The 1,000km Zwift ride.

So I did it.  It's been a bit of time and I still haven't had the chance to really have a look at what I did.

It's been a couple of weeks due to Easter holidays, rebuilding a room and general life, but on Good Friday 2021, I logged into Zwift and did my single 1,000km ride, no sleep.  I was in the garage for around 36 hours with 32 hrs cycling.  The gap was the farting about bits, waiting for the microwave to go ping and filling up water bottles and stuff but total distance was 1,003km.   Job done!

Like I put in the original brief blog post a while ago, it's a pretty stupid easy thing to do.  So here's what happened.

Starting and setting up.

Unlike a number of other events, because this one was mine I could organise it as I liked.   So I kept it basic.   On the Thursday which was a work day, I was working from home (thanks Covid) which meant I could eat.   A lot.   The week before had been an easy cycling week with only the Wednesday night Flock ride to stress me.   So Friday morning, I was nervous (yep, here I go again on another stupid idea), stressed out due to workloads and domestic stuff and pretty chilled out because I had a pretty simple ride to do.  I had put some stuff out on social media the days before via a bit on Twitter, some on LinkedIn and I think I put a post on Facebook to keep me committed.   Doing that social media stuff is half the battle but the easy activity.   I'm no marketing guru but saying something publicly in an appealing way is very different to doing it actually the riding of 1,000km which is more my kind of thing.

So this brings me to the Thursday night - April the 1st.   Zwift had done their April fools joke with the trikes (love that one Zwift) so I logged in, did the equipment checks, updates on Windows and Zwift (because Windows always wants to screw you over with an update and restart in the middle of something that you need to do), calibrated the turbo trainer and put on the new chain.  I did change my Zwift name to "a. cyclist (GTD, 1000km)" because I thought it would look a bit weird being the rider with high distance later on to other riders.  I then had to set up the garage with the food and drink bench; arrange plugs and sockets so that I could stay on the bike and have stuff charging up; and as DIY was about to kick off, make sure the steamer and wall paper stripping stuff was out before I made it inaccessible by my sweaty hulk blocking the door.   All good.

1,000km on a Tron-trike would have been tough, but EPIC!  What's the Zwift Trike distance record?  Asking for "a friend"

I did a weight check on the Friday norming (70kg, bit heft for me but good weight to lose), had the last food sorted so that when Anna and the kids went off to meet up with friends and family (in a Covid safe way) I slipped out the back door of the house and headed to logging in in the garage.    I fired up Zwift, made a short video and then headed for the first parts of the Watopia flats.

Good for a few kilometers/hours I reckon......

Riding 1,000km in a single Zwift ride without sleep

Now, from this point onwards the riding was very much the same - same route, same bike, same views, same............everything really on Zwift.  I ignored most stuff in Zwift world and instead of doing what I did on the 500km test night where I attempted to stick with a pacer, I instead worked at around 130w and just stuck there.

So the next 30+ hours, they passed pretty easily and quickly in a surreal way.   I watched a number of movies (some good, some crap), watched the Hangover movies series for some comedy that I wouldn't have normally; listened to music and podcasts; tweeted and joked through Discord, Twitter and WhatsApp; and...................kept riding.  

Food strategy was pretty good too.   I kept a bit of variety going in but with being home based, the microwave meals helped along with grabbing slugs of Lucozade from the bottle (although I did spill some of it on my crotch and end up sticky for hours), bananas, Haribo, Pingles and plenty other stuff and although I didn't eat and drink fully to my deficit, it kept going.  I did go through some of the phases I normally work through on the road and some of the tried and trusted tricks certainly worked, but at least I didn't have to either have to try and find food all through the night like on a self support ride or have to go through a hosted checkpoint in a "Covid safe way" when you're knackered and found your face mask has been leaked on by spare chamois cream.  Maybe lockdowns do have some advantages.

1/4 done.  

