domingo, 28 de enero de 2024

Surprise! Surprise!

GC Denis said he was tired, DD said she would consider joining but never did, JFW said something about a pain in a knee (an excuse clearly overused by my riding mates if you ask me) and he did his typical of showing up for a few kilometers and then peeling off.

So it is just me and The Pope.

We were, what?, 20km into the ride? 

The Pope came to me and asked me if I knew the profile of the ride.

Yes, I said, Devil’s Punchbowl and then two climbs.

One of them is Barhatch. He replied back to me.


As Cilla Black sang ( “Surprise, surprise, the unexpected hits you between the eyes”. 

I know that “technically” this was my route and “in theory” I should have studied it. 

But the reality is that I just copied Dai’s route and the result of me studying the route was “Flat until Devil’s Punchbowl, where the climb will be neutralized due to gates and pedestrians. Stop at the top. Two hills on the way back”. 

True, but not very precise.

Anyway, time to re-think my strategy. 

The thought of suggesting avoiding Barhatch crossed my mind but I feared it would damage my cycling public image so I opted for a coffee and a (fruit) scone at the coffee stop. Caffeine will save me.

Now, Back on the road I knew Barhatch was coming but I didn’t know when (I definitely should have studied the route a bit better).

And that is a problem because I wanted to avoid starting it at the front. Let’s say it is less than ideal to start Barhatch with The Pope on your wheel if you want to have any chance of success at taking the KOM.

Luck had it that at some point I was sitting on The Pope’s wheel and I saw him removing his gloves.

That’s it! That’s the sign. I knew then the climb was coming. I stayed on his wheel and refused to take any more turns at the front.

My plan was to stay on his wheel all the climb and out-sprint him to take the KOM.

I think it was the great philosopher Mike Tyson who said best “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth”.

And The Pope didn’t have gloves…

I don't know what killed me more: the 21% slope or the envy of seeing him disappear going up the hill.

Got to the top and I was happy to see my morale was intact. 

Either caffeine is an amazing substance or I’m more stupid than I thought possible.

Regardless, I fancied my chances at Combe Lane.

That is a climb that allows you to sit on someone’s wheel and out-sprint that person to take the KOM.

I might be a bit of a one-trick pony rider but I value simplicity so it suited me. 

The climb started. Me sitting on The Pope’s wheel. Dido’s White Flag’s song ( came to mind “But I will go down with this ship. And I won't put my hands up and surrender. There will be no white flag above my door…”.

It didn’t matter. 

Whenever The Pope wanted he hit me again and I surrendered immediately (he still had his gloves off). My morale was not intact anymore.

I started to doubt I could take the final Esher sprint so I talked The Pope out of it. I couldn’t care less about my cycling public image, my ego couldn’t take another gloveless punch.

So we crossed the Esher town sign line riding in parallel while talking about running.

I call that a cycling success. 

Surprise! Surprise! My ego is intact. 

The route in Strava: 

Take care

Javier Arias González

sábado, 27 de enero de 2024

Disappointing my coach

 I’m sure my coach is very disappointed.

The plan for today’s ride was to ride easy all day. Tomorrow I’m leading a ride to Devil’s Punchbowl and The Pope is riding so I wanted to save my legs. Not because I have high hopes of keeping up with him, last weekend’s ride ( taught me not to be that arrogant, it was just a matter of maximizing my chances of survival.

All started very well when I didn’t have a coffee in the morning so I didn’t get the caffeine induced unjustified optimism I normally get.

Still the plan didn’t last long. A few kilometers into the ride I found myself at the front pushing a pace that was a couple of steps higher than what I was planning.

Even at the “climbs” I was going a bit too hard. 

Nothing crazy, just not quite the pace I had in mind.

It wasn’t my fault of course. It was JFW’s.

I’m only guilty of lacking any personality to stick to the plan and imitating him like a parrot.

JFW moves to the front and sets a strong pace and there I go, following his lead, moving to the front and keeping the pace..

JFW starts at the front in a small incline, soon I pass him pretending I’m riding easy while pushing the pace.

I wasn’t happy with my behavior. I even ordered a decaffeinated coffee at the coffee stop to make sure I went back to the plan.

Back on the road I stuck to the plan. Sat in the third wheel. Rarely moved to the front. Didn’t lead the group up any of the climbs.

I was so proud of myself…

But that only lasted until JFW started to tease me at every town sign sprint.

