Tag Archives: Zwift

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.

Them there be fightin’ words

The video Zwift Friday Training Race May 8, 2015 on my YouTube channel seems to have been picked up somewhere because just over the weekend it was viewed over 1000 times. I still haven’t tracked down what has driven the interest, but I have noticed that it has also generated a couple of comments. I was surprised at how one of the comments got under my skin.

The first somewhat negative comment didn’t bother me so much. It made me chuckle. Even as I edited the video, I wondered how long it would be before someone made a jab at me.

Factory051 commented: “Britisher? Greece doesn’t have a flag? What on earth is wrong with you?”

Yes, I did say “Britisher” when I should have said “Brit.” However, in my defense I would ask you to do a voice over of a video without a script and see how many times you misspeak! When you are in the midst of a list of “ers” and suddenly have a pattern interrupt, it is hard to break the cycle. Anyway, I just claimed the ignorant American excuse on that one.

Now, as for Greece not having a flag. Of course, the country of Greece has a national flag. What it did not have at the time of the race was a flag for Zwift. As I was doing the voice over, it did cross my mind that someone might be confused. You will actually hear a pause after I said it as my mind was trying to decide whether to try to explain. Bottomline is that Zwifters understand that not every countries flag has always been represented on the software.

It wasn’t that comment that got to me. It was one by Thomas Nigl. He was calling me out and “questioning my manhood.” He commented: “The watts displayed are a joke! Way too high!”

I bristled and came back with an uncharacteristic (for me) challenge, “Come visit me in Greenville and let your legs decide if the wattage is wrong.” Of course, I added a ” ;-)” that I didn’t really mean. For some reason this comment ticked me off.

Why?

I think one reason is that in someways those of us on Zwift — and more so those of us who share these kinds of videos — are placing ourselves in a vulnerable situation. At any moment on Zwift, I can click over to another rider and see RPM, wattage, and heart rate. I can get an instant understanding of the rider’s ability by following his or her watts per kilogram.

Riding on the road allows you to hold your cards closer to your chest. You can telegraph weakness when you are strong and hide tired legs when you feel like you are about to get dropped. Your cycling computer is there for only you to see.

In Zwift, we lay ourselves bare. The numbers are there for everyone to see. Perhaps that is why when those numbers are questioned, it causes us to react more defensively. It is one thing for someone to take a swing at you when you have your gloves up. It is another thing for someone to give a punch when you have your arms open.

Of course, another reason is because of the prevalence of “flyers” who have in ignorance set their trainers up incorrectly or are intentionally gaming the system by false weight entries or manipulation of the trainer. The reaction against these riders by many Zwift is enough to cause anyone to bristle at someone intimating that you might be one of them.

It also annoyed me because I know what my abilities are. I have YEARS of data showing that these numbers are not abnormal for me. They are consistent with what I do on the road and here on Zwift. They can be attested to by my riding buddies and my one-time coach.

Finally, it annoyed me because even though this guy thought the wattage was too high. It still wasn’t high enough! I’ve never come close to winning one of these Zwift races. Just because you can put out average to above average wattage for a given period of time does not mean that you can do it long enough.

Weighing in on a skinny day at 170 and a normal day around 174, I HAVE to put out the wattages seen in the video in order to stay up with guys 20 and even 30 pounds lighter than I am. The good news is I can actually do it for about 20 minutes. The bad news is that I can’t pull it off for an entire race.

Here I was suffering to try for a good finish. I even manage to make the podium. Someone comes along and questions my result.

Okay. I know. The ultimate answer to my problem is pride. Does it really matter what Thomas thinks?

On the other hand, this shows another unique aspect of the Zwift community. We really are exposing ourselves when we honestly roll up to the line. We can have more insight into the abilities of the riders around us. There is something about that vulnerability that forms a bond.

And so, in Zwift, as in other aspects of life, honesty becomes a foundational component of good relationships. I’m proud to be a part of the community and the relationships I have formed there. It is important to me that my participation be honest.

So, the gloves are up to those who might question, but my arms are open to the great friends I’ve enjoyed riding with — both racing and recreationally — on Zwift.

vEveresting: Reaching the summit

Mount Everest has called to adventurers for over a century. Many of those who reached for the summit failed such as George Mallory and Andrew Irvine in 1924. Many have experienced success since that time, but only two men can claim the distinction of being the first to crest the highest peak in the world: Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and Tenzing Norgay of India.

