sábado, 4 de marzo de 2023

The Trans Siberian Express

I joined a ride with three other riders without knowing what the route was going to be. Always a great idea if it is your mother’s birthday and you have to be at the table for a family lunch at 14:00.

At 11:30 we stopped to get some water and someone mentioned a 25km climb was about to start. 

The magnificent road captain in me did some basic physics calculations and got to the conclusion there was no way I’d be on time at my mothers. 

As surprising as it sounds I knew where I was so I told my riding mates I was going to head home following the direct route. “Half an hour to the top of La Cobertoria and two hours to get home from there. 14:00 at home that is” I told them. 

My riding mates gave me a great tip. “Don’t descend all the way to Pola de Lena, go through Cuchu Puercu and you’ll get to the top of El Cordal”. An amazing shortcut.

Any Kingston Wheeler that ever came to Asturias got a first stage that included Cobertoria, then El Cordal and finally El Angliru. If I knew that shortcut back then we could have skipped the whole climb to El Cordal (5.3km at 9.1% https://www.strava.com/segments/13338464). I’m pretty sure TY would love to know this, one more shortcut to his repertoire.

In my mind La Cobertoria was an easy climb. In fact at some point I decided I wasn’t going to use the 30 at the back. 27 is plenty I thought. I didn’t remember that La Cobertoria is an 8km at 8.7% climb (https://www.strava.com/segments/6734940).

But you know how things are. The more you ride without loading the 30 the less you want to give up and use it. 

The problem is the more you keep riding with the 27 the bigger the temptation to load the 30. Add to that my heart rate wasn’t going up and whenever I was trying to breathe deeply I started to cough; spicy it with a bit of (cold) head wind appearing every now and then and you’ll struggle to find any reason to not use the 30.

But that would be giving up. 

I’d probably be able to climb faster and would get home earlier. 

Because I’m a very reasonable person I kept riding the 27. 

The 30 minutes I thought it would take me to climb La Cobertoria turned out to be 43 minutes.

But I never loaded the 30.

Time now to take full advantage of the shortcut.

A shortcut not short of challenges.

Started with a climb. A small one, but my legs were tired by then. This time I didn’t hesitate to load the 30.

The road was the same quality you would find in the Surrey Hills (that is bad). It was facing north and it was at about 1000m of altitude. 

Suddenly it was all snowed and a fair bit of ice on the road. The whole road!!

What do you do? Turn around and give up the short cut? The reasonable (and very optimistic) of me decided it was worth it to walk the apparently short section of snow and ice.

It turns out it wasn’t that short. In fact the very reasonable (and not that optimistic anymore) of me started to consider turning back, giving up the shortcut and, by now and losing any hope of being on time for my mother’s birthday lunch. An amazing prospect.

That was the moment I saw a mountain biker coming in the opposite direction. Definitely not the kind of rider you want to see to feel confident on what is coming ahead. 

I asked him and to my surprise he said the snow and ice would only last a couple of hundred meters more. I was starting to feel optimistic again.

I still had to go through the problem of my cleats having so much ice that wouldn’t clip on the pedals. Had to find a rock and use it to hammer on the ice and break it. I finally was able to clip on the pedals. 

Now full of optimism after my caveman survival performance I had to remind myself to take it easy descending El Cordal. I knew it was a tricky descent, the road surface was not ideal. In fact in one of the stages at La Vuelta Nibali, a descender a bit better than me, had a crash there.

But destiny was on my side. It turns out they had repaired the surface of that descent. It was still a tricky descent but I now had a chance to be on time.

That’s where I started to compare myself to the Trans Siberian Express.

After crossing a scene of snow and ice I was now going full speed to my destiny. 

Full speed while the descent lasted. As soon as I got to the flat bit I wasn’t that express anymore and the moment I hit the last “climb” calling my speed express would be a clear exaggeration.

But it was still possible to make it on time.

Kind of. 

I got home at 14:01. I still had to take a shower. 

I was at the table at 14:10. (That was an express shower).

I explained to everyone in the family I never loaded the 30 climbing La Cobertoria and I had a PR climbing it. I didn’t mention the PR was because I always had taken it very easy climbing it, I needed to make my achievement as epic as possible. 

My family was not impressed. I might have exaggerated my cycling capabilities a little bit in the past and it is not that easy to impress them anymore. 

I think my mother has cut me out of her will.

If only I had a 28 at the back instead of the 27…

The ride in Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/8657925469/

Take care 

Javier Arias González

2 comentarios:

Kamaraka dijo...

Eres un crack contando historias.

Javier Arias González dijo...

JAJAJAJA. Muchas gracias Kamaraka. Tu comentario me anima a seguir escribiendo.