Having participated in a Zwift BC Bike Race event I was invited to participate in the Virtual BC Bike Race 7 day stage race challenge between 7/4 and 7/10. Since all of my real world race goals had been cancelled my coach and I decided I should give it ago. It was quite the experience racing full gas everyday and I had no idea how my body would respond.
The A field was very small from the start with most participants opting for the B or C groups. With the start staged at 1 minute intervals It was design to keep the groups together. In Stage 1 a criterium I was out gamed by the other riders using powerups and they forced a separation on the climb that I could not close.
Stage 2 was 3 laps of the jungle circuit. 4 A’s started and I got a good start forcing a split from the beginning. 2 of us fought it out and he took me on the line.
Stage 3 was Road to Ruins and now there was 3 A’s. 1 rider was dropped and then we were 2 and what a duel. We pushed each other hard and then in the climb about 10k out he attacked and attacked hard. I was ready and held the attack with enough left to counter towards the top. He closed me down and now we were both on the limit. It would all come down to the last kicker and the sprint. As it turned out I had enough in the tank to win the sprint by 2s taking the stage and race lead.
Stage 4 was the Jungle Circuit Reverse 3 laps and only 2 A’s on the start line. After the epic duel in stage 3 I was ready for anything. We stayed together until the second lap when I spotted I had a small gap on the climb. Taking a chance I applied pressure and got a gap which I was able to hold to the finish to take my second stage win.
Stage 5 was the queen stage with a straight race up the Alp Du Zwift (Road to Sky). 4 A’s started but no one from the previous stages. What that made me the race leader and all I needed to do was complete the final 3 stages to win. Instead I decided the race was still on and my goal was to race my hardest. We left the gate hard as we raced to the start of the climb. At the base we exploded with 2 riders putting out 6 & 7 w/kg. That was well out of my capability so I settled into a very uncomfortable pace I thought I could sustain. Soon I could see the 2nd placed rider get dropped and we held our positions to the line. I came in 3rd (2nd ZwiftPower) and saw a new PB and FTP score. Turns out the winner was an A+ semi pro.
Stage 6 and it’s just me for the A’s. Yes I could have just rolled it but I was already committed. I gave myself the goal of catching all of the B’s. I started as if I was in a bunch and put my head down. Soon I was passing C and B riders when a B rider jumped in my draft. I chased hard and by the end I only had 2 B’s ahead of me but I had closed the time gap to under a minute making me faster overall. As an added bonus the B rider moved through the field with me to finish 3rd in his category.
Stage 7 and Road to Ruin. 2 others A’s joined me on the start line. Since the race was won my goal again was to catch all the B’s vs race the A’s. I left the start hard and stayed on the front driving the pace. I could see the draft advantage the other 2 riders were getting but put it out of my mind. We crested the 1st climb as a group but then in the rolling section we dropped 1 rider. Then we hit the last climb when a third of the way up he turned up the power to 5.5/6 w/kg. I turned myself inside out but eventually I had to let him go. He kept that power to the end and afterwards I discovered he was also an A+ rider. I focused on limiting my losses and staying as strong as possible finishing in 2nd completely spent. In case you are curious yes I did catch all the B’s. The event was epic pushing me to the limit every day with kudos and respect to everyone that raced all 7 days regardless of placing or category.
Now to complete the Etape Du Zwift - Ride On.
Matthew works with Coach Matthew Hill:
Matthew Hill, working with me to balance work and training whilst figuring out how to optimize training in extraordinary times.
His Zwift tips:
You never know what you are capable of until you try and don’t give up before starting I never imagined I would win a ‘A’ category Zwift stage race but you got to be in it to win it. Having a coach in your corner to help you get out of your own way - well you know that right.