Editor’s note: Dr. Nick Green is writing a series of posts documenting his winter training progress as he works to drop weight, build power, and be ready to take Strava KOM’s when spring rolls around. Browse his past posts here.

It’s the day after the double ride which included the hard group 30km effort. In fact, it’s only about 12 hours later and an invite from a friend to ride the Watopia Pretzel just couldn’t be passed up. There were nearly 1000 riders at the start line, and in the confusion I immediately lost track of my friend Karl.

It quickly became apparent that there was a technical issue with Zwift that was keeping both the mobile app and the ‘riders nearby’ display from working properly. For the majority of the ride there were only 6 riders listed as being nearby. Unfortunately Karl never made the list, which made it difficult to keep track of him. Karl was also having the same issues, so at least we were both in the same predicament. This issue also extended to the displayed place in the group. Even when I was riding in front of Karl, I was always listed as being 30 to 40 riders behind him. Even at the end of the ride I was listed as being in the top 50 for the ride, despite finishing 165 as per the official results.

The Pretzel Hurts

If you haven’t tried the Watopia Pretzel, it’s difficult. In a group that is pushing you slightly out of your comfort zone, it’s extremely difficult. The Epic KOM climb is punishing. Each and every time I have ridden to the Radio Tower I have been reminded why part of my winter quest involves losing 10 pounds. Being nearly 200 pounds and climbing just doesn’t feel good!

Power Up to Achievement

Karl climbed the mountain like a champ, leaving me about 30 seconds behind by the turn around at the tower. This was a good opportunity to experiment with the Drafting Boost that I had been saving since the start of the ride. Pushing about 200 watts, combined with the boost and the -14% grade pushed me over 100 km/h, which triggered the 100KPH! achievement and a bonus 1000 points. As a new rider, the achievements can be a great way to quickly raise your level, leading to better bikes, wheels and perhaps more importantly… socks!

Overall the ride went very well. Riding in the group is a great way to keep things interesting, while pushing you harder than you would push by yourself. The last half hour was very difficult. I’m confident that my food preparation was far from adequate. Not only did I not eat enough before the ride, but before the end of the ride I was straight up hungry. That does not help performance! I had also lost a lot of weight in water, which could also have affected late ride performance.

Today’s lessons:

  1. Have food available when doing rides of this nature. Just like outside on the road, anything over an hour needs some quick energy foods to help from hitting the wall.
  2. Having a friend on a hard ride tends to make it that much harder, just like in the real world!
  3. The climb to the Radio Tower is punishing.

I can definitely see myself diving into more of these group rides in the future. Hopefully Karl will be around to drag me up the hills!