Last night was the Tuesday Night Worlds on Zwift. Sometimes we escape there to get away from heat, rain, or dangerous conditions. It certainly makes that possible, but Watopia isn’t Utopia. Our PM race proved it.
First, I’ll get my race report out of the way (see video from the race here).
I decided to pass on my Quarq power meter. The night before I rode on the trainer and my power meter kept dropping. I’m not sure if the battery is running down or something was interfering with the ANT+ connection.
My Giant TCR Advanced mounted to my Wahoo Kickr
The Wahoo Kickr was still kicking and sending a good signal to the computer. It would be my power meter for the evening. This did concern me because of my past issues trying to stay consistent with the group.
The bridge marking the start of the Tuesday Night Worlds.
Thankfully, I was with the front of the group when we hit the bridge that marked the start. I figured with a climb coming up things should remain under control as the racers sorted out who was who. Or so I thought.
Frank Garcia goes on the attack at the base of the first climb.
Almost immediately Frank “vEveresting” Garcia started to form a gap. M. Nahorniak (a rider with whom I had not yet ridden) followed. I contemplated what to do. It was definitely early for those guys to go off the front, but I wasn’t sure what type of concerted effort the group could put out because of the various categories represented.
I was comforted by the fact that Nathan Guerra was in the group. There was no doubt that he could nail them back. So, I began to mark him. As the riders ahead established a 6 second gap, Nathan and I moved to the front to pace the field.
I mark Nathan Guerra in hopes he will help pull me back to the attacking riders
Nearing the top, the two riders ahead still had a 10 – 12 second gap on us. However, I was not pushing hard. I felt if I could just stay with Nathan and not go into the red, we could overtake them. It was important for me not to overdo it here early.
P. Merrick catches and comes over the top to form a 3 second gap at the KOM.
It was about that time that P. Merrick (another new rider to me) caught us and came around to chase after Garcia and Nahorniak. By the time we reached the KOM banner at the top of the climb, he had a 3 second gap on Guerra and me. He was about that far behind Garcia, but Nahorniak had stretched his lead.
Now is when I got concerned. There is just something about me and the Kickr when it comes to going downhill. It seems that other riders are able to leave me in the dust. I can be in 53×11 and over 100 rpm in cadence and I just can’t seem to get the wattage up.
Suffering on the descent!
Sure enough, not only did the riders ahead increase the gap on me, but several other riders that had been with me or behind me caught or moved around me. I was doing a standing sprint down the hill and still got left!
I had to hope that I could make it up on the upcoming flat section. By the time I reached the start/finish banner, I had won back the time lost to Nathan and the other riders. Still, Garcia, Merrick, and Nahorniak were hanging out there between 10 and 20 seconds. I tried to give Guerra an elbow flick to come around and chase, but my phone screen must have had sweat on it because it wouldn’t activate.
Closing in on the first pass through the start/finish banner.
It was on the way to the first tunnel that I learned I had put my hope in the wrong scenario. I had noticed during the warmup and first portion of the race that Guerra did not have the TNW designation out to the right of his name. This isn’t that abnormal for someone to leave it off, but I should have questioned it.
Along this stretch I saw a message pop up on the screen from Nathan, “No recovery ride with this group!” Uh oh. The idea of riding his wheel into the front might be turning into fool’s gold. Another message popped up, “Sorry, not really racing. Shouldn’t mess with you.” Oh great!
Basically, this meant I needed to get up there with those three guys as soon as I could. If I was left here to ride alone, I wouldn’t be able to catch them. I could see from the messages they were sending that they were trying to work together at about a 4.0 wkg pace. If they did that, there was no way I would catch them without dying in the attempt!
Going alone to bridge the gap.
So it was that I came around Nathan and set out to bring the group back. My strategy was to try to stay within reach until the start of the big climb. Once I reached that point, I would just have to hope that the guys would be resting on the gap they had established and I could close up to them with a burst.
They remained between 10 to 20 seconds ahead for most of the time I carried out my measured effort. At first I was a little discouraged, but then I started to notice that I was staying with them and even gaining a little. Perhaps I could make the junction!
