Looking back over the years of my blogging, I’ve noticed that around July I seem to disappear. I think it is because I start off the season all excited with lots to write about. Then I get into the the rhythm and things begin repeating. I start repeating myself and lose my imagination.
Enter Zwift and Richmond Worlds.
Zwift launched a new course. It was a major change because this virtual course was a drop dead ringer for the UCI World Championships course in Richmond, VA. As usual, Zwift threw out some “virtual swag” — and some real stuff as well. It was enough to get me back on a regular schedule.
It just so happened that one of my scheduled rides coincided with the Zwift Race with GCN. GCN stands for Global Cycling Network. It is kind of like Top Gear (BBC edition, of course) for bicycles. For this particular episode, Simon Richardson would be competing with racers on Zwift while Daniel Lloyd and Matt Stephens would call the live race being webcast on YouTube.
So, I decided to hang out with the group and give it a go. It would be only two laps. That would be twenty miles. That would be doable. I could give it all I had for the first lap and maybe get some camera time! Then I could just hang on for the finish.
We rolled off and I tried to stay up front. For the most part I was able to set in the top ten or so. I kept my eye on Nathan Guerra, Francois Coppex, Simon Richardson, and Scottie Weiss. My goal was to stay close to them for the first lap.
Nathan and Francois I have raced with multiple times on Zwift. I KNEW I could not beat them. Simon Richardson is a former pro and presenter on GCN. I obviously figured he would be hard to beat. Finally, Scottie is a recent podium finisher in masters world championships.
For the majority of the first lap I simply tried to stay in position up front while keeping my nose out of the wind as much as possible. What a difference the ability to stay in the draft made. It allowed me to ride at speeds that made the first lap a 21 minute effort.
As we neared Libby Hill, I moved closer to the front. I wanted to be one of the first into the climb so that I could fall back into the clutches of the lighter riders. I measured my effort and came through the climb in good shape.
It hurt though. I can’t imagine racing up that climb as many times as the women’s and men’s elite fields. For me it was clearly a “match” I burned. I was just wanting to find somewhere to hide to let the flames cool down.
Up the second cobble climb I was still feeling the earlier effort. It was at this point that I started paying more attention to keeping my effort up instead of the riders around me. I was able to catch glimpses of my marked riders. However, I knew that there were a number of riders in there I did not know.
I had spent the first lap at 3.5 to 4.5 wkg. That means I was at my functional threshold power for that 20 plus minutes. At the start of the second lap I just knew that wouldn’t continue. The other riders started putting out over 400 watts and I could not maintain that. So, I began to drop back.
I slipped into that “Well, I guess I’ll just turn this into a cookie ride” mode. I eased up and recovered a bit. That allowed me to take another look at the leader board. Yes, there was a sizable gap between the front riders and myself.
However, I noticed I had a real chance at getting a top ten finish. I also noticed that Scottie was surprisingly back with me. I hooked up with him and another rider and we worked together to bring down the gap between us and some of the riders dropping back from the leading group.
Then we hit the climbs at the end of the course. Unsurprisingly, Scottie dropped me. However, I was in a battle now for position with R. Sines. He was making it tough, but I determined I would get him over the last three climbs to the finish.
Scottie was leaving me in the dust with a lead over a couple dozen seconds. I was able to keep Sines at about a four seconds gap. While the gaps were growing between the riders, I was still right in line with the guys I had started out the race marking. Now I started to think if I could hold off Sines, I might even get a top five!
And so we finished our second and final lap.
It was somewhat confusing because we were not the only riders on the course. We were all supposed to have GCN out beside our names. Some of the racers didn’t. It was hard to know what your finish actually was.
Then there is the matter of “real power” versus “virtual power”. Some of us were being measured by power meters. Others were being measured by software generated power numbers. The virtual power numbers can often be a bit gracious.
So, I was excited to see the Official Leaderboard Top Ten. This was the real power list and I managed a top six. Granted, it was a big gap, but it was way better than I anticipated.
Most of all I was thankful for the motivation I received. As you can see, there is a post here on LowCadence.com. It also gave me some motivation not just to ride, but to start organizing my own race.
Stay tuned for an I Do It For Foundation race once “trainer season” starts in earnest here in the Northern Hemisphere. I’ll be sharing my ideas and asking for your feed back here on the blog. Zwift has let me know they aren’t excited about a payout race, but I’m sure I can think of something to hold onto for bragging rights!