Fed up with cold feet I set the shed up early for today, kept the window shut and put the heater on at 7:30. It worked, whatever else I may have suffered my feet weren’t cold. The start line looked sparse with only Nic, Jeremy and I there, as the countdown ended and sounded the starting pip we set off and Ian, Andrew and Nathan appeared, and after few seconds Steve P appeared out of nowhere.
Pretty much straight into the KOM which kept the discord conversation to a minimum, the only general consensus is that just after the first KOM summit, when you think you’ve cracked it, turning left and hitting 15% inclines up to the radio mast seems a bit harsh. At least going down you can get up some speed.
A café stop set for just after the sprint was agreed, just before that IanT disappeared? Turns out he had the Zwift equivalent of a mechanical, a power cut. By the time it was back on he had well and truly lost the ride, Andrew enjoyed his café stop so much he stayed there and abandoned. At least his journey home wasn’t too bad.
That left five of us to do the second half. We had a bit of assistance up the smaller KOM and all set a PB that we’ll struggle to get anywhere near ever again. The chat was about weather and the fact that it was snowing again, leaving us all glad we weren’t outside riding on real roads.
Our collective efforts had us all over the line and earning the badge in 2 hours 41 minutes, which we deemed very creditable. Despite the slight relaxation of the lockdown rules allowing two riders we’ll probably stick with zwift until we can ride as a group.
Todays weather really proves the value of zwift. Even without a covid lockdown a few inches of fresh snow means riding the roads is not an option. However thanks to the technology 6 of us set off round the Achterban at Innsbruck, without breaking a single lockdown rule.
A big figure 8 with a trip up and down both sides of a mountain, 49 Km with 990 metres of climbing.
Ian T has his technology a bit more organised and was on discord, albeit with the microphone muted. That meant he could hear the comments about the virtual ‘flat cap’ he has somehow acquired, still no sign of the whippet that should accompany such a garment.
The group ride thing worked again with me still with the bunch as we went over the summit, twice. No way that happens in the real world, I’m off the back going up chemical road, never mind a mountain.
There was no sudden surge for us this week, though on the last descent Nic somehow managed to take flight and disappear into the virtual distance at a questionably high pace. A quick chat as we were going down set us up for the ‘Pretzel’ next week, some of us haven’t got that particular badge.
So next week, 31/01/2021 8:30. Watopia ‘The Pretzel’ , we do it all again
As with all group rides since September 2020 once again we used zwift to virtually assemble, this time in their version of France for the Petite Boucle. 66 Km and 484 metres so not too strenuous.
A fine turnout with 8 on Zwift with 6 of us on the discord app meant it was as social a ride as we could do. Zwifts clever ‘group ride’ algorithms meant all we had to do is keep pedaling to stay together, regardless of the terrain. Two or three mentions of a Greggs stop meant Nic could keep his Jaffa cake intake at the appropriate level and all was well with the world, despite an actual stop not being necessary, it’s not that long a ride.
Said Zwift algorithm had a bit of a moment with @20km to go and 6 of us went up a 5-6% incline for a few hundred metres at a rate that would have left Ineos Grenadiers floundering in our wake, however it corrected itself and we went down the other side slower than we went up. Still for a heavyweight like me going upfill at 46kph felt good, even if it wasn’t real.
The discord then came into its own as we were able to work out where the other 2 riders were and with soft pedaling and the group algorithm reasserting proper control we were fully reassembled before the finishing line.
We should keep discord going for the real rides, if any separation occurs it could be useful, and allow separate groups to keep in touch. Thanks to Nathan we know it works out in the real world.
Thanks to Nic for organizing it again. Hopefully back next week for another one.