sábado, 29 de abril de 2023

Four times lucky

Not from today's ride but close enough

13 days without touching the bicycle.

A trip to Argentina. Ate a bit too much. It turns out I like Malbec so I also drank a bit too much. Walked a lot, although I’m not sure if that is good or bad for cycling.

Still slightly jet lagged this morning you could argue I was a lamb on the way to the slaughterhouse.

But I’m a lucky man. Four times lucky I was today.

First time was the route we were riding. We were NOT going to Sumners Ponds. Almost five years ago I wrote: “Believe me, I have seen this happening to a lot of riders. Doesn't matter how strong you are. You go on holidays for two weeks, come back on the bike after a cold or simply join the wrong group to Sumner Ponds and you'll be slaughtered. That's a fact.” (https://www.unbiciorejon.com/2018/10/you-need-to-read-this-if-you-are.html).

If we were riding to Sumners Ponds nothing could have saved me but we were riding to the Devil’s Punchbowl and that gave me hope. 

Hope is a dangerous feeling. Instead of riding conservatively I went a bit too hard in the first hour.

Yes, that was a decent effort up Green Dene but as sure as eggs is eggs (I just googled this expression) I paid for it in the second hour. To the point that I blew up massively as soon as the Devil’s Punchbowl climb started. 

It was so bad and obvious that when I got to the top Rupert sang Don’t cry for me Argentina to me and it felt very appropriate.

But that also was the moment I was lucky for the second time. We were stopping there. 

A stop that lasted almost 40 minutes, a visit to the loo, a scone with cream and jam and, crucially, a latte and I managed to recover a fair bit. Enough to feel comfortable in the ride.

The third time I was lucky was at Hogs “hill” (https://www.strava.com/segments/1150170). I hate that climb. I prayed and prayed for it to be full of traffic so we couldn’t go all out on it.

As we were approaching it I saw lots of traffic and almost cried with joy. The perfect excuse to take it easy and save my legs.

To save my legs for the final sprint of course. 

The Esher sprint.

A sprint I had perfectly planned. I was going to sit at the back of the group the whole way and outsprint everyone with 100 meters to go. Infallible.

The problem was my plan didn’t last long. As soon as we hitted the first ramp a gap was created in our group. Richard and Denis in the front group. Tom, me and Rupert (in that order) in the second group. 

I saw Richard and Denis starting to work together and the gap growing. Time for a new plan.

I was going to wait for Tom to finish himself trying to close the gap. Then I’d attack, drop Rupert, close the gap, sit on Richard and Denis’ wheel, wait for the last 100 meters and outsprint them. A seamless plan.

That was when I was lucky for the fourth time. The only traffic light on the road was red. Denis and Richard had to stop and we caught up with them. 

Didn’t feel too much shame for not having the opportunity to test my great plan. I’ll admit the situation was now much better for my chances. Especially when Rupert discarded himself for the sprint.

When the time to sprint came it was me and Richard contesting it. 

Somehow I managed to get it and that saved my day. 

Sometimes it is better to be lucky than strong or clever.

The ride in Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/8977190234/ 

Take care

Javier Arias González