Participation Medals

For tonight’s ride I opted to take on … well, New York initially. I opted for one of Zwift’s 4 Week FTP builder workouts, thinking I’d put in a solid hour.

However, inadvertently, I clicked on the 5pm Time Trial (starting about ~8 minutes from when I got on the bike) and I couldn’t figure out how to cancel the ride from the main menu.

I initially started the New York workout, not expecting to take on the Time Trial. But when I looked at the app, I saw my start time would be 5:02pm, and as I haven’t ridden the Bologna track since Zwift’s 2019 Giro d’Italia special event, I figured… what the heck?

This would be my first proper Zwift ‘race’. I was genuinely curious as to where I’d finish up. I didn’t know how many people would even complete the ride (spoiler alert: 41) but given that I have ridden, and completed this circuit previously, I knew I could do it.

I was fairly happy I’d got at least 5 minutes on the New York warm up phase, spinning at about 100w for that time. I’d not have liked to have jumped right in to this.

When it got to my row (there were multiple rows, two by two), the rider on the left of me started first, and a three, two, one appeared on screen and boosh, away I went.

Out of the gate I figured at ~10km, it would take me approximately 20 minutes (not really factoring in the ~250m of climb at the end…) and that I should therefore aim for ~200w average. In other words… approximately my FTP (196w).

The Heads Up Display (HUD) for a time trial took a little getting used to, and pretty much through segment / checkpoint 1, I was disoriented.

It fairly quickly becomes intuitive, and reminded me of the climb up Alpe Du Zwift.

And thankfully, easier going.

On stage 2 I was feeling pretty energised and positive. Having ridden Bologna, however, I was fully aware that the final 3rd is all up hill, and brutally so.

Pace yourself… I perhaps should have thought.

It was during stage 2 that the first… of many people over took me. Oh well. No chance of me winning this thing. I mean… that’s obvious.

Race my own race. That’s the game plan.

A bit like Formula 1, where there are the teams at the front of the grid every two weeks (Mercedes, Ferrari), and then the guys at the back who make you think… why do they even bother?

Well, yeah.

I was already having to dig deep by stage 3.

Which wasn’t promising as the first third of this track is largely down hill.

Game plan in action: keep the pedals turning, try not to change to an easier gear, try to ignore the pain.

By stage 5 I was starting to worry a little that I’d pushed perhaps just too hard, too soon.

As already mentioned, my FTP being 196w meant for the first 7 minutes I’d been riding largely above that, so what would I have left in the tank for the climb?

Thinking these thoughts made me ease off the gas a touch. Not massively so, but a little light recovery ahead of the next effort.

Did it have any positive impact? I’m not sure.

But then the turn to the climb proper was looming.

From this point on, it was all up hill. And steeply so.

I’m not sure what the average gradient of the final third of Bologna is, but I’m guessing it’s over 8% for about 2.5km. It’s gruelling. And sweaty.

I made a promise to myself, no out of the saddle antics until the really steep segments. Well, that comes around mid way through stage 7, so out of the saddle I went, around the loose S bend, and then to be greeted by this sight:

Oof. It reminds me of the Travelator on Gladiators.

In my head I switched to thinking… ok, just 900m to go, just 800m to go, and so on.

It didn’t really help as each 100m slog was taking me about a minute to get through. If anything it just highlighted how slow I was going.

I distintctly remember looking down, closing my eyes, digging deep, thinking I must be further up the hill by now… opening my eyes, looking up, and feeling like I hadn’t moved.

According to the minimap, the last 500m of so would be at an easier gradient of about 5-6%, so I tried my best to down gear, and push to the finish line.

And then it was there.

The end in sight. Suddenly it all seemed worthwhile 🙂

As I finished I was placed 31st, but with riders still to finish, that meant my position could get worse.

And it did.

After everyone had finished, I ended up in 33rd place.

Not all bad, however.

I beat my previous time of 25:48, and I managed 2.8w/kg this time, over 2.67w/kg last time. And last time I had ~400 other riders to draft with.

All in all, not a bad effort.

After giving a ride on to everyone who had finished, I decided to see out the descent, and ride to 30 minutes before jumping off the bike.

With the wife out this evening, I had expected to ride later, and for longer. The 100km weekly target is looking mighty far away with 45km remaining, and only two days riding left in the week.

Not hugely concerning, as I have bigger plans for next week now that I’m a free agent once more.

I’d expected to do a little more than ~320 calories. I’m fairly sure I’ve already blitzed them with two beers since finishing. Hell, it is Friday.

Best thing for me on this ride was the 203w average over 20 minutes. This is only 3w down on my all time best, so I’m really pleased with the progress here.

And it goes to show what I can do when pushed.

All in all, I really enjoyed my first proper Zwift racing experience. I’d certainly be keen to do it again soon. And I’m not that bothered about propping up the rear. Everyone starts somewhere, as this blog can attest too.

Only thing left to do at this point is figure out why my time is not showing on Zwift Power.

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