Yesterday I took part in my first group ride on Zwift. Although Zwift is a mash-up of bike riding/training, gaming and interaction with other users, I am a solitary rider in both real and virtual worlds. I have taken part in group rides in the real world but it is not really my thing.
So what made me want to take part in a group ride on Zwift? I wanted to take part in the Tour of Watopia (note ‘of’ and not ‘de’) and you can only do this by taking part in a group ride or race. As racing is less of my thing than group rides, so group ride it was.
How did it go?
I had read about the excitement at the start line, waiting for the off and I have to admit, there is a certain buzz that I couldn’t help getting in to. I had joined the event with three minutes to go before the off, having first warmed up on another route. This meant that I started near the back of the group. I don’t know if this is a Zwift thing but it seems your place on the start line depends on when you join the event. I wasn’t too fussed though as I was sure that I would soon get drooped off the back and be the lanterne rouge. I can’t remember the exact numbers, but there were about 290 riders taking part in the event and I was about number 220.
When the event started, most riders put in a burst of watts and went flying off the front. In spite of my best endeavours, I slipped further back to about 250th. “Only a matter of time until I am happily riding along behind everyone else” I thought.
But then a small group of riders caught me up and I thought “well, why not try and keep with this bunch”. And that is what I did. Being good, I took my turn at the front and rode harder than I have ridden for quite a while. I forgot about looking at my power output and just concentrated on pedalling at 70 rpm (my favourite cadence) and keeping in the group.
And it worked. Until three minutes before the end that is when I had to slow up temporarily for a reason I won’t go into here. And that was that. There was no way I was going to catch them up. But I did end up finishing 254 and not the lantern rouge which I consider to be a result.
All in all, it was a great experience and is one of the rides that I have probably used the greatest amount of effort on. I will do it again and plan to take part in the second stage of the Tour. And as a bonus, I increased my FTP!