Tour de Zwift 2023 | Stage 8 | Longer Ride

Three laps of a new map, what’s not to like.

Yes, the end of the Tour de Zwift 2023 brings a new map – which I am no doubt sure you have heard about by now – in the form of Scotland. And more specifically, I believe, Glasgow.

I have a bit of a downer on Scotland lately, to be honest. But it seems like since then, I can’t escape the place. Zwift throwing out Scotland as the new map was really the icing on the cake.

Anyway, putting aside my dislike of one Scot rather than ruling out the whole nation, I was still very much interested in seeing what the new route held in store today.

The route today was the same regardless of whether doing the Short, Medium, or Longer rides. It would either be one, two, or three laps of the Rolling Highlands route. This is an event only route, at least for now. I don’t know much about the new routes yet – I’m kinda leaving them to be discovered, and I’m hoping there’s a new climb in there somewhere.

There was a fairly long Lead In today of around 5km, leaving ~26km to go across the three laps. That worked out at just under 9km a lap, I believe. And on each lap we would be doing about 70m of climb.

Being based around UK roads, there was never really a flat part of this circuit. It was either gradually up, or gradually down.

However, to take your mind off the constant undulation, there is a lot to see.

From the medieval castles with the misty waterfalls, to the equally misty hills, a Loch and railway viaduct complete with boxy steam train, and an inflatable Nessie, there’s plenty to see on each lap. It’s not Grand Theft Auto 5 levels of detail, but it feels like their most visually appealing map yet.

One thing I only noticed during looking back on the screenshots is that on the last lap the daylight disappeared and darkness descended, replete with Northern Lights off in the distance. That’s really cool. I did notice the Northern Lights during the ride, but hadn’t clocked it was because it had gone dark for the last lap.

What I didn’t really notice on the first lap was that the Rolling Highlands route is one of those down-then-up routes. The first half of the lap is largely down hill. And then on the second half it’s a gradual drag back upwards, with a little loop back / corkscrew (kinda the new parts of Makuri Island-esque) that really ramps up, but only for a very short time.

It was the second lap (and third) where I really felt that gradual drag hurting the legs.

Going into this one I hadn’t planned on taking the ride at pace. I figured I’d do the first lap at a nice relaxed tempo, get my screenshots, and then pick it up on laps 2 and 3.

Of course, that never happens on Zwift.

From the off I was pushing into threshold, and it remained around there throughout.

One thing I did notice today was how much of a difference it makes not only on the feeling of those hills, but on keeping up with the pack on the descents when you’re at 100% trainer difficulty. I’d remembered to knock it back up during my warm up, and the difference from Thursday’s race was night and day.

Definitely feel like I worked hard on that one. However the stats don’t tell quite the same story. It was fast, but at ~44 minutes it wasn’t anywhere like as long as some of the Tour de Zwift 2023 rides have been.

What I know I need is an easier ride.

So that’s what I’ll do tomorrow morning.

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