A winter of Zwift racing
Zwift racing has become a big part of my life this winter. Every Monday for the past 4 months I've been racing on Zwift. Whether that's been the Zwift racing league (ZRL) premier division or just one I've picked out of the sweet shop of events that the platform has to offer. Its both been a blessing and a curse. Normally as the years exchange old for new I begin to busy myself with the winter track league. Sadly with tracks being closed and all racing suspended it has been a totally different winter to the past 5 years. it is quite pleasant to be able to race from the comfort of the home. Though this does present its own challenges. You develop an unhealthy dependence on that insidious connection provided you by the Wi-fi. So wonderful when it works. When it doesn't it leads to nightmares and sleepless nights! Racing in the real world does not require this dependence on these intangible radiations to bring the competition to you.
I wonder if there could be some serious mental disorders developed as a result of wi-fi failures. I know I live in fear of a signal drop out whenever I'm racing on Zwift. When it does happen I'm left in a writhing fit of expletives and profanities, something I think we can all relate to with zoom-calls and teams meetings. Never assured to run smoothly! Fortunately my wi-fi is pretty dependable *touches wood* so I've been able to race care free. However, as any year 12 physicist conducting electric circuit experiments will tell you, anything that runs on electricity will at some point go wrong for no reason whatsoever!
So I have raced around 30 races since October on Zwift . All with varied success. The racing has changed a lot since I first started e-racing. The verification process for performance is so much more water tight than it was when I first did what was the pro-am race series (now the ZRL premier league effectively). You have to weigh yourself, film it, use a dumbbell to confirm your scales accuracy, send a video of you measuring your height too. All your power is verified through strava links and real world data. There are very few successful cheaters now and I would like to say there are none. I believe it to be the case at the top.
So I have been gradually coming back to race weight since October. When I take my end of season break. I'm now pretty much at race weight. We've also mixed training up for this year, thrown in some running to build my all-round fitness as opposed to just becoming an immobile cyclist. It seems to have worked.
My Zwift racing form really started to pickup late in January, it was upset a little by my first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. I received this through the work I do with the local charity Interact. I'm fortunate enough to have been able to continue working during this difficult time as my jobs are considered essential. Even so my training has been of a volume I have never before completed. I am really stepping into the realms of the unknown with my body this year. It tells in my training and my performance and my resting heart rate which I have been recording as frighteningly low!
All this has come together to give me great ability in the Zwift races I have been doing. With Kiss racing team I have raced most rounds of the premier division ZRL and it has been a huge eye opener. Those races are hard! Think standard Zwift race (which is very hard) and times it by 3 (that is very very very hard!). The team has gone well in the TTT. Which are a completely different kettle of fish to real life team time trials! There's a very fine line between getting dropped and recovering enough to pull effective turns and you'd be surprised how easy it is to drop either way on that line! I personally am yet to get myself into the top 20 of these races but I am fortunate to have very strong teammates that have been crushing it at the head of the races! We are sitting at the bottom end of the league table but we are very much hoping to finish in style with two rounds remaining.
The big achievement for me recently has been racing in the Movistar team, e-team selection challenge. They have been superbly tough races and they have helped me re-find the Zwift racing confidence I lost in the first ZRL season where I was racing on poor fitness and performing very badly! The most recent Movistar event was round 2 part 1 (watch here on youtube: MOvistar Eteam challenge round 1 part 1/2 - YouTube) I was very pleased with my performance. Of late every Zwift bunch sprint I have been in I have ended up in the last third of the pack through poor timing and judgement. Here I was very focused changed my camera angle and really gave it my all! If it hadn't been for my Sram Etap deciding to shift automatically into the biggest gear I'm confident I could have been Higher up the field than 15th. Though 15th was a very good ride. Tomorrow I face the final event to qualify for the final stages of the process for Movistar to find an esports team. So We will see how I get on...
If you are at all interested in the finer details of my Zwift racing results follow the link here: Zwift Power - Timothy Torrie (Kiss Racing Team)
I hope to back on the roads racing in true form as soon as is possible. It has been oh so long for everyone. Take heart that we can still compete and that we still have sponsors generous enough to fund our sport in spite of the normal competition going ahead.
As ever huge thanks to the sponsor of the team. We will continue as riders to strive for our goals and dreams. We continue to race and compete where we can. If anyone is in need of anything at this time that I may be able to help with please eel free to reach out.
Here's to a 2021 full of fantastic racing and competition where possible. Just keep pedalling!