Editor’s note: Monica undertook 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 shared her story of the previous week’s struggles and accomplishments. Follow her journey, take the challenge yourself, and be sure to give her a Ride On if you see her on course!
When Eric first named this challenge “Couch to Route Hero” I was mildly embarrassed by the idea of being called a “Route Hero.” But now that it’s over you can call me what you want. It feels good to be done and to look back on my accomplishments!
The Week Lined Up
I rode three routes this week, bringing my total to 67. That’s all of them! This week I rode 65.1 miles with 4,737 feet of climb in 4 hours 44 minutes on the bike.
About this Week’s Routes
I don’t understand why Out and Back Again has this name. While you DO end up where you started the name implies that you take the same road back as you did going out. This is not the case.
Lutscher CCW was hard. You go up the back side of the KOM… twice. My head wasn’t there. A real shocker! So I pushed myself up the first time and planned to take it easy the second time. Little did I know I’d have two friends from across the world join me to climb it the second time. They’re both very strong so I went my hardest so they wouldn’t fall asleep on the climb. Thank you to Karissa Minn [TFC] and Dafydd Williams [KRT]!
Between January 5-April 10 I:
- Rode 55 days, completing 67 routes.
- Rode 1,365.59 miles (2,197.7km) . For perspective: In 2019 I rode 1,435 miles total.
- Climbed 110,791 feet. That’s 3.8x up Everest.
- Was on my bike for 112 hours, 11 minutes and 3 seconds. That’s 4.7 days.
- Burned 40,955 calories. That’s 143 pizza slices.
- Received 21,980 Ride Ons from all of you!
My most favorite routes: Watopia’s Tick Tock and New York’s Mighty Metropolitan.
My least favorite route: Watopia’s Uber Pretzel. Do it once so you can say you did. Then never ever do it again!
I went from level 31 to level 37. I got about 40,000XP from all the miles, and 39,600XP from all the routes. I got random XP here and there too, from things like reaching the top of Alpe du Zwift and having the prize spinner land on something I already had, or from going through a banner and getting points instead of a powerup.
I also gained about 2 million drops during the 3 months.
I lost 9 lbs during the challenge. I wish I had paid more attention to calories as I’m sure I could have lost a lot more. Sometimes I could only push myself to do just the bare minimum of this challenge as that was a lot for me. So weight loss wasn’t a priority.
Bike choice: I purchased the Specialized Tarmac Pro and Enve SES 3.4 wheels in the virtual garage. I used this setup for climbing, but mostly just rode my Tron bike, while always hopping off in the jungle to switch to a mountain bike.
New IRL: I bought a new pair of bibs that I love. And found that Chamois Butt’r Her’ chamois cream is my best friend. Also stretching. Stretching is my best friend.
Some things I learned
- I was reminded that I have great resolve (especially when people are looking!)
- Recovery matters. Recovery rides and rest days. They make you stronger.
- We’re stronger together. Knowing others were doing the same routes, sometimes doing them with me: that made me push myself more. We’re stronger together.
- Fourth, don’t put a long ride between two scheduled real-world events.
- My chiropractor knows what he’s talking about. If I want to stay out of his office I need to not add more than 10% each week. (Alternative way to stay out: have a global pandemic.)
- My self-esteem is much higher when I do hard things. Even when no one knows about them. I just feel so much better about who I am.
- Looking back on the “easier” weeks reminds me of just how much I progressed each week. What seems like an “easy” week now wasn’t back then so I still celebrate Monica of week 6 who nearly died on The PRL Half. It’s also a great reminder to celebrate those who have done hard things, without comparing my own accomplishments to theirs.
Next Saturday (April 25) we’ve invited others to join us as we do the 25 laps of the Volcano Circuit. Check it out, and please join us! Learn more here >
Will there be another challenge?
As of right now, no. Not for me. It was all I could do to complete this one, so I need a break from constant accountability. I may take the next month to work to lose some more weight. I thought it would be kind of fun to be much more fit when our Shelter-in-Place is over, so I figure I should start working on that even more now. I’ll likely write about it when it’s over.
Besides that, I’ll be managing two teen’s distance learning for the rest of the school year, finishing a book I’m working on about when I had depression, shipping Zwift Insider posters and Banjo shirts and attempting to finish a bathroom remodel.
To each of you that gave me a Ride On, wrote to me in game, rode with me, commented on these posts, and joined the challenge as well: THANK YOU! I would have quit if it hadn’t been for you. You are all the best! Find yourself a community on Zwift that encourages you to accomplish your goals and offers support and advice. There are many to choose from and we’re stronger together!
