As regular Bicycling Australia readers will know we’re currently running a challenging, month-long training program in conjunction with Zwift.
With four candidates now into their second week of the gruelling program, we caught up with Nick Kourambas, a mad-keen cyclist who went into the challenge as a self-confessed ‘indoor training denier’.
Now sounding more like an indoor training convert, here’s Nick’s training diary from his first 7 days of ‘Zwifting’.
I hadn’t looked into what the challenge entailed, but assumed it was doing 3 trainer rides per week. I figured I could space them out and do them whenever I wanted to. To this end, I was in no rush to get into them – after all I am ‘the indoor training denier’. So I rode out to the hills and did a 120km ride that included 2700 metres of climbing. Little did I know, this was supposed to be a rest day – the calm before the storm you might say.
I was asked ‘How’s the Zwifting going’ and hadn’t even downloaded the software. The pressure was on so I watched Shane ‘the Lama’ Miller’s video on how to set up the Kickr which I’ve actually rented from him.
I then did my first Zwift but still hadn’t looked into the program. It was probably a good thing I did this random Zwift ride as there were a number of teething problems. I did it without water, a fan, a towel, something to protect the bike and floor from sweat and I also forgot to close the ducted heating vent in my bike room / office.
I got sucked into ‘chasing’ and ‘dropping’ anyone that ‘passed’ me (as I thought I was in a race) but eventually gave up as my floor rug was becoming drenched in sweat.