Tour of Watopia 2022 Stage 3: The Queen

Right then, off we go for Stage 3 of this years Tour of Watopia, and I think it’s fair to say this one is the toughest of the tour. Well, in my mind it certainly is.

I opted for the longer ride – taking in the Tour of Fire and Ice, aka a quick whip around the Volcano before heading out to the Jungle and up the Alpe du Zwift. It’s not that long ago since I last did the AdZ, so I was fairly well prepped for this one.

The only point of concern for me today was in having a fairly intensive week already on the bike. With the nice weather I’ve been fortunate enough to get outdoors for every other ride so far this week, which means no recovery or easy rides. Each one has been ~1 hour at a decent clip, covering approximately 30km. So I was a little wary as to how my legs would handle today’s effort.

Going into this one I had a decent time to prep. Sometimes I’m up late on a Sunday.

A lie in? How dare you?

Well, not today. I was up and out of bed by 08:05, with a fresh cup of coffee and two slices of toast with nutella on by 08:30. Hey, prepping filter coffee takes ages. Oh, and the kids needed feeding.

For once I was on the bike with time to spare so put in a short warm up on Fuego Flats, just getting the legs used to spinning, making sure I had all my kit, some YouTubes lined up, and generally properly prepped for the fun ahead.

The turn out today wasn’t great. Just the ~300 or so, which I guess for an AdZ climb on a sunny Sunday morning bang on the start of spring is about what could be expected. If I hadn’t gotten out so much already this week I’d have been gutted to have been indoors on the turbo with the sun shining outside.

Anyway, what I had in mind today was 220w average. That’s the climb portion, not encompassing the lead in. I largely ignored the lead in – just pootle along, take your time, there’s no rush to reach the big boy.

With the target of 220w in mind I was more relaxed about the ride. Thoughts of matching or bettering my previous climb were giving me anxiety. Who knows why. The mind is a mysterious organ.

That said, when I got on the climb I found my rhtym at ~235w and decided I’d hang around there for as long as I could, but not feel too bad if I decided to ease off.

Amazingly, I was able to hold out fairly comfortably.

Overall it went way better than expected.

The key today was not really the target power.

It was all about keeping that heart rate down. And I don’t think I did amazing at this. Slowly but surely it crept up.

So here’s what I tried to do…

On each corner I’d push fairly hard at the start, above 235w – sometimes quite a bit above 235w – just to get that average starting high. Then I’d ease off, dipping either back to 235(ish), or below.

This was easier, in some ways, on the longer segments.

My theory was that by lowering the wattage I could also try to bring the heart rate back under control.

I can’t say I did perfectly on this, but it seemed to work well enough. What that meant was this wasn’t really a steady state ride, but peaks and troughs.

It also meant I didn’t empty the tank.

So I did try to empty the tank at the end.

With 500m to go I got out of the saddle and pushed.

Alas, I burned out with 200m to go. Had I waited to 400m to go, this might have worked out more favourably. The last 100m is flat, as best I recall. Give or take anyway.

But yeah, bit of a fail at the end there.

More gloves. Always more gloves.

Anyway, I managed to set another PB today. Strava clocks me in at 54:59, so just under the 55 minute mark. That’s three seconds faster than my previous best. I’ll take it. And it’s also fairly encouraging as I genuinely wasn’t trying to PB today – just incremental gains at work?

Good to have that one boxed off though, as the remaining two cannot possibly be as nasty as 55 minutes just below threshold.

Happy with that. A nice way to cap off the week.

Would I have preferred being outdoors? Yeah, I guess. But we have a heatwave predicted for the week ahead, and the clocks go forward / back (whatever direction it is, I have no idea) soon enough so evening rides will become a realistic thing as well.

Finally, some good news for 2022.

Right, I’ve washed the bike and I supposed I better go bring it in. Then I can start enjoying my ~48 hours of recovery.

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