My last ditch effort to catch the front group.
Crossing the sprint zone bridge the gap had moved back up to over 20 seconds. Then between that and the bridge where we started the race the time fluctuated between 10 and 20 seconds. When I hit the start of the climb, the gap was over 20 seconds. This could be tough.
Then the gap dropped below 20 seconds and I could see the riders ahead were lowering their watts per kilogram. If I was going to try this, it would have to be now. I put my head down and brought my wattage up to around 400 watts and then over 500 watts. I wanted to catch them, but I also wanted to have something left when I did!
I caught them just before we reached the alien biker statues. For a moment I contemplated just keeping my wattage up and setting the pace. However, I thought better of it and hoped to back off and recover. My heart rate hit 185 bpm during the effort and that is near the very top of my red zone!
Nathan pointing out my mistake.
I made the break, but at what cost? As Nathan pointed out as we climbed the hill, I had burned a match. Actually, I felt like I had burned a torch! I also knew things were not going to get better because I was still having to work and my heart rate had only come down to around 180 bpm. To make matters worse, we were coming up to the downhill.
It was about this time I noticed a new rider ahead of us. It was E. Angeli. It showed that he was nearly a minute ahead of us and we were closing in fast. I wondered how he was able to get that large of a gap. I didn’t remember him coming around us.
The group grows to four.
Once he joined the dynamics began to change as he helped push the pace over the top of the KOM. Sure enough, by the time we reached the bottom of the hill and got within sight of the finishing banner, I was about 12 seconds arrears. At that point, I just didn’t see the point in continuing to chase.
I let the guys continue on unmolested by another attempt to bridge up to them. Using my keyboard, I switched over to view the race from the vantage point of those within the winning break. The thought was that I would create a TV-like recording of the remainder of the race.
The winner would come out of these four riders.
It was then that I really noticed that Watopia was turning into Warptopia. Having time to sit back and watch instead of concentrating on my own effort, I was able to see how latency was causing all kinds of problems. It made for some interesting views!
Garcia’s connection seemed pretty solid. However, Nahorniak, Angeli, and Merrick seemed to be having issues. As it turned out, the connection issues forced Nahorniak out of the race. It appeared to be weather related and he later reported that his home lost power about 30 minutes after he pulled out. It was a pity, because of the riders remaining, he seemed the strongest.
Merrick’s avatar was doing all kinds of stuff. At times he was doing circles. Other times he would disappear for a moment and then suddenly reappear ahead of the group. One time I watched Merrick ride into and disappear into the side of a mountain! Angeli took a major detour off of the road into a field of flowers.
As it turns out, I never was able to record the finish because all the riders dropped off the leaderboard and I was left with only my name listed there. Without access to the full leaderboard, I was unable to engage the “fan view” to see things from their perspectives.
According to Christian Wiedmann’s race report, P. Merrick ended up taking the win in the A group. Frank came in second. I had watched him get dropped and then fight valiantly to get back, but it was too big an order. I was happy to see that he persevered for the second spot. Turns out Angeli fell prey to the network issues that seemed to be plaguing the island.
Picking up the scraps after an otherwise disappointing ride.
It was kind of boring not being able to watch the guys as I rode along to finish out the required miles of the ride. To make matters worse, I misunderstood the distance. I thought it was 31.5 miles which put me back at the bridge where I started. However, it was supposed to be 32.5 miles — the finish banner. Technically, I got a DNF.
I went for the KOM as a way to make myself feel better and was happy to snag it, but it definitely wasn’t the fastest KOM of the evening. Still, it always is fun to ride around a bit in the polka dots. My only regret really was that I was unable to capture the video I would have liked.
Not too shabby.
Then as I logged out, I saw the report that pops up at the end of each ride on Zwift. It was nothing to be ashamed of. I definitely got myself a workout!
Isn’t that really the ultimate advantage of these activities? It is helping me get stronger and keeping me healthy. I’m having fun to boot!
Even if Watopia isn’t Utopia, it is still a great place to spend a hot muggy evening.