Movember Kick Off: Group Ride (E)

If there’s one thing that Zwift do extremely well (in my opinion) it’s the organised events championing good causes. And Movember is a great cause that helps raise awareness for male health issues such as testicular, and prostate cancer.

This event was very well attended, with over 500 riders online at the time of starting, and I think about 575 riders total by the time the hour was up.

This ride took place on Sand and Sequoias, a route that takes in Fuego Flats (the sand) and Titan’s Grove (the sequoias). In total, each lap was about 15km with about 180m of climb.

Being completely honest, I find these small roller type routes to be difficult. I don’t like the constant gear changing over the little dips and then up small slopes. I vastly prefer a single longer climb.

On this subject I am planning on ridjng Alpe du Zwift tomorrow morning so this ride was supposed to be a recovery ride. For whatever reason I thought this was an organised group ride with a suggested ride limit. Something like 2-2.5w/kg.

Alas, no.

This was effectively a free ride for a big group. Ride as hard as you like, and find a group doing something similar.

Out of the gate I took a, shall we say, leasuirely pace. Something like 80w as I watched the pack sprawl out in front of me.

This was around the time I realized this ride would not be at a set pace.

Once I felt suitably warmed up, I decided to put in a proper effort and push to around 2.5w/kg or so.

I’d fallen way back by this point. I was around 475th place. Now this was not a race. But I’m often caught up in the competitive element (even if it’s only in my head) so I decided to see how many places I could claw back.

I’ve often read about how hard it is to break away from a pack, and I definitely found a challenge in pushing on from each small pack I found on to the one in front.

This was good fun, and a solid workout.

But was it wise ahead of a hard climb day? I’m guessing probably not.

By the time I got the start of Titan’s Grove I was with a small pack of about 10 riders who seemed roughly steady around 2.5w/kg. This seemed suitable for me.

However I probably went too hard on the climb.

Now, I enjoy a climb. I really do. This surprises me somewhat, as if you had asked me back when I first started riding if climbing might be something I’d come to love, then I would have thought you crazy.

But it’s the challenge, the relentless hard effort, the need to reach the top of the climb and beat my previous records that drives me to continue getting on the bike. Because in the process it’s amongst the fastest ways to improve my overall fitness.

Even so, with a proper climb ahead tomorrow, I feel like I went too hard on this one.

Yes, my times are not world beating. But they are probably a little on the harder side than they should have been ahead of tomorrow.

After pushing to the top of the KOM I’d managed to claw back a sizable number of places.

However, in doing so I’d thrashed myself somewhat.

And on the descent I went into a bit of a cruise. Too much so, as it happens.

Errr… wtf?

I hit on a weird bug at this point. I achieved my weekly riding goal twice.

Zwift have introduced a bunch of distance bugs in their latest release it would seem.

Anyway, as I cruised down the hill, the pack that I’d pushed hard to climb past on the way up suddenly over took me.

And once they’d gone past I just didn’t have the legs to catch them. I tried. I really did. But my legs just said no. And slowly but surely they put distance between me and them.

This left me alone. Isolated. Working harder than I ought to be on a group ride.

What I should have done here, in hindsight, is used the camera views to see if a group was behind me and then wait to be swallowed up.

Instead, once at the bottom of the descent and back on the flat, I switched back to working on catching stragglers. I’d push, catch them, ease off a small amount momentarily, and then push on to the next.

Then, without expecting it, a large group behind me caught me and swallowed me up.

Somehow during this time I’d managed to keep gaining a few places and was now inside the top 300. This was a decent milestone to hit, given the slow start. Possibly some of the riders from the pack ahead had also burned too much energy during the KOM and descent portion. I’d not been monitoring names so can’t say for sure.

After the first lap I definitely eased off. A little mental calculation told me that I’d likely not have enough time to see through another climb of the KOM before the hour time limit would be up.

Around the time I felt a bit of regret at how hard I’d pushed myself on this ride.

My plan had been to go for an FTP Builder ride today. Put in an hour and half, but at a fairly low intensity.

Given that I’d likely already messed up tomorrow’s chances of smashing my previous Alpe time, I figured why not have another push to the top of the KOM, just maybe not quite as intense as on the previous lap.

I was correct. I didn’t have enough time to make it all the way to the top before the 60 minutes where up.

However I did carry in and push through to the top just for my own personal achievements and fitness reasons.

The stats for this ride are a bit skewed. I was never 105th, I just don’t understand this at all.

Regardless, I pushed on to the top and then took in a bit of a cruise on the way down before calling it a day just near the new mountain bike track. Still not tried that, but then I don’t have steering functionality.

I’m happy to have put another 36km on the week, and as far as group rides go, this one was enjoyable. I do like the new mustache kit. Very cool that more mustaches are added as the kilometers are covered.

Mountain bike entry point.

Getting 600 calories done felt good. Higher than expected. This kinda highlights that I very likely over did it on this one. We shall see tomorrow, but I’m already so mentally aware of this thay I feel it will adversely impact my time. So much of this sort of thing is mental.

My aim for tomorrow is to try my best to do an FTP block during the climb.

By this I mean really go for it for 20 minutes, if at all possible. A “road test” if you will.

I tried this last weekend, but didn’t come away with great results.

I’m not holding myself to anything, however. If I try, and come short, well… trying is better than not doing.

One thing about Alpe Du Zwift compared to last week’s Passo dello Stelvio is that I am going to choose the longer route (road to sky?) and that way I will get a proper warm up before the climb.

Hopefully this will help in getting a little more performance out of this tired bones.

One good thing from this ride is I did manage to have several stints at a high cadence. Not always. And the graph is jagged, but I have definitely improved in this area. Practice and persistence, my standard approach to life.

The last observation from the end of ride graph today:

I put in a decent hour long performance, all things considered. I feel I could have put more effort in, and would have done had I not had tomorrow’s climb looming over me.

That said, I was pleased to have put out a wattage fairly close to my FTP for the full hour. That, again, shows real decent progress.

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