Coronavirus is here and its causing a LOT of disruption. We are in LOCKDOWN. People are ill, people are dying, idiots are clearing out supermarkets and any event or non-essential business has been cancelled or closed for at least the next few weeks. And its only going to get worse before it gets better. Its pretty bleak on paper so you have to adapt.
Tomorrow was supposed to be the Mad March Hare Sportive. Cancelled. I’d planned it to be my Resolution Ride (100km ride a month in 2020) for March. I’d also planned to do some decent gravel riding to keep up the fitness while I was away on holiday beforehand but that got canned because of the virus too. So my prep for today has been pretty naff and spontaneous.
We went to Fuerteventura for 10 days mid-March and spent the last week there in lockdown
I got back off holiday last Saturday, I was too tired to ride Sunday but I got a ride in on Zwift on Monday, ragged myself on Zwift again Tuesday then I got outside on a ride on Wednesday and Thursday mornings backed up with some softer Zwift rides on the evenings to get my legs back into the twice a day riding routine I do as a commuter. Friday was a rest day with a view to trying to do something this weekend to resurrect my Resolution Ride challenge.
I woke up and faffed in bed trying to work out what to do. I could have just gone out and done a 100km ride. It is allowed under current restrictions but my head was telling me thats a bit much and the once a day for exercise thing should be kept local in the spirit of the lockdown. Then I thought I could go out and maybe do a few local laps. Didn’t fancy that when I heard the windows nearly blow in from the wind. Then I thought 50km out, 50km in on the turbo. Hmmm… thats got some mileage. What about 100km again on Zwift? NOOOOOOO. (This is how I faff!) I then looked at Rouvy again. Its footage filmed outside so its like bringing the outdoors inside. Like it! I thumbed through a few routes. What about 100km worth of Rouvy climbs done over the weekend? Nah, needs to be one ride and then I stumbled on today’s ride. A 106km gig across the Swiss Alps, 3 climbs, fucking hard. Yep. Thats me. Sign me up.
I would never criticise anyone out cycling for any length of ride at the moment. Its just me, I prefer to stay local
I paid for another month’s subscription and got ready. This was completely spontaneous. I’m usually planning these rides in my head for days beforehand. I changed into my trusty turbo shorts (11 yr old Bioracers, comfy and still going!) and got breakfast done. Drinks and food ready I got my YouTube stream setup with the added flavour of me on webcam and occasionally talking! Woooooooo!
So the ride climbs the Furka, Grimsel and Susten passes. 2800m of climbing. Whats not to like?…and off I went, my stream went live and I did my first piece to camera on a bike. I probably sound and look like a nob and even worse, have no viewers but I don’t care. I used my work headset as I’m working from home for now.
The first thing that struck me was the scenery. Stunning! It instantly made my bucket list. Your view is limited but even so, what you see is breathtaking. The gradient is steady so I settled in to around 200w which I know I can sustain for a few hours. The route starts on a false flat then kicks up and the road narrows. The thing to note and never ceases to amaze me everytime I see mountain roads in Switzerland are the hairpin bends. The Swiss are masters at building smooth, sweeping, faultless mountain climbs with the best hairpin bends. They manage to somehow flatten the gradient and not make them too sharp in contrast to the climbs in the Alps and Pyrenees. Great to ride even on a computer. They are something to behold.
I hit the top of the Furka after about 80 mins. Legs were good but my desktop wasn’t. The video is streamed off Rouvy and it locked up. It has happened to me before and I couldn’t fix it and had to sack it off. I was only 17km in and it looked game over. I carried on down the other side, the app was working as I was moving on the map but the feed was locked. Shit! I played and played and nearly gave up until I found a setting that allowed me to turn the feed off and back on! Yes! Annoyingly I’d missed the best part of the descent some tasty hairpins but at least I was back on track.
I was glad of the rest the descent gave me and as I neared the bottom, just a small village on the valley floor, the Grimsel climb reared up on the otherside like a ladder. More of those incredible hairpin bends built out from the mountainside to behold too. I stopped at the bottom of climb and grabbed some lunch before setting off again.
The Grimsel is quite short but a tasty gradient averaging about 8%. If you ever want to ride it though, you’ve got a big mountain to climb first as it looks like its nestled in between climbs.
The descent of the Grimsel is massive, a long 25km or so. A welcome rest for the legs. It passes through more stunning scenery past a couple of dammed reservoirs with glacial looking water in them. Wish I could have stopped for a pic lol. Its a surprisingly busy road. Plenty of cars and motorbikes on the footage. The end of the descent is the lowest point on the ride. You roll into a town called Innertkirchen and simply turn right and boom you’re on the Susten Pass.
It starts by winding its way nicely out of town. Its a bit of a brute at over 20km long and the hardest sections are saved until the end. Its a climb of two halves. The first half has the softer gradients and even a short downhill section. The second half rears up and really does bite at the top with consistent 8 and 9’s for the last few km.
The legs were still ok. Smarting a bit after the descent but I got into my groove again and pumped out 200w or so religiously and using the shallower gradients for a rest. As I trudged on through 65km, 70km then 80km done I was getting cooked and the willpower was getting called on a bit. I tried to break it down into coloured sections. Dark are the hard ones, lighter the easier. I’d try and do them bit by bit in my head but I just kept telling myself, keep pedalling. My mental finish line was the top although I had a 20 min descent to do aswell.
I rolled through 4hrs on the rack. Unknown territory for me. I think last months 3.5hr Zwift ride was the longest before today. I was beginning to ache all over. My knees in particular. Climbing for a long time becomes brute strength for us mere mortals and the knees take a packet. Annoyingly the map kept freezing and I had to keep turning it off and back on to see where I was but in the end I binned it out of frustration. 1km go I found a second wind and the watts went up. I was just desperate to conquer it I think. Susten is a bitch, even on a turbo. Finally I made it. It was a great feeling. So now just a pedal downhill and I was done.
Nearly 4.5hrs on a turbo sounds mad but I have to say that the time on today’s ride passed really quickly. I think my head felt it was like an outdoor ride.
I rolled through 100km quite pleased with myself and just under 6km on I finished quite unceremoniously at a junction in Wassen. Job done.
2800m, 106km, 4hrs 35minutes on a turbo trainer. Bit of an epic. Mental and probably never again. I hope!
It looks like my stream of the ride has maxed out at 4hrs, so its the last 4hrs