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

The rise of the eFondo and eSportive

Riding a Sportive on your turbo trainer. Apparently that’s totally a thing now. With the success of their first eFondo, where over 1000 people signed up to “ride” the event, Zwift have this time partnered with Cycling Tips to run a whole series of eFondos over the coming months.

Yep that’s right folks, a virtual Sportive! Dust off your replica World Champs kit and get ready to litter the floor of your pain cave with discarded gel wrappers, because you can now have the whole Sportive experience without leaving the house.

They’ll be on a Sunday morning (for those down here in Australia at least, where winter is on the way) and consist of one full lap of the Watopia Pretzel route. That’s a virtual 72km with 1330m of virtual climbing. For those with smart trainers it can be quite a challenge as the route is almost entirely “uphill” from the gun all the way to the top of the Radio Tower climb. I rode the first half of the last eFondo and to be fair it was actually pretty motivating. Being surrounded by so many other Zwifters means you always had somebody to chase!

Get ready for the Zwift Cycling Tips eFondo Series!

If you complete one of the events you unlock the Zwift eFondo kit (virtual). Now if only they could incorporate virtual feed stations along the route and a virtual finisher’s goody bag when you cross the line… #RideOn

Roll on warmer weather

IMG_1302So it’s been a little quiet on my blog for a few weeks now. I’ve had good reasons though as I’ve been very busy organising something massive that I will let you know about in my next post. In the meantime I have still been clocking up the miles, I’m knocking on the door of 3000 so far this year. There have even been a few “short sleeve” rides too as we head steadily towards summer!

Hopefully you are all out there building up your mileage. I’ve been hitting a few PB’s lately so my year of not “training” and just riding my bike (lots) seems to be working out well. I’m heading down to the south coast to visit my parents soon so it will be good to cover some miles over new ground for a change.

image1 (3)

In non-cycling news, today I ventured into London, my last trip into the great city for quite some time. I took a long walk along the Thames, soaking up the sights and eating at the multi-cultural street markets along the South Bank. It really is a city with something for everyone.

Live life, cycle hard, be happy.

Oh and a big shout to Elz who is riding Dunkerque-Roubaix this weekend!

The 5000 mile mark

I was looking at my Garmin Connect stats this evening and realised I’d just recently rolled over the 5000 mile mark for the year! I know it’s not much compared to some but it’s a good milestone for me. Last year I finished on a shade over 4460 miles.

IMG_0515

I don’t really set mileage targets, but with any luck I should hit 6000 miles by the end of the year. Next year I may aim for 6215 miles (which is 10,000km).

Surrey Sportive 2015 by SussexSportPhotography.comMy favourite ride of the year (and I’ve had MANY great ones) was probably the AAT Surrey Sportive that I blasted around with a tight bunch of my Woking CC mates. A well organised event and a thoroughly enjoyable 95 miles breaking in my newly built Kinesis.

Monday morning is looking like the first truly freezing ride of the year. It’s forecast to drop to zero degrees so I’ll  be dusting off the full winter jacket for the first time this season!

#keepcycling

A good few days

We’ve had some really great weather of late  – you’d almost think it was actually summer here in the UK – so combined with some time off work I’ve been able to get out on the bike more than usual.

e82edacd-4e30-43f2-97d7-8ccdc2789bf6I’ve mixed it up with some fantastic club rides alongside my Woking CC crew, a few relaxed solo jaunts exploring the Chilterns and some faster smash-ups as well. I haven’t really focused on training or hitting numbers, just enjoying my extra time on two wheels.

Yesterday I did focus on the numbers though, getting out on the time trial bike for a tester over my local 10-mile course. With less than fresh legs I set a yearly course PB and a new 20-minute power PB in the process. Really happy with that as I haven’t put in as much specific TT training this year as I would have liked.

1f4b572a-27ff-4287-aca0-483ac41be299I even got my nephew riding his first proper bike. No stopping him now!

This weekend many of my club mates will be smashing it around the closed roads of London and Surrey for the Prudential Ride London 100 mile sportive. Good luck to anyone reading this who may be riding it. The weather looks to be perfect. A far cry from last year’s downpour. I must enter the Pru 100 one year! #keepcycling

What are you training for?

What are you training for? Or more to the point, what is your current training program setting out to achieve? Are you training to be race ready?

Are you training to be RACE READY?

DigDeepCoaching

I thought I’d share this article from Dig Deep Coaching about the importance of ensuring your training is in line with your race or event objectives. When it comes to training for a particular event, it all boils down to specifics.

Specific training for specific goals!

Simply put, your training should reflect your objective. If your main goal for the year is a solo 100-mile sportive with five big climbs, then just sitting in the draft for a relaxed paced three hour club ride every weekend may not be ideal preparation. Likewise if you’re aiming to smash your 25-mile time trial PB, riding a century wouldn’t be the best option. Set out your goals, then tailor your training to match them.

Some people even go as far as to train at the same time of day that their chosen event will take place! You don’t have to go that far, but making sure your training is matched to your objective will pay dividends come the day of your race or event.