Not your usual December – 1,100 miles of training, chillin with Jens Voigt and a load of pros, new FTPs, a Zwift-race podium, and a selfie with a whale 😀
Rule No. 1: How to begin December – Do a Zwift race
I soon found how addictive the ZTR-EB (Zwift Training Race-Early Birds) Races truly were. I began December by competing in one, and I finished 17th out of some 100 racers. I wasn’t overwhelmingly pleased with my finishing position, although I was pleased with the physical work I had put into the race. I was wrecked, truly wrecked, when I crossed the finish line for the third and final time.
Fox and Hounds Race!
This was my first ever Fox and Hounds Race, and it will definitely be the first of many. The race comprises of one group of riders, who are called the Foxes, and they are hunted by the faster riders, who are called the Hounds. The Hounds had 4 laps to catch the Foxes, and this may seem like a lot. However, the Hounds start 7 minutes behind the Foxes, and so the 4 laps basically turn into a big team time trial event for the Hounds. Averaging 193 bpm (beats per minute) and 256 watts, and maxing out at 207 bpm, I was definitely testing myself.
Unfortunately, the Foxes got away!All Hound riders were pushing their limits, but it seemed the time gap was a little too big for the Hounds to take down the Foxes. Despite this, I set a new FTP of 256 watts (4.5 w/kg)! I did quite a few extra miles after the race, including some intense ones with Nathan Guerra, a US mountain bike pro! After 52.4 miles and 3127 ft of racing and intense riding, I was pretty much done 😉
World Bicycle Relief Day! Chillin with de pros
Not your usual Saturday – A steady 100k, with some of the best pros in the world!
World Bicycle Relief, an international, non-profit organisation based in Chicago, Illinois, mobilise people through the power of bicycles. The WBR (World Bicycle Relief) envision a world where distance is no longer a barrier to education, healthcare and economic opportunity.
The WBR provide specially-designed, locally assembled bicycles to entrepreneurs, healthcare workers and students across rural Africa. This event helped to raise awareness and support regarding WBR, and was a huge success.
The Zwift organisers had set all riders around the world, to ride a total of 100,000 miles in 24 hours. 100,000 MILES. This is approximately 4 times around the Earth! An enormous challenge, riders all over the world got on their turbo trainers or rollers, and rode. Determined to reach this goal, the number of riders logged on Zwift continued to increase throughout the morning.
The Zwift guys had also created a Buffalo bike, a replica of the bikes distributed by WBR, for Zwifters to ride on!
In addition, Trek announced that if Zwifters could achieve this incredible challenge, they would donate US $50,000! This incentive definitely drove riders on, including myself. Approximately 14 hours into the 24-hour event, Zwift had declared that riders had surpassed the 100,000 mile barrier!!! A truly epic figure. I rode 63.4 miles, or 102 km and climbed 4,022 ft on the day.
However, what also made the WBR-24 such a fun event, was the constant activity of numerous pros out on course. I rode with Lawson Craddock (Cannondale-Garmin), Steve Cummings (Dimension Data), and Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEDGE)! I also unlocked the Trek Emonda 🙂
A steady 40 miler around Richmond on Sunday marked the end to an AWESOME week…
Mileage: 201.9 miles
Elevation gain: 10,102 ft
Time ridden: 9 hrs 34 mins
Cumulative mileage (since 1st September): 2642.3 miles
Cumulative elevation gain (since 1st September): 130,522 ft
Cumulative time ridden (since 1st September): 140 hrs 55 mins
Rule No. 2: How to start the week – Do a race
The Richmond course is a relatively fast course, with the majority of it being flat. A few short, sharp hills at the end of the course often break things up. It is critical that you are in a leading group as you crest one of these hills, otherwise you will find the gap between you and the group in front of you ever-increasing.
However, if Zwift crashes or throws you off course, then you can’t help but watch a gap between you and the group you were with increase! In this ZTR-EB (A) Race, this is exactly what happened to me. Zwift threw me off course twice, and as a result, I lost the leading group. Averaging 183 bpm throughout the race, and maxing out at 204 bpm, I was pushing hard. Nevertheless, I finished 5th overall, after breaking away with the leading riders twice up the punchy climbs that bead the course profile. I also got a new FTP again – 258 watts (4.53 w/kg)!
An easy spin was needed after Tuesday’s race, and so that is what I did – I chilled with some members of Vision crew 😉
Thursday’s ZTR-EB (A) Race!