By the time I had hit 500km, I had done this more comfortably than the previous AFN test ride - I also got there fresher and in far better comfort as my pacing had been more consistent.   Through rides and events like these, I never look at the distances to go or the whole picture.   I always chunk down the big number to sections and keep an eye on those.  So numbers like 100km (63 miles), 200km, 333km, 500km etc become more of the focal points along with known comfort distances.  So by the time I get to 576km which is 24km to the 600km mark, I can relate the 24km to my "old commute to work" which I can normally pop off half asleep.  Which means 600km really isn't that big a distance to get to.  And 600km isn't a massive jump to the Devils distance of 666km.  

So by the 500km point, physiologically I was both in the second half of the ride and at the point where I knew I was in better shape then a few weeks before so more likely to be able to do  this.  By the time I had gone past the 522km mark I had also set a new indoors PR as my 24hr/vEveresting/10,000m climbing ride had topped out at 522km - anything more now was new distances; and by 666km I was two-thirds down!  Wayhay!  Easy 333km spinning to the end!!

Yeah yeah, my £10 garage plasma TV resolution is crap, but DEVILS DISTANCE.

It was also getting to the point where evening was coming in too.  Through the day my distance had been pretty much unremarkable - I'd been spinning over 16hrs and 500km but hidden pretty much in the bigger solo day distances from other riders.  By the time the evening of Good Friday started to settle, the US were Zwifting, the EU was eating and falling asleep and Asia was yet to wake up.   So I got to see various groups appear and disappear.   All good.

Now the night section was pretty much fine and un-eventful as Zwift goes.   The part I do miss from the road is that in the garage the light level changes but not much else.  It's not like I'm knocking off towns or cities or crossing notable fens, climbs or rivers.   On LEL I distinctly remember 1,000km mark being by the checkpoint as Eskadalemuir and it was stunning with evening falling before riding into the night and having a small group accompany me through the next section.   Zwift........... I kept spinning really.

The most notable parts of the night section were the normal feelings of temperatures dropping and that back of the eyeball tiredness which kicks in before dawn.  That's usually one of the notable points on any ride - I recall riding through the night on a 600km ride and sunrise near Pocklington and those feelings with the sunrise over York.  But for this one it was more mechanical;

ZWIFT CHALLENGE DAWN = [(Cold > warm) -> warming]+[Left shoulder lightlevel = increasing]  

The good thing was that by the time it was coming to dawn, some pyschos were already doing early morning Saturday training rides and some riders starting challenges too.

As Saturday morning came in and rolled on, family came to check on me, riders started to notice my distances and I started to have fun on Twitter, WhatsApp and Discord.  Ged Nickson came and joined me for a section with Tandy, I ate, I spun and I kept going.

Virtually with me

Another rider (Maazel) was going for a 500km ride in aid of Water Relief and his write up is here and well worth a read (probably better than what I'm throwing together).  Through the hours we were riding I could see his shout outs and supporters which was cool.   Now, unfortunately my Companion app had failed right at the start of my 1,000km so I couldn't message and I wasn't risking resetting everything to message - sorry to Maazel because I wanted to message support but was mute!  Next time.....

And the spinning kept going.   By the time I was heading to 800-900km, I was cruising well.  Comfort and fatigue wise, I was starting to feel the creep of finding an end point and my knees were having to work at a lower torque but still going strong.  Only around the 850km point did I feel a wave of "I need a nap" which lasted a short time before ebbing away as other things stimulated me.  As with many of these rides, the mentality of eating when getting to the last 10-15% of the ride kind of makes you think "well, I've done 90% of it, I may as well just keep going and eat at the end."  On 1,000km, the final 10% is 100km/63 miles an likely to be several more hours and around 800 calories.........  Keep eating and drinking.

Home straight now.

In the final 30km or so, Ged logged in again and joined me for the final section, riding and chatting with me on the Discord channels and in the final section we deviated from the flats of the dessert to head towards the volcano and a roll onto the main area in Downtown Watopia.  Anna came out to the garage door drinking a cocktail and between the three of us we celebrated 1,000km in a pretty much low key, quiet way.  I crossed the Start/Finish line on 1,003km, very carefully saved everything and stopped the bike.

