domingo, 30 de julio de 2023

Good karma paying back

I know yesterday I said I was going to mislead Powell about today's sprint at the Horton roundabouts ( but couldn't live with the guilt  so when we got to Epsom I told him the real number of roundabouts to count (8).

At some point I thought karma was paying me back for my good action of the year. I was fourth wheel, looked back and I saw a gap between me and the rest of the group. It was one of those gaps that form as you sprint out a roundabout. It was a considerable big gap. So big that I thought they wouldn't make it back. Perfect position for the sprint if you ask me.

There was only one problem. When I looked back I think I saw Bidders at the front of that group. 

That's not good. If you know Bidders you don't need any explanation. If you don't know him, be assured you don't want him chasing you. More often than not he will catch you.

I looked back again, in full panic, to confirm what I thought I had seen was correct. To my horror it was correct. Bidders was at the front of the group that was chasing us.

Just to give you all context at no point crossed my mind to move to the front and contribute to the pace of my group. What kind of sprinter do you think I am?

Besides, the gap was still big. Bidders had beaten me in the sprint for the KOM at Juniper. I was betting on him being too tired to catch us. 

It just happened next time I looked back, about two seconds later, he was on my wheel. I almost started to cry.

At the edge of a sprinting career depression the thought of him now being really tired after the sprint up Juniper and having to close that gap gave me comfort. 

Move to second wheel in the last roundabout, that will trigger him to start the sprint, jump on his wheel as soon as he passes you, wait for the right moment, start the sprint, beat him to the line. Don’t ever tell me I’m not fast at coming with plans. 

The plan had two steps and the first two went as planned. At the last roundabout I moved to second wheel and that triggered him to start the sprint.

The bit about jumping on his wheel as soon as he passed me didn’t quite go as planned.

It wasn’t my fault. He just sprinted too hard. 

It is impossible to execute a plan if the others don’t stick to it.

I didn’t blame Bidders though. 

What kind of karma payback is this? If I knew I would have told Powell there were only 6 roundabouts.

The ride in Strava: 

Take care

Javier Arias González

domingo, 23 de julio de 2023

What makes a ride hard?

The first and obvious answer is distance and amount of climbing. 

But if you have cycled enough you know that doesn’t paint the whole picture. Circumstances are what make a ride hard.

And the first and most important circumstance is who are you riding with as it will determine the pace. Ride with a group that is riding at a high pace for you and very soon you’ll find the ride hard.

That’s what happened to me yesterday. Riding in a group of five and from the start feeling the pace was a touch too hard for me. It took no time for negative thoughts to visit my mind. I’m the weakest rider, I’m going to need to drop, this is too hard for me… That’s hard.

Another circumstance that makes a ride hard is weather conditions. Add low or high temperatures, rain or wind to a ride and it gets harder very quickly. Especially if you violate the principle of "There is no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong gear" like I did yesterday showing up for the ride in my summer kit. What an amateour!! 

Yesterday we had wind and rain.

I wasn’t conscious of the wind in the first 100km which means we probably had tail wind. But the moment we hitted the flat section of the ride I was very, very conscious of the wind. At that point I was riding with Bidders, a very good time trialist, and Richard L, who had aerobars on his bike. I struggled big time just to hold on to their wheel. That, for me, was the hardest part of the ride.

Now, let's add rain to the mixture and you are getting into a really hard ride. I waited a bit too long to put the rain jacket on when it started to rain, which meant that I was very cold in the last third of the ride. 

So there we were with 200km in the legs, riding on to a head wind, wet and cold heading into the last hills of the day. What could possibly make the ride harder?

A mechanical.

And mechanicals we had (and saw) plenty. A broken spoke, a rear wheel hub that didn’t engage when pedaling, a puncture when we were cold and wet.

But we also were lucky with the mechanicals. A bike shop in New Romney managed to repair the broken spoke and the rear hub. A Dynaplug sorted out the puncture with speed. Bad luck can also make rides hard.

Yes. You wouldn’t say it looking at the distance and the amount of climbing but yesterday's ride was a very hard one.

And because of that I’m very happy now. Because I managed to survive the first two thirds of the ride. Because endurance showed up and I felt strong in the last third. Because I loved the solidarity we showed with each other while riding. Because it was a well organized event and a nice route. Because it feels great when you finish a hard ride.

The ride in Strava: 

Take care

Javier Arias González

domingo, 16 de julio de 2023


Circumstances meant I ended up leading a ride following a route that despite having ridden it several times I couldn’t remember any of it, with a new coffee stop.

For some reason when Dai said Beeches Tea Rooms I thought of Seale Tea Rooms (🤷‍♂️). Even when he explained where the alternative coffee stop, JO.CO, was, in my mind, I was thinking of Seale Tea Rooms and his explanations made sense to me (kind of).

No wonder I was totally confused during the first part of the ride. I was constantly wondering how on earth were we going to make it to Seale. I probably should have checked the route at home.

