Last night when led in bed, I did myself some quick maths. To make it round 10km in 20 minutes, as has been my goal for the last few free-rides, I would need to ride at an average of 30kph for the 20 minute duration. My sums based on if I travel 10km in 20 minutes, then in one hour I must travel 30km, which therefore must be 30 kph.
Move aside, Einstein (some irony being that I can’t even spell his name without the assistance of autocorrect).
Let’s Spend Some Cash
There’s a couple of things I’ve ordered from Amazon to improve my Zwift indoor cycling experience. First, as mentioned yesterday, I have ordered the TV trolley. With the gap between the legs, it looks ideal for my front wheel.
I managed to pick this up for just £50, when it retails new for £159.99. This is an Amazon Warehouse deal, so in other words it’s been purchased new by someone, and returned. Good enough, hopefully.
Also I grabbed a Joby GripTight GorillaPod stand for my phone. I already had a GorillaPod from a project I ran a few years back, and it was just sat in a drawer unused.
These GorillaPod’s are pretty decent. They look a bit like the baddies from one of the Matrix movies. Each of the legs is articulated, allowing a lot of flexibility for attaching to unusually shaped things (like handlebars), or just standing straight up – like in the picture opposite.
I tested wrapping the legs of the pod around the stem of my handlebars, and it seems pretty solid. Should be decent.
The price for me was about £18, which fortunately I had in Amazon vouchers, unspent since Christmas. It’s getting real expensive, this cycling lark.
My only concern now is where to put the all-to-necessary towel when riding. Currently I drape it over the handlebars and down the middle bar thing, so hopefully this won’t interfere too much.
I will post some more pictures when the new stuff arrives.
As mentioned earlier, today’s ride was a free ride around Watopia, doing the 4.1km Volcano Loop. I was aiming for my usual target of 10km in 20 minute.
But this isn’t quite fair.
A key part of my ride is the initial warm up, and post ride cool down. For the warm up, I take between one and three minutes at a low wattage. With no other guidance than my rides on Emily’s Short Mix, I have set my warm up to start off inside the Zone 1 (Easy / Recovery Zone). This equates, as best I can tell, to anything below 110w for me.
I slowly increase my cadence and gearing until I’m at Zone 2, which is “Steady”, at around 110w. I keep this up for a further minute before moving into a more aerobic / exercise mode.
Right off the bat, this eats between one and three minutes of my available twenty. Zwift doesn’t make this super easy to see:
It is a touch easier to see on the same data from Strava:
Even though my maths above is sound (I think), I’m not really riding solidly for the 20 minutes. Which means if I’m riding harder for 18-19 minutes, I need to ride at a greater than 30kph average to do the 10km in 20 minutes.
Or, I could deduct the warm up distance from my attempt, and then see how I fare. In that case, I think I could beat the 20 minute / 10km mark. But accurately measuring this on Zwift, whilst riding, is not super easy.
The really interesting thing for me, and something I had not realised was a thing until I did a few of the structured workouts, is that Zwift gives you a decent graph at the end of your ride showing you which aerobic training zones you hit during your ride:
And as best I understand it, this graph corresponds to your heart rate zones, which you can find here, or by clicking this image:
I’m not entirely convinced I’ve read this exactly right. According to the linked article and then looking at the majority of my graph being red, this should mean I was at my maximum level, or zone 5:
Heart rate zone 5 is your maximal effort. Your heart and your blood and respiratory system will be working at their maximal capacity. Lactic acid will build up in your blood and after a few minutes you won’t be able to continue at this intensity.https://www.polar.com/blog/running-heart-rate-zones-basics/
I’d say I was more likely in Zone 4 for most of the ride. I was certainly pushing. I’d say this was the hardest I have pushed so far. I’m very conscious of blowing up, so I don’t go crazy. I’d rather ride every day than go super intense, and then need a few days off.
And of course, I may have read the charts totally wrong. If so, I wouldn’t be super surprised.
Beating Personal Bests
I managed to smash through my previous personal best on the Zwift Volcano Circuit today. Not once, but twice.
And amazingly, I was faster on my second circuit.
I still have quite some way to go before I’m troubling the top 5:
Currently I’d be happy to break the 8 minute mark. I did end up with a Ride On from J. Calvez when I completed my first loop. Good man.
I definitely feel like I went for it today. My left knee is a bit sore. Wondering if my saddle height is a fraction too high.
And I thought I would save the best(?) till last today:
Pretty happy with this. Hard work is paying off. I’ve lost 0.6kg since I started riding (works out about half a pound, apparently). Weight loss is not my goal. Increasing my endurance / power is definitely a big goal. It seems to be working.
I haven’t yet done a full FTP test. I don’t think I’m anywhere close to ready.
A key part of this blog is to show others, absolute total beginners to cycling / indoor cycling, that this stuff does work, if you put in the effort. Zwift definitely helps me.
It’s like a game in so many ways (not just the obvious ones). And there’s no way I would have seen these improvements if I had a plain on “offline” exercise bike, or had to schlep it to the gym every time I wanted to work out.
I could write at length about how Zwift is great for beginners, but the barrier to entry (the cost of the kit) is very high / off putting. As such I haven’t found any other riders / blogs where they are at my skill level (i.e. very low). Hopefully if you are in my position, these blog posts offer some hope / inspiration to you. It is possible. I am far from fit, but I will get there.
Catch you tomorrow.