Early Morning Activity

On Tuesday night, I set about trying to figure out if my recent performances have been going sideways (rather than upwards) due to new pedals / shoes.

After a bit of mucking around, I thought I’d sussed out how to pedal “properly” in shoes with clips / cleats, whatever the correct terminology would be. In Chris-English, using proper Cycling shoes instead of trainers.

Anyway, long story short, it turns out my light bulb moment was in fact, nothing of the sort. And basically no one pedals that way. Top stuff.

Now, I was going to get on the bike last night and have a ride after tea. The thing is, after Tuesday’s evening ride, and having ridden predominantly later in the evening last week, I figured maybe it was the fact I was riding later in the day that was the root cause of my sideways power action.

So rather than ride on a belly full of sausages and mash, I figured I would take a rest day, and resume riding in the morning instead.

Much like when I first got Zwift and started riding early, I found I woke up naturally way earlier than my alarm clock wanted me too. I was up at 5.15, and then 6.45, and then at last, my alarm clock woke me from a light snooze at 7.15.

The downside to waking early is that I end up doing a bunch of chores for the kids. Prepping cereal, sorting drinks, helping them with whatever activities they are current involved in. Dad, do you want to play Barbies? And so on.

A little later than planned, I managed to get suitably dressed and onto the bike.

Immediately I felt “back to normal”.

Well, closer to how I typically felt a few weeks ago versus how I’ve been feeling more recently when riding.

Aside from the Tour of Watopia stages, I think most of my recent efforts have been at night. It doesn’t seem to work for me.

Typically in the morning I won’t eat before I get on the bike. I have a pint of water, and then refill the pint glass and get on the bike. It works for me, but it’s not super healthy, I suppose.

I’d say my legs still feel a little shaky from the Alpe Du Zwift climb. I certainly don’t feel 100%. Maybe 80% this morning.

Even so, I found I felt stronger than my most recent normal, and that was reassuring.

As ever on the London Loop (probably the circuit I’ve done the most on Zwift), it’s a case of warming up the legs on the first ~5km, before pulling back a little bit as I head across the bridge towards the subway, and down to Box Hill.

I didn’t get any screenshots as I climbed the first segment. I was stood up, pedaling pretty much at max effort. I’m not sure what gear I was in.

Mentally I tried my best to convince myself to remain out of the saddle until the end of the first straight / until I hit the first corner.

Butterfly: models own.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t.

I don’t regret not being able to do this yet. It’s a measure of my progress that I got as far as I did. I got about half way I’d say (not very precise), maybe just a touch over half way.

The downside to going hard at the start is that if you don’t make it all the way to the top (which I didn’t by about 6 minutes!) then for the rest of the climb, I am essentially boxed.

I had to drop gears considerably, dropping to the small ring at the front. I did my best to keep as high a cadence as I could. This I found considerably easier than on some of my previous climbs.

Even though I’m lacking any real muscle, the mental determination and belief that I can get to the top of this climb and put in a good effort is there. Having climbed most of Zwift’s big hills now, by comparison, Box Hill is a relatively easy one.

By which I mean it’s still bloody knackering, but at least the suffering ends after 10 minutes, not 75 minutes.

I’ve had some issues (chain derailments) when switching back from the small ring to the big ring, so rather than risk it, I dropped all my gears at the back and stayed in the small ring at the front. There was still more than enough resistance here to allow me to push as hard as I could (which wasn’t that hard unfortunately).

I think it’s not too unrealistic now to see a sub 10 minute climb of Box Hill in the near future.

This is a significant improvement from my very first attempt.

Unfortunately Zwift doesn’t keep around the long term personal records. God knows why.

I think if I can remain out of the saddle giving it my full effort for the first leg of the climb, that should be enough to push me under 10 minutes. It’s a big ask though, and will require continued effort to get that fit.

The nice thing about the London Loop / Box Hill climb is that once done, there are really only three more landmark segments to crush before the circuit is done.

These are:

  • The leg ripper up the final bit of Box Hill (after the KOM gate) to begin the descent;
  • The descent itself
  • And the short sharp, brutal subway uphill section after the descent.

Having given it pretty much everything I’ve got, the descent is usually taken in the hardest gear at a very low RPM, as I huff and puff my way back to a slightly less concerning heart rate.

Putting in a new personal best on Box Hill should mean a new PB on the London Loop itself, all things being equal.

And all things were roughly equal as I managed to slash 20 seconds off my London Loop time – essentially the time won climbing Box Hill that much faster than last time.

I felt like I could continue and do another 15km, as I often do when my legs are warmed up. I wish I had more time, but work commitments are what they are.

As I was cooling down, I realised I had passed 1,000,000 zwift points, for whatever that’s worth. Nothing immediately happened when doing so, but 3000 points later – I’m guessing this was the reason – I unlocked a new bike.

I don’t much see the point in different bikes or the whole concept of power ups if I’m honest. If these things make the game easier, that only makes the exercise easier, which kind of defeats the point for me.

Just my opinion, of course.

I know I need to work on consistency with my power. I’ve said before that I think going at a steady wattage is probably a better method than bursting and then dying, rinsing and repeating.

Even so, I’m happy to see Strava reporting my weighted average power is back near 190w. It’s dipped a bunch as of late, and again, I put this down to riding when already tired after a hard day sat in my chair using my mouse and keyboard muscles.

I’d really like to get a sprint in on the London map, but tomorrow we switch to Richmond, so that won’t be happening.

On the plus side, I am looking forward to Richmond. Last time I did the full 2015 UCI Worlds Course circuit and found it a challenge. I’m wondering if I can do better this time.

350kcal before breakfast. It goes some way to reducing the bangers and mash deficit accumulated last night.

Interestingly my max effort on this ride was the post-KOM arch climb to begin the descent off Box Hill. Maybe that should have been on the KOM itself?

On the plus side, that means plenty of room for improvement on that time.

This janky graph is my nemesis. Maybe in another three months I’ll apply some smoothing to the lines.

Until tomorrow, ride on!

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