Zwift

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. 

IMG_7950Suddenly 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.

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Mr Forgetful

Tech is a major player within the cycle industry and new stuff, good or bad, arrives on the market nearly every day. The tech we could carry when riding is close to weighing more than the bike.
Does tech over run our cycling enjoyment? “If it is not on Strava it does not count.” You can hear the words being echo’d.

All this aside, I love a gadget, I use Strava, Garmin, Zwift, Beeline to name but a few. Plus I am partial to all things Apple. Yes I am one of those people. 

Lainey worries about me when I am at work and when I am riding my bike. Imagine how high her heart rate must be when I combine the two and ride to work. I try to put her mind at ease, I have set up Live Tracking (Garmin) and Beacon (Strava). Most may have used these notification services, for those who do not, it allows you to enter your chosen email addresses and once you start riding it sends a message, via your phones Bluetooth, advising a loved one that you have started riding and your location. Between us we utilise Find Friends on the iPhone, just in case the others do not work and now makes us sound look like we stalk each other.
So imagine the day I rode 35 miles into the centre of London for a night shift and to return home the following morning with no phone, no ID and no money. I had packed all the mentioned items in my pOcpac dry pouch and duly left them on the worktop at home. This I did not realise until I arrived at work. I opened my work emails to send Lainey a message, let her know I had arrived safe and sound and apologising for my forgetfulness. She had beaten me to it, informing me of my stupidity and the words that followed even turned the Fire Station blue.
Swearing and profanities aside, justifiable of course, the lack of contact did start to make me feel a little uncomfortable and vulnerable. The requirement to ride home out of London and onto the quiet roads of Essex started to concern me. I had left my OneLifeID band at work so I had identification and the means for my rescuers to contact Lainey. At which point she would have killed me if I was injured.  
Reading this back seems to suggest I forget a lot!!!!
With the tech I have, or did not the day in question, there was no way of contacting Lainey if I needed help, no way to pay for cab home or call for one, or if the worst had happened for someone not to know my location. We sometimes moan about tech but it is engrained in our lives. It does play an important part. I do not need it but like it to be there just in case I do. Anyway, imagine the stat of my cleats and the bottom of my shoes if I had to walk home. Priorities people!!!!

Please note; I have been asked to add a disclaimer. I have not asked Lainey to proof read this entry, as stated in a previous blog. If there are any spelling mistakes or errors then it is purely my fault.