Zwift Academy 2017 Review

Well it’s all done and dusted. The 2017 Zwift Academy (for those who haven’t made the final U23 top ten) is officially over. From the 9234 entrants in the Men’s Academy, 1245 managed to finish the program, myself included!

Over the six-week program, entrants needed to complete 8 structured workouts, 5 group rides and 2 races on Zwift. The workouts were pretty tough, especially towards the end of the program. One called for twenty four 15-second sprints at max power with only 30 seconds recovery! But then they are made to test you and also uncover real talent for the Dimension Data Pro Conti team! Overall it was great to have some proper, structured training rather than just randomly smashing it on the trainer.

The warm downs were a bit long for my liking, a lot of them were over 15 minutes long soft pedalling at really low wattage. I was ready to climb off and grab a recovery shake after five. I prefer a short, sharp hour.

The races – as with all Zwift races – were brutally tough. I’m very much a mid-pack B grade racer on Zwift at the best of times. I managed 26th place on my first race and a much more respectable 5th place on the second. Those were a real test! The group rides were a little hit and miss. I used most of them as recovery spins.

Overall I did enjoy the Academy. It motivated me to get on the trainer and dig deep in order to complete all the rides within the specified time frame. The workouts were longer than I would have preferred and that is my only real complaint. Would I do it again? Yes, if the program fit in with my training at the time. Free structured training laid out for six weeks? Why not!

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Zwift Academy 2017 – All signed up and ready to roll!

So on a whim this morning, I signed up for the 2017 Zwift Academy!

This year alongside the women’s event, Zwift have teamed up with Dimension Data to offer a men’s Academy! Dimension Data have even offered a spot on their continental squad to the top male graduate under 23 years of age. Of course, for us oldies and mere mortals it’s simply a chance to take on some free structured training. Plus for every ten graduates, Zwift will donate one bike to underprivileged communities in South Africa. Talk about a win-win!

In order to “graduate” from the Academy, you need to complete eight structured workout sessions, five group rides and two Zwift races over the next six weeks.

Being a rash sort of guy, I signed up this morning and completed the first workout this afternoon. This was (surprise, surprise) an FTP test. What fun. The hour long workout started with a long warm-up, followed by a 20-minute all out hammering at a pace you think you can sustain for that period, then a gradual cool down.

I’d forgotten how much these tests hurt. I’m not sure why I chose to do this test today, especially as my legs were pretty achy after yesterday’s 70km ride. I guess I just wanted to get it over with! It’s been a long time since I’ve done a “proper” FTP test on the turbo and I do not miss them!

So that’s one workout down, seven more to go… #RideOn

Throwback to the 2012 Olympic Road Race!

I can’t believe this was FIVE YEARS AGO now! It really does seem like yesterday I was cheering the guys on as they hammered their way up Box Hill nine times! I was also totally in awe at the speed at which the peloton flew up the road. The wind rush of a 100+ strong peloton flashing by inches away from your face is also quite an experience.

Unfortunately that day Team Sky Team GB couldn’t gain control of the race and deliver Cav to the line first (even with the current TdF winner and a future one in the team).  In no great surprise, none of the other countries wanted to work with them in order to reel in the break. They spent a lot of time riding on the front.

Alexander Vinokourov of Kazakhstan (and of ASTANA blood doping ban infamy) took the gold medal, with Rigoberto Uran and Alexander Kristoff rounding out the podium.

Along with Wiggo’s Tour de France win, it was this event that lead to a huge cycling boom in the UK and in particular Surrey and the home counties. Thousands of guys and gals dusted off their road bikes (or bought shiny new carbon ones) and got back into shape, logging thousands of miles racing along thousands of Strava segments.

It was certainly an event that got me motivated to pedal a lot harder!

To finish first… (TdF Stage 9)

…first you have to finish.

Well that was a stage and a half! It had all the markings of an epic day at the Tour but that was not what anybody wanted! Big G out. Porte out, Contadope and Q both slipping backwards. Aru(kiddingme) the only other GC rider managing to keep tabs on Froome – okay Bardet and Uran Uran up there too.

No disrespect to Froome of course, he’s an incredible rider and is absolutely crushing it in the Tour – I’m a fan. Sure he’s no style icon but he can certainly race a bike. I want him to win the Tour but with some exciting racing thrown in the mix! I hope after that stage this doesn’t turn into the #BoreDeFrance from here on in.

Are we going to see the “Sky Procession” control the peloton as Froome carries that Yellow all the way to Paris? Please no. But with mountains to follow and that final time trial looking to suite Froome down to a tee, on paper it’s looking that way. I hope we’re in for some more action (of the staying upright kind) and a proper GC fight. It’s still a long way to Paris!

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

When Twitter is awesome, plus bonus Peter Sagan content!

Every now and then, Twitter can be truly awesome. Take this example: A budding young cyclist, Ruby from the UK recently tweeted to Peter Sagan about their shared love of post-ride Haribo…

Then this happened…

A retweet and reply from the World Champion himself!

There are so many reasons to love Peter Sagan and this is simply one more shining example to add to that list! A true ambassador of cycling. In a sport where many take themselves way too seriously, Sagan is a breath of fresh air.

See this article on Cycling Tips about Sagan’s infamous Haribo habits.