Team 3R’s Choice: Stage 5 Longer Race A/B

Here endeth the Tour!

Through mismanagement of my part, I missed the entirety of Stage 5 proper, and so was left to take part in the catch up days. Fortunately Zwift have changed this up – and for the better. Rather than having specific days for each Stage as all previous Tours I remember, now they have different Stages at various points each hour.

Much better.

Though it does lead to this sort of thing… where only 11 riders are on the grid.

I fully expected to get thrashed today.

And I wasn’t disappointed.

I was dropped within 1km out of the gate, and although the leaderboard said 9th out of 11, I couldn’t see any other riders behind me.


That said, I was fully expecting to come last, or thereabouts. But riding ~35km solo with absolutely no draft during a race? That kinda sucks.

Seeing as I was out on my own, and may otherwise have slacked off, I decided to give myself a couple of challenge.

First, this was the London map. Kinda where things all started for me. So I figured why not see how fast I could make it to 10km – which was the first Zwift challenge I set myself.

And then secondly, why not smash myself for 20 minutes? Do a bit of a road-based FTP test, see if I could match (or beat) my recent Alpe attempt.

Fun as these two tasks may seem, sat all on my lonesome I couldn’t help but think of a bit on the Simpsons that seemed quite fitting:

Even though I used to go for this one every time I went on Zwift, I’m not sure what my all time best record for a solo ride to 10km actually is. Under 16 minutes seemed decent though.

And I can surely say today that this was all me. No draft, that’s for sure.

I was killing myself trying to catch the two riders in front. The closest I got was within 4 seconds, but that was after the first little climb and I’d smashed myself trying to catch them, only to watch them slowly but surely take second after second out of me even as I was maxed.

Sad times.

Even so, I pushed myself to 20 minutes 20 seconds (20 seconds over, to make up for any ‘slowness’ at the start), and then took what I considered a well deserved breather.

I promised I’d kick back on once my heart rate settled at or below 180bpm. That took a surprisingly long time. And even when it did, I couldn’t find it within me to get much above 3.1w/kg. Category A rider indeed.

Whilst pushing through the 20 minutes of pain, somehow, some way, I passed one of the two riders in front of me. I can only assume that rider had a mechanical or some other in-real-life issue that made them stop.

With three of us now in isolation, on a whim I sent an in game DM to the rider in front of me that frankly I was completely out of my depth. I didn’t expect him to slow and give me a wheel by any means. But that’s what he did.

Gareth: thank you.

You made this ride a memorable one for me. I really do appreciate it.

In slowing for me I clearly destroyed his time, so sorry about that.

And I tried my very best to alternate between leading and drafting, but I definitely need more practice with that. I’ve never done a drafting duo like that before. It was a fun new experience.

Speaking of fun new experiences, today was also my first ride up Keith Hill. The alternative side of Leith Hill. Definitely the easier side.

And that was that. We finished at the top of the hill.

I think I gave a ride on to every single rider who took part in all four categories. Such was the limited number.

However, it’s a testament to the amount of riders now using Zwift that even some random Wednesday afternoon Stage 5 re-run had this many attendees.

Technically I still have the Tour Stage 5 group ride to attend.

I’m not sure if I will or won’t do this ride. It’s so sunny outside at the moment – well, warm at least – that it feels silly to stay indoors whilst I could be out enjoying the British country side. I just know the bad weather will soon be back, even if we are heading towards Summer.

Finishing up today I was greeted with an FTP bump to 225w.

It’s funny cus the Garmin Edge 530 put me at 226w after this ride, but also told me the entire ride was unproductive and that I was “overreaching” on my training schedule.

You know though, I think the Garmin has a point. I’ve not felt great on the bike lately. More recovery rides needed.

Anything for an easy life.

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