Climbing Everest has become more than an act by a select number of mountaineers. It has come to represent any attempt to achieve something that stretches human endurance that only a few dare and fewer still obtain. It is the call to a summit top experience.

10556487_1381306305526641_2263816333020543617_nOn June 13, 2015 in his own way, Frank Garcia followed in the footsteps of Hillary and Norgay. His summit was to be the first to “summit” using a new category of Everesting. He planned to climb the height of Mount Everest on his bicycle without actually going anywhere.

This is possible because Frank had access to Zwift’s indoor cycling software. This allows a rider to combine a virtually created world for cyclists with real world cycling components to give the user a near on-road experience. With this software and a bicycle connected to a smart trainer, Frank was ready to begin his adventure.

So after a fitful night of sleep with anticipation keeping him awake, Frank mounted his saddle a little behind schedule. We’ve probably all had that feeling when we get a late start to a race or charity ride. Sometimes the most nerve racking part is just getting on the bicycle!

The fear that he would not be able to stay awake for the entire 20 to 23 hours he had allowed for the attempt weighed on his mind as he began those first turns of his pedals. Would he be able to continue that long, or would some technical glitch or a saddle sore undermine him? But encouraged by his wife and children there with him, Frank set off for the summit. Little did he know the family he would find along the journey.

frankbeginsclimb

He made the first climb up the .2 mile stretch of virtual asphalt. He would most likely ride over the “Shut Up Legs” chalk graffiti scrawled across his path over 300 times as he repeatedly climbed 94 feet each effort up the 7% grade. This was more than a physical exercise. It would be a test of his mental strength.

I asked him if he ever felt like giving up.

“There wasn’t a time I felt like giving up, there were many.”

That is when Frank began to find a family he never realized was there for him.

“It just didn’t seem like an option to give up as a team had formed and now it was about them too, and I didn’t want to let them down. Hours 12-14 on the bike where the worst. I was going really slow, but the team pulled me through. Julynn Washington’s words of encouragement were most helpful and just the fact that she was there the whole time.”

However, it wasn’t all about fighting through adversity. Through the pain and suffering of the mental and physical effort, Frank was buoyed by the magical thing happening around him. What could have been a lonely and draining effort became an experience of community and support.

Jonathan Lemon and Ken Bitting supporting Frank. -- Photo by Julynn Washington

Jonathan Lemon and Ken Bitting supporting Frank. — Photo by Julynn Washington

“It is hard to point out a moment that meant the most to me. Really it was the whole ride because there were all these people there supporting me.  People I didn’t even know before. It was such an honor to be the focus of that support.”

That isn’t to say that it was easy, or that even having people attempting to offer support always had positive consequences. As is often the case in these types of endeavors, good intentions can sometimes get in the way. Frank experienced this during some of the many times he attempted to make a u-turn to start another repeat of the climb.

“I was getting frustrated with u-turns, because you can’t make them when someone is next to you. This usually happens with ‘sticky’ artificial intelligence guys generated by the software that won’t leave your side.  Anyway Jim Purtell was being a trooper and doing climbs with me after one of these frustrating periods (there were a ton of AI guys out during the attempt) and he was next to me and I got mad.  He went and told his wife I was losing my mind (which about that time I was).  Great thing was, next morning, you know who was out helping me again? Jim Purtell!”

Frank Garcia's setup for his Virtual Everesting attempt. -- Photo by Carolyn Sullivan

Frank Garcia’s setup for his Virtual Everesting attempt. — Photo by Carolyn Sullivan

Other riders came to cheer him along the way. Some logged in and watched from the side of the road. Many used the messaging function within Zwift to send “shouts” Frank’s way. For the man who was the focus of this support he was quick to give these angels on wheels their due.

“These folks made all the difference in the world. It gave me something to focus on other than the pain. I kept telling myself, just follow those wheels Frank, just follow those wheels. Ken Bitting did over 10,000 feet of climbing with me!”

And climb they did. According to Strava, Frank Garcia pedaled his bicycle 17 hours 18 minutes and 54 seconds. He covered 163.8 miles in distance and 29,697 feet in elevation (consider he also descended that much… where would that take him!?!) He started June 13, 2015, at 10:32 PM Watopia time. He stopped the clock on June 14, 2015, at 10:29 PM Watopia time. That means he was reaching for the summit just shy of 24 hours.

“Well I want to say there was elation when I finished, but really I wanted to puke.” Frank told me after a good night sleep. “So that dampened my enthusiasm right then. I was happy I reached ‘the summit’ for the impromptu team that formed and I was happy it was over. Today the satisfaction of having done it is starting to sink in.”

Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 7.17.43 PM

Click the image to donate.

Why? Well, part of it is simply the spirit of Mallory and Hillary. Being the first to ever “vEverest” on Watopia — or anywhere for that matter — was appealing, but it was also an opportunity to join the large support network of cyclists and runners who “Climb For Nepal” during the month of June. Frank joined them in raising money for people affected by recent natural disasters in Nepal.

The Zwift community has rallied around Frank in this endeavor as well. As of the time this article was being written, the total amount raised by Frank’s efforts exceed $9,000 (including a matching gift). There is no doubt he will accomplish his second summit by raising over $10,000 by the end of June.

Frank has no doubt.

“I see in the news all the time where people of different backgrounds might not be getting along. I wish there were more reports of this kind of stuff where people of all different backgrounds from all over come together to help each other out. I know that humans can be bad but they can also be amazingly good.”

You can be a part of that goodness by supporting Frank’s ClimbForNepal efforts at his MoreThanSports.org fundraising page.

Watopia: First June Friday Training Race

I’m so tired from the last two days of riding, I’m afraid that my brain has suffered from oxygen debt. I hope I can remember what happened during the Friday Training Race. As usual, I’ll just let Chris Wiedmann give the extended race report.

I almost didn’t participate. My Six Jersey Challenge attempt on Thursday had only been finished about 16 hours before. However, as I walked down the stairs into the basement my legs didn’t have that stiff feel I had when I woke up that morning.

I had a muted excitement about this ride. It would be the first time I would race with the new Zwift update. This update allows us to connect both a power meter and a Kickr to the program. This is helpful to me because while I love the feedback the Kickr allows from the software, I have not always liked the way it sends data.

You can’t ride like you would on the road. For instance, going for a sprint you have to start well before you think you do because you have to get the wheel spun up before the wattage reaches the level you need. Then when you are finished it just continues releasing the power.

This also plays a factor when trying to ride in a nuanced manner. I have been suspicious that this delay has played a role in my inability to stay with a group. I just haven’t learned how to find the sweet spot.

Riding with the power meter solves that issue. The response from the crank based power meter to the computer is immediate. Now there is only the small delay as the software receives the data and processes it.

Even if I couldn’t finish strong in the race, at least I could test my theory. So after warming up with Chris Wiedmann I pulled into the “drop in” zone to await the start. I kept seeing more and more riders appear with FTR beside their names. This would be a big group.

Becker is the lone rider in the middle - putting a hurting on us!

Becker is the lone rider in the middle – putting a hurting on us!

We rolled off and I looked around to take stock of the FTR-A riders around me. There didn’t seem to be too many. Most riders were FTR-B or C. Well, at least I could count on having a top ten finish!

There was Wiedmann, of course. F. Garcia and M. Wardle were on board. C. Schumm was there as well as N. Law — the usual suspects. This might work out okay… then I saw H. Becker pop up nearby. Oh boy, this really changed everything.

We finished up the warmup and Wiedmann called the start. Immediately I knew things were going to be different. I found it easy to adjust with the ebb and flow of the pack. I was paying so much attention to sitting in I didn’t notice a move up front.

Suddenly, I saw Becker and Garcia with a 2 second gap. This was not normal. Typically there was no attempt to make a selection until the first climb. Here we were just getting started and two strong riders were testing us.

I knew then I had to cross the gap or they would be gone. I could see Wardle and Wiedmann responding the same way. However, by the time we reached the sprint zone Wardle, Garcia, and myself with Becker were holding a soft gap over the rest of the field.

The rollers grew the gap even more and then on the first climb we were over a minute over the closest following racer. I was just happy to hold with the other three riders. We went over the top together and I spent the rest of the second full lap trying to make Becker and company do as much of the work as possible.

It was working until we reached the rollers. This was when I started to feel fatigued. It wasn’t that my heart rate was over the top. It was up there, but manageable. It was simply a matter of my legs feeling fatigued.

However, I stayed with them to finish out that second lap. It was now time to take on the climb once more. We hit it and the other guys started up at a pace that would have me pushing up at over 400 watts. It was too much. I could do 350, but that was it. I was done trying to keep up with them.

That was the race. For the most part the finishing order was where each racer was at that point (though the time gaps continued to grow). I kept an okay pace, but to be honest, with over a minute lead on the next racer, I didn’t have a lot of motivation to push too hard. I would ride along and then pick up my pace if I saw him closing in.