I didn’t tell my riding mates I was completely lost though. My road captain skills don’t have the best reputation at the moment, I didn't want to unfairly damage it further. Also, having the route loaded in my Garmin allowed me to follow this “fake it until you make it” strategy. A sensible approach if you ask me.

By the time we passed by Beeches Tea Rooms I realized where I was and, somehow, I remembered Dai’s instructions (that is as close as a miracle as you can get) and managed to give the group the only navigation instruction the Garmin wasn’t going to give us. That was 20 road captain points there and then.

20 points that I lost when you have in mind the ride was announced as K2 and, in all honesty, we would have to rate it as K1.5. I, of course, don’t take any responsibility for that. It is Robbie and Seán’s fault (obviously) for being strong riders and pushing me into the dark side. I’m at the edge of submitting a formal complaint.

The way I see it, I could get them disqualified. They would lose all the KOMs they have taken during the ride and, crucially, the sprint at Horton roundabouts that Robbie took. All those wins and the huge reputation that goes with them would go to me. The only sensible rider of the trio.

I’ll talk to my legal team.

btw. JO.CO cafe is a great coffee stop. Great (strong) coffee, fantastic Portuguese cake.

The ride in Strava:

Take care
Javier Arias González

martes, 4 de julio de 2023

Road to Paris-Brest-Paris 2023

Paris-Brest-Paris (PBP), I’d argue it is the biggest cycling event in the world when you combine how old the event is (older than the Tour of France), amount of riders (around 8,000), how international it is (more than 70 nationalities represented), the distance to ride (1,200km to be ridden in 90 hours) and the support riders get from spectators alongside the road. In my mind, PBP is like the Olympics of long distance cycling. 

I have two objectives for Paris-Brest-Paris (PBP) 2023. The first one is to finish it. 

Arriving to Brest in PBP 2011

I rode my first PBP in 2011. It took me 87h 45m. That was the 86th time in my whole life I had ridden a road bike. I loved the experience so much I set myself the goal of riding PBP ten times

Now, PBP only happens every four years so a simple math exercise told me that I’ll ride my 10th one in 2047 and I’ll be 78 by then. I can’t afford to miss any edition as I’m not sure I’d be able to finish PBP being 82 years old. Hence my first objective for 2023 is to ride those 1200 km within 80 hours.

My second objective, though, is to set a personal fastest time at PBP. That means finishing in less than the 59 hours and 31 minutes that was my official time for PBP 2019 (

At the finish of PBP 2019

I want to have the experience of riding as fast as I can and setting a personal record so in future editions I can focus on other ways of enjoying PBP. I have set my eyes on a stand that offers free sausages to cyclists. I’ll eat two of them in 2027.

As with the Olympics, everyone has to qualify to be able to enter PBP. That means any rider aspiring to ride PBP has to finish a 200km, a 300km, a 400km and a 600km Audax event.

We are very lucky, Kingston Wheelers Audax Chapter organizes a whole series of rides that can be used to qualify for PBP. A luxury at our doorstep.

In those events I normally volunteer in the morning. I love having the opportunity to welcome the riders, to help answer their questions. The atmosphere is fantastic, a combination of excitement and expectation for the ride to come. I always wear Kingston Wheelers kit, I’m proud of the quality of our events and want to show our colors. Once we send off the riders I normally help tidying up the venue and then I’ll start my ride.

For me these year’s qualifiers are opportunities to test the kit I’ll be using and to train the pace I’ll aim to be riding at PBP.

In the second half of the Gently Bentley (200km) ( I tested for the first time my “steady” pace. I was very happy managing to finish the event and not feeling that tired.

Amesbury Amble (300km) ( was my opportunity to test my rain kit. This ride is where I decided the long sleeve Gabba (Castelli Perfetto RoS) will be the jacket I’ll take to PBP.

At the Dauntsey Dawdle (400km) ( I rode with aero wheels and aero bars and I decided I was going to use both at PBP. I also tested in the first 10 hours / 250km the strategy of riding “steady” and stopping only the essential. Tiring but manageable.

Bryan Chapman (600km) ( was my dress rehearsal. Carrying all the kit I plan to take to PBP, riding “steady”, minimizing time in stops and riding through the night. Although the main learning I got from this ride is that I’ll be 100% sure I’ll start PBP with my di2 fully charged.

Since Bryan Chapman, 20th of May, I switched my training focus. June and July is all about intensity. Those 2 hills rides on Thursday evening are excellent for that, even if I always end up dropped.

In August I’ll be in Asturias (Spain). Two weeks of proper tapering to make sure I get to the start as fresh and as relaxed as possible. I’m pretty good at that.

Minutes before starting PBP 2015

I’ll be starting on the first wave, Sunday 18th of August at 16:00 (CET), rider A076 (I believe there'll be some way of following the riders at 

That will be around the 3000th time I ride a road bike in my life. I’ll be able to give you the exact number on the day.

Take care

Javier Arias González