How did you track it all? I’ve started trying to knock out as many routes as I can.
Hey Brad – she used the documents from this post: https://zwiftinsider.com/route-ride-schedule/
Thanks Eric. You guys run an amazing site!
I’m using the route list, checked off my last ‘1 bidon’ course today. I haven’t set myself a time schedule, I’ll be happy if I make it to the ‘4 bidon’ courses
Take a look at https://zwifthub.com/
Very useful for picking/ticking off routes.
I have an Excel spreadsheet that I use, based on the documents from the Zwift Insider post (https://zwiftinsider.com/route-ride-schedule/) – I extracted the text from the PDF files and put them into the spreadsheet, then added formulas and other whiz-bang stuff. If you want a copy, feel free to PM me.
yes, please share…
PM you how?
How is the difficulty score calculated, please?
WELL DONE MONICA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Thanks for the inspiration!
I hated the Four Horsemen more than the Uber Pretzel. That climb out of the Jungle after the Alpe…..
Oof. I’ve done the Uber Pretzel and it was the hardest one for me. Haven’t done the Four Horsemen yet. Not looking forward to it…
Congrats! I have really enjoyed reading your great write ups each week. All the best with homeschooling, I think that may be tougher than this challenge 😉
LOL. Thanks, Lauren!
PRL was the one I have hated so far. Got all the pretzels to do, then that’s me done.
Yes but which ones did you all love?
Certainly, any routes that included the Alpe and ended at the top were nice. I like dropping Proximity Ride Ons, so 8’s/Pretzels/Bagels/etc. were nice for hitting everything in both directions (and giving some love to people riding against the current).
Congratulations with this huge effort!!!
Thanks much, Niels!
Congrats! What an accomplishment! Very proud of you, and also very inspired! Today I finished route 47 of 67, so only 20 more to go! Challenges like this, the Tours de Zwift & Watopia and the Haute Route event (which also knocked out a few of the harder rides) are essential for me to keep my head in the game. HUGE thanks to both you and Eric!
Great Job, Bob! Glad this is helping you as it did me!
You are so awesome! It was a blast doing this with you. I still have 8 left! Someday I’ll be as cool as you!
Haha! 8 left? You could be done by next week!!!
Well done, and Congratulations! An amazing accomplishment, and even more so because you put yourself out there for everyone else to engage with. Awesome. Enjoy your break/recovery.
Thanks, Eric! The cheer and accountability definitely drove me!
Chapeau! Well done Monica, you absolutely rock. I still have 1 run & 4 rides to go, all of them long, long ones, I’m also just 2 ascents shy of the Masochist badge, so plenty of motivation for me to keep going. I’ve really enjoyed your progress reports, they’ve been a big inspiration boost each week.
Thanks, Pete! You’re so close to being done! Maybe by end of April???
Out and Back Again references the alternative title of the book The Hobbit, There and Back Again. It’s about a quest to a lonely mountain and back home, like the route.
I said this when the route came out, I can’t believe people still aren’t catching on! I think it’s even said in one of the LotR films as the book that either Bilbo or Frodo had just finished writing.
Cool! Had no idea! Thanks for sharing!
So proud of you Monica! Thanks for organizing this event.
You made me LOL. We’re amazing, you and me!
Well done Monica!! Truly inspiring to see how you’ve progressed over the past couple of months
Thanks for being on this journey too!
Thank you for sharing this awesome adventure with us. You Rock!
Thanks for all the encouragement and ride ons!
That seems low, is that meant to be 43,400XP?
Oops, you’re right! It should be about 40,000! I think I had too many numbers going through my head!
Congratulations and thanks for the inspiration! I’m on week 9, so only a few more routes to go! I loved your idea and suggested schedule, it literally got me out of the couch and has kept me motivated for training indoors.
That’s awesome! Let us know when you finish and become a Route Hero!
Wow, great effort! Congrats Monica!!
Mega kudos!!! 🙂
Thank you so much Monica! I have loved following your progress and you have inspired to do my own journey. I have mixed in badge hunting when I haven’t found a group ride that appealed to me. I only have a few 3bottle bideon and a few of the really long ones. I will definitely get those though in the next little while, especially when we are sheltering in place. 😁 Anyway, thanks again and see you in the game!!! Sheri
Way to make it your own! See you out there!!! Ride On!
