sábado, 17 de junio de 2023

Chasing The Pope around Kent

I hope that by now you know that you are going to have a hard day out if The Pope came to you with this proposal: Heading down to Seaford via Ashdown Forest - just over 200k and c. 2400m elevation to be taken at a decent pace.(av speed c. 30 - 31kph).

Kent is his playground. The climbers didn’t have a chance in heaven today. He amassed so many mountain points today you could accuse him of gluttony, but being The Pope I guess he has a pass on that.

Nor the sprinters for that matter. He knew the route by heart, he even knew where all the town sign sprints were. 

Riding with The Pope and GC Denis I had high hopes today at the sprinter game but when Declan, a real sprinter, decided to join us, unannounced, I very quickly switched role. 

I kind of was forced to play the role of “this ride is too hard, I’m struggling a lot, sure there is something wrong with the bike that is slowing me down”. And I played that role to perfection the first 50 kilometers. Not once they saw me at the front.

Funny enough two of the hardest climbs of the day came at kilometer 50 and from there I started to feel a bit better. Enough to move to the front a couple of times so my riding mates knew I was still there.

A stop with a coffee AND a coke. A slow start after the coffee stop so we could visit the cliffs. And a few kilometers to warm up again transformed me.

I was now in the weird role of “the last 50k feel better than the first ones”. 

Still chasing The Pope, still beaten in every climb, still missing all sprints but, somehow, inexplicably, feeling better. 


So much so that I moved to the front as soon as Juniper, the last climb of the day, started. Something I don't think has ever happened. 

As always happens in these cases, I was a bit overoptimistic and I started a bit too strong. I, obviously, very quickly, slowed down And slowed down. And slowed down even more. Until The Pope, with his infinite mercy, moved to the front and allowed me to take a rest before attacking him to take the last KOM of the day. I don’t have a chance to make it to heaven.

Less so when you add the way I took the final sprint of the day (I knew very well where that was). 

The Pope attacked and opened a gap. 

I took advantage of the traffic, the work that GC Denis did and the fact that The Pope didn’t sprint to make it first to the line.

Does anyone know how I can book a place with air conditioning in hell?

ps. Follow me for more tips on how to save your soul.

The ride in Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/9283596253

Take care

Javier Arias González

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