Best of 2023: Stage 2 – Castle to Castle (B)

Who chooses these routes? Best of is entirely subjective, let me tell you.

See, back in my youth, playing a game of Total Annihilation was a fun experience. I was actually pretty good at it. Heck, I’d compete way more than twice a week.

Now that I’m 41, getting totally annihilated twice a week is a lot less fun.

Anyway, more of the same this week.

Typically I don’t do that badly on my mid-week race. However, I’m wondering if I’m suffering now from mega fatigue. It feels like all I have done lately is hard workouts and / or races.

No rest on that front for the rest of this week. I still have Race #2 of the Zwift Academy 2023 to see out on Thursday. That’s three laps of Richmond UCI Worlds Circuit, and then there’s Saturday’s 81 minute Workout #6 to finally finish off the ZA2023.


Unlike in the Zwift Academy races, we were back to a fairly normal field size today. I think the total rider count was 55 at the gate.

Typically I find myself finishing in the final third, so I was looking at or around a potential finishing spot of 35th or higher. Rough estimates of course.

Straight away the pace was high. Not much unusual there.

Sometimes you get lucky, though.

Sometimes the pace does slacken off a tad as you get past the first kilometre or so.

Not today.

I had to gun it early doors just to keep on the pack on the first 3% uptick of the day, and I knew there and then it was going to be savage.

Sure enough, 5km in I got dropped.

Actually though, why I got dropped was a little worrying. I tried to keep up, but I suddenly got pins and needles down my arms and legs, and so I just immediately called a safety and eased off.

Well, I say eased off, I mean I dropped my pace to about 95% FTP for the next 20 minutes.

During that time I was fortunate enough to ride with another person, who forced me – in a nice way – to keep my average pace higher than I would have otherwise.

I should say that I only did this because I felt I could. As in, I didn’t feel like I was going to die – I figured the pins and needles may have come from sitting on a nerve after I’d been out of the saddle in that early attempt to stay with the bunch. I didn’t think it was a heart attack or similar.

I want to say that we kept up a decent clip for that ~20 minute effort.

The truth of it is, it was mainly the other rider doing all the work. I was maxed and unable to give much of anything, let alone any big pulls.

Inevitably a larger, faster group was eating up the distance behind us. I could see the front of that bunch – a couple of riders – consistently sitting over 4w/kg, chewing down the kilometres faster than we would have time to reach the finish line ahead of them.

They caught us with about 5km to go. No surprises.

It took a pretty big effort just to stick with them.

In fact I found this particularly challenging. Their average pace was about 40kph, which on my already thrashed legs was a big ask.

From this point on I was highly inconsistent, relying on small out of the saddle surges, and much needed power ups to keep on the last wheel.

The last few kilometres seemed to go by at a glacial crawl. I couldn’t wait for it to be over.

At around 1.2km to go, we hit the final arch that gave a power up, and everyone sprung theirs. I got a feather and held on, using their draft.

My plan was to go at around the 200m marker, but I ended up dropping the feather and ‘sprinting’ at 300m-ish.

You know it’s bad when you look up expecting like 50m to go, and it’s just dropped below 200… ouch.

I have no idea how I did compared to those around me. I crossed the line and collapsed in a heap, pouring sweat into the towel and trying to get my heart rate back in to triple digits 🙂

Well, that’s what it felt like.

Absolutely dead.

And I think I’ve done my left knee in for my troubles.

A real result then. Got to keep up the fight for … 36th.

Jeepers creepers. And another one to go on Thursday. Anyone want to swap?

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