I finished a distant fourth place, but I was happy! Finally, I had no instance where I found myself slipping off the back and having to push to get back on. Of course, with the very early move, there wasn’t much pack riding for me anyway!

One sad thing to note. I was followed by G. Christopher who was in the B group. He stayed about 40 seconds behind me and even closing into around 15 seconds as I would begin a climb. One time he messaged the group asking where the finish was… the alien statues?

I tried to reply to him to say the Start/Finish banner, but my iPhone was so covered with sweat, I couldn’t get the touch screen to work! I had also dropped my towel earlier and had nothing dry with which to wipe it off. Unfortunately, no one replied and he stopped at the statues.

It is sad that he was giving me, an A rider, pause for concern and had the B race wrapped up. He ended with a DNF. Good ride, Garry! Sorry I couldn’t warn you.

And now… for the real report from Chris Wiedmann:

FTR Race Report 2015-06-05

19 riders gathered for the start of today’s Friday Training Race. This week H.-G. Becker was the main engine in the grinder that chewed up and spit out the rest of the riders. He drove the pace hard and managed a solo victory over M. Wardle with F. Garcia following some distance back in third.

In the B race a miscommunication cost G. Christopher the victory when he finished 1/2 lap early leaving B. Greatrick to take the victory with M. R and J. Lemon rounding out the podium. In the C race, S. Carter held off R. Butler for the victory with S. Yeatts on the third step of the podium.

The race started out fast with immediate attacks over the rollers after the start. Only Becker, Wardle, Garcia and J. Pait made it to the first climb in the lead group. Becker immediately drove the pace up, pulling out a 5s gap over the other riders, but they regrouped shortly thereafter.

On the next big climb, however, Becker managed to split the field with Wardle the only rider able to stay in contact. Garcia and Pait followed solo with growing gaps between all riders. On the third climb Becker proved his superiority by dropping Wardle. The rest of the race was a time trial to the finish with Becker taking the win and the rest of the group following in order.

The fast start separated the B group from the As by the back climb. J. Lemon managed to get a small lead with G. Christopher, J. Curley and B. Greatrick chasing one-by-one further back. By the second climb, Lemon and Christopher had joined up with Greatrick and Curley chasing. On the third climb Greatrick opened a gap on Curley and started working to bridge to the leaders. Curley dropped back to the next chase group of M. R and I. Munro.

Christopher managed to get a gap on Lemon on the back climb of this lap. Christopher and Greatrick pushed on solo in front of the chasers while M.R managed to bridge up to Lemon at the base of the last climb. Christopher dropped out leaving Greatrick to solo to the victory. M.R managed to pull out a slim lead on Lemon and hold him off to the line for second. Lemon finished third.

In the C race, Carter and Butler managed to establish a lead group in front of the rest of the field. Carter managed to pull out a gap on the last lap that he held to the finish. Butler solo a short time after, with Yeatts following for third.

Results:
A Group
1. H.-G. Becker 1:00:59 (41.0 km/h)
2. M. Wardle 0:00:32
3 F. Garcia 0:02:54
4. J. Pait 0:05:41
5. C. Wiedmann 0:09:20
DNF N. Law (Pub emergency)

B Group
1. B. Greatrick 1:05:35 (37.0 km/h)
2. M. R 0:01:03
3. J. Lemon 0:01:08
4. J. Curley 0:03:53
5. R. Van Praet 0:04:03
DNF G. Christopher
DNF I. Munro (Pub emergency)

C Group
1. S. Carter 1:11:45 (34.9 km/h)
2. R. Butler 0:00:22
3. S. Yeatts 0:04:52
4. T. Marshall 0:11:35
-1 Lap
5. G. Raya -0:07:00

Note: Time gaps for entertainment purposes only. Corrections to placings and race narrative are welcome. I have skipped listing anybody whose Strava activity I could not find. If you wish to be included, let me know.

Event Link: https://www.facebook.com/events/1410852035907353
Strava fly-by: http://labs.strava.com/flyby/viewer/…

Watopia: Six Jersey Challenge

It didn’t start out as an obsession. It started as just another opportunity to visit Watopia and check out the new update, but once you get the taste of the challenge it is hard not to go back for another serving. The question is, “Will you taste victory or will Watopia chew you up and spit you out?”

The new feature of being able to drive the Zwift engine from your power meter while allowing Zwift to control you smart trainer is a welcome addition. The setup was easy and I had my Quarq crank based power meter connected in no time. I then brought my Wahoo Fitness Kickr smart trainer online and I was ready to go.