Nice work, I’m just on to the 2nd bid on routes, been off for a couple of weeks with the dreaded covid 19 but plan to get back on track, time is the biggest issue, great job though
Yikes! Sounds like you’re on the up and up though, so that’s good! Stay well!
Congratulations on finishing all of them! When I did the Lutscher CCW, I did it as a meetup with a friend, and it actually started us at the top of the hill just before the KOM banner, so we rode through the banner, down to the bottom, and back up the climb and got the badge! Only one climb!
Oh that’s cheating, you’re gonna have to do it again. Haha! Okay, maybe not.
PS Maybe change “this Saturday” to date in “What’s Next”? (Hoping to join!)
Congratulations!!! It was fun to follow your challenge and incentive for me to finish my routes as well. Job well done and thanks for sharing.
Thanks for following along the journey! Glad you were inspired!!
Hi Monica, You have been an inspiration for me to get of my couch during isolation. I am currently 4 weeks into my ‘couch to hero’ quest. I have just completed my ‘unemployed’ badge and taking a well earned rest day today. 54 badges and counting. My goal is to complete all the rides by 13th June, including joining you for 25 laps of the volcano on Saturday week (NZ time) and hopefully getting close to getting a Tron bike by August. Currently 57% of the way there. Thanks again for the inspiration!! ‘See’ you on the 25th April at… Read more »
Jeremy, that’s awesome!!! Keep us informed of how your journey is going!!!! See you on the 25th!
Congrats Monica!!! Two more to go for me… one being the dreaded Uber… hope to have them wrapped before the we all get volcano dizzy on the 25th 😂
Uber was surprisingly chill for me. I took a short brake once an hour and I made and ate dinner before the alpe. It’s only as hard as you make it.
Due to an unexpected bout of drowsiness on a 4 bidon route followed by a mid Four Horseman rear derailleur tantrum, I have discovered use of an overnight break to complete a route if necessary. 😂 It feels like cheating, but I am also risking a power outage deleting my progress when I do it, so I think I will try to knock out the Uber with minimal breaks…
You can do it, Andy!!!
Did you receive a reward from Zwift for completing all the routes? A special bike or kit?
They sent me ONE MILLION DOLLARS! Okay, actually no. You get pride and prestige and bragging rights when you complete them all!
Congratulations Monica, that’s quite an accomplishment! I have really enjoyed reading each one of your updates. And you’ve definitely inspired me to keep going and finish off the hardest routes. Thank you and ride on!!!
Awesome, John! You’ve got this!
Really enjoyed your weekly progress posts, they inspired me to work on the same goal.
Last week, in order to catch up with your progress, I completed all the routes by doing the Mega Pretzel, Uber Pretzel, PRL Full, and a DIRT meetup for the Volcano Circuit 25 laps. Thanks for all the experience sharing and the inspiration!
And thanks to Eric for the wonderful site! I learned all of my Zwift knowledge from here!
Michael, that’s a big week! You’re crazy! Well done! Glad you like the site! Eric LOVES adding to it!
Well done Monica. Ride on :0)
Thanks, Paul! Ride on!
Congratulations Monica! Like many others, you have inspired me to complete all the routes as well. I am constantly battling the commitment to the routes vs. my love for racing–so I’m doing a little of both while trying to determine how much rest I need in-between hard efforts (I usually DON’T rest, which I know has a negative effect). Finally, as one who has learned to manage depression over the past 9 years, thanks for acknowledging depression, but more importantly demonstrating to others how one can fight through it with the support of a team and a plan: therapist, friends,… Read more »
Thanks, Anthony! You words mean a lot! Keep working hard…and take those rest days! They’re good for you! Lol.
Missed out on 4 horsemen as did it from the pen, not spawn point. Didn’t count for the Veloviewer leaderboard
Oh no! How frustrating! Guess you have to do it again! Lol.
Hi guys. Many routes are short one. It is possible to start new route without needing to shut down Zwift and start it again from the scratch?
Would be helpful, if Zwift would allow us to click on the route badge and that would lead us to the route so we can ride it right away …
Who got the power, tell them to fix this, please! 🙂
Well I wish I could tell you have the power, but I don’t. You have a great idea, but for now we have to log out and start again if we’re doing two routes in the same day.
Mad respect, looks awesome. I ride zwift almost every day and haven’t completed nearly half the routes! 🙂
Time to start riding all those routes too, Francois! 🙂
Congratulations on completing the challenge. That’s a lot of time, miles, and elevation. Way to persist!
I’am also on the Route but have some problems with the London routes i can’t complet the routes the distance and height dont ad up.
