opportunist though was wearing 5!!

Roads were also fine. You could see white fields and ice in some corners but we stuck to the main roads and it was absolutely fine.

For some reason no one signed up for my ride so I ended up joining the one led by The Opportunist.

10 riders. It only bothers me a little bit that The Opportunist’s rides are more popular than mine. Only a little bit.

Not only that. It was a very well behaved group. No surges, all riding as a peloton, nice through and off display at Drift Rd, no one complained about route changes. It only bothers me a little that riders at The Opportunist’s rides are better behaved than the riders I lead. Only a little bit.

We even had a coffee stop in a new place. The Lake View Cafe ( Good cakes, friendly staff, eggs on toast are a must

It only bothers me a little that The Opportunist managed to find a coffee stop that is certainly more picturesque than the coffee stops I know. 

What worries me, more than a little bit, is The Opportunist taking all the sprints today.

Not a display of power and speed. No, The Opportunist is not a sprinter. The Opportunist is a real opportunist. 

The ride in Strava: 

Take care

Javier Arias González

sábado, 21 de enero de 2023

Windsor with Dai and DD

 Today was “easy riding pacing masterclass” day.

Lesson one. 

Let Dai get the front and sit there for about 40 kms. That will give you enough time to observe and learn.

A real shame about that sprint. I knew we were close to Windsor, I knew the sprint was coming. The problem was I didn’t know where the sprint sign was so I missed it. Dai took it, wherever it was, and I was second. 

I put it down the “probably better this way” account. Even a semi-autistic weirdo like me suspects that passing someone to take a sprint after sitting 40 km on his wheel is probably not going to go down well. Even if the person you are passing is calmed down, relaxed, never competitive Dai.

Obligatory coffee and half a cinnamon bun at Windsor and back to the road.

Lesson two.

Let DD get cold and, as The Pope, she’ll move to the front pushing the pace to warm herself up. Dai will naturally take turns in the front with her. There won’t be any need for you to go to the front. That will give you extra time to observe and learn.

A shame about the final sprint though. I knew very well where the line was this time. It took me close to a thousand sprints against Rupert to learn where it was. I now know it very well. The problem was I forgot about it. I totally forgot about it! As soon as I realized we were by the traffic lights I saw a fair amount of cars so I told Dai and DD that in the report I was going to say there was too much traffic to sprint.

So, a real shame we had too much traffic in the final sprint and we couldn’t sprint. I fancied my chances even if I had been working hard all morning.

That was it. A great day for riding. I missed about twenty points in the green jersey competition but it was still a productive morning. After all, I learnt a lot about how to pace easy a group. Not that I plan to use that skill any time soon though, life is comfortable sitting on everyone else’s wheel and learning.

The ride in Strava: 

Take care

Javier Arias González

sábado, 14 de enero de 2023

Collada de Arniciu. Solo, non-stop

Today the entries for Paris-Brest-Paris (PBP) opened at 12:00 (Paris time). Where was Javier at 11:30?

Sitting in front of his computer prepared to fight for an entry.

What happened at 12:00?

An undetermined number of other crazy cyclists also tried to register themselves. PBP’s website went down.

For a whole hour I was reloading the website again and again only to get again and again the same error.

To make things worse every now and then I’d see a message in the different forums and whatsapp groups of someone saying they had confirmed their registration. Some of them even reported the number of entries left.

At that point I was trying with two laptops two different browsers from those laptops and from my mobile. Ah! And every now and then I’d VPN to France in case that made any difference.

I managed to register at 13:14.

13:28 I was out riding.

Decided to go for a route I didn’t know just because I liked the name of the climb (Collada de Arniciu). I had no idea about it, only that it looked like a long climb in the profile. I had “stolen” the gpx from someone else’s ride. Don’t even remember whose ride it was.

No very clever decision if you ask me. Especially considering it gets dark at 18:30 around here. That left me with 5 hours to ride those 130km. I reckoned I had plenty of time.

Now, very quickly I realized my legs were not feeling that great today. Not sure why. I still decided to stick to the plan.

By the time I got to Infiesto I had been riding for 1h45m and only covered 44km. My Garmin told me I had around 20km of climbing in front of me.

I considered the idea of turning back. I insist, I didn’t know the climb and it started to look very likely I’d end up riding in the dark. I had lights on my bike but only those to be seen. Not ideal for night riding.

Being honest, I didn't consider the idea for very long. 

I just kept riding. The next time the idea crossed my mind I rejected it straight away “because I’m already halfway up the climb” (when the reality is I barely had ridden the first couple of kilometers). It’s amazing how easy I can trick myself.

The climb felt longer and harder than I anticipated. It was also hotter (18C) than I was expecting. This is only to add dramatism to the fact that when I got to the top I had ridden for 2h55min. I had 3 hours and 5 minutes to ride 65 kms if I wanted to get home in daylight. 

I knew most of the ride would be downhill, still, at that moment it didn't look possible. Less so when I started to descend and the road surface was as terrible as on the way up. 

But it was possible. 

Favorable terrain meant I only had to accompany the bike, the climb up La Gargantada was half decent (10mins at 291w, after 110km in 4h:15min in the legs), being in known terrain did the rest. I got home at 18:30. Perfect timing.

Not really happy about today’s performance but, hey, guess who is going to be in PBP’s front group?

The ride in Strava: 

Take care

Javier Arias González

jueves, 12 de enero de 2023

Otra Madera pa'lla, Otra Madera pa'ca

 Britney Spears’ Oops!…I Did It Again ( is the musical reference for today’s ride.

Like yesterday, the weather was too good to not ride outside so, like yesterday, I rearranged my agenda and went for a two hour ride in the afternoon and avoided my usual turbo session. 

Unlike yesterday I went for a steady session. That was what I would have done if I were at the turbo, that was what I aimed with this ride. I’d say I did very well. 

Not my merit though.

When I started to climb La Madera on the way out a rider came to my side and started to talk to me. It turns out it was Eugenio. 

Who is Eugenio I hear you asking. Well, I met Eugenio in the final kilometers in Paris-Brest-Paris in August 2019 and met him again today, three and a half years later.

As always happens in these cases we had a lot to catch up on so we rode next to each other chatting all the way up, all the way down, then all the way up again and all the way down again. 

You know what they say about steady sessions, right? That you have to be able to chat without losing your breath while riding… That’s exactly what we did.

So Eugenio saved me from the temptation of pushing myself on the climbs. A temptation I was certainly feeling after the coffee at my mother’s.

Oops!…I Did It Again. Again I was luckier than prepared.

Take care
Javier Arias González