Another Sunday and another World Championships on Zwift. This time the individual one…
This was a lot more civilised in terms of time with a 1pm start rather than the 7am start for the Team Time Trial. The preparation was also better, well rested and feeling good.
Nutrition all sorted and with so many riders expected it was a question of log on as early as possible to avoid any problems. 12:30 and all logged on, but already 60 plus riders in the start pen. This was going to be hectic!
Doing the final preparations and warming up in the start pen the nerves were kicking in, which is always a good thing. With a few last minute amendments and some loud music going through the headphones it was time for the off. With just a few seconds to go there were over 600 riders in the starting pen, about 500 riders more than I have ridden with before. Lets hope the technology could cope!
As expected the start was mad! I hit the start as hard as I could so that I could try and get in to a good solid group. Going through the aquarium the pressure was really on and things were being strung out, but I was doing OK and starting to settle down and producing good power, way above the FTP and averaging around 250w at 3.6 w/kg.
The good thing was that the feeling was good. Yes the heart rate was up at nearly 90% max, but this was steady and not a problem.
Finally as the first lap was complete it started to settle down and I found myself in a good group, working well. That was 15 minutes of full on racing though just to get to that point. The good thing was that I had not tried to stick with groups that were obviously too stong and was happy to find the right group.
It did look like one of the BRT team mates had a problem though as he was back with us when he would have been expected to be at the pointy end of the race. Not good, but nice to have some company from a team-mate, especially as Neil was able to help out and keep a good pace in the group and give me a good target to ride with.
Lap 2 was very good and settled down. Yes the esses, as normal, took their toll, but I managed to hold the group.
By this time things had settled and the power had eased off, but it was group riding now so all good.
But then disaster! At the turn for the mountain there was a technical failure somewhere and all the riders disappeared. Was it the servers or the internet? Who knows, but this means that you can not see anyone, loose the draft and no idea what is going on. About 90 seconds of this and then a freeze. Oh no, this was not looking good. About 30 seconds of a frozen Zwift but then it started again, but no riders still.
I was still riding but this is not easy and it was obvious that he was going to have lost the riders he was with. Then the biggest disaster, another freeze, but this time 4 minutes or so. I was still pedalling and hoping that things would come back to life, but the power and pace were down and I had no idea whether things were going to come back. The mind was loosing it and with a quick message to the coach to let him know what was happening, and a quick reply to keep pushing, I was doing as told.
Eventually things clicked back in, but with 4 1/2 minutes of frozen time (which was lost from the race but the effort still being put in) I had dropped right back and was not in any sort of group.
By the time everything was back it was well in to the third lap but with some time to mentally re-group and focus again I settled in to pushing as hard as possible.
The issues had taken their toll though and it did take time to get the head back in to gear, but spotting some riders up the road I set off with the aim of picking up groups and then passing as many riders as possible.
At this stage though I was a lap down on the leaders, which I had hoped would not have been the case, based on projected times, but it looked like a few riders also had problems as well. The advantage of being a regular racer/viewer of the races is that you get to know a few names and when you see one of the hot favourites near you then you have to grab a wheel, even if it was because he also had technical problems and was still a lap ahead, I was very grateful for the tow from Kim Little.
So getting to the start of the last lap the head was completely back in the game, I had been catching and overtaking people and set an objective of catching some riders I could see on the leaderboard. The target was 20 seconds up the road. That could be a big ask in the last lap as most of the time I was riding alone. However, the lead was coming down and eventually, with some good riding, they were caught and passed. More targets to be set, keep pushing, drive to the end. Very pleasing by the end of the lap the first targets were about 1 minute behind!
As the esses approached I was with 3 other riders now, the pursuit had been on but I was really shot. The heart rate was higher than it had ever been on Zwift, up to 172 (not far off the running max), in the sprint at the end. The chase had taken everything out of me and I had to settle for 4th from that group, despite my best efforts.
Sadly with the issues experienced the official time came in at 1:24:11 (that was the total time from the start to the end, inlcuding the time frozen), but the recorded time on screen was 1:19:50 of time when not frozen. However, this would have been affected by the time with no riders around. The 1:19 time would have been 0:15:31 behind the leader, but I know that without the technical problems this would have been nearer 14 minutes (or less) behind the leader, which is what would have been expected.
The problems put me down in 373rd place, with 456 riders captured in the results (although there were a lot more that took part and finished), oh well not much can be done about it.
Overall it was a great race to do and fingers crossed when it happens again there will be no technical problems. I was enjoying the pain until the drop out and then enjoyed it again when the mind got back in to the game.
This has helped overall though as it has got the focus back on training and getting fitter, stronger and faster!
Well done to everyone that took part and the organisers and the 635 entries that go to the finish across the 2 mens rides, plus all of those that competed in the two women’s rides.