More Than Sport 112 mile charity ride on Zwift

I decided Friday evening to climb on my bike Saturday afternoon to ride 112 miles to raise $112 to go to More Than Sport. That doesn’t seem like much, but judging from all the other folks out there on Watopia island there were a number $112 donations coming in!

112start

To see the details of the ride, you can check out the Stava activity report. Want to know why I did it? Why did I ride as “I Ride For Manish”? I share that in Saturday’s blog post.

Oh, and I did get one other achievement from the effort…

4xgoal

Now, who are you going to Do It For? IDoItFor.org

I Ride For Manish

Today I’ll be attempting a 112 mile journey on my trainer. Zwift is donating $112 to MoreThanSport.org for every Zwift user who completes the challenge. Today is the last day to pull it off.

So, I went to learn a bit more about More Than Sport before I put myself through this suffering. I learned that the organization is raising money for five particular categories… Water, Food, Medicine, Shelter, and Education. All of those things are good things and worth supporting. I learned from the website how just a $1 could make a difference… what difference could $112 make?

However, I was reminded why I started the I Do It For Foundation. As I looked at the site, I could see how the organization would be supporting broad initiatives that would create and maintain an infrastructure for meeting a need. What I had a hard time finding where the individual instances where all this work was making a difference.

What are their stories? Exactly how much of my $112 was going to end up actually touching an individual? It is awesome to feel that you are being a part of something big, but what is more important is the people that big thing is touching.

I’m thankful for More Than Sport and other organizations that are doing these “big things.” We need them! However, I think there is a place for an organization like the I Do It For Foundation that allows people to focus in on the individual and bring 100% of a resource — no matter how small — to the individual. Often, the personal nature of the attempt means more that the amount of money you might raise.

CFH-On-The-Ground

As I searched through the More Than Sport blog, I came upon Manish. He is a 13-year old boy whose mother was injured during the devastating natural disasters in Nepal. Through Convoy of Hope (a More Than Sport supported group), Manish was able to find some relief.

He took on the role as provider and protector for his family. He cut grass for cattle to make money, while worrying what his family would eat. That’s until he heard about Convoy of Hope’s food distribution near the remote village of Lamosangu. Manish hiked down the mountain to get the food-kit consisting of rice, lentils, salt and oil.

I don’t know if any of my pedal strokes will actually bring relief to Manish. However, as I pedal today, I will be Riding For Manish. Needs have faces. Manish represents those faces to me.

For you next triathlon, ironman, marathon, fondo… or whatever event you are already training for… why not turn it into something more by finding a person near you who has a need and turn that event into your I Do It For ___ campaign? You’re already training for it… why not make it something more?

IDoItFor.org

Today, I’ll be riding for Manish.

Time or Scenery

Yesterday there was a Zwift race at 1:30 EDT. My Team Experimental One was going to be racing. I hated to miss it, but because it is in the middle of the day it cuts right into my afternoon work schedule. It means that most weeks I can’t do it. However, we were going to take a “team photo”, so I took a late lunch and hopped on the trainer for a couple of minutes.

After watching the guys roll off from the start, I headed back to the office. As I drove through the beautiful fall weather (mid-70s and sunny), I had a battle start waging in my mind. There would be another race that evening. Still pumped from seeing the huge roll-off from the line on the afternoon race, I was feeling the pull to jump back on the trainer for a six o’clock event.

The thing was, I had made my plans to ride on the road that evening. The weather is absolutely stunning and the days will soon be gone where there is enough light after work for riding. Make miles while the sun shines!

By the time I left work, my mind was made up. I was going to go climb Paris Mountain. If I left at 6 p.m., I would be able to get in an hour before the sun started to fade. It would also be interesting to see how 20 miles on the road would compare to 20 miles on Zwift’s Richmond course.

The ride turned out to be great! Altamont Road, which runs along the upper ridge of Paris Mountain and was featured in the USA Cycling National Road Race Championships for seven years, is being newly paved. Most of the sections are done. So, the ride was smooth and fast. Well, the road was fast… I don’t know if I was!

I met a rider I had not known before and Brock and I enjoyed the descent from the top and then turned around to climb back up the famous 2.1 mile “Furman Side” of the mountain. We talked along the way and admired the scenery looking out toward the Appalachians. I was glad I had chosen the road!

