Tag Archives: TNW

Past video and last video

Let’s start with the last video uploaded to YouTube. It is commentary on the June 23, 2015 Tuesday Night Worlds on Zwift’s Watopia Island. It gives you an opportunity to see yesterday’s blog post.

Continuing our “Throwback Thursday” theme, I decided to go back and resurrect a video from the past. This is one of the earliest videos I ever made riding a bicycle. The first was a video of the Sunshine Cycle Shop crew climbing Paris Mountain on April 27, 2008.

It is amazing to see how the action camera market has changed since that time! I was using on of the early Contour cameras. GoPro didn’t exist. The Internet has changed as well! The reason these videos are lower bandwidth is because back in that day the idea of HD quality video seemed out of reach.

Of course, this was less than 10 years ago. Much has changed in my life, on the bicycle, and with technology. Even the blog has changed. You’ll notice at the end of the older video that I point you’ll notice I point folks to StackOfStuff.net (that is a time capsule for you). I’m still at it though. On the bicycle, I’ve done more than I thought I could do.

I kind of like Throwback Thursday…

It’s Watopia, not Utopia

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 acheter cialis en andorre. 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

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.

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.

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 Gurrea in hopes he will help pull me back to the attacking riders

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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!

The catch!

The catch!

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.

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.

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 three riders.

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.

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.

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.

Walloped on Watopia

When something isn’t working, you sometimes have to take a chance to try something different.  The problem is there is no guarantee that what you try will work. It’s the risk you take, but it doesn’t make you feel any better when you fail.

Well, that is what happened at last night’s Tuesday Night Worlds on Zwift’s Watopia Island.

My best ever finish on one of these Zwift races was third. Several of them were DNFs and the rest involved me finishing somewhere mid to back of the A group. All I know is that I am getting tired of getting several laps in and then getting gapped on the KOM climb and then being left to fight over scraps.

So approaching last night’s race I decided to take a different approach. I would try to keep my power up by increasing my cadence instead of my usual mashing along. I also would do everything in my power to stay protected in the group. Finally, my plan included going as easy as possible up the KOM climb — even if it meant a slight gap at the top.

On Watopia, it is hard for me to get the power I need to pull my weight around when I am spinning at, say, 95 rpm. I’m typically hitting my power sweet spot when I am in the mid-seventies. In real life, I would typically be averaging low to mid-eighties.

My hope was that by getting in the field, I could allow them to pull me along and I would not need to produce as much power and I could spin along. Of course, this changed the dynamics of how I’ve raced on the island. I wasn’t prepared for what happened.

I knew I was going to be in trouble before we had even finished a half a mile. The start is on a decline and then onto a flat. At first things seemed fine. I was with the front part of the group. I was pedaling along at 90 rpm. I began to slip back in the group, but that was okay. I figured I just needed to find the right rhythm.

As I started slipping farther back, I started increasing my cadence to bring my power up. I was now well over 100 rpm. Then I dropped off the pack as we came onto the flat section.

Once that happened, it was as though someone had put one of the running parachutes on my back. I tried to ease my way back to the field, but they appeared to be getting farther away. Finally, I shifted to a harder gear and went after them. I finally caught them, but I was already feeling the burn and was mentally frustrated.

I tried again and this time with a little more success. Success, that is until I reached the rollers. I learned how to attack the rollers in my normal lower cadence approach. Now with this different method I found myself once again getting separated and fighting to get back to the group after making it through the rollers and onto the “finishing stretch.”

Twice on this first part of the race I had sustained periods of efforts over 500 watts. Worse, I was mentally starting to fight the “here we go again” attitude. Still, here I was with the group and the climb was next. This could be the place where my new approach would pay off.

At first things seemed to be going okay. I didn’t start on the front, but close enough that I figured I would be able to set my own pace. So, I aimed to keep my wattage at or just under 400 watts. This is about 50 watts less than I typically put out to stay with the front in these races.

I also noticed I had an aero power up. My thought was that I could allow a slight gap at the top and then use the power up to give me a slight advantage in a chase. Saving my average watts up the climb might leave more in the bank even if I had to do a short effort to get back on.

Experience should have told me this was not going to work. Here is the fact: if you are gapped by 4 seconds when you reach the top of the climb and the riders ahead are in a compact group, you are toast — or you are one strong rider! My plan fell apart right there.

I launched my power up right before I crested the KOM line. I shifted down to put in a dig. The 4 second gap coming up to the line suddenly was 12 seconds before I new it. It hung there taunting me for a bit and then started ticking up.

My plans of putting in a chasing effort fell apart. I just settled in trying to hold the gap. When it reached 20+ seconds, things did hold for awhile. I even noticed a couple of times that I gained a second or two. However, by the time we crossed the start finish banner, the gap was over 30 seconds.

I was done. Of course, I still had hopes that I would stay ahead of the riders behind and maybe I could get past some riders who might fall off ahead. I pushed along looking for drafting help. However, most riders I came upon were not riding at high enough speed to help me without causing me to lose more time.

Finally, with the gap ahead over one minute, I decided to just finish out the fourth lap and call it a night. It wasn’t fun anymore and I had no real objective to accomplish. No need to rub in the disappointment by slogging through that last lap.

It was one of those “why do I do this” kind of moments. I mean, I’m not a guy in the running for winning these things, but, come on, that was just awful! There were C group riders who finished in front of me.

Of course, you know, I will have to try again.