Editor’s note: Monica is undertaking the “Couch to Route Hero” challenge of riding all 67 “free-ridable” Zwift routes (and getting all the badges) in 11 weeks. Each week she shares her story of the previous week’s struggles and accomplishments. Follow along on her journey, take the challenge yourself, and be sure to give her a Ride On if you see her on course!
As the world shifts and groans, it’s difficult to write a post about my week on Zwift. People are doing much harder things right now. Loss of life, loss of livelihood, loss of socialization. But there’s also so much good happening right now: families re-learning how to connect, people slowing down, homes being intentional about gratitude, and the Zwift community growing as cyclists move indoors. So I still share my story, to add to the non-Coronavirus posts.
The Week Lined Up
I added 3 new route badges this week, for a total of 59. Only 8 left! I rode 127.78 miles with 11,667 feet of climb in 11 ½ hours on my bike.
The Uber Pretzel
People who’ve ridden both the Uber Pretzel and the London PRL Full routes have said the Uber Pretzel was worse. Gosh, I hope they weren’t lying! This was a tough ride! Knowing it would be tough is why I only rode 3 routes this week. After having learned more about depleting my immune system I’m even more conscientious of it. (See the second half of this article for more on that topic.)
I started the Uber Pretzel with plenty of sleep, lots of fuel, my nicest bibs, some chamois cream and a bit of anxiety. The plan was to stay in Zone 1 or 2.
The first half of the Uber Pretzel wasn’t so bad. It started with the Epic KOM and the Bonus Climb to the Radio Tower (which I dread more than Alpe du Zwift).
I took a couple of short breaks, one of which was at the Jungle Circuit to hop onto a mountain bike. No sense in going even slower by riding a road bike in the dirt! I happened to be on the jungle circuit when the Stage 4 Pro-Am race started so I got to watch them race past me in the opposite direction. I thought for SURE Nathan Guerra, who was commentating the race, would mention me, but alas, he did not!
Next was the Volcano Climb, a much needed sit-bones break at the descent, a gentle zip through the Esses and a meander on over to Fuego Flats.
This route takes you through Fuego Flats in each direction. The first direction is the halfway point as far as mileage and climb go. I was encouraged that I was only at 3 ½ hours! I took a longer break here: donned new bibs and socks, ate some real food including pickle juice (just in case), and sat around for 15 minutes.
Once I got back on my bike I realized I had made a big mistake. The bibs I put on were NOT comfortable at all! They were my second-best pair. I should have started with them and worn my best pair on the second half of the ride. Thankfully, I was reminded by my ever-faithful new Zwift friend Shirley that some people wear a second pair of bibs turned inside out. I tried that and it relieved a lot of pressure!
At the 6 hour mark I was in tears. I had no words. Just tears as I was only on turn two of Alpe du Zwift.
Further up the Alpe I hopped off my bike to stretch on the ground where I fell asleep. When I woke my whole body wondered why I wasn’t done riding. My mind was wondering why my body wasn’t still going. Everything was out of balance. The nap plus some caffeinated gum helped get everything back on board!
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As I went up the Alpe I was encouraged by a few nearby rider messages as well as seeing a couple of other Zwifters scaling it with 70+ miles under their belt. I kept plugging along, although every part of my body that came into contact with my bike was in a lot of pain: my feet, my hands, and my sit bones.
I finally scaled Alpe du Zwift and limped my way around the loop at the top so I could coast down the descent. I earned that coast! What I didn’t earn was the Meilenstein Wheels at the top of the Alpe. What a shame, too as that’s the last time anyone will ever see me on that mountain!
It took 8 hours and 38 minutes of riding time to cover 88.5 miles, my longest ride ever both in distance and time! Along the way I took 2 hours and 9 minutes worth of breaks, burned 2700 calories, had a TSS of 333, and got 730 ride ons.
I will never do this route again. You couldn’t pay me enough. The second half took me 5 hours! Now don’t let that scare you off. I stayed in Zone 2, and my FTP is 2.0 w/kg. Most people finish this much faster than I did. And, I AM glad I did this route! I feel a mix of pride and relief!
The best news is, 2 days later none of those contact points that hurt were in any kind of pain!
How About You?
Have you done the Uber Pretzel? If not, have I scared you off from doing it? Will I see you at the PRL Full this Saturday? I’d love to hear from all of you!