Best of 2023: Stage 3 – Rolling Highlands (B)

Another week, another race. Today would be Stage 3 of December’s “Best of” Zwift racing series, featuring two laps of Scotland’s Rolling Highlands route. I have to say, “best of” is a very subjective thing. These are certainly not the races I have performed best on this year.

However I did give myself the best possible chance today by getting on with about 10 minutes to spare, and so actually got a pre-race warm up for a change.

Out of the gate the pace was pretty quick, though seemed less demanding than the recent Zwift Academy races… thankfully.

I found the start of this one quite choppy, needing several small but sharp efforts to keep on the front group.

Also whilst there were several check points today to get power ups, the only two on offer were Feather and Ghost. I managed to luck out by only getting Feathers, but I kept hold of mine on each lap to ensure I had one in the bank for the curling castle climb.

Truthfully I was somewhat surprised I was still with the front group as we completed lap one.

Part of me had expected to get dropped during the fairly substantial lead-in today.

That isn’t to say that I had it easy on lap one. I’d had a combination of over exertion on some parts of the lap, pushing me literally to the front of the race, and then at other times very very nearly fallen off the back, no matter how much I dug in.

Going into lap 2 it was a case of when will I get dropped?

There are several small risers on this route beyond the castle and the finish line climb. It’s a case of watching the road in part, but also watching the leaderboard for the riders around you, and ramping up whenever they went hard.

For a large part of this one we had a one or two person breakaway, so there was always the danger of the group suddenly pushing to bridge that gap. That’s a fast way to get dropped, as I have found on previous occasions.

As it was, I think the front finally went for it with about 4km to go.

I tried to cling on, but failed. Zero legs to go when I’d been burning hard for the past 27 minutes.

No surprises.

Anyway I found myself with a small bunch and truthfully I expected them to chew me up and spit me out. Particularly on that second castle climb. But with a feather popped, I had my head down and in what I thought was a pretty easy gear and when I looked up I’d actually come out ahead of them.


That didn’t last, of course. They very quickly caught me up and at no point was I ever in danger of charging on.

From the descent from the castle, it’s only a short break before the Breakaway Brae KOM sneaks up on you, which is the last push to the line.

I put in pretty much everything I had on this one.

At the time I thought I surely must have done enough to at least see an uptick in my Zwift Racing App score.

Alas, no. I was down by -0.94 points.

However I was predicted 17th and finished 17th, so that’s something.

Also I appear to have set a new 30 minute PB, if the screenshots below are to be believed.

That is encouraging.

I do feel like I’m better at pacing surviving 30 minute efforts at a high clip versus 20 minute efforts. I wonder how that will reflect in the forthcoming FTP Test?


Anyway I have an easier rest of the week in store, until Saturday, when it’s FTP Test time. I may not even ride again now, just do walks instead.

Will that help any?

I have no idea.

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