So, how did the two rides compare? I looked at this on-the-road ride and compared it with a Zwift ride of similar length where I felt that I was giving the same level of effort. Here is a snapshot of the two rides linked to the Strava activities.

Paris Mountain over and back from home.

Paris Mountain over and back from home.

Two laps of Richmond on a TT bike with only one hard lap

Two laps of Richmond on a TT bike with only one hard lap

So, I immediately noticed the difference in the “suffer score.” Everything else seemed to be pretty close — other than the elevation climbed! Also, the feeling of effort at the conclusion of my road ride was one of much more fatigue.

I decided then to bring out a recent Zwift effort where I recalled having a feeling of the same level of fatigue. It was an effort where I first tried out the TT bike on Zwift. This time I was on Watopia. That one hurt! How would it compare?

TT ride on Watopia

TT ride on Watopia

Ah, this one came out closer. I rode for 13 more miles and about 15 minutes longer. However, the road ride had several stops where Brock and I talked. It also had more downhill than Zwift. What I mean is you have to work more on Zwift to get your speed on the downhill than you do on the road. Of course, looking at the Max Speeds, they are all pretty close to the same. Those stops would also have an effect on my power averages since I didn’t stop the Garmin — so I got a few 0’s added into the average!

parisclimb

What is my conclusion? I really think it comes down to Time and Scenery. If I have the time to get out on the road and ride, it is definitely the way to go. However, especially in the winter months when the days are so short, it is pretty clear that Zwift is — while maybe not as good as the road — a great option for keeping your fitness and also enjoying the social aspects of cycling.

It’s an international affair

The Unofficial Zwift Team and Club Listing is continuing to grow. It’s turning into an international affair. “National teams” are popping up every few hours. Pretty soon and we’ll be able to stage another World Championships in Richmond!

Here are the countries represented so far. Some have only just been established without any team members. Others are starting to build quickly to their 15 man roster. A couple of countries have take the Club approach which will not limit members.

Zwift Brazil
  • Zwift tag: BRA
  • Manager: Gabriel Matzenbacher
  • Open (Brazilian Only)
  • Current members: 4
  • Team page
GoZwift Portugal
  • Zwift tag: PT
  • Manager: Braulio Afonso
  • Open (Portuguese Only)
  • Current members: 5
  • Team page
Team Kiwi
  • Zwift tag: TeamKIWI
  • Manager: Craig Hoskin
  • Open (New Zealand)
  • Current members: 1
  • Team page
Cycling South Africa
Belgian Zwift Riders

Do you want to add your country to the mix? You can do so by using the Create a Team form. Give your team a name that easily identifies your country. Yes, there can be more than one country specific team, but they would need to have different names. Designate in your description what types of riders for which you are looking.

What about the USA? Well, I have to give a shout out to the Left Coast Cycling Team. Anybody out there want to start the Right Coast Cycling Team? 😉 There could be a couple in between!

Ride On! Race On!

We’ve got two open teams and three open clubs

It was an exciting weekend at LowCadence.com. After getting the Unofficial Zwift Team and Club  Listing up and going, it was time to start collecting submissions. We currently have six teams listed and three clubs. There are also over 35 Zwift riders signed up as “unattached.”

Dealing with the unattached riders is going to be the biggest challenge. That will be my next project. However, if you are looking to participate in organized riding/racing on Zwift, consider one of these before jumping into the draft.

Available Teams

Left Coast Cycling Team
  • Zwift tag: Team LC
  • Manager: Ron Sines
  • Open
  • Current members: 3
  • Team page
Wheeling Through Fitness
  • Zwift tag: RSA-Cycling
  • Manager: Wesley Briant
  • Open
  • Current members: 1
  • Team page

Available Clubs

I Do It For ___ Cycling Club

MZGR Cycling Club

Cycling South Africa

Check out the entire listing at LowCadence.com/Zwift.

Why the portal? An interview.

I spent the weekend building the Unofficial Zwift Team and Club Listing. I have no idea if it will work. I do know that since it is not automated, it does take work on my part to manage it. Who knows? If the concept works, I may rewrite it and that would create more options for the users.

