CyclingTips eFondo: I just “rode” a Sportive on the turbo…

So a while back I wrote about eFondos and eSportives totally becoming a thing these days. Not one to knock things before trying, I jumped aboard my Tacx NEO and logged in to join the first ever CyclingTips eFondo on Zwift.

The night before I went through my usual cycling event prep. Clean and lube the bike, lay out my kit, prepare my ride fuel/bottles, make sure everything is in it’s place and most importantly study the route profile. Just like a “real” Sportive!

The route for this one was the Watopia Pretzel, which takes in all the “climbs” on the island (apart from the Volcano) over a distance of 73km. Having ridden part of the route before I knew that that first 15km were basically uphill, all the way from sea level into the Watopian Alps and to the top of the Radio Tower. The course then rolls around the island with a couple of lumps before heading back up the reverse side of the mountain for a second big climb.

The morning of the ride I had a hearty breakfast of my usual porridge topped with golden syrup before kitting up and logging onto Zwift for a short warm-up. The riders were set off in two waves for this event. I joined the second wave consisting of over 250 riders all resplendent in their eFondo jerseys. A whole peloton of pixelated people pedalling away on their trainers. Alone yet together.

There’s a short roll-out before the road heads (virtually) skywards and stays that way right the way to the Radio Tower. The pack thins out and I settle into a nice climbing rhythm with a small bunch of other riders. I know this climb is going to take around half an hour – with the hardest section right at the top – so it’s best not to push too hard and blow early. There’s a long way to go and more climbing later.

I’m sitting just above FTP wattage for most of the climb, alternating seated efforts with short bursts out of the saddle. With 20 minutes done we turn left, heading up to the infamous Radio Tower climb. The road ramps to 19% at places. It may be virtual, but when the Tacx NEO clamps down it sure feels like true suffering! It’s a tough grind in my lowest 36/28 gear, but I manage to snag a PR to the top.

Circling around the Radio Tower and heading back downhill, I reach for my first gel of the ride. Yep, I’m fuelling this just like a real ride. The descent is ace. Once you reach a certain speed in Zwift, if you stop pedalling your avatar will “supertuck” and fly down the hill like a pro. The NEO has downhill drive to add to the immersion. It’s good to rest the legs for a moment as there’s plenty more to come.

Half way through the course and our group has thinned to six riders. We circle the island at a lower intensity, knowing we’ve still got to head back up the mountain in the opposite direction. The second big climb is a real killer. Another 20 minutes with much of it at 10% or higher. As we slog up with heavy legs a few of the group fall away until we are but three. I just concentrate on my wattage and keep focused.

Finally over the crest and another fast descent follows. We’re into the final 10km of rolling roads now.

Having given my all I’m pretty gassed and  eventually I lose the draft of the two other remaining riders of our bunch. Nothing left! Looks like the last 5km are going to be solo. Through the last of the rollers and it’s a downhill sprint to the line. Well, as much of a sprint as I can muster. I’m happy with my effort as I’ve got nothing more in the legs. As I pass under the banner my time flashes up on the screen with the results table: I’d finished in 21st place with a time of 2 hours 17 minutes and 49 seconds! Really pleased with that.

Unlike a regular Fondo or Sportive, there’s nobody at the finish line to hang a medal around your neck or hand you a goody bag. You do unlock the CyclingTips eFondo Jersey though, which your Zwift avatar can proudly wear so that’s something! I must say I enjoyed it more than I thought I would, it was about as “fun” as riding a turbo for over two hours can be! This was mostly due to the seriously immersive nature of Zwift paired to the Tacx NEO.

Would I do it again? Yeah, probably. CyclingTips are running a series of five of these eFondos over the Australian winter. If the weather is rubbish and the legs feel up to the challenge I’d be tempted to give it another shot! #RideOn

Total distance: 73km
Elevation: 1365m

Time: 2 hours 17 minutes 49 seconds
Finish Position: 21st

Zwift now, win later! Matt Hayman’s journey to 2016 Paris Roubaix victory.

Last year Orica pro Matt Hayman famously hammered his way to an incredible victory at Paris-Roubaix. Only months beforehand he broke his arm in a crash while racing Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. Not content with just recovering, he set his sights on a bigger goal using Zwift as a major training tool. As we all know now this ultimately paid off with the biggest win of his career! Make a coffee, sit down and soak it all up:

#ZwiftEffect

More Meat Mondays?

If there can be such a “thing” as Meat Free Monday to appease the vegans and vegetarians, then I propose we can also have More Meat Monday! So on my all new #moremeatmonday us real humans can pile our plates high with the good stuff – you know you deserve that steak.

Surrey Sportive 2015 by SussexSportPhotography.com 08:29:35But you HAVE to earn it of course. This ain’t no Macca’s drive-thu Quarter Pounder Fatty McFatface value meal jobbie. No sir, More Meat Monday is for those who know how to hammer and sweat!

