Some evenings are just too good to spend on the trainer!

Some moments are just too good to waste on the trainer. My plan for the evening was to get home from work and jump on Zwift for an hour’s sweetspot session, but perfect weather (combined with an internet outage, hehehe) convinced me to unshackle myself from the trainer and head outdoors for some magically mellow miles.

A quick photo stop on the jetty to capture a perfect late summer evening…

I took my trusty time trial bike out for a spin as I need to clock up some more time in that position. Well, what a fantastic evening for it! I wasn’t pushing super hard or staring at my Garmin stats, just enjoying the fresh sea air, but I still managed to pick up some Strava PRs (including a couple of Top 5 times). Some days, there’s just no better way to spend and evening than outside on two wheels. #moremilesmoresmiles

* Photo critique: Yeah I know, I didn’t remove my light, saddle bag or water bottle and also forgot to line up valve stems properly. At least it’s in the big ring! ;-)

How does the real Box Hill compare to the Zwift version?

It’s a question that comes up quite a lot in the Zwift community! How does the real Box Hill compare to the Zwift version? Will riding London Loop on Zwift help me train for Ride London? I’m lucky enough to have ridden both climbs numerous times with the same power meter (a very reliable PowerTap G3 hub) thus have some  meaningful data to compare the two. This weekend I got number crunching.

First up a bit of real life riding:

Box Hill Roundabout to Cafe (2.8km @ 5%)
https://www.strava.com/segments/1450512

Watts: 237W
Time: 8 min 50 seconds (cadence 81rpm)

boxxxxxxxThis particular effort was in the middle of a stark British winter on a 115km club ride with Woking CC. I was rugged up in a lot of warm clothing and had already climbed Staple Lane followed by Ranmore Road (both Cat 4 climbs) in the Surrey Hills before hitting Box.

I was still pushing hard of course with a small group to get to the top for some steaming hot coffee and home made cake. As you can see from the photo it was a pretty bleak looking day for a ride! Cold, wet, foggy and grimy. Ahhh those romantic hardcore UK winter rides before we all got soft…

Now for the VIRTUAL version:

Zwift Box Hill Real KOM (2.9km @ 5%)
https://www.strava.com/segments/13812242

Watts: 230W
Time: 8 minutes 10 seconds (cadence 79rpm)

Ridden as part of a Zwift race where I was trying to stick with a small group of 4-5 other racers at the time, this ascent of the virtual hill was actually a PR for me. My setup is Elite rollers with my PowerTap measuring wattage. I was pushing hard, but pretty gassed after the SUPER HARD start that makes up a Zwift race. I didn’t use any power-ups during the climb.

zwift-london-5

Evaluation of real life vs Zwift life:

With pretty much the same cadence I averaged a 7 watt difference over the two efforts, which is well within an acceptable margin of error for measurement.  As you can see there is a 40 second difference in favour of the Zwift climb for me (the virtual segment is also around 100 metres shorter). This is roughly what I would have expected from the data I have collected and my percieved efforts over both of the segments. On a fair summer’s day (with less clothing, lighter bike, etc) I would knock a chunk off the real Roundabout to Cafe segment – and have done – thus getting closer to my virtual time.

woking-cycling-club

So what can you take away from the data? Training for Box Hill or similar climbs by using the Zwift virtual Box Hill climb would actually be pretty effective, especially if you have a smart turbo that changes the resistance settings for you. Time-wise you can expect to spend a bit of extra time laying down wattage when you get out to Surrey for the real thing. Also the Zwift climb finishes past the National Trust cafe! You’ll definitely want to pull in there for the best treacle tart in the world… :-)

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END NOTES: For reference I weigh in at 60kg so was climbing at just under 4w/kg. I’m no powerhouse. I chose these two segments rather than the Zwiftblog verified one as they were the two closest matched ones for distance I could find on Strava.

