Weekly Review February 17th – 23rd 2020

Each week Zwift sends me an email summarising my activity for the week. For previous weekly reviews click here.

This week consisted of five rides, of which three were Zwift workouts and two were climbing routes. I managed to get in just one ride over 60 minutes in length, although there was one other that came very close (44 seconds close). Unlike last week, I didn’t feel like I’d done an easier week.

This week’s rides were as follows:

Enjoyably this week, I got to ride two new routes that I haven’t done before.

The week started somewhat unusually, with a very early SST session on Tuesday morning. A few weeks ago we’d had a family bereavement, and as the funeral came closer and closer, I started having worse and worse nights sleep. Many nightmares. Broken sleep. Generally not good all round.

As a result of that, I was up at 5:25 on Tuesday and didn’t manage to get back to sleep. By 6am I decided I’d just give up trying to sleep, and get a session in on the bike. It was nice to get on Zwift so early. Very quite. By the time I came off the bike I thought it was 8.10, but it was only 7.10. It’s always nice to have done a workout early doors, and still having 2 hours before work was… kinda weird!

Wednesday was the day of the funeral, and whilst I over ate a bit at the wake (and had a beer!), I decided I’d get in a ride on RGT Cycling‘s Cap Formentor when I got home. I’d been wanting to do that ride for a while, and wasn’t sure how long it would take. Getting an hour to myself, to contemplate and reflect on the day, but also to take my mind off it – quite contradictory – was very welcome.

I really enjoyed Cap Formentor. I’m fairly sure that’s a new map since I’d first tried RGT Cycling a few months ago. It’s always nice to ride new roads. There is also another new feature on there – Virtual Roads – which is really interesting. Whilst only 500m or so of climb, it gave me the kick up the arse needed to get the motivation for something a little tougher at the weekend.

Not feeling entirely sure as to whether I would be racing on Friday evening, I decided to take Thursday as an active recovery session. I think it’s important to take an easier ride each week. It’s still riding, but not every session needs to be full on. The downside to doing those long FTP Builder blue zone rides is they are boring. Very, very boring.

As it happened, I couldn’t have done the race on Friday even if I’d wanted too. The Crit City event starts at 16:45GMT, and I had an urgent work task that took me until after 5pm that day. That said, I didn’t want to do the race anyway, when push came to shove.

Going into Saturday I’d decided that as I’d missed Friday’s race, I’d opt to do a race on Sunday to make up for it. This would be a “two birds with one stone” kinda deal. Do a race, but a climbing race.

With that in mind, and with approx an hour to ride, I had either SST, or 2x 15‘s to do. The blurb for 2x 15’s says you really should do this session after an easy, or rest day. Well, all good. I’d rested on Friday. But I didn’t want to kill myself ahead of Sunday, so I opted for the SST session, which the blurb for that one says can be done over and over, and watch your FTP rise over time.

The nice thing about this session was that I got to ride Richmond in Reverse. This was my first time on this newly released circuit, so the resulting post covered some of the new scenery and my thoughts about the map in general. I actually don’t think it will be a fun one for racing – however I also don’t think it will be available to race, as there’s no official way to ride in reverse from the main menu. You have to start and then pull an in-app U-turn :/

Come Sunday and without wanting to moan, I only get a single lie in all week, and that’s on Sunday morning. The downside to this is that the race up the Alpe du Zwift starts at 9:05 GMT, and that kinda blows my lie in out of the water.

Whilst I did want to race, I also – for a change – wanted to have a bit of a snooze. Especially after the crappy sleep I’d been having for the last few weeks. Anyway, I decided I would lie in and then do the climb anyway. And I’d do it at the pace I’d have done the race, with a few caveats and exceptions.

Firstly, I wouldn’t have to do the full lead in. The race uses the Tour of Fire and Ice route, and I would opt to do Road to Sky instead. Secondly, unlike in a race, when I got to the bottom of the Alpe I did jump off for a quick toilet break, meaning I was literally at the base of the climb as I resumed.

Anyway, my plan remained the same. Treat it as a 1h FTP session. See how much power I could sustain, on average, for the full climb. With an FTP of 206w I was hoping for 206w+, but was concerned I wouldn’t actually be able to hold that for the full hour.