The process started a discussion on the Zwift Riders Facebook group. Seems not everyone could see the reason for the project. I also learned that I wasn’t the only one with similar ideas. At times, I felt I was having to defend myself. So, in the format of an interview, I want to explain.

zwiftclubteamportal

Why did you decide to build the listing?

It started because I had a great time participating in the first-ever team race on Zwift. It brought back memories of my days team racing on real roads. It got me to wondering who else was on my Zwift team and how could I find out who they were. For that matter, I was curious who all was on the other teams as well. There was no centralized place to find out. I saw a need and tried to meet it.

Do you really think it was a need?

Maybe “need” is too strong of a word. Here we are riding expensive bikes on expensive trainers connected to expensive computers over high bandwidth connections. I’ll call it a “want.” I wanted to know this information and I figured others would as well. Could Zwift survive without it? Sure. However, the teams would form and they would find ways to connect with each other. Why not build a place where a system for this was already in place.

Are you trying to control the team space on Zwift?

Nope. Zwift is a huge community. I am beyond certain that the majority of Zwift users don’t even know the listing exists. It is most likely only known within my sphere of contacts on the Zwift Riders Facebook group. Also, this system doesn’t do anything other than list for common knowledge what others are doing. I’m not building the teams. I’m not telling them where or when they can race. That is all up to the teams and clubs.

Why are you doing this when there are other people building team sites?

First. When I started building it, I didn’t realize there were other initiatives started. When I saw Tam Burns’ Zwift Team Worlds Event project, I was like, “Ahhhh, I don’t have to do this! Someone else is doing the work.” However, when I took at look at what Tam was doing, I realized we’re doing something very different.

Tam’s site and another one by John Greig allow users to register and then the software groups them into teams for specific events. Actually, it is a pretty cool concept and I imagine it will work quite well. It isn’t what I was looking for. I wanted something that was 1) driven by the users, and 2) allowed for continuity for the teams.

So, do you think you have the better plan?

No. I have A plan. Also, from the very beginning I took this concept to the Zwift Riders Facebook group. Behind the scenes I communicated with team mates and other users who gave valuable feedback. I kept putting out iterations of the concept and made adjustments based on the questions users had interacting with the interface.

I think this site is just one of several that could serve the Zwift community. It isn’t in conflict with other sites. For now, it is the only site that does what it does. Frankly, if a better site does what I’m doing (I’d love for it to be integrated in the Zwift software!), I’m more than willing to hand over the data.

How does it work?

If no one uses it, it won’t! Even if there are multiple teams and clubs listed in the portal, but none of them race and ride as teams… it still won’t work. However, it is a good tool that gives Zwift riders opportunities to enjoy team racing.

The way I envision this is that a group of Zwift riders who regularly hangout together online decide to form a team. They choose a team manager and he or she signs onto the portal to create a team. I receive that submission and list the team on the team listing.

If the team is an Invitation Only team, I give the team manager a link to be sent to each member they wish to join. As those entries come in, I add them to the team roster that appears on the team page. That team page is then viewable by anyone.

So, if you are out riding in a race and you see a bunch of people riding with say… Team CCG out beside their names, you can go to the portal and find it stands for the Childwall Chain Gang, an elite group of Road Race specialists, est. 2008 and located in Liverpool, UK.

Unattached riders also can sign up. My plan with this is to create a listing of these riders and then allow team managers to approach those riders to join their groups. At some point, it might workout to form teams based on these lists… However, that doesn’t fit with my desire to have the teams driven entirely by the users. This will be something on which I’ll seek community feedback.

Where do you find this site?

Let me say, first, that I still want feedback. I can’t incorporate every idea, but I definitely consider  them and much of what I’m doing now came from user feedback. Thank you!

Last, this is all about you. If it falls flat and no one uses it, then that is a sign that it isn’t needed or that someone else has something better. I’m fine with both those outcomes! However, if you do sign up, don’t do it on a lark. Use it as a way to build your team — and then RIDE ON as a team. That part is all on you.

Now, go continue making Zwift the awesome online cycling community that it is!

Teams have landed on Watopia

All the news is about hurricane Joaquin landing (or maybe not landing) on the east of coast of the U.S. While most people’s attention was turned to that landing, there was another landing taking place in the Pacific. Team racing has landed on Zwift’s Watopia.