Sorry to hear, Per. I never had any problems. Do you have Zwift updated to the newest release?
Well done. You’ve inspired me and I’ve completed several routes, but unfortunately mostly the shorter ones so it looks like I’ll be loading up the back end with long routes (although, I still have time to switch it up and probably will do so). However, yesterday, I completed the 1/2 PRL in London and didn’t receive the badge. I never deviated from the route, and the route bar was completed all the way to the checkered flag. I even went a couple extra miles… Did this ever happen to you? If so, did Zwift support resolve it for you? I’ve… Read more »
I never experienced this. Did you know the route ends at the banner in the mall, not at the top of the climb? That’s the first question.
Félicitation Monica! It was a real pleasure to follow you all a long and ride with you. You really help
us to push us a bit harder every week and your comments every week were so appropriate about real
life for non-pro cyclist. That give us a good base to start our cyclist training this winter.
jope to ride with you again on the 25th.
Awesome, Daniel! Thanks for the encouragment! See you on the 25th!
Nice job! I’ve done virtually all of the rides (only a few more of the “reasonable” ones in Watopia to go), but a few of those monster Pretzels and PRLs I probably won’t ever attempt. The Lutscher rides are also a big rip-off from an XP persective – climb the KOM twice for one little 270XP badge.
I’m a slowish rider and 2-3 hrs in the saddle is plenty for fitness.
I hear you! I’m slowish too! 8 hours in the saddle was 7 too many. Haha. The XP apparently is decided by mileage.
Great job, very impressive!
Thank you for listing all the stats, those really show how little total number of miles means in the big picture. I feel like Zwift should have some extra XP for reaching time and/or calorie goals. That would benefit riders who are willing to put in a lot of time and effort even if they can’t crank out huge w/kg numbers to blast through a bunch of miles. Personally, I benefit from the current system but think that a change would help to keep more riders engaged.
Thanks, Alex! I usually look at the TSS since I’m a slower rider so I can measure my effort by that. Eric took about 6 hours to do the PRL Full, I took about 9. I told myself “you rode for 3 more hours than he did so got a longer workout!” but sometimes that’s just to make myself feel better about being slow. Haha.
This is such a cool challenge! Great idea and spectacular job completing it. My wife and I have been picking away at routes but it was such a pain to go into our “achievements” to see what we’ve done and what we haven’t. Your list will be incredibly helpful to have now that I’ve printed it out.
Thank you to both you and Eric for such a great resource and site!
Thanks, Ryan! Glad the printout is helpful!
Wow! That’s quite an achievement. Congratulations!
Monica, a really enjoyable blog about your physical and mental journey to riding all the routes. I hope it inspires others especially during this difficult time. Chapeau.
Thanks much, S WIlliams!
I’ve started a quest to do all the routes in reverse now. I hope it doesn’t undo all my work to complete them in the forward direction!
Ha! Yeah, I think you’ll probably lose fitness by doing that! And all your badges will slowly be taken away. It’s like unraveling a sweater. 🙂
Congrats Monica! That’s quite an achievement – and you should be proud of completing it, as well as inspiring others. I’m one of those people, so far I’ve completed 50 of 67 routes. Don’t know when I’m going to finish, now that we’re really in outdoors season here in the northeast US. My first choice is to ride outside, but springtime weather can be fickle, and I’m planning on knocking a couple more off over the next few days while we’re having a brief cold snap. They’re all 2-4 bidon routes, nothing really short in distance, so it’s kind of… Read more »
Keep at it! Sounds like you have a great plan! Ride on!
Awesome!! Well done!! I have really enjoyed reading these. Your tips have been great!
Yay! Glad to help!
Would love to create another PRL attempt as a meet up or as a larger group? What would you recommend for reaching the highest number of people?
Join a team or club and invite everyone in it! So much better with others!!!
Well done Monica! It has been fascinating reading your posts and quite an inspiration to me. I have 9 to go and truly admire the resolve you needed to get through them. Thank you for posting and hope to see you in the Volcano on the 25th.
Thanks for the encouragement, Jon! See you on Saturday!
Huge effort!!!!! Great you did it!!! It was and is amazing to read about it. Stay healthy and looking forward to next weeks challenge 🙂
Your continual encouragement helped! Thanks much! See you Saturday!
Monica, I just tried to complete Greater London route. I rode 20.6 miles, but never got the banner that comes up when the route is completed. Did I do something wrong?
Not sure, Joe. Did you choose the route at the beginning, start in the right place, and never turn off the route?