I wrote two weeks back about how our Sonic Endurance team — Prickly When Wet — was leading the overall standings at the Tour de Virtuel. Well, spoiler alert, we won the whole thing. But it wasn’t as smooth sailing as it sounds.
First things first, riding hard day after day, even if it’s only for 30 to 40 miles, starts to take a real toll. There are no easy days, no Z1 riding, no just sitting in and spinning when you’re trying to hold and build a lead. I specifically felt pressure (of course it was of my own making) to keep my times as fast as possible. I was the only female on the team and didn’t want to let the team down. I was also the only rider on our team to ride all 21 stages. While Ryan rode more miles than me, I had the most rides and the longest time in the saddle. In three weeks of riding Ryan had 666.25 miles, I had 621.75 miles, Chris had 592.25 miles and Rob had 319.75 miles. Which brings us to our second obstacle . . .
We went from being a team of four to a team of three. During the second week of the challenge, Rob learned that he would be able to visit his wife in London. The only problem was he had no bike, no trainer and no gym (hooray quarantine) in the UK. So for the final six stages of the challenge, we redistributed Rob’s miles and dug in. Despite losing Rob, we actually increased our pace over the last week (mostly thanks to Ryan picking up more miles) and extended our lead in both the four person division and the overall competition. For me personally, I came very close to breaking. I have a bad habit when training for an IRONMAN: about 5 to 6 weeks before the race, just as the volume is topping out, I have a bit of a breakdown and end up sobbing on the floor. It happened before both of my best IRONMAN performances, and it happened again this week. Pedaling away on Thursday night after a ridiculous day at work, I sat on my bike sobbing telling Ryan that I couldn’t ride thirty-four miles and I just wanted to give up. Thankfully I got through it, rode for twenty miles and Ryan was kind enough to (quickly) finish up the additional 14 miles I was supposed to ride.
Despite feeling pretty terrible riding on Thursday and Friday, there was no way I wasn’t going to attempt the 22 mile individual time trial on Saturday. While we only needed one person to complete the stage for the overall competition, Ryan, Chris and I all felt we had a shot at claiming the green jersey (there’s one jersey for the fastest male and one jersey for the fastest female completion time). All three of us made the choice to ride on Zwift. Ryan and Chris picked an early morning B Group race and clocked times of 47:23 and 53:00 respectively. I can’t hang with killer Bs so I joined a C group ride. I could only hang for about 11 miles. I rode solo for a few miles before I picked up some random riders and we worked well together to finish up the 22 miles in 56:05. I ended up setting a new FTP and a new all time 20 minute power. Not a terrible effort given how crappy I was feeling after three weeks of hard riding. Now we just need to wait for the individual results to be tabulated (they were submitted via Google Doc and as of writing this final results are still a mystery).
More important than the race for the Green Jersey, Sunday marked the final stage of the race and our overall win. To “celebrate” we scheduled a group ride on Zwift on the Champs Elysee. 25 miles each. 75 miles total. Victory. 2156 total miles in just over 96 hours.
We won the four person division by over 20 hours and the entire competition, including the six person teams, by over six hours. Not only did we ride hard, we did a ton of planning, strategizing and communicating. And for now I don’t really feel like getting on the bike for a while, but I’ll be back on Tuesday to lead my Slowtwitch women’s only ride. At least this week I won’t have to worry about how many miles I’m picking up.