Racing. On a Saturday? Oh my.
Well, I wasn’t sure what to expect at all today.
My week’s been a bit messed up due to ‘injury’ earlier in the week. I started the week with a bit of a recovery / tester ride, and then my usual race day – Thursday – was switcheroo’d for the Zwift Academy Workout #4 instead.
I now have two weeks left to do four of the Zwift Academy 2023 events, two races and two workouts. I’ll make it happen.
But I also wanted to see out the Neokyo Nights racing series, so today had to be Stage 4 as I’m not riding tomorrow.
My question pre-ride was how many people might turn up for a Saturday afternoon race?
Less than usual?
And how might Zwift Academy having races also factor in? Surely people would gravitate towards those events over these?
As it was, I was aiming to make the 11:10 start.
I was on the bike, barely. But due to me rushing like a fool, I managed to miss the start and then had the choice of either doing a workout, or waiting the hour until the next start. So I put my clothes back on, kept the PC booted for Zwift, and then came back an hour later.
What I found was a slightly reduced field. Thirty three riders listed on the boards, which meant that percentage-wise, the front split was probably going to be around the 25th spot after lap
Because I got on nice and early – for me – I got in something of a warm up.
That was useful as this one shot out of the gate and pretty much didn’t let up for the full 30+ minutes of racing.
And by racing I do mean me barely clinging on to the pack in the hopes that I might finish somewhere within shouting distance of the front.
I do feel like I know some parts of the Neokyo map now well enough to better time my efforts. For example the dojo’s area, what I believe is officially called “The Tower Sprint”, I know that bit has a rise after the initial blast. It’s only around 2%, but at race pace you better be prepared for people to put in a dig there.
And yet there are still other parts which keep me guessing.
One of them was the quite literal road ramp up, a bit like the motorway on-ramps we have in the UK, which kicked up to 5% and came just after half way each lap. My issue wasn’t with the gradient, but more with not knowing how long that section would last, how hard to go, and if it was possible to recover much after.
What I will say today is that the power up Gods were looking out for me. I think I got 6 draft vans in total, and one Sprint. Pretty much everything I needed, honestly. I did miss one banner because I already had two power ups in the bank, silly me.
Aside from this, the hardest part of today’s ride for me was the sheer unrelenting pace. As ever I was pretty much at my threshold just keeping up, and frequently having to go up and over into the red to either get back on, or stay on.
At one point, towards the latter half of the second lap, I would have been dropped for sure had it not been for the Sprint power up. That was the only way I was able to get back on.
However I did get back, and saw it out with the bunch to the final kilometre.
After that, it was gloves off racing…
For the front riders, anyway.
For me it was a massive slog to get to the line. I did push hard in the final 200m, but it wasn’t racing anyone as such. At 400m out I was falling quite behind, but within 200m two riders seemed to struggle and I passed them, but I was way off the pace of the person in front from there.
Somehow or other I finished 10 seconds behind the leaders, in what was essentially a 1km rush. For them to put 10s into me over 1000m is crazy.
But a good personal result for me.
And a nice little 12 point boost on Zwift Racing. I was somewhat expecting some kind of PB today – somewhere over the 20m marker. It didn’t come. I was just shy of previous efforts. Which overall is good progress from where I was at a few months back.
No complaints then.
Tiring, but a good race.