I was excited to have an opportunity to participate in the historic event. Looking back it was really cool… even if I did make a fool of myself in the process. It was fun enough that I’ll be looking to get back to it whenever I can.

It was Frank “vEveresting” Garcia that put the idea out there. He suggested that we turn the Thursday Zwift Training Race Early Bird into a race featuring teams. Team dZi was already making itself noticed. Frank put out a call for other racers to counter dZi’s growing number of riders.

I figured I would jump in and give it a go. So, Frank connected with the team to give us our race instructions before the start. Here is what I was handed, “How do you feel about going hard at the gun and having them have to chase you?” I figured I could do that since that would mean I could be helpful early in the race when I was fresher.

Pre-race went something like this…

“JP is going to try and establish a bit of break at the start and try to hold to make dZi chase. When they come back one of us (I am willing can put in an attack and make them chase again) then standard tactics from there.”

“JP – make them work – We will enjoy the draft. :)”

Photos by James Gill

Photos by James Gill

And so we began. Frank Garcia, Casey Schumn, Neil Law, and Jamie Jj Alldridge were guys I recognized. James Gill was supposed to be on our team as well, but he was not able to make it because of work (not to mention he is riding injured.)

We were mixing it up with the dZi guys as well as Francois Coppex as a pirate. There were several other racers with no team affiliation and various categories of racers within each team. You could tell the difference between the teams by the kits they wore as well as the letters signifying their teams out to right of their names. dZi had… well… dZi. Our team was X1.

I was determined to do my part. So, I tried to stay near the front of the group as we did the warmup. However, Christian Wiedmann had some issues with we lost him as our marshall. He said for us to wait. So, I slowed down and somehow got gapped off the back. I guess Chris logged back in because suddenly he was in front of me in the lead group.

Once again I found myself sprinting to get back to the front group before the start line. I made it, but was already a bit winded from trying to get back on. As we hit the bridge to mark the start, I attacked down the left side of the group. Right away I started building a several second gap.

However, that is where things started going downhill… or I should say… uphill! The start of this race took us immediately into the 3 to 4 minute climb. In order to create a gap, I was having to lay down around 500 watts. Then I had to hold over 325 watts to maintain the distance.

I’m afraid that the plan didn’t work. Yes, I got a gap and riders had to work a bit to come up to me. However, in no way was I hurting any of them. It really was an exercise in futility and I ended up knocking up against 180 bpm within the first 5 minutes of the race!

Suddenly, I wasn’t the one creating a gap. I was trying to hang on for dear life! I did get across the KOM line and descend with the lead of the pack. Then a group of about 15 riders rode on as a group with no real attacks. Each team was using tactics to keep the other under control.

I continued with the group to the next lap. It was about halfway up the climb that I realized that I was not going to be able to keep it up. So, I eased up and decided to finish my ride and then go set up some sandbags to help control some of the expected 12 to 25 inches of rain this weekend.

It gave me an opportunity to see how I compared with some of the other riders. The guys who always kick my butt on these rides are weighing in between 120 and 155 pounds. At 174 pounds, I have to work even harder on the climbs. So when I’m killing myself at 600 watts, they are heading up the incline without having to put out nearly the same effort.

Then when it comes to the end of the race and they are throwing down 500 watts, I’m having to put out that much more. I’m not complaining. On the flats I can use that weight and power to my advantage. It is just on this hilly course my weight does not work in my favor.

Still, it was great fun! I want to try it again, but next time I’ll be a little more judicious in my efforts! I think I would be of more use working to just stay in contact with the group on the climb and then use my power to create a draft for a teammate on the flats or the rolling section.

Of course, Richmond is a whole different ball game! It is a course that better suits me. The climbs there sting, but they are not as long. I can power over them and take advantage of the flats and downhill. It is more of a sprinter’s course than Watopia.

Did I mention that Team X1 won? Still waiting for the official finish report, but we had two guys in the finish sprint (which was pretty cool!) and the first finisher wasn’t really a valid racer — best I could tell. Neil Law took the win for us with Casey Schumn finishing close behind. UPDATE: Race report is not out. If you want to see a very good blow-by-blow account of the race, check out Nathan Guerra’s Twitch.

