Indoor Cycling – Weekly Review October 28th – November 3rd 2019

Typically, each week Zwift sends me an email summarising my activity for the week. For previous weekly reviews click here.

However, this week Zwift did not send me an email. Not that surprising considering the recent spike in-game Zwift bugs.

Reviewing The Plan

My plan, as of the last two weeks, has been to do at least one hard workout per week, and at least one (proper) climb per week. I’m not sure where I stand on the cut off between a proper climb and just a small hill. I’d say Richmond isn’t a proper climb, but Innsbruck would be.

The workout I’m favouring at the moment is Sweet Spot Training. I think this workout is amongst the best bang-for-your-buck on Zwift for me right now. I’ve definitely felt that this has helped me “maintain the pressure”, so to speak, on my two recent climbs.

The other workout that I have completed twice recently has been The Wringer. This is a different type of workout. I’m not sure where this sits in terms of immediate benefit, but it certainly puts me through my paces.

Probably the biggest mistake of the week was to hit the Movember Kick Off ride at too high an intensity. I thought it was a group ride at a set pace – the type where the ride leader says “Ok, 2.0 now”, then a little later maybe “Up to 2.3”, and then “Down to 1.8” or whatever. Not so. It was a go-at-your-own-pace affair, and my pace was probably too high considering I had a climb the next day.

However, I am really pleased with my performance on the Alpe Du Zwift. As it was a race I feel I pushed myself harder than I might otherwise have done. As it happens, both times I’ve hit the Alpe (for real) have been as racing climbs. This time I managed to shave over 3 minutes off my previous time, so I’m really pleased with this.

Now, on this subject of time difference, I have some questions:

  1. Am I still getting value out of the average watts graph (below)?
  2. Are there better metrics that I could be using?
  3. Is there a better service I could use to get more useful metrics?

The thing I’m struggling with right now is that looking at the Average Watts graph, I can see an immediate increase in the first few months, and then things very much plateau, or only slowly start to creep upwards.

I’ve put this down to switching from free rides to more structured workouts, such as the FTP Builder rides. In short this means I switched from shorter (20-30 minute rides) to longer (but less intense) 1-1.5 hour rides.

What concerns me is that the graphs don’t really reflect this shift. And I think this becomes most obvious to me now seeing this result from the Alpe Du Zwift ride.

I’d say the FTP Test ride was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done on the bike. But that lasted for 20 minutes. The Alpe Du Zwift race was the hardest I have pushed for over an hour.

What I’d like to see is some comparative measure between that ride and my earlier rides. And I’m not seeing that in the graph. Unfortunately I’m not “data science-y” enough to know what metrics I should be tracking to see this stuff.

In answer to the first question above, I don’t think I am getting a huge amount of value from the Average Watts graph as it stands currently. I do think the data is there, buried somewhere and somehow, but I’m simply not sure how best to present it.

Overall, I am very pleased with last week’s riding.

I feel the recent switch up to at least one harder workout per week, and one solid climb per week are paying off in terms of my overall health and fitness.

Sure, after the climb I feel absolutely thrashed. Both Sunday’s so far have been tired experiences. But I feel better for it.

I also feel this is the best way for me to improve overall in terms of my riding / racing performances. Sure, I’m never going to be challenging for the top 10, or even the top 20. But I can incrementally improve, and look to e.g. finish inside the top 70 riders, then the top 60, and so on. It’s a realistic goal for me.

I’m looking forwards to completing the Movember kit challenge over the next few weeks.

I’m also very much looking forwards to trying out the Tacx Software. Terrible name for their solution, but looks like a really interesting Zwift alternative. Also from my very brief play around with their app, I saw over 330 riders online, so looks fairly well trafficked.

If everything goes to plan, the next climb I do will be a video climb – not quite sure which just yet, and not quite sure how that will work with my slow climbing speed, but it will be an interesting experience all the same.

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