Thursday, 30 July 2015

My Zwift 400km - July 2015

Like most games, Zwift has a number of achievements to unlock as you progress though the levels. Two of these are distance related, the Metric Century (100km) and the Imperial Century (100 miles/160km). Completing these distances will get you two new jerseys added to your virtual wardrobe.

A few weeks ago I'd tapped out a 100km TT in the reverse direction to unlock that jersey, and I did another 100km two weeks later when it was raining on a Sunday again.

Last Friday I set out to complete the 100 mile ride on Watopia, with a twist. I had to always hold a jersey during the ride. Any colour, any segment, any direction. This mixed things up and kept the legs awake through the session. The plan was only to complete the 100 miles. During the ride I was asked on Instagram if I was going to hit 200km, I decided that sounded like a better goal to aim for. Total: 210km/6h:33min. 

Pre 400 attempt ride - On the way to 210km for the day. 

By coincidence, on the same day there were two crazy dudes Michael Schmitt and Tristan Dimmock up in Canberra were completing a 12 hour charity ride on Zwift. I'd seen them on Watopia riding around all day, I didn't know what they were up to until I was off the bike catching up on the Zwift Riders group discussions. Tristan tapped out an epic 320km and Michael topped that with 346km in the 12 hours to set a new Zwift day distance record. Check out Michael's write up here

With rain forecast for Perth on the following Tuesday, and the calendar clear.... you can only guess what I started thinking about... How far could I get in 12 hours on the Watopia course? It'd been 12 months since our group 10hr/303km Sufferfest Knighthood at the VIS. Could I match those numbers alone in our spare room? Could I even get past 12 hours? 

Testing saddles and Twitch streaming on Monday.
Not a lot of space in the Perth apartment pain cave.

400km was the goal. A goal that I didn't verbalise to anyone as it was well beyond my comfort zone even committing to. I didn't go through any dark patches in the 210km ride, surely they'd appear when trying to double that distance and duration. My curiosity of what my limits are was the main motivation for attempting this ride. What would be the first to break me? 

6am kick off, and sprinting for the green jersey at 6:26am. The Zwift Effect in full swing early on. Entertainment was in the form of one full episode of This Week in Tech (2hrs), Gleaming the Cube, then onto the YouTube music videos for the rest of the day. 

What started as just another early morning Zwift session in the dark was slowly being noticed once I'd passed the 200km mark. My Twitch live stream was up and had a number of viewers tuning in. I was joined by pro mountain biker Nathan Guerra for a number of laps. Zwift themselves even gave me a shout-out on their social feeds, turning up the pressure!

At 8hrs56min 294km my day came to a crashing halt! The Zwift application terminated on my MacBook Pro..... In my foggy haze of 9hrs on the bike, I just assumed that was day over and that I'd failed. By the time I'd submitted the crash logs to Zwift I was thinking more clearly. That wasn't day over at all, it was still Tuesday - "Get back on the damn bike and ride!"

My Twitch stream just after the crash.... 

Side note on the crash - I was pushing my Mac pretty hard with Zwfit, Twitch live streaming, and YouTube HD streaming for 9 hours. I'd used 15GB of bandwidth too! The developers love logs and details, it'll allow them to make a more robust application. This is all part of the beta testing process currently underway with Zwift. 

Log submission done - I was straight back on Zwift. The auto-save feature kept 8:50/289.9km, so I had 110.1km to go. It was disappointing not to see the daily total kms on the top menu bar, never mind, I'd join the two files together into one ride for Strava later on. 

The rest of the ride went like this: 346km tick. I'd matched the distance record. 350km tick. 400km, goal achieved! I did a few more kms just to be sure. I rolled out toward Hank's and gave it one final kick though the reverse sprint point, snagging the green jersey with a 12.72. Not a PB but enough to test the legs one final time. And they were still attached. :) I pulled a u-turn at Hank's and rolled easy back to the start to clock 415km. Then one more, 416km.

The hardest part of the day wasn't the physical effort, as I thought it would be. The hardest part was stepping off the bike. I hadn't hit any physical limiters. I felt like I was giving up. We don't train or prepare for 'giving up'. No sport does. We train to be faster, and to go further. Apart from a small foot cramp at 405km that soon disappeared, I'm still wondering when the real limiters would have appeared, and what they would have been. 

After stepping off the bike I lay sprawled on the floor for a few minutes. It felt like I'd just ridden over rough cobbles and had finally hit smooth road again. My arms and legs were in an Endone like fuzz, without the broken bones that accompany those.

Distance: 416.2km Time: 12:41:31

One thing I have to mention is the online social community that has embraced Zwift. Who'd ever have thought that riding indoors would be so social! All day I received many +1 RideOns in Zwift, messages in the Zwift groups, and tagged posts on Instagram. All interactions that made a world of difference getting though the day.

It's only a matter of time before someone rolls beyond the 416km mark on Zwift. Hopefully I'll get to do a lap or two with whoever does. Looking over the stats of my ride, that was easily the biggest daily effort I've ever done on a bike. A breakthrough day training wise, both physically and mentally. All while cramped up in an otherwise boring spare room in an apartment on a rainy day.


Ride Nutrition:

5-6L of water/mix.
3 coffees.
3 bananas.
3 Cadel Winners Bars (like Cliff bars)
4 choc chip muffins.
500g of sourdough olive loaf bread (nice and salty)
1 Red Bull 250ml
50g jelly lollies (Cadel's Winners something-or-others)
Tray of fresh fruit (500g)
4 small biscuits with honey
2 Turkish Delights (40g carbs)

All spaced evenly throughout the day. I started with a bowl of Nutri-Grain and a coffee prior to the 6am start. The only point I felt hungry was chasing a KOM at 11hrs where I quickly reached for the sugar hit of the Red Bull. Other than that, the above menu was spot on for me. No stomach problems keeping that amount of calories down either.

Equipment Used:

2015 MacBook Pro 13 inch. (OSX 10.10.4)
Zwift (Build 1.0.5796)
OBS - Twitch broadcasting software.
Wahoo Kickr - Set to Max/100% on Zwift.
Quarq Power Meter.
S-Works Tarmac road bike (10spd SRAM Red)
S-Works Power Saddle - 12hr ergo session tested and approved. :)
S-Works Bibknicks (SL Pro)
S-Works Shoes.
My 55mm aero Sicasso front wheel - Worth a few kms on Watopia for sure.
Quad Lock Case for iPhone - Very handy addition for ergo rides.
Audio Technica ANC9 Headphones

Here's an interview I did with Cycling Maven regarding the ride and all things Zwift. Enjoy! 


Peter Carlin said...

Haha, you're insane! Great effort Shane.

Mike Head said...

Massive effort! Congrats.