It has been a while since my last blog but as I previously said, no point in blogging for blogging sake. Well now I have something to write about…….Zwift.
I have been on Zwift for a couple of years now, I go through stages and during the 3 days that the UK has sunshine, I prefer to be out on the road.
As the summer draws to a close and having tidied up the garage, after a minor water intrusion incident, an area appeared that was ideal for Zwifting. I have always used Zwift on a set of rollers, selling my original standard turbo just before I discovered the new training platform. None the less the rollers have served me well and have certainly taught me better balance. I am limited for power though, as the rollers offer little or no resistance so I top out at around 650w. Not through lack of trying but the cadence is stupidly high, the bike is highly unstable and I prefer to stay upright and not kiss the floor at an increased velocity.
I have heard of the races that Zwift offer but never entered. Friends have raved about them and ZwiftCast are a strong advocator and assisted with the first e-Race held on the platform.
Logging on yesterday with no set distance in mind, on the right hand side of the screen I saw a Espresso Lap Race. I thought, lets give it a go, what’s the worst that could happen? I was a little late to the party so the group had already covered 3 miles and with an issue clipping in, (felt so GCN) I was soon dropped by the main group. Clipped in and with a determined twinkle in my eye, I chased down the group. The ride leader made sure everyone knew the w/kg for sections of the ride and threaten DQ anyone shooting off the front. During lap 2 the realisation of why it was called Espresso became apparent. For those that know the Richmond course there is a sprint half way through. This would be the start of the race and it would be all out war to the finish line. As the sprint line approached the speed began to ramp up, crossing the line and boom, we were off. I managed to hold a group for the next 3 miles but maintaining 340w was taking its toll. My legs were starting to burn, sweat pouring down my face and I still had 6 miles to go.
I was done.
The group started to pull away and I could not hold the wheel anymore plus I wanted to ensure I crossed the finish line. Dropping down to around 260w I started to focus on others that had fallen by the wayside, to be honest there were not that many but I was concentrating on staying upright and breathing out of my arse at the same time!!! With the final climb I managed to overtake the ride leader and as the course levelled out I put the hammer down and crossed the line. It killed me but I loved the race. Uploading to Strava, I saw the full name of the ride, my first introduction to racing was a Cat A race.
I had the bug so looked for another.
Kiss Road Races had been setup in late 2015 by a group of dads with busy family schedules and wanted to ride or race in a group and KISS was born. These races offer the full range of categories so I decided to sign up. I did take some guidance from Ian, a hardened Zwifter on which category to start with. I decided to select CAT C and see how I got on.
This morning, just before 0930 I was set and ready to go. The counter down timer was inching towards zero and I started to spin my legs.
Suddenly everyone disappeared and I thought, have I started pedalling too early, have I been disqualified already? I set off down the ramp and there was no one, ‘no riders near’ listed and no one on the circuit. I thought, this is going to be hard work, no one to draft. As I began the first incline more and more riders started to appear. I was scanning the list on the right for other CAT C riders and found a group just ahead.
For the next 4 laps we kept a nice steady pace and practiced drafting on Zwift. I have found with rollers it is a little slower to react when trying to take the pace off. When it came to a climb I would have to increase the wattage to keep up with those on smart turbos but as it levelled off I would then fly past.
The end of the forth lap was approaching and I was not sure of the etiquette, with a mile to go no one had gone for a breakaway. We had been a considerate group. It made me think that if I go, would I upset anyone, is that not the done thing? We had exited from under the sea and still no one had gone. As we levelled out, I thought, I’m going for it, if anyone follows then fine. If I drop everyone then I will know for next time and take any punches that come my way. 3 others jumped on my wheel and I kept pushing. Four became two and I was going hell for leather then the rider behind swooped around me and crossed the line. 598w it says I was doing as I crossed the line and managed a respectable 18th in my class. The rider that beat me at the line was a CAT B rider.
For a first proper attempt and considering I am on rollers that was not a bad effort, so I am told. It would be interesting to see how it will compare when fixed to a smart turbo and able to put more power down.
I am hooked and will be looking for my next race.