But the big win for me was I totally smashed that. Coming in at 214w, this was by far and away my strongest sustained ride, and my best ever performance on Zwift … so far.

Really, truly pleased with this. It’s kinda crazy to look back at where I started and then see how far I’ve come. The thought of being able to hold 200w for 20 minutes was a big, big ask for me not just a few months ago. Now I’ve put a solid dint in my progress towards the year goal of an FTP of 230w+.

Whilst Zwift didn’t give me an FTP bump at the end of this ride, I am now going to self moderate this and push my in-game FTP from 206w to 214w. This will mean SST sessions bump from 198-182, to 205-189. This doesn’t sound significantly different, but it does mean now I’ll be 5 minutes on at essentially what my last FTP test was, “recovering” at 189w.

Of course this is a harder workout, but it’s the only way to continually keep improving. Well, that and keeping up the Sunday climbs, racing, and regular activity.

I’m considering resuming my subscription to Tacx Software this week, and that will give me access to many more climbs. There’s also the Mont Ventoux climb in RGT Cycling that I haven’t done yet. That one is mega. Today has been a rest day, and then tomorrow will likely be SST. Will it be an early morning session? Very possibly.

In the short term I don’t have any set schedule though, and that does bother me a bit. I do prefer the structure.

Anyway, enough of me, hows your work been?

4 thoughts on “Weekly Review February 17th – 23rd 2020”

  1. Hey Chris, I came across your Alpe run on Strava and congrats! Super good time there! You actually inspired me to have another crack at it this morning, last time was Tour of Watopia stage 7 last year. I was kind of dreading going back up there to be honest. I couldn’t see what your average watts were for the AdZ segment, but 3.4w/kg average got me up in 57:01, I was out the saddle a fair few times on my effort though! I’m tempted to join one of the regular race/rides up AdZ as it’s a pretty good workout and won’t hurt getting the Tron bike quicker either haha.

    I’ll look forward to seeing that sub 60 from you the next time you hit AdZ!


    • thanks Phil 🙂 yeah I was really pleased with it, but also pleasantly surprised by it. I don’t have the exact figure as I’m not sure where to find it, but I’d say it was 3.1w/kg average. I’ll see if I can find a more accurate figure when back at my desk.

      Congrats on the sub 1 hour climb. 3.4w/kg seems a loong way in front of me at this point. I was still tired on Tuesday!

      I know what you mean about the thought of the climb, but for me at least, the thought (so far) has always been worse than the actual ride itself.

      I’ve been wondering if there’s a website or formula to work out the required avg w/kg to maintain to beat a climb in X minutes. Are you aware of anything like that?

      Anyway, big congrats 🙂 And always nice to hear from you 🙂


  2. Thanks! For me, losing weight was a big part of my quicker time up the Alpe. Last time I tried it I was 91kg, 69kg this time, and I actually think this was my easiest Alpe run out of the four I’ve now completed.

    I just saw on one of your other posts about the legs post Alpe, I just rode to work and can confirm my legs weren’t happy either 😂

    I did have a look for a formula w/kg wise but found varying amounts. Some people reckoned they’d got up there on 2.8w/kg, while others said 3.2-3.5w/kg for their runs. I did note that some said they were events with double draft, so expect they got some good help there.

    My run was pretty quiet and only saw maybe a dozen riders the whole time.

    I spoke to a mate from work about my Alpe strategy and he reckoned I should try and stick to 240-250w on the Alpe which I mostly did. I had to pull myself back at the start, was doing 275ish thinking I was a golden God, but that was never going to be sustainable the whole way up. As it was the legs were like spaghetti for the final “sprint” to the finish.

    I was thinking of trying to hit it once a fortnight or at least once a month, as it’s a pretty good workout!


    • Amazing work on the weight loss, wow! It’s interesting as this time I was under 70kg and the climb definitely felt easier. I think last time I would have been at 72kg.

      There’s absolutely no way I could sustain 230w+ at the moment. I’m aiming towards that in the hope that it will allow me to stick with the front runners of Cat C races, but from previous race performances, I’m a way off that yet.

      A Golden God 😀 Love it. And yeah, it is a solid workout. It’s nice, in a weird way, to have the resistance to work against for a prolonged length of time. Drives me crazy when I hit a flat, or God forbid, a descent on the climb. Epic KOM, I am looking at you!


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