Tour de Zwift 2023 | Stage 4 | Longer Ride

I’ll stand by my decision that Stage 3 was the hardest ride of the Tour de Zwift 2023, and not just because it buggered up my knee.

But Stage 4 was a very close second.

Back to back as well. Absolutely brutal.

So today I made up for having to take the Shorter Ride initially for Stage 4. I’d very much planned to do all the Longer Rides during this series, and so was a bit disappointed not to get the chance. However I don’t think I felt that sad about missing out on this, at the time.

For this one we would be hitting a new route for me. One I’ve very much deliberately put off, because it’s definitely a demanding ride.

Surrey Hills.

That’s ~990m of climb, ~45km of riding, and 5 hills. It’s not quite the full London map, but it’s all the hard parts.

Surrey Hills sees you tackling:

  • Fox Hill
  • Leith Hill
  • Box Hill (almost)
  • Keith Hill
  • Fox Hill (yes, twice)

The ride starts with a 5km lead in. I was so late on to the bike today that I had less than 30 seconds on the countdown before we were off, and I hadn’t even clipped in by that point. As such I was out the back and thoroughly not ready to be climbing 3km / 140m (give or take) within the first 2km.

I think I went a little too hard, a little over keen on that first climb, particularly towards the top. And you know you’re in for a tough ride when that’s only the lead in.

The crazy thing about Surrey Hills route is that you’re pretty much always either descending or ascending. There’s only two (I think) transition points in the entire 45km, and neither of those are entirely flat.

So down from Fox Hill and straight into the bottom of Leith Hill. This is where I better settled in. With so much climbing still to go, and a lot of distance still to cover, it became a case of finding the right rhythm, setting a pace I could sustain, and not chasing anyone in front who pulled away.

In short whilst I’d been waiting patiently all week to do this as a group ride, many parts were solo efforts. About the only place the drafting paid dividends was on the descents.

For Leith Hill I could see the climb kicked up hard at the end. That meant taking a low to mid threshold pace on the bottom 2/3rds, and then kicking up a notch at the end. I feel that went well but I was definitely already tiring after two back to back climbs.

The other downer was that my heart rate monitor packed up mid climb. I tried to adjust it, turning it off on the Garmin and then enabling it again, and also disconnecting it physically from the strap and re-attaching. But nothing worked. The strap itself is ruined, I’m surprised it keeps working as well as it usually does. As soon as I get paid next I’m buying a new one.

Anyway, the HRM came off in a heap by my front wheel. Boo.

Down from Prue Leith Hill we were straight into the bottom of Box Hill. However, for reasons known only to those at Zwift HQ, this route doesn’t actually start the KOM segment for Box Hill. So it’s not a tracked effort.

How bizarre / annoying / frustrating (delete as you see fit).

I only realised that at the top. Boo.

And I say that because I think I did my best climb of the whole ride on Box Hill. Though you’ll have to take my word for it because it’s not tracked 😀

Less pleasing was that down from Box Hill you are bang into the climb for Keith Hill. There’s literally no gap. I just assumed the descent had a little rise in it, but no. We were immediately into the fourth climb. Absolutely brutal.

I feel my effort on this one was the most consistent of the day. That’s partly because I had nothing more to give, and partly because I absolutely wanted to be done with it. Keep the rhythm and it must be over soon, right?

After Keith Hill though there was the longest transition of the ride. This one was a bit weird because with the ride now ~20 minutes or so over the hour mark, I was absolutely dead. My body is trained for hour rides. Once we go over that I really quickly drop off.

I could see my pace had really fallen off in that transition – and maybe if I had kept just a tad more pace there I could have finished this route in under 1h 30m, which I ultimately didn’t manage and annoys me a bit.

Anyway, after what seemed like ages we were into the bottom of Fox Hill for the second time.

My second attempt was far less intensive than my first.

I managed a 7m 42s up the second time, compared to 7m 10s on the first go. So it turns out doing 4 climbs in between is worth about 30 seconds to me.

Glad to have this one Boxed off, excuse the awful pun. And happy to complete the Tour de Zwift 2023 as originally intended. Full credit to those who had to do this back to back against La Reine. Mercy me.

I’m kinda thinking I’m going to skip tomorrow and take a rest day. I’ve hit all my weekly targets, and at >1,000 calories it has really taken it out of me.

Good. But my God, that was hard work.

About as hard as expected. I can’t think I’ll be rushing back.

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