For more details, my Strava is here and the Zwift entry is here


Now this one was fairly epic in riding.   In terms of where I would pitch the "oh shit, I've completely fucked up my body!" kind of stakes, this one was up there but not the worst.   I'd rank somewhere in the top 10 but maybe around the 5-8 area rather than top 3.  I was sore and fatigued, I lost a couple of kilos and I had seizing muscles.  After the 500km AFN ride, Anna said I looked destroyed and I felt it.  This one felt a lot better physically and mentally and with the finish time around 9;30pm it wasn't one of those rides where I return at 4am and collapse into coma type of ride.  Without road vibrations I didn't have carpel tunnel or cyclists wrists and without the weather conditions I was only sweaty rather than ground in road dirt.  Also, by steady and consistent pedaling I hadn't had the torque jumps that come from road riding with junctions which stains tendons so all the difficulties came from muscle contractions more than anything else.

For the next few days I really did have difficulty walking around and climbing stair.  I was like an old man for a while but once I was back to moving tonnes of soil from the back garden to the skip we'd hired, things started to loosen and come back to life.  My Garmin claimed I was pretty much dead.

The chatters, followings, social media stuff and all the rest of it for the next few days was brilliant and entertained me endlessly.

Now weeks on and after a year of Zwift challenges and riding, especially without a rocker plate, some of the impacts are starting to show. Yeah, my FTP increased but noticeably certain muscle groups in my thighs related to out of saddle riding are different on the Zwift bike to the normal road bike and need retraining.

After around 10 days or so, I had pretty much recovered back to normal.

Thanks and credit stuff.

Now all this stoopidity has to have some thanks.  

  • First, Anna Stav because all credit and thanks have to start with Anna.   She orders and brings me food, entertains me, condescends me and slaps me when I've suggested something stupid.

Then in no particular order:

  • Matt for the WhatsApp messages and exchanges on crazy ideas and bouncing off the next "do you think I can....." suggestions.
  • The "Ain't no mountain high enough" team of The Flock -Go the Distance challenge for the support over the past 10+ weeks, messages on the Discord and WhatsApp groups through Everesting and this.  Thanks to Helen, Heather, Nicola, David and Ged.
  • Bigger thanks to Ged and Tandy for riding with me on those sections through the 1,000km (plus Ged cycled onto the Mall with me on Eds-Lon, random ride through the nighters and other rides too.  Some even in daylight).
  • All those random people who found me through Zwift, Strava, Reddit, Discord and everywhere else for the discussions, encouragement, jokes, banter, comments and random thoughts.  It's been fun.

So what next?

Erm, I've never done 1,000 miles on Zwift in a single ride.......

Immediate challenge I'll complete 1st May is a group Everesting challenge.   Myself and the The Flock teams have been doing the Go The Distance business endurance challenge and after 12 weeks of group training on 1st May out teams will do a virtual 8848 between us.   I've loved being involved with the Wednesday night training rides.   I'm looking forwards to the event, bit at the same time I'll miss our group!   And with Covid, we've never actually met each other.   Some day.......  If you want to support us on that one, our team's charity page is;

In addition to that late in May I'll do #TransEngland (excited for that one) and ride up to, do and ride back from a mutli-divisional Thermo Way of the Roses ride in September. 

With other inspirations still shouting in my head and if I was to do a list of ideas (in no order);
  • 1,000 mile single ride Zwift (penciled in for next pandemic/lockdown and when I get a rocker plate)
  • >1,100 miles single ride on Zwift because that would be the indoor world record.
  • LEL 2022 is a must.
  • Off-road Everesting and 10,000m ROAM on a mountain bike to keep the collection going and I think it hard.
  • Brexit ride - I want to literally start from home and stop when I'm in France (or NL, ES, PT or other EU state.....)
  • FisherSci commute but not to the Loughborough office, to the French office - I think single ride, sleep on ferry/hedges, no support, eat and drink on the go.  Might not work once there due to my sleep deprivation/physical condition/need to eat/smell but it's a crazy dream.  See if work will ship my bike home.
  • TransContinental Race.  
  • TransEverything!



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