Now my Quarq was telling Zwift how fast to take me along the course. Zwift was then telling the Kickr what resistance to provide my drivetrain. This allowed me to avoid the negatives of the Kickr (primarily due to how it deals with inertia) while enjoying its advantages in making the online experience more true to life. Combining the two really is the best of both worlds.

I started out the ride in social mode. However, when I reached the original Green Jersey sprint zone, I just had to give it a go. The 26 second leader’s time was just too tempting. I took on green with a 23 second time.

Then the thought began to creep into my mind… “What if I go for a Green/KOM reverse KOM/Green jersey combination?” I wasn’t thinking Orange at this point. That seemed too far out since I could see the Orange Jersey leader’s time was somewhere around 13:50.

So, I went for a second lap and gave the Polka Dot Jersey a good go. Yes! It wasn’t a PR, but at 107 seconds, it was pretty respectable. I now owned two of the jerseys. It was now time to turn around.

I went back to my black Century Jersey as I completed the turn. This was going to be a lap at speed. By this time, I was getting greedy. No longer was a quadruple jersey enough. I wanted more. I wanted five jerseys!

Everything went as planned. By the time I finished the reverse lap I had the Green Jersey at under 12 seconds, the Polka Dot Jersey at just over 4 minutes, and the Orange Jersey with a time of 14:34. Five jerseys were now mine.

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You know what that means.

I just had to go for one last attempt at the Orange Jersey on the original direction course. It would mean a non-assisted PR for me, but if I didn’t at least try… So, I pushed the reverse button and lined up for my attempt.

I barely got rolling when a notification popped up on my screen. Someone had stolen my KOM jersey on the segment I was about to climb! What!?! How dare he take my jersey! To make matters worse, he crushed me by a full 7 seconds. Talk about adding insult to injury!

Well, no matter, I was probably going to have to land a fast time up the climb in order to obtain a sub-fourteen second full lap. I’d just have to go up there and wrestle it away from this interloper to what was rightfully mine! Who was he to stand in the way of my ambitions!?!

I hit the base of the climb “turning my pedals in anger.” I could recover on the other side, but this was do-or-die. If I didn’t get this jersey back, it wouldn’t make any difference if I got the Orange one.

I’ve done this one so many times, I know where I need to be at each little marker along the way. I could see that I was tracking for a very close one. At the final marker, my heart race increased… not just because of the effort, but also because I could see this would be success of failure by a hair!

I put my head down and gave all I had to the line. My Six Jersey Challenge attempt all rested on these last few meters. Would I make it?

You’ll have to watch the video.

Watopia: The Other Way Round

Here it is folks! Your world on Watopia has been turned around. But wait! There’s more! With the latest release you can choose the way you wish to ride… at any point on the route. Can you say Climbing Repeats?

I woke up this morning to find that the Aussies were already getting a shot at the new update. I was scheduled to ride with a business associate. We were going to use some time on the bicycle to talk through a joint project. So it didn’t look like I would get a chance to try it out until the evening.

However, the morning brought rain and we decided to take a raincheck on our meeting. Suddenly, I had about an hour to spare before I would need to be in the office. “Jonathan!” I heard the voice from my basement… “Jonathan! Come to the island… acheter cialis avec paypal.” Well, I was already kitted out for my outside ride… “Jonathan! Now is your chance… Come to the island….”

And so I did. Direct link to YouTube.

If you want to see Watopia in the other direction, check it out here.

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.

Watopia Friday Training Race

Enjoyed participating in the Watopia Friday Training Race that takes place each Friday afternoon at 1:30 PM EST. In this post I am going to tell you how to participate and then provide you with both text and video recaps of the event. This race I titled, “Attack of the Schumm.”

People often ask how they can participate. It is quite simple if you have the Zwift software and an account. If you find what you see here interesting, but you are not on Zwift; I would point you to their website at Zwift.com. It is in open beta. So no waiting line to play!

Once you have the software installed, your account set up, and your trainer configured; you are ready to race! I would suggest you follow the steps below in the order I give. It will keep you from freaking out at the last second realizing you are set up correctly.

