It’s April 1st, 2017, and the first group ride of the season is about to take place. It’s a mostly sunny day, with a temperature of 6C (43F) and today’s group includes some of the faster riders in town. The 60 km ride is hard, with my heart pounding out of my chest on several occasions, which comes with the interesting mental note that my heart can still hit 162 beats per minute without sending me to the back of an ambulance. Incidentally, my maximum heart rate on the bike is 162. At 43 years old I am likely the oldest member of the group, and today I am cursing every ride that I DIDN’T DO over the course of the winter.

Unfortunately this is par for the course for my annual spring rides. Every fall the snow comes, the trainer comes out, and the riding grinds to a halt. The spring and summer is spent getting ‘back in shape’ while simultaneously trying to participate in endurance bike events, from 100 km road rides, to 8 hour mountain bike races. Thankfully I have a riding partner with boundless energy who keeps me pushing through the pain in the early season, then lets me chase him for the rest of the summer while he trains for a 24 hour mountain bike race.

24 Hour Relay Race – One of the targets for the Summer 2018 “Need for Speed” (Photo Credit: Una Hall)

Now it’s November 2017 and the snow is on the ground in my Northern Ontario town. It’s a balmy -8C as I type this first blog post. It will likely be April again before I move across pavement on two wheels. This year I am vowing to be different. By April I am striving to be more fit than any other spring since I began riding. A winter of increasing my cardiovascular fitness, maximum leg strength and efficiency on the bike, while decreasing my weight. Yes, I want to get FASTER.

Enter Zwift. Having been exposed to Zwift by the GCN Channel, and then further by GP Lama (Shane Miller), it was the catalyst in deciding to purchase a Tacx Neo smart trainer, and getting a membership to Zwift. It’s now three weeks into my Zwift winter adventure. I’ve traveled 1100 km up and down the roads of Watopia, and have learned some lessons, while already seeing improvements in my fitness. I spent the first few rides on the Neo doing self punishment in the form of fitness testing. The first day was the Tacx App’s virtual Alpe D’Huez climb. This was followed by the 60 minute FTP test, a 20 km time trial and then another ride for some maximum effort sprints. This information I have been able to add to fitness testing that I did this summer as part of a University research study. Thanks to the Neo and Zwift I can use this baseline testing to stimulate the ‘numbers’ side of my brain and keep me on track throughout the winter.

Yes, that is some of the stomach that needs to “Zwift Away” this winter (Photo Credit: Stacey Green)

With this blog I plan on sharing my progress. The highs and the lows, as well as the lessons learned along the way. From a selfish perspective, I plan on using it to hold me accountable to my winter goals. There are a few Strava KOM’s that have been whispering my name, and come spring the race will be on to snatch them away! 🙂

Starting Statistics

  • Age: 44
  • Height: 188 cm / 6’2″
  • Weight: 89 kg / 196.2lbs
  • FTP: 243
  • Time up Virtual Alpe d’Huez: 1:37.22 (**incorrect weight recorded before this ride so I carried an extra 9 kg up this silly mountain)
  • 20 km Time Trial: 34:05 at average power of 242 watts
  • Max Wattage: 897 watts