I prefer the ZTR-EB (A) races on Watopia than Richmond – I guess it’s the scenery, the constant change in elevation, the constant change in direction and the shorter lap distance that makes Watopia more appealing than Richmond. Riding in the reverse direction (opposite to normal), the race was a total of 5 laps. Averaging 180 bpm, I was pushing hard. I was the fastest up the main climb on the course, and so I took the KOM (King Of the Mountains) or Polka-dot Jersey! As well as being the fastest up the climb, I also held the fastest lap, and so I took the Lap Jersey as well! 🙂
Riding with the Polka-dot Jersey! 🙂Unfortunately, I miscounted the number of laps left, and so sprinted for the line with 1 lap to go, and rolled after! It was only after 20 or 30 seconds that I realised I had made a killer mistake – Damn. Anyway, I pursued the leading bunch of riders, but bridging across to them in one lap was never really a possibility, by anyone’s standard. Kim Little, a Team X rider, was hot on my wheels and was catching me. In TT mode, I put my head down, and rode really hard. I stayed away from Kim to take 5th overall! I also set another new FTP of 261 watts (4.6 w/kg)! A few extra miles after took my ride to 70 km 🙂
Sorry J. Cheyne, the Lap Jersey is mine 😀
Friday was a chill day – Primarily steady, although I did push a little whilst ‘racing’ in the Friday Criteriums. I wasn’t in the race, but I joined temporarily for fun 😀
Riding with pro cyclists is very rare in real life, but not so in the world of Zwift. I rode with Lawson Craddock, who rides for Cannondale-Garmin, for a good hour or so! A steady 50 miles in total – your usual Saturday 😉
Riding with Jens Voigt!
Like I said, it’s very rare to ride with a pro cyclist in real life, but no so in the world of Zwift. However, it is pretty rare to ride with two different pros, over two consecutive days! I rode with Jens Voigt, who has ridden in the Tour de France a grand total of 17 times, is a former Hour-record holder, and is simply a cool German guy, around the streets of Richmond. A nice way to end a solid week of training!
Mileage: 256.2 miles
Elevation gain: 13,617 ft
Time ridden: 11 hrs 10 mins
Cumulative mileage (since 1st September): 2898.5 miles (San Francisco to New York – Width of America)
Cumulative elevation gain (since 1st September): 144,139 ft (Approximately 5 times the height of Everest)
Cumulative time ridden (since 1st September): 152 hrs 5 mins
Rule No.2 🙂
Haha, I began the week with a ZTR-EB (A) race. There wasn’t any laughing when the racing began though. It was BRUTAL. My short-term fatigue levels were high following an intense week of training, and I hit this wall of fatigue head-on. I was absolutely wrecked by the end. I finished 15th out of some 50 riders. Not too shabby, but not the best. Legs MIA
Nevertheless, I unlocked the Aeolus 5 Wheelset, and the Guerravision kit 🙂
AWESOME ZTR-EB (A) Race!
Well, my legs had returned. I was in good shape for Thursday’s race, and my performance was excellent. Racing in the normal direction, we had to cover 5 laps of the Watopia course. A relatively hilly course, the hills played a decisive part in rider’s positions. I pushed hard up the hills every lap, to drop off those who were struggling with the pace. I kept on breaking away with the leading riders, and soon found myself in a good position with one lap to go. As we approached the final climb, I pushed even harder, to break-up the leading bunch of riders. Tytgadt and I subtly attacked, and we found a couple of seconds going up the climb on the rest of the bunch. Then, an attack by the Belgian created a couple of seconds on me. Nevertheless, I, and the few that were left, pressed on in an attempt to hunt him down.
We caught him, and the race would finish with a bunch sprint. There were 5 of us, including myself, and I was really pushing – My heart-rate was over 200 bpm in the final couple of minutes, as the pace increased even more. A 1 second gap had been created to Tytgadt with around 800m to go. Tytgadt initiated the chaos, and his numbers surged into sprint territory. I quickly started my sprint, in an attempt to get up to speed and so did the others. Casey Schumm, a Team X rider, took 1st, Tytgadt took 2nd, and I took 3rd! However, Tytgadt did not correctly save his activity with the right name, and so I officially took 2nd! 🙂
Excellent commentary by Nathan Guerra – Find it here: http://www.twitch.tv/nathanguerra/v/30477173
I then did a bit of the ARCC race afterwards, because I still had bits of energy left in my legs, that I could squeeze out! I attacked up the climb in reverse direction, and gained a couple of seconds on the peloton, before deciding to chill 🙂
A steady spin on Friday and Saturday was needed, to give the legs a bit of a break.
Sunday morning came EARLY, as I left the house at 05:00 am to get to Manchester for 07:00 for a British Cycling RSR Team Pursuit Session. We started riding at 08:00, and we wouldn’t finish the session till 17:30 pm! Before the session began, I had never ridden on TT bars on a velodrome, and I was pretty worried of crashing as soon as I got down whilst riding. I made the nervous move, and it was just like riding out on the road – It was easy! 🙂 Good coaching by the coaches, and a good session 🙂
I’m in the dark blue and white kit 🙂
Mileage: 207.0 miles
Elevation gain: 8,543 ft
Time ridden: 11 hrs 21 mins
Cumulative mileage (since 1st September): 3,105.5 miles
Cumulative elevation gain (since 1st September): 152,682 ft
Cumulative time ridden (since 1st September): 163 hrs 26 mins
Week 4 + final days of December
I enjoy the ZTR-EB (A) Races. But I didn’t enjoy this one, when Zwift crashed on me whilst racing! My screen kept on freezing/staggering and crashing. This was not fun. So, I decided to stop, reset my router, and clear stuff on my laptop to improve speed and it worked. I watched the other riders race, and it was actually quite nice to watch a race, instead of being in one ripping my legs off…
I went out for a steady pre-Christmas Eve ride with Paul, and the map of my activity kind of looks like a dog – What do you think?
A dog on a lead? I’ll let you decide 😉A pic from the ride:
Christmas Eve ZTR-EB (A) Race – 3rd!!!
I rode in Team dZi kit for the first time – It arrived a couple of days before the race, and I wanted to test it out. The kit is FANTASTIC!
T’was the night before Christmas, and I was on the turbo, suffering. Averaging 187 bpm throughout the race, it was definitely a tough’un. 5 laps long, the suffering would last for around an hour. The race went really well – a few breakaways confirmed a Top 5, but I had to (and did) win a two-man sprint to take 3rd position. My heart-rate maxed out at 206 bpm! As well as finishing 3rd, I also set another new FTP of 271 watts (4.84 w/kg)!!!#triplejersey
Boxing Day spin – Steady 53 miler and 3,400 ft of climbing. Leftover turkey and goose for fuel! I unlocked the Trek Madone, and the Level 20 kit – The Trek looks ace! 🙂
Steady Zwift post rollers marked the end of this week – Another solid week of training 😉
Christmas Excess Recovery Ride – Burning off the Christmas calories
Led by Eric Min, the guy who founded Zwift, the pace of the ride is steady, until the last quarter of the final lap, where it’s an all out sprint. I won this little race 🙂
I also held the Lap and KOM jersey – So much of a recovery ride, eh 😉
I actually went for a ride outside
It may come as a surprise, but I went outside for a ride – I know I know, what could have led me outside away from the warmth of my home? The sun and clear skies. You don’t see that often in the UK 😀
It was windy though – Exposed on the flatlands of the Trent, 54 miles had never felt tougher. Solid spin though with Dad and nice weather…
The Underwater World!
Zwift had finally unveiled their Ocean Road, and it is AWESOME. The road dips below the ocean surface, and you ride through a glass tunnel to some little paradise bit, before riding back through the ocean. The underwater scene leads to dirt tracks, and a beach port, before a shallow, winding climb joins you back onto mainland! I took a selfie with a whale, rode with Ted King (a pro), saw manta rays and rode through a massive Sequoia tree. WOAH 🙂
Epic work Zwift – Truly awesome! I’m looking forward to the Mountain Route. I’m sure it will be just as epic as the Ocean Road 😉
A steady 30 miler marked the end of December and the year! It’s been a pretty epic year. I’m sure 2016 will be just as good, if not, better 😉
Mileage: 434.3 miles
Elevation gain: 15,321 ft
Time ridden: 19 hrs 06 mins
Cumulative mileage (since 1st September): 3,539.8 miles (Dubai to Hong Kong)
Cumulative elevation gain (since 1st September): 168,003 ft (Entering mesosphere)
To put 168,003 ft into perspective, here is a picture of the height that I have climbed since September (Space shuttle Endeavour entering Earth):Cumulative time ridden (since 1st September): 182 hrs 32 mins
Thanks for reading! 🙂