So, team racing has come to Zwift. It works. It is loads of fun! I can see a day when Zwift will incorporate this structure into the game.

Now that I’ve helped make history, I’m looking forward to that future!

Virtual Power Passport

Earlier this fall, I started thinking of how I could pull off an event for the I Do It For Foundation. I have conducted a Ride For Mike ride each year since 2007. Normally, I get hit with some epic type ride early in the year and carry it out around this time of year. This year, I wanted to incorporate Zwift.

Of course, each ride has a fund raising component. As I have been trying to move the foundation forward, I have been raising money for the operational expenses of the organization. Since we give the service to our Doers to raise funds for someone they love, we have no way of covering our expenses. This has held us back to a degree.

My thought was to stage a race. We would have people sign an entry fee and get a number. They would then append that number to their names on the Zwift leader board. We’d have a race and then a portion of the money raised would go as a payout to the various places.

I approached Zwift with my idea and as usual they were very quick in responding and gave me some great honest feedback. That feedback was basically that until there was a way to physically proctor a race you would be inviting cheating — 100% for certain. I did also get some insight into where Zwift would like to go in this regard.

It got me to thinking. “Okay, so maybe I can’t have a race with a payout. However, if I were to do such a thing, how would I go about doing it?” So, I created this form as a basis for discussion and possible implementation. After posting it in the Zwift Riders group on Facebook (closed group), I definitely got some feedback!

Over the next couple of days, I’d like to lay out what I was thinking. I want to point out right now that I’m not trying to set up some “virtual power passport clearinghouse” for all of Zwift. I was only wanting to conduct this experiment for this particular race series.

Also, let me point out that the feedback is good. While I will go forward to explain my original intent in each component, I’ve already determined that a couple of things will change. Some things will be taken away and some others added.

I still hope to have an I Do It For Foundation event on Zwift. Unfortunately, it won’t involve a payout.

The fun of the county line

I will admit that I am not much of a social rider. Most of my time on the bicycle is alone time. When I really enjoy riding in a group it is when there is a bit of a competitive vibe going on. It was this kind of ride that got me hooked on cycling over a decade ago.

That lead me into organized racing. However, to race — and race well — is all about commitment. There comes a moment when you realize the time it will take to make yourself competitive exceeds the time you can devote to it. It is a sad day.

There were those moments early in the season when I ventured out with a number on my back and found myself at the mercy of the riders around me. It was possible to hang for a portion of the race, but at those moments during the end of the race when training shows itself… I had nothing.

It was disheartening. I just couldn’t find pleasure in being field fodder. I’ve known what it is like to be at the front. I’ve known what it is like to win. Finishing 20th or so week after week just doesn’t cut it.

So I found myself lost. If I wasn’t training for something and what training I was doing would never be enough, what was I riding for? Yes, there is the sheer pleasure of being outdoors, but when you have a competitive urge… it is frustrating.

Last night I experienced the fun of those early days. It happened on Watopia. Once again… Zwift to the rescue!

I logged on feeling pretty tired. However, I wanted to get in an hour so I could meet my exercise goals for the day. By the top of the first hill I was pushing along at about 4.0 wkg. For me that would be in the upper 300 and low 400 watts. Once I got the motor running I could keep it up.

As I noticed the time for the upcoming sprint, I realized that it was within reach. So, I went for it and barely missed it by a fraction of a second. However, before I finished the lap, I inherited it as the faster rider logged off.

Turning around, I headed the other direction. I went for both the KOM and the sprint on this one and barely missed both. This was where my tired legs got me. I could hold wattage, but I had no snap to put down the 1000+ watts to assure a good finish.

orange

However, as I neared the finish, I realized that I was going to grab the orange jersey easily! It was a nice surprise after the earlier pain and failure. I was right proud of that orange jersey.

And then it was gone.

Hmmmm, who was this person who stole my jersey? Ah, it was the current holder of the green jersey. That would be my next marker along my circuit.

If he was going to take my orange jersey, then I’d just take his green one! I knew it wasn’t going to be easy because he had a pretty decent time. Still, tired legs or not, I wanted this one.