Grab some buddies, head out and smash the local chain gang (or hit the weights, play some ball or whatever badass activity you prefer) then fire up the BBQ and throw on some REAL meat! Add a few steaks, beef burgers, sausages, chicken wings, a rack of ribs, etc and chow down on that deliciously flame grilled muscle rebuilding animal protein goodness.

Get on board, you know it makes sense. :-) Say it loud! More Meat Monday!

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Don’t succumb to being a kale munching tofu touting salad bar nancy. Put down that wheatgrass infused spinach and soy smoothie. Be alpha, be awesome, be top of the damn food chain! Be a meat eating machine. Ain’t no mofo gonna mess with you because you’re not somebody’s prey! After all, vegans taste like bacon!

trexT-Rex would high five you for being so awesome, but he’s extinct (and has really small arms).

Once you’re done asserting your awesomeness congratulate yourself for working hard, exercising harder and fuelling your recovery the badass way because you sir or madam, are the real deal.

#moremeatmonday

Sun, Zwift, KOMs and Crashes! My cycling 2017 starter…

I’ve had a pretty good start to the cycling year and I hope you have too, no matter what season you’re currently in the middle of. I kicked off 2017 with a very warm and also very wet New Years Day ride in the Blue Mountains two hours west of Sydney. The owner of the AirBnB we were staying in left me his spare bike to ride. What a champ!

img_3026Matching bar tape, hubs and socks. So totally pro…

Yesterday I took to local roads for a a little Saturday spin, not pushing hard just using it as a bit of active recovery and tan line sharpening. Even so I managed to clock a PR around the TT loop and take 2nd on the leaderboard. All that Zwifting is paying off!

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It was a fun ride. Well, it was until a bird flapped out of a roadside bush and collided with my chest! I must have grabbed too much front brake or turned abruptly as I was sent over the bars and hit the bitumen! Luckily nothing broken (on me, the bike or the bird) just a few grazes and some scuffed levers.

week-one-stravaI’m a bit stiff today, but otherwise it’s business as usual. I opted for some easy time on the rollers listening to the Zwift Podcast to work out the stiffness and keep the legs turning.

Next job is to check over the bike to see if there’s any damage I may have missed, then off to the beach for a bit of lazy Sunday afternoon recovery time! #keepcycling

My 2016 in eight simple bullet points!

What an interesting year 2016 has been, one of many changes in my life. I started out in England with no intention of that changing and here I am now living at the opposite end of the world! There have been some curve balls I did not see coming. There were some sad times, but many happy moments too. All in all I think it was a positive twelve months of my life and a year I won’t forget.

1) I cycle commuted right through the British winter and out the other side into the start of Spring. There’s nothing quite like that first taste of Spring after all the frosty pre-dawn commutes.

2) I finished my time at Sigma Sport. Working in the cycling industry was a blast and a real eye opener. I learnt a lot and met so many great people (and some super strong cyclists). The hours were long, the workload high, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. The staff discount afforded me some kit I never would have dreamed of buying otherwise too.

img_1489Farewell drinks with Elz (The Lonely Cyclist) after my last day at Sigma Sport

3) In fact in 2016 I cycled a lot. Well, not a lot, but a decent amount. Not as much as last year. As soon as I stopped commuting to Sigma I knew I would never surpass last year’s total mileage. That’s cool though. Plus there was my discovery of…

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4) Zwift! This has totally changed my outlook on indoor training, giving me so much more motivation to hop on the rollers. Never before have I thought “I can’t wait to get home and jump on the trainer!” But with Zwift, that’s what happens! Of course, it’s no match for a sun soaked outdoor ride in the fresh air!

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5) I said farewell to my parents, again. After Mum and Dad retired they moved across to join me in England (Dad is English) and bought a beautiful place down on the South Coast. It was great having them close by again and being able to spend more time with them both, so breaking the news that I was off to the far end of the earth was hard.

6) The big one. I moved to Tasmania! So after 11 fantastic years in England I find myself back in the Land of Oz. I absolutely love it here with its fantastic weather and laid back lifestyle, but I do miss England some of the time, the people I’d met, the places I’d experienced, the European travel. England had become my home and I very much get “homesick” when I think about it or see people’s travel photos.

img_2876Beach on my doorstep, Tassie does have it’s advantages!

KLR_0097) I also got back on motorised two wheels after a long break! Owning a motorbike in the UK wasn’t going to happen. The weather and road conditions just doesn’t make it an all year option. Back in the land of sunshine and blue skies, I didn’t waste any time getting back on board. This is my first dual sport style motorbike and it’s helped me explore parts of Tassie. Nothing like 650cc’s of Kawasaki engineered motor doping! I’m all about life on two wheels, pedal or piston powered!

8) I rounded out the year with old friends. The Christmas break was spent with two friends from Brisbane that my wife and I have known since we were teens. It was a great getaway for the four of us in the Blue Mountains just relaxing, catching up and shooting the breeze. I even got a few cheeky outdoor rides in. Aaaaand relax….

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So to sum up an eventful 2016, that’s a wrap! #thanksforreading #keepcycling