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

No hay comentarios: