Tour De Zwift 2021 – Stage 2: Longer Ride

Almost as unplanned as my first Tour de Zwift 2021 ride, I didn’t realise Stage 2 started today, so once I’d spotted it was available, it took precedence as to what to ride today.

Today’s course was Richmond. Bit confusing, this one billed as “the longer ride”, yet the two shorter rides have over 100m more climbing over the duration. Personally, I find climbing harder than distance. Maybe I’ll do one of the other two tomorrow.

Here’s the official spiel for today’s ride:

Ever wanted to ride a UCI Worlds course? Now’s your chance. For Stage 2, we’ll be diving into some of the most renowned championship roads in the world—take your pick between Richmond 2015, Innsbruck 2018, or Yorkshire 2019. Bring your A game. See how you stack up in a route perfect for champs in the making.

Zwift’s official description of the Tour de Zwift 2021 – Stage 2

GROUP A: Introducing Richmond’s 2015 UCI Worlds Course. What’s it got in store for you? A flat first half and second portion jam-packed with attackable climbs.
COURSE: Richmond
ROUTE: 2015 UCI Worlds Course (2 laps)
TOTAL DISTANCE: 20.1 mi // 32.4 km

Nothing super new here. Sure, it’s the revised Richmond map – definitely an upgrade on the prior look and feel – but it’s not a new route.

It is, however, a challenging route, in the second half.

Richmond is effectively two types of ride. The first half is a bit cobbly – bit brutal if you have a real feel trainer like the Tacx Neo series, and you have 100% road feel enabled. But it’s fairly flat – I think 2% is the steepest it goes, and even then, only briefly.

Not so much in the second half of the circuit.

After a long descent – where it’s useful to catch some 60kph+ recovery – you’re hit with two leg snappers in short succession, followed by a more grinding climb to take you back to the start / finish line.

For me, it’s that third climb that is the hardest.

Fortunately, the Zwift gods were smiling on me today, giving me two feathers – one per lap – to help out on one of the three climbs. I used it at the second, steeper section of the first climb, each lap.

My plan today was to be (slow and) steady. I’d aimed to hit each climb at 3.9w/kg, but kinda blew that plan out of the water on the first climb. I did fare better with ride management on the second climb, and on the subsequent lap.

One of the things I struggled with on 23rd Street is not to get out of the saddle.

As it’s short, sharp, and straight up hill, it’s really easy to get too eager and blow the legs.

And if you do, that third grinding hill punishes you. Or, at least, it does to me. So restraint is key.

Here’s my times for both. It’s interesting how much closer the second climb is – as I say, better ride management.

What I definitely struggled with today was not losing my lunch.

I’d eaten a fairly big meal of two sandwiches, egg, ham, and cheese, with tomatoes, cucumber, and olives.

Let’s just say that after the first climb, I was envisaging a fairly eggy bike. The thought itself was spurring me on, making me want to wretch. I knew if I did, I’d lose it. And that would have meant not only ride over, but significantly bad times.

I don’t really know how I held it in, honestly. I felt rough.

Much like earlier in the week, should I choose to hit the a second event of Stage 2, I’m going to be a little easier on myself and try not to thrash myself quite as hard. Sure, it’s nice to put in 600+ calories in less than an hour, but my legs are like “what are you doing to us?” and I just know if I set off on another event tomorrow, within the first few kilometres I will be hurting.

I’m keeping my head in the sand with regards to the Tour de Zwift 2021. I have absolutely no idea what is coming in Stage 3, and I kinda don’t want to know, either.

I figure at some stage we hit the hills. It’s a long while since I’ve settled into the Alpe du Zwift, but I feel it’s coming. They love to throw that beast in for events like this. Only this year, we also have the availability of the dullinator – Mont Ventoux – so perhaps one or both will be a thing at some point on the tour.

For now, I’m enjoying a glass of wine and a bit of a rest. I’ll kill myself again tomorrow.

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