He would move to the front and start looking at me as if he were controlling me ahead of the sprint.

I very rarely enter those games. I prefer to keep my powder dry for the final sprint.

Today I took the bait again and again.

Soon I found myself sprinting for town signs I didn’t even know existed.

What was meant to be a steady ride home ended up looking more like a HIIT session.

My coach is going to be very disappointed I thought at some point. 

Indeed, I am self-coached and I’m very disappointed.

Taking the final sprint is a small consolation but I’m guessing tomorrow I’ll be even more disappointed.

Stay tuned.

The ride in Strava: 

Take care

Javier Arias González

domingo, 21 de enero de 2024

Javier the arrogant

Is arrogance a sin? 

Asking for a friend?

If it is, I'm going straight to hell.

Trying to keep up in the climbs with The Pope and Lucas? That’s me reaching new levels of arrogance.

I have lots of excuses though. I always have lots of excuses.

I had coffee this morning. That always gives me unjustified optimism.

Beating JFW up Green Dene (just about). Was another unjustified morale boost. 

I lost Hound Hose to Lucas, but not by much. Even if I sat on his wheel the whole climb, even if I was just happy to be there, it felt good.

Riding easy in the flat section made me believe I wasn’t tired. 

To make things worse I had a second coffee at Sumners Ponds.

As soon as we were back on the bikes I felt strong. Very strong. Van Aert type of strong. And that is where my arrogance showed up.

I was invincible.

Not for long though. Reality was fast trying to destroy my arrogance.

What else would you call blowing up half way up Broomhall? Arrogance destruction attempt.

I persisted though. Arrogance doesn’t go away easily.

I started to plan how to beat them up Juniper? 

If you know them, and you know me, you know how arrogant, if not funny, that is.

Completely blind to reality I sat on The Pope and Lucas’ wheel all Juniper.

In the final ramp, at the moment I had planned to attack, The Pope attacked. 

That was it. I wasn’t close is the most optimistic way of putting it. Reality kept sending me signals.

I wasn’t receiving them. 

Horton’s sprint was neutralized as the road was a bit too wet and potentially slippery. I declared myself (without saying it outloud) the winner of the final sprint anyway.

Arrogance doesn’t go away just because reality tells otherwise.

Like that, here I am, after my well deserved siesta, thinking I’m a strong cyclist, probably only second to Big Mig. 

Take that reality.

The ride in Strava:

Take care

Javier Arias González

sábado, 13 de enero de 2024

Where was GC Denis?

I lost the final Esher sprint today.

I’m not used to taking responsibility for my own failures so I’ll blame it on Denis.

Today meant to be a sure win for me.

I “knew” the rider to beat was Tim. You can bet I was sitting on his wheel from Cobham with the intention of only passing him to take the final sprint.

Simple plans are the best ones.

As soon as we got to the second ramp, the one out of Cobham being the first one, the one after the traffic lights, the “big” one, Tim attacked. 

I, obviously, followed his wheel. 

That’s it. I won. I knew it. I knew everyone else knew it. Only Tim didn’t know.

You can imagine my surprise when he signed he was going to turn left and peel off. 

Isn’t quitting the final sprint against some kind of cycling rule?

So, I’m now at the front of the group, everyone else sitting on my wheel and I still have two ramps to the line.

To be honest, not a position I’m used to being in but, never shy to lead a sprint, I didn’t break to force everyone to pass me and stayed at the front.

That in itself should be enough to give me some kind of most honorable rider of the day award. I’d take it.

This is the moment I thought: Wait a second. Where is GC Denis?

We got to the top of the second to last ramp and I eased a bit expecting GC Denis to pass and offer me a much needed wheel.

Instead JFW passed me. 

Way too fast. 

I still managed to jump on his wheel. 

Disaster averted. I’m so going to win this sprint. 

Unfortunately JFW is not GC Denis. 

As soon as the final ramp started JFW blew away. He slowed down so quickly it was impossible not to pass him.

Worst lead out I ever seen!

Where is GC Denis?

So, I’m back to the front. Nigel on my wheel (JFW not a contender anymore).

I start the sprint and as soon as I sit down I see Nigel passing me.

He beat me by a country mile.

Denis cost me the first win of the year.

Where was Denis?

Oh, he wasn’t even riding with us. Apparently he was racing in Zwift.

Denis, please, come back. I miss you dearly (can’t speak for the others though)

The ride in Strava: 

Take care of yourself

Javier Arias González