The 7 Deadly Wins challenge is my personal mission to collect a gold trophy in every Zwift Classic, no matter how many tries it takes. You can follow the highs and lows on my Youtube channel, Zwiftaholics.
I’m sure many readers are also parents and/or employed full-time and familiar with the challenges of fitting Zwift in around life. Give yourself a minute to recover from the shock that streaming and blogging about Zwift is not enough to provide me with a sustainable income, and let’s see what the universe had in store for me this week.
Card #1 – The Work Trip
I’m probably not going to get much sympathy for this one, but I got to spend the working week in New Zealand. After a 42-day streak of riding, not a single pedal stroke was pushed from Sunday until Saturday. It left me with precious little time to grab a fifth win and move on with the challenge. No time for faffing about with the streaming setup. I signed up for the 9:10pm race and hoped for the best.
Card #2 – The Upgrade
When I finally got to sign up for a race, I was in for a rude shock. My efforts on last week’s Tiny Race Series, presumably the finishing effort up from the jungle bridge that added a good 50W to my 1-minute PR on ZwiftPower, had elevated me to A Grade in the category enforcement system despite still being a B on ZwiftPower.
To be fair, this was coming, and I had already (reluctantly) signed up to race in A Grade for the upcoming DIRT Racing Series and ZRL. I was hoping to hold onto that B Grade license for just a little longer, though, to get through the Classics and in particular the final non-drafting race up Bologna. That now looms as an epic challenge, but first things first – London.
Card #3 – The Field
Always a lottery of course, but the stakes are higher now. In B Grade I could be fairly confident that my best Box Hill effort would be competitive. Maybe not enough to hold on to the banner, but at least good enough to have a chance of regrouping for a sprint finish. The signup sheet showed a tiny field, but it included a rival with a sub-6 minute Box Hill to his name. My best-case scenario was breaking 7 minutes if everything went right. I hoped he’d have a change of heart.
He did, leaving me with just two ZwiftPower rivals despite a field of 11. They were stronger climbers on paper, but one (an A+ rider, Corbyn) informed us it was his first race back after 2 months of COVID recovery, and the other (Leung) seemed to have an off day, almost getting dropped at the start and then getting gapped briefly up Northumberland Ave.
Card #4 – The eBikes
Eric mentioned recently that category enforcement has pushed many inaccurate zPower riders and those with poorly calibrated trainers up into A Grade. It looked like this was no different. A few stayed in the pens, but it wasn’t long before we had riders who weren’t on ZwiftPower tearing off the front. My fellow ZP competitors were also following along on ZwiftPower Live or just didn’t have the moxie to chase today. By the time we hit the start/finish banner for the first time it was just the three of us left, with four riders streaking up the road ahead.
Card #5 – The Climb
Thus the stage was set for the deciding feature. Zwiftaholics’ #1 fan (Rob Bane aka Zwifty Zwifter on YouTube) had found me on Companion App even though I wasn’t streaming this race. I may have found that creepy if I wasn’t so grateful for the company and encouragement.
We’d scoped the ZP power numbers and it looked favourable for me if it came down to a sprint, but I told Rob that if any cracks emerged in my competitors on the climb I’d be trying to win the race there. It didn’t take long. The first small ramp showed that Leung was indeed off his game, and as we turned right for that decisive long ramp (like Eric, I too get dropped here all the time) a gap started opening to Corbyn, too. I went for it.
The Fifth Win
Like Yorkshire, this was hardly a glamorous race, but I did the work, putting in my best 8-minute effort for this year to push hard through the banner and over the kicker onto the descent. As I popped my anvil powerup to coast down the gap was out over 50 seconds and my two rivals had also separated on the road. We essentially called a truce at that point and the final run into the finish was leisurely, to the point where I’d win with an unflattering average wattage for the race of just 2.9 W/kg.
Still, those were the cards I was dealt today, and I knew when I started this challenge that I might have to take some cheap wins as field sizes dwindled later in the week. This may unfortunately be increasingly true now that I have to tackle the As, and especially so in the final race where no amount of experience, tactics or sprinting prowess can help me.
That’s over the horizon, though. For now we have two-and-a-bit laps of Innsbruckring to take on, with a custom finish at the top of the Leg Snapper. How I wish I’d been able to give it a test run in the Tiny Race Series just gone! I will be starting early this week and testing myself in some bigger and better fields. Hopefully I can jag a win worth broadcasting, but don’t be surprised if you see me skulking around ZwiftPower this weekend trying to snipe a small field victory on tired legs that never want to see the Snapper again.