As I descended toward the wooden bridge that was the length of the sprint, I put my gearing in the 53×11. I knew I had to have the Kickr all wound up before I hit the start line or I’d have no chance. I stood and pushed forward not looking at the TV screen. I didn’t want to be tempted to let up as I neared the line.

Out of the periphery of my vision I saw the wooden slats of the road pass. Then I glimpsed the line. It was only then that I looked up at the time to find that just moments after loosing my orange jersey I had claimed the green.

green

That is the “fun of the county line.” Zwift gives you multiple opportunities for this impromptu competition. It is possible for me because it does not require long endurance. At my fastest these efforts last me anywhere from 11 seconds to just under 4 minutes. On a good day, I can keep the wheels turning to grab a 14 minute plus lap on Watopia.

Zwift helps scratch my competitive itch. When I feel up to it, I can do full length races. When I’m pressed for time and not on top of my game, I can still manage a little bicycle sparring on the shorter challenges.

Sprinting for that county line still brings the same feelings that it did years ago… even if now days the line is a virtual one.

Rediscovering Watopia and the fun of it all

It has been sometime since I’ve ridden on Zwift’s Watopia island. There was a period where I wasn’t on Zwift hardly at all. Then I got back into it when the new Richmond course opened up. Last night I signed on not knowing which course would be active. When I saw it was Watopia, I felt that odd feeling of something old being new again.

First thing I did was look through the list of riders to see if there was anyone that I would like to ride with. I noticed the entry, “C. Schumn 3.3 metric”. Casey I knew from him being a long time Zwift user. I was intrigued to see he was trying to do a metric century with an average of 3.3 watts.

I decided to log in near him to see if I could help him out a bit.

Immediately I was in trouble. Just because I entered the course near him didn’t mean that I would be able to ride with him! I came onto the course at 0.0 wkg while Casey was matching his average of over 3.0 wkg. So, he put seconds on me right away.

Not only that, I joined him on a climb. So, here I was trying to chase him down with cold legs. Now, for a 47-year old man, that can be a painful undertaking!

I did catch up with him and he waved. I rang my little cycling bell. We started to ride together. I let him pull me for a bit while I worked to loosen up my legs.

Before long I was feeling better and I came around him. He was already nearing halfway of his metric century mark. He was trying to average around a 15 minute to 15.5 minute lap. I tried to pick up the speed with him on my wheel. I could go harder because I wouldn’t be riding as long.

theeffort

This went on for two laps. However, on that second lap, I really uncorked it on the straight to the  finish. That meant I was riding for a sustained period at over 500 watts. I was pretty much blown after that one. It did mean that Casey was able to get two sub-15 minute laps, but I had to back off and recover.

I rode easily — very easily — and waited for Casey to come back around to me. This time I decided to ride with him at around 3.0 to 4.0 wkg. The only variation I did to this was I did go all out on the KOM climb to see if I could snag the polka-dot jersey.

I was pleased that I got it with a PR of 1:52 (I thought I had climbed that faster in the past… oh well.) Then I waited up for Casey who was now over a half minute behind me. By the time he caught up, I was recovered and we started to work together.

That was the most fun of the evening. We were able to pretty effectively stay together for the remainder of that lap. It was a challenge because I was having my Zwift session controlled by the Kickr while Casey’s session was being controlled by a power meter on this bicycle. This made his ride more smooth as we transitioned from flats to the climbs and while descending.

The Kickr tends to send you shooting up the first few meters of a climb and makes you work like a dog to get momentum going down a hill. That meant in those areas Casey and I would leap frog each other and it was harder to consistently stay together.

However, on the flats and once we got sorted out on the climbs and descents, we were riding well in each other’s drafts. Then we hit the final straight for my last time. I once again ramped it up to help him get speed with the least amount of effort. Casey held my wheel and we pulled off yet another sub-15 minute lap.

It made it even more rewarding when I found that Casey finished the metric century in the 15th fastest time — ever. He pulled it off in 2:45:03. That is impressive!

This is what 1.5 hours on an indoor trainer becomes not only doable, but actually fun! When was the last time you didn’t want to get off the trainer, but you had to because you had no more time? That is what Zwift does to you.

Well done, Casey. We’ll see you for your metric attempt on the Richmond course.