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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OK, now where did I put it?

So my aim this year is to ride 5000 miles, an increase of around 1500 miles on last year. To date I am about 200 miles behind my year to date target. 

You read correctly, I log my rides in miles. Getting ahead of the game come Brexit time and you ‘Km’ cyclists get deported.

I have recently lost my cycling mojo, fallen out with pedalling the miles on the new badly dressed roads of Essex. Imagine your very own personal Strade Bianche. The idea of cycling to a cafe stop for coffee and cake has lost its appeal. That’s right, I said it. No real reason for it and unable to pin point an event which has led to this. As a shrink would say ‘all decision can be attributed to a traumatic point in one’s life’ but there maybe one.
Usually kept for the winter or those summer months when it rains, I have been on Zwift. Using the platform to keep my fitness up and remain on the bike. Plus a post dripping work out coffee is on hand and I can have two!!!  
Last week I managed to ride around 85 miles, well I say 85. I run rollers for Zwift, which offer little resistance so climbing a hill, taking into account wattage, the algorithms of the program adjust my displayed speed accordingly. For me to climb and maintain a descent speed, I pedal harder. So after completing Rapha Rising 30 mile Challenge and climbing the 3 mountains of Watopia it felt more like 50 miles on the rollers. I actually hurt the following day.  
I think the ease of jumping onto Zwift and riding within a few minutes became very appealing recently and not having been online since the London extension, it has kept things fresh but I did not see my wife in the crowd cheering me on.

I did mention earlier there was no traumatic event that lead to my recent hermit approach to cycling, I had completely forgotten one moment. I did not have matching wheels on the summer bike, the embarrassment to be out would have been life changing. We cyclists have some real issues.
A few weeks ago I felt the back of the bike dragging when climbing, I went through the process of elimination.  Cleaned the BB30, chain cleaned, brake calliper alignment but no improvement. So I removed the back wheel and investigated further, after a discussion with Hunt Wheels, they arranged for the wheel to be returned for investigation. So I needed to replace it for my rear winter wheel, you now see why I stayed inside.
The service from Hunt was fantastic, they arranged collection on Tuesday, repaired on Wednesday, phoned to update me and my precious wheel arrived Friday morning. That is impressive. It would appear there was an issue with the freehub and pressure on the bearings from the axle, Hunt replaced it all.
So has my mojo returned with matching wheels? A little but feel Zwift still has a hold. Anyway I have ordered new tyres, new cassette and chain for the summer bike so it may have to wait a little while longer for a true test.
I understand that coffee growing countries are waiting on tenterhooks for my return but do not worry about the little dip in the market.

 

Final Zwift of 2016

Before the New Year begins I wanted to get a final Zwift session in, nothing major just 10 miles to keep the legs turning over.

So into the garage I went at 0830 this morning, damn that was a fresh wake up call.

Nice to see Zwift changed all the cycling helmets, even if you wore one or not, I am from the not group, with a nice top hat.  I think it was very fetching!!!

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Photo taken at the beginning of the ride, hence the low wattage and distance, honest.

I decided to utilise the GoPro with some short footage before tomorrow’s New Years Day ride.  Practicing my editing skills or I should say learning them once again.  It has been quite a few years.

I started to use the new Quik editing app from GoPro but that did not last very long.  I found the editing function easy but not as intuitive as I’d hope.  I gave up and opened the GoPro Studio app.  This does make editing a lot longer but gives you so many other options to play with.

Please excuse the state of the garage, it is on my to do list in 2017.

In the video I mention maxing out at 400w, unfortunately this is a limitation of my equipment and Zwift, not my legs.  I use Jet rollers and without power meters, Zwift limits by wattage to 400w.  I don’t think Cav would have anything to worry about.

If I had the money for both Garmin Vectors and a Tacx then Id be a very happy fellow.  Until then I’ll have to stay with 400w.

Happy New Year from all at Back On Track Cycling, see you in 2017