On Monday I swapped my “rest day” with my “easy ride day” and combined a few group rides to get me close to my target of 90 minutes. This gave me the opportunity to undertake group rides that I would not normally do, including a Herd Group ride which turned out to be a thoroughly nice spin under 2 w/kg. I combined that with the Neokyo Badge Hunt series to bag a jersey.
It was nice that even when undertaking a recovery ride, I was able to feel I was “getting something” for my time (I know it’s strange, but I still get a sense of accomplishment getting a jersey. I’ll admit, I don’t wear most of them, but it’s just nice to get rewarded for your efforts.)
Tuesday’s “Hour of Power & Squeezers”
Tuesday was the session I was dreading. 1 hour 50 minutes of intervals. It’s called the “Hour of Power & Squeezers” and consists of 3 x 20 minutes at 320 watts, followed by 5 x 30 seconds at 450 watts. I dislike it due to its duration, but I understand and appreciate its value. Especially the final 5 x 30 seconds at 450 watts, as this replicates a race scenario where you are fatigued but forced to surge to bridge to gaps, stay with the pack, or start your own move.
There is not a lot to say about the session other than my listening to two podcasts by Geraint Thomas. The latter involved Jen Voigt, who spoke about pain and suffering on the bike. He was discussing his trademark phrase “Shut up legs!” and as my legs started to tire, I began uttering that mantra.
I completed the session and felt this massive sense of accomplishment. That is only the second time I completed it and it hadn’t gotten any easier, in fact it was harder, as mentally I knew what was to come.
That wasn’t the end of the cycling for me that day because a few hours later, I was cycling up the Alpe du Zwift with Castelli and Esports World Champion Jason Osborne. Having promoted the event, I was keen to join the well-attended event (400 riders). However, I managed only to get to turn 8 before calling it a day and enjoying the descent. It seems that I only get that far on the Alpe these days! With close to 3 hours on the bike, including a tough interval session and nearly an hour of climbing, I had little trouble sleeping, which was just as well as Wednesday turned into a big day.
Change of Plans
Wednesday I was scheduled for my time trial up the Ven-Top, however, my plans had to adapt at short notice because I was racing the new Zwift Chase Race, facilitated by WTRL, to review for Zwift Insider.
In terms of training, I achieved the intended intensity (thanks to getting dropped by the pack and time trialling to the finish alone), but not the duration. I was scheduled to ride for 90 minutes which would have involved a solid warm-up, race and cool-down. To compensate, after discovering an excellent Instagram account called ZwiftJerseys which promotes rides that unlock jerseys, I joined the Trek Malaysia Social Ride. This was good fun and resulted in not one jersey unlock, but two. Pretty nice, as I have one of those in real life, making it the first Zwift jersey I own… or is it the other way round?
Feelings of Guilt
Several hours later, despite completing the required training time and intensity, I started feeling guilty that I had not tackled a climb, as per the plan. I simply was not satisfied. Cycling Weekly was running their weekly time trial event and I noticed it was on the Bologna course, so I signed up for an evening ride. I promised myself that I would not “go all out.” And I promptly broke that promise at the start of the climb.
I had been good up to that point, starting steadily and resisting the urge to push as riders streamed past me. But when we hit the climb, I decided to have a little dig for a minute. Well, I was flying. My watts were over 400 and I was feeling good, despite those earlier events. I decided to push for another minute and I started to catch people who had previously overtaken me. 2 minutes turned into 3 and at this point I thought “I could get a new 5-minute personal best” so I kept going. I simply kept pedalling and the numbers were staying consistent as I flew past riders on the steeper sections and found myself up into 5th place!
The top of the Bologna climb wasn’t the finish of the race, there was the descent and a few kilometres to contend with. I got passed along the valley floor and finished 6th in a race I wasn’t actually competing in. That included a new 5-minute personal best of 5.8 w/kg and 395 watts. To put this into context: in the space of 6 weeks, training with Rowe & King, my 5 minute power has increased from 5.48 w/kg to 5.8 w/kg. A significant improvement.
Thursday, was a low intensity ride, so I opted to ride with Stages, another group ride I have not tried before. But the pace was too high so I was soon on my own, pedalling my own rhythm. Sadly, no jersey unlock this time.
Mountain Massif TT – Powered by Muc-Off
Friday was my Mountain Massif TT – Powered by Muc-Off race. I didn’t win the event, but I knew already at the start that wouldn’t be the case as a Chinses rider I am familiar with attended and he climbs at 6.1 w/kg. But I did smash the climb, increasing my FTP from 345 to 349, with a 20-minute average of 5.4 w/kg. My best yet!
In the space of 3 days and 2 races, I had achieved a new personal record for 5-minute and 20-minute power. I was satisfied.
I finished off the week with a couple of gentle rides in Neokyo, loosening up the legs and earning a few badges. A good week’s training complete and I had the chance to reflect on reaching new heights – training with Rowe & King is delivering the results.