miércoles, 31 de mayo de 2023

My body said no

I was all hyped for today’s ride. In my mind the Col de la Madone was going to be the best climb in Nice and I was looking forward to putting on a great show. I even had a coffee with breakfast. 

Col de Eze came and it was raining, still, as soon as we started to climb, the rain jacket felt a bit too much. Managed to remove it while riding without crashing and that was my top moment of the day. From that moment on, everything went downhill even if we were climbing.

First my heart rate wasn’t going up even if I thought I was putting on decent power. Let it be, I thought, it will rise soon enough. 

Except it didn’t and instead I couldn’t hold the power anymore. So I had to ease down a little bit. 

Rain didn’t stop so I started to feel cold. And my pace kept going slower and slower. 

By the time I got to the top of the climb, several minutes after my riding mates, I had had enough. I put my rain jacket back on, took a caffeine gel, and hoped for a bit of recovery in the descent.

I got a bit of recovery, yes. But that didn’t help me much. As soon as we hit the Col de la Madone I needed a pee stop and to remove the rain jacket (again). That meant I found myself climbing on my own.

That was a good thing. I’m glad no one had to witness my explosion. I was trying to get the legs going and at some point my legs, my heart rate, my brain, my whole body, said no.

And that was it. From that moment I entered surviving mode and crawled my way to the top. 

Kudos to Bidders that waited patiently for me and gave me a conversation. Tubeless strategy at Paris-Brest-Paris is a topic I can speak at length about and he listened patiently while my words distracted me from the fact that we were still climbing.

We got to the top many, many minutes after The Pope and GC Denis and still that wasn’t the lowest point of the day.

From the top of the Col de la Madone we had a 30kms descent. Enough time to recover a little bit and make me feel slightly optimistic.

At some point I recognised the road and I knew the Nice town sign sprint was coming. That was going to be the third time we were going to cross that town sign in these days. 

The first day I missed the sprint because I had no idea the town sign was there. I think The Pope took it (!!), which gives you an idea of the level of the sprint.

The second day I missed even if I knew it was coming, even if I closed the gap Bidders created with his attack and even if I had good legs. It turns out I wasn’t 100% clear where the town sign was.

But today I was. I knew very, very well where the town sign was. And I saw The Pope pushing the pace at the front, all excited about the sprint. 

I sat on Bidders wheel and waited to launch my attack.

Except Bidders were before me. 

I also started my sprint and tried to close the gap but it wasn’t even close. I even feared The Pope would pass me, thank providence that didn’t happen.

That would have been too much to take. 

For the one that focused all week in recovering between rides (you’d be amazed at the speed I could get into my siesta after a ride), for Mr. Endurance is my game, this training camp has been a day too long. 

I’m now very tired, completely destroyed and demoralized but very, very happy with my riding mates and this week. Another experience to treasure.

The ride in Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/9174432967 

Take care

Javier Arias González

lunes, 29 de mayo de 2023


Col de Vence, almost 17km at an average gradient of 5.2% I sat on The Pope and Bidders’ wheel aiming to stay there and attack them in the last 200m to take the KOM. A faultless plan that failed with only 6km to go to the top. Disgrace.

Was then accused of starting hostilities in one of the last climbs when all I was doing was following someone else’s wheel. The Gamin misled me. It was telling me we still had one kilometer to climb at the same exact moment The Pope sprinted for the town sign. Disgrace.

At the end of the ride my Garmin congratulated me. Apparently my FTP is now 268 watts. Disgrace. 

The ride in Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/9162789218

Btw. This route is fantastic. Another must do if you are riding around Nice.

Take care

Javier Arias González

viernes, 26 de mayo de 2023

One more cinglé du Mont Ventoux

Short but hilly ride (https://www.unbiciorejon.com/2019/02/javiers-ride-classification-criteria.html)

Very, very happy with this ride. Not because I managed to get a great performance but because I managed to do as best as I could considering my circumstances.

Saturday’s 600k (https://www.strava.com/activities/9110165742) left me very, very tired. Since then I have been completely focused on my recovery. To the point that I had to endure a few jokes from my riding mates when I refused a few beers, they saw me drinking milk or went to bed early. It doesn’t matter, I still love them and I was motivated to be as fresh as possible today.

And I managed to start today reasonably fresh. At least fresh enough to sit on the wheels of Bidders and GC Denis. The Pope being the mountain goat flew up the mountain every single time. Very impressive efforts. Bidders was my hero of the day. He sat in the front on all three climbs setting a metronomic pace. Challenging but not killing us. The picture shows how delighted I was to be able to stay on his and Denis’ wheel on all three climbs. 

The ride in Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/9144229712

Take care

Javier Arias González

domingo, 21 de mayo de 2023

Bryan Chapman Memorial (600km Audax)

I said it before but I’ll say it again. In my view this is the best Audax ride in the UK. Wales is stunningly beautiful, especially with the weather we had. I love the climbs, the good tarmac and more than anything how well the event is run. No wonder this was my 7th time riding it (2013 - https://www.strava.com/activities/55245726, 2014 - https://www.strava.com/activities/142973657, 2016 - https://www.strava.com/activities/577887043, 2017 - https://www.strava.com/activities/986429049, 2018 - https://www.strava.com/activities/1583814632 and 2019 - https://www.strava.com/activities/2380585350).

For me this ride was a dress rehearsal for Paris-Brest-Paris. I carried all the kit I plan to carry at PBP and followed a similar strategy. So I tested riding steady all day, short stops at the controls, what to eat on the bike (the little sandwich of spicy chorizo has been a success), riding through the night while tired, the kit I’m going to wear riding through the night, charging devices strategy, using the Shokz bone conduction headphones in the early hours to help deal with the sleepiness, new frame bag, etc.

You'll be excused for thinking I’m a master of planning and preparation but you couldn’t be more wrong. I’ll just say that 175km from the finish my di2 ran out of battery. Yes, I had forgotten to charge it… again.

Stuck in the small chainring for 175km and scared to death the battery ran out of juice completely, I minimized the changes at the back. Which meant I attacked small ramps overgeared, which emptied my legs pretty quickly. Free wheeling for long times meant my heart rate plummeted and my body temperature followed suit. What was meant to be 8 hours of riding ended up being almost 10.

Again, you'll be excused for thinking I had a terrible time but you couldn’t be more wrong. Yes, I shouted a few swear words (in Spanish, swearing in Spanish is more powerful) but that lasted 30 seconds. After an impressive display of Spanish swearing capabilities I focused on enjoying the ride and had a fantastic time. I love riding at night on quiet roads. I almost had time to find the secret for world peace.

That was it. I finished tired but very, very happy. In fact I’m already convinced I’ll ride it again next year.

The ride in Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/9110165742/ 

Take care

Javier Arias González