So it actually happened. The Mad March Hare Sportive on Zwift. Over 200 riders gathered in the start pen just before the 8am start this morning. There was plenty of chat while we all warmed up and the time to the start counted down.
Dan, the organiser, had managed to secure the same black and yellow jersey for the riders giving it an as authentic MMH feel as possible. Zwift were prepared to pop the actual MMH jersey on but time ran out, but given this all only happened since Friday night, its impressive all round that this ride happened at all.
I was awake at 5.30am. The grumble of my girlfriends sports exhaust heard in the distance over some Bigfoot documentary I had left running on YouTube on my laptop in bed. She was coming off nights and trying to get the car on the drive. When she got into bed I played on my tablet a bit but couldn’t sleep so I got up at 7.20am, grabbed my turbo kit and got changed. The house was freezing cold but no need to pop the heating on as I’d be sweating merrily in a few mins. A swift change and I snook downstairs and popped my PC on.
The Pain Cave
We all have somewhere we train on the turbo. Kitchen, Garage, Shed, Hallway or if you are lucky like me, a dedicated room. Actually its a converted garage which could be a study but when I moved in with Sally, the deal was it became my man cave. We also had excess TV’s when I moved in so I have a 42″ screen for Zwift now too. I have a decent PC which I upgraded the video card with which I cannot recommend enough as the graphics are HD now and game quality. My bike is permanently mounted on my Cycleops PowerSync Smart trainer which is a great and accurate piece of kit. I have also built myself a fold down table so I can use the keyboard and mouse while riding too. It can hold my bottle and food if necessary too.
My Ride #mmh18
I streamed the ride on Facebook LIVE. If you want to watch it, click this link. I set privacy to public so anyone can see it
I didn’t know what to expect at the start. Having ridden a few Zwift races and group rides now, they all tend to start very fast so I was ready for this. A quick spin up to get the power up just before we were let go tends to help you stay with the flyers at the start.
..3..2..1 and we were off. A few of the guys sprinted off and it looked like a typical start but things had settled nicely before the first hill where the first split happened and I very quickly found myself in the front group. I’ve been here before though so I was expecting things to hot up later on the climb to the German Village. The group settled into a good pace for me. I actually wasn’t hanging on, I was riding hard but within my limit.
After you get through the marina, its flat until the climb to the bridge which is short and sharp. Bit of a split here again but the gentle gradient over the bridge suited me as its a steady 3% which you can wind up the gear on. I think we lost a few more before the Alpine climb started and as the gradient bit, one rider forged ahead and was making good progress gently pulling away. I was leading the group behind but the leader for some reason suddenly stopped and unclipped. Don’t know what happened but he started again and caught us up at the front quite easily. The group was together but a little fractured as we took on the second half of the climb through the snow tunnels, ironically, while it was snowing! I was pushing big numbers for me which I was a little concerned about coming back to bite me later on. Legs felt good though and as we came out of the tunnels and crossed the bridge, we were a group of 5 now.
The next part of the course before the turn to the Radio Tower is like a roller coaster. It requires a couple of hard efforts to get over the small, short, sharp climbs. The last climb to the KOM arch was where the first split took place. I was in the red and had pushed quite hard till now so I elected to ride the steepest slopes to the tower at my own pace. I was behind as the road turned, dipped and then hit the climb but a quick effort here saw me get back in the group. One rider rode off using a power up to gain a gap and he literally rode away and gained about 10 secs by the top. I think we lost 1 rider from our group. As the long descent began, the leader had about 25 secs on us but we had him back by the foot of the climb and we were back together as a group of 5.
Zwift Tip: I’m quite light in Zwift at 64kg and reading posts about light riders descending, I should struggle but I’ve found if I do a short sprint into, say, a corner and then freewheel, I actually catch the riders up and will probably go through the group. Keep doing this and I save energy and hang on the descent fine. Its a weird nuance that Zwift has but works for me when descending should (and used to) be a problem
We thundered across the dirt roads to the Volcano, rode round it then hit the climb. This is where I began to bite the bars a bit. There were surges from some of the group which I just tried to spin up and stay with. Each effort ebbing away what was left in the legs. I knew if I could just hang on I’d be fine until the finish and I’d be happy with that.
As we crested the top, the descent was straightforward again. I was trying to save energy now for the sprint.
Into the last km. Now I’d raced on Friday and started my sprint too soon and got passed by about 4 riders in the last 40 metres. My plan was to hold off until as late as possible, pop the power up on and then leather it.
I hit the front, popped my draft power up with about 400m to go. I was holding the gap then a rider flew past me and another was gaining. I just gave it everything I had left and nicked it on the line by 0.1 sec!
So all in all, it was a great event. It wasn’t a race and the result counts for shit but hey it was great fun and gave us all MMH riders something to talk about and watch for a bit.
Thank you to Dan and Corinne for organising it. I hope the actual MMH is rescheduled in better weather shortly. And thank you to Zwift for stepping in to set the ride up at late notice.
Thanks for reading again