  1. Go to your account and click on the Edit Profile button. Where you see your last name, add the following FTR-A, FTR-B, or FTR-C. Those letters represent the level at which you think you could be competitive. “A” racers typically are pretty fast. They are finishing a lap of Watopia in under 14 minutes. Of course, you can move up or down once you get in there and find how you match up with the pace.
  2. By the way, if you do not have an account on Strava. It is a great help to the race organizers to have you link your Zwift profile to Strava. This allows them to watch the race virtually and determine the finishing order.
  3. Hopefully, you do the above well before it is time to prepare for the actual race. I’d suggest you do it the morning of or at least an hour before the event. You’ll then be ready to warm up. I will log in about 25 to 30 minutes before the ride and do a lap at a reasonable pace. As time moves toward the start… say five minutes before, I then end my warmup.
  4. Ending your warmup will take you completely out of the program and you will need to start it again. When you do, you will notice the list pops up that asks if you want to “Just Ride” or “Join” someone on the list. I always look for C. Wiedmann and “Join” with him. If I don’t see him on the list, I click “Just Ride” which should put you in the general vicinity of all the other competitors.
  5. Watch the chatter and you’ll find out if Wiedmann is leading the ride or if someone else is heading up the race for the day. They will announce when to start rolling. You will see a bunch of FTR riders amassing. All you have to do is get in that group and follow the instructions given.
  6. Remember, the race does not start immediately. There is plenty of time for everyone to group before the race leader calls the GO! once the riders reach the weird looking statues of cyclist dudes (aliens?) and everyone goes from a rolling start. Take a look at this video… it shows how it works:

Of course, the video only covers the A race. Chris Wiedmann does an awesome job putting together reports following each race that covers all the categories. This is where the Strava account and proper use of the FTR abbreviation in the name you give the Strava activity becomes important. Be sure you name your Strava activity a name that includes FTR.

So, with no further ado… here is Chris’ report from the May 29, 2015 race.

20 riders showed up for the start of this week’s Friday Training Race. The A race was won in an exciting three-up sprint by F. Coppex with C. Schumm and M. Wardle rounding out the podium spots. The B race was taken by a small margin by N. Koenigstein (who was given a field promotion from the C category since he finished in front of all the B riders) over I. Munro with Mike Brew on the third step of the podium. R. Butler won the C race with S. Carter and W. Elvin following over the line.

The A race started with the usual contest of strength up the first climb. Six riders made it past the first selection: Coppex, Schumm, Wardle, F. Garcia, J. Pait and C. Wiedmann. In an effort to change the usual script, Schumm attempted an attack on the roller before the bicycle statues that held for a short time but was closed down by the sprint banner. The second climb took Garcia off the back, with the third climb claiming Wiedmann and Pait.

The three leaders worked together, quickly distancing Pait and Wiedmann who were riding solo in front of Garcia and Law who had combined efforts to chase. This situation held to the finish with the exception of Pait who sat up in the final lap to record video of the final sprint.

Wardle seemed content to lead out the sprint for the leaders. He left it late and jumped from the 100m sign. Coppex reacted quickly and managed to jump by with a strong acceleration with Schumm on his wheel. Schumm ran out road to come around giving Coppex the win.

The B race broke up in the early stages when the pace was pushed. Koenigstein was able to close the gap to the A group and ride with them for 1 1/2 laps. I. Munro and N. Law (from the A group) managed to work together for a lap before Law joined Garcia and Munro lost touch. Brew, J. Gill, G. Christopher and J. Denny chased solo further back.

The early effort took it’s toll on Koenigstein who drifted back behind Munro. He managed to find a second wind in the last lap to make up the deficit and take the win by 7 seconds over Munro. Brew followed less than a minute later to take the final podium spot.

Results:

A Group
1. F. Coppex 1:00:14 (41.6 km/h)
2. C. Schumm s.t.
3. M. Wardle s.t.
4. C. Wiedmann 0:02:57
5. F. Garcia 0:03:35
6. N. Law s.t.
7. J. Pait 0:08:10

B Group
1. N. Koenigstein 1:05:35 (38.1 km/h)
2. I. Munro 0:00:07
3. M. Brew 0:00:54
4. J. Gill 0:00:59
5. G. Christopher 0:02:04
6. J. Denny 0:04:37
DNF L. Ranicar (network problems)

C Group
1. R. Butler 1:06:32 (37.6 km/h)
2. S. Carter 0:07:03
3. W. Elvin 0:08:56
4. N. Pedersen 0:11:58

Note: Time gaps for entertainment purposes only. Corrections to placings and race narrative are welcome. I have skipped listing anybody whose Strava activity I could not find. If you wish to be included, let me know.

Event Link: https://www.facebook.com/events/1451758121803123/
Strava fly-by: http://labs.strava.com/flyby/viewer/…

Make your plans to participate next week!