sábado, 25 de febrero de 2023

No Sumners Ponds but Twyford

 Thanking my riding mates for agreeing to scrap the riding to Sumners Ponds plan and going for an "easy and steady" ride to Twyford.

I've been ill this week and I'm not fully recovered yet. Looking at how I finished today (spoiler: almost dead) I have no doubt that a ride to Sumners Ponds would have killed me.

"Easy and steady" are relative terms. As you know it all depends on who you are riding with. I wasn't riding with slow riders today. In fact, I was riding with fairly crazy riders.

How else would you describe the fact that over coffee it was proposed the brilliant plan of running the Florence Marathon.. barely two months after we finish our cycling season in September.

Proving that I fit in this group I was immediately tempted to say yes to the plan. I am an accomplished runner (proof in my last run report https://www.strava.com/activities/6430407945) and my lack of personality makes it very difficult for me to say no to a plan that gives me the opportunity to show off.

Luckily for me I was tired and the caffeine didn’t make its effect yet so I said no to the plan. An outcome you can’t imagine how grateful I am for looking at how I feel at the moment.

To make things better I took the theoretical win in today’s three sprints (Twyford, Drift Rd. and Hampton).

Being as honest as I normally am in my reports I’ll confess I didn’t cross the line first in any of them. That would have been a miracle. But I was well positioned in the three sprints, I saw the winning move starting in front of me, I had the legs to follow those moves (in theory) and I “know” I would have taken those wins.

You would be excused for thinking that interpretation of facts is a bit optimistic, especially if you mention that Ed van der Poel was involved in those three sprints. I got a bit of that when I explained to my riding mates my reasoning. But we have agreed already that I was the only one in that group that was thinking straight today.

The ride in Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/8619572195

Take care 

Javier Arias González

domingo, 19 de febrero de 2023

The resurrection of the greatest Road Captain

Paula Lively from Zanesville, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

For a few weeks, or even months, my skills as Road Captain have been questioned among “the cynics” and “the sceptics”.

Some mentioned the lack of popularity of my rides. Others questioned my navigation skills. A few argued, with little foundation, that I didn’t work for long enough at the front.

Well, “I feel sorry for you. I’m sorry you can’t dream big and I’m sorry you don’t believe in miracles”.

Today’s ride was the resurrection of the greatest Road Captain. (This is the “dream big” bit)

I’ll start by mentioning that six signed up for the ride. Including me, that's seven out of the ten slots taken. Isn’t that popular?

True that one rider removed himself the day before the ride, Rupert decided to ride the route in reverse and we never saw him. We also lost Phil in the first few kilometers which is less than ideal. But it is also true that we took two guests to Widnsor, proof of Road Captain friendliness, and four riders finishing the ride is an early sign of Road Captain popularity.

This positive sign came accompanied with the greatness of the route selected. 

In fact this route is now my new favorite for a flat ride. 579m of elevation in 129km. 4.49 meters per kilometer. A flatness that only Saturday Gang’s ambassador in Florida can match.

The route took a few unconventional turns and that created confusion in the group but the Road Captain (me) was not confused in any of those turns. I got them all right. Thanks to Garmin obviously.

I still have to confess I got confused with the route as soon as we got to the top of the “climb” before Henley.

I moved to the front with the idea of leading the descent. In my mind there were only a couple of kilometers to Henley so I set a fairly strong pace at the front to make sure no one passed me and I could take the town sign sprint without sprinting.

The problem was Henley was something like 10 kilometers away. I didn’t know and I kept working at the front expecting the town sign to appear any minute. 

Inevitably at some point I started to slow down and my riding colleagues moved to the front and Vicenzo took the town sign sprint without opposition. 

Coffee stop catered to the preferences of the riders was a sign of logistics quality.

We also had “nice” weather. 12°C, some rays of sun, completely dry. (That's the “believe in miracles” bit when you have in mind that we are in February and in the UK)

To round what was already a perfect ride I took the final sprint. 

Not that the other riders knew where the line was but it was a clear and fair win. 

With such a great way of finishing the ride it is easy to see how justified it is to add the “greatest” to my Road Captain skills (that’s the “dream big” bit).

The ride in Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/8587123686/

Take care

Javier Arias González

sábado, 18 de febrero de 2023

The consequences of riding without legs and without a brain

A picture is worth a thousand words…

I wasn’t sure how my legs were going to be today after a couple of inconsistent weeks and it turns out they decided to stay in bed instead of coming with me to the ride. 

Now, why does an extremely conservative rider decide to move to the front without having the legs and riding with four other strong riders?

Because the brain also decided to stay in bed instead of coming with me to the ride.

So this is what happened.

I did my fair bit in the front the first 45 kilometers of the ride (which is highly unusual for me, even when I have the legs) because I didn’t have a brain.

From kilometer 45 to the coffee stop I was just happy surviving at the back of the group because I didn’t have the legs. 

Coffee, scone, cream and jam at the Devil’s Punchbowl because I didn’t have a brain to think properly.

I shouldn’t have had that coffee. 

A coffee meant caffeine made me feel strong and optimistic. So I moved to the front… again!

A few downhill, tailwind powered efforts convinced me I was going to play a good role in the last two hills when that kind of performance is very unusual for me, even when I have my legs and brain.

That conviction lasted until I released which hill was coming first. I didn’t know the name. I didn’t even know we were going to climb it. Which is a lot to say considering it was me the one that proposed the route and the climb was Barhatch, a climb difficult to miss. 

What I knew very well is I didn’t have the legs to “play a good role”. It was more being at risk of having to play Chris Froome up Mt. Ventoux’s role… but walking.

Without legs and with my caffeine inducted conviction vanished I rode Coombe Lane, the last hill, at snail pace. 

From the top of Coombe Lane to home is mostly downhill. You’d imagine I would be in “take me home” mode. 

What happened instead is I moved to the front and helped push the pace all the way to Cobham.

Why? Downhill, tailwind, no brain… You know the drill by now.

At Cobham I started to consider the idea of leading the group to the Esher sprint. I might have been riding without a brain but I wasn’t stupid enough to believe I had a chance at the sprint.

I figured that leading the group to the sprint, something I don’t think ever happened, would, somehow, make my ride honorable.

Unfortunately that only lasted until Ed Van der Poel moved to the front and I saw the opportunity to sit on his wheel all the way to Esher.

I clearly was stupid enough to believe I had a chance at the sprint.

In fact I thought I was going to take the Esher sprint. Honestly. I thought it was almost guaranteed I was going to take an uphill sprint. 

I was third.

Which isn’t as great as it sounds when you know it was only three of us sprinting for the line and there was a considerable gap between the first two and myself.

No legs, no brain, no honor.

Got home, had lunch and fell asleep hoping to reunite with my legs and brain for tomorrow’s ride. 

My honor is lost forever.

The ride in Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/8582779706

Take care

Javier Arias González