Well, this wasn’t the ride I was expecting to do. I was planning on doing one of the longer 3R workouts that run every Tuesday and which, due to kids swimming lessons, I rarely get to attend. But when I looked at the Zwift event schedule for today, I was gently reminded that the Tour de Zwift 2021 started yesterday, and that with thousands and thousands of riders per ride, that might be a really good choice to attend.
I opted for the longer ride, which was three laps of Greater London Flat.
Here’s the official spiel:
Welcome to Tour de Zwift, Stage 1, where we’ll take on our favorite flat routes. Different groups will head to different destinations—choose between London, Watopia, and New York. Routes full of nice, flat roads to speed across and kick our journey off right.Zwift’s official description of the Tour de Zwift 2021 – Stage 1
GROUP A: Welcome to the Greater London Flat. Between the bridge, subway, and Buckingham Palace, there will be sights aplenty here.
ROUTE: Greater London Flat (3 laps)
TOTAL DISTANCE (WITH LEAD-IN): 25.2 mi // 40.6 km
The ride start times for this, on the GMT front at least, were not great.
I really wanted a nice 4 or 5pm start. Alas, no.
The best I could find was 11am, or 2 or 3pm. Well, given that the afternoon looked relatively meeting free, I decided to cut out an hour of the day, do the ride, and then work a bit later to make up for it.
I generally feel at my best early afternoon – after some food – so this one was an alright time for me, in the end.
It’s been a while since I’ve ridden this hard, for this long. I knew I needed a certain pacing to keep me under the hour that I’d set aside for this one.
Given that this ride was 40.6km, I needed to be averaging about 41kph for the full hour. Now, of course, that’s Zwift speed, and massively boosted by the huge peloton and zero wind resistance. Outdoors I’d be grateful if I could average 20kph for the hour, but there we go.
Early doors I went a bit too hard. I was aiming for around 230w, or somewhere around 3.0-3.1w/kg. I felt this was a sustainable pace for the ride. However, when I hit the admittedly small climbs dotted around the map, I found myself pushing overly hard in some places. Great for climbing up the short term leaderboard, but not so great for the endurance aspect that lay ahead.
As the screenshot shows above, about 10km in I figured I’d taken my mind of the workload by watching a bit of YouTube.
Once I fired up YouTube and stopped paying attention to my cadence and wattage, my stats went a bit … well, all over the show. Still, not having 100% mental focus on my legs was a welcome respite. Just the 30km left to go then.
My hopes, dreams, and ambitions of maintaining ~230w were something of a pipedream by about the 30 minute mark. I’d fallen back to small bursts and recoveries, aiming to keep with the admittedly still huge packs around me.
One of the nice thing about a ride with 2000+ other people is there’s always someone to cling on too. And as ever, there are those who start far too strong and fade off – all easy pickings for climbing up the leader board. Of course I know it’s not a race, but you’d be hard pressed to believe that when you get to those final few kilometres. Things suddenly start to get a lot more … jostle-y (not a word).
As we were coming up to the final stretch, I managed to hit my highest position of the ride. Touching on 400th, before dropping back fairly significantly as my over exertions (unplanned, honestly!) forced me to ease off.
I was struggling to see the screen from my bike – using the laptop, rather than my desktop. Some of the numbers, my watts per kilo, distance remaining, and all of the chat were very difficult for me to see. I’ve taken to wearing glasses now for computer work, so my eye sight is clearly starting to fail me. Age, you see.
I was determined not to race to the finish. I definitely found a little ramping up, though in large part this was to keep with the pack – and frankly, to finish the thing. There’s something to be said for riding hard and fast and therefore, finishing sooner. This ain’t no leisurely bike packing tour.
What it is, however, is a sterling workout.
Heart rate wise, I was at an average of 177bpm for this one. That scares me a bit. I’m convinced my lack of harder riding has forced this figure upwards a touch.
I am super happy with my average cadence of 94rpm though. That’s a really reassuring figure. This is with the trainer at 100% as well (as best I am aware), so I was keeping a good rhythm through this one.
Overall I am super happy to have done this one today. After Christmas time I really need a bit of a thrashing on the bike. A 1hr / 740 calorie ride is a good way to go about it.
I’d take that any day.
Early doors I thought my knee might be problematic, but it seemed to melt away under the general lack pain of the harder ride. Thank the Lord.
I have no idea what’s in store for Stage 2, but I have to suspect that the Alpe du Zwift will feature in here at some point. Or worse. Ven-top.
I guess this was the easy one.