EXTRA TIP: Don’t ride over the squiggly white line painting when you do the real Box Hill climb. It’s actually pretty bumpy and will kill your speed…

Never waste a sunny Sunday

Sometimes I have to pinch myself to see if I’m dreaming. I forget just how lucky I am to be able to live and ride here on this southern island. It really doesn’t get much better than waking up to this!

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I only had a short amount of “ride time” on this beautiful Sunday morning so I took my Zwift-fatigued legs out for a coastal loop in the glorious Tassie sunshine. I really should have been resting, but some mornings just can’t be wasted. With full sunshine and no wind I cruised around for a whisker under 32 miles (1850 ft elevation, 19mph average speed) of tan-line cultivating, mood boosting goodness. I even picked up a couple of sneaky Strava cups along the way. Happy weekend! :-)

loopage

Pretend Cycling?

There seems to be a swell of of anti-Zwift sentiment out there at the moment, with many nay-sayers labelling Zwifters as “pretend cyclists” and that true hard men just hit the road. They see Zwift as a gimmick rather than true training.

Zwift was good enough for Matt Hayman to recover and win Paris Roubaix, now many other pro cyclists are on the platform too. I’m sure if it were old school 2×20’s in the pain cave the haters wouldn’t bat an eyelid, but throw in the “game” of Zwift and suddenly it’s just not cycling. Maybe they’re secretly scared of anything new? Or are jealous of the gains seen by those who spend a lot of time on Zwift?

Who knows. Who cares? What I do know is that I enjoy hammering away in the virtual world and enjoy even more seeing the real world improvements on the road:

kom

Happy New Year! :-)

Late to the Zwift party!

Okay. I’ll admit it. I was wrong. Oh so wrong…

Zwift is pretty damn cool.

When it comes to indoor training I’ve always been in the “short sharp suffering in the pain cave with intense intervals and no distractions” type of guy, but after clocking up a few virtual rides in the virtual world of Zwift, I’m converted!

zwift_001An hour on the trainer usually feels like a whole day – but with Zwift everything flies by in a blur of smashing it up “hills” and chasing down breaks. You can even virtually “draft” other riders to save energy! Just this morning I spent over two hours on the trainer and you know what? It didn’t suck! I wish I’d had Zwift back during those grimy UK winters. Oh and check virtual me out in my virtual Sigma Sport kit!

I’ve got a pretty basic setup now using my power meter equipped bike, a set of Elite rollers, Zwift on the laptop and a floor fan. It works and does the job, but a new smart turbo trainer will automatically vary resistance to simulate climbs and descents.

zwiftmaplondon8A virtual ride around London including a re-located Box Hill climb!

If you haven’t tried Zwift yet, do so this month! As a bonus Strava Premium members get the rest of the year for FREE! This could get very addictive…

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Exploring the Tassie tarmac

IMG_1627I’ve been cycling around my little area of Tasmania for a couple of weeks now and really enjoying it. It makes a change from the well trodden UK commute or my usual weekend loops.

The roads are much quieter here than in Surrey or Berkshire. I guess when the entire island has around half the population of Surrey it’s going to be quieter. The blacktop is in much better condition that I was expecting too. The lower traffic count helps as well as the lack of freezing winter damage that many pothole-strewn UK roads suffer from. In fact pothole avoidance has now been replaced by roadkill avoidance!

image1The KOMs come easier with a bit of motorised doping..

There’s some great climbs around here too. I’ve got a couple of good training ascents close by that I’m using to improve my climbing, something I need after being an average speed junkie for so long. I’ve taken average speed off my Garmin screen to get it out of my head and focus on enjoying the hills for a change.

There is of course the 10 mile long HC climb of Mount Wellington on the Hobart side of the bridge, but as there was snow on the top last week I may have to wait until after winter to attack that one.

wellington

I’m yet to find a weekend group ride in the local area, but I have a couple of leads on one that leaves from a point not far from here. I am also missing all those wonderful little cycling cafes dotted around the Surrey Hills back in England.

For all my Northern Hemisphere people out there, I hope you’re enjoying the start of your summer! #keepcycling

image2 (2)Quality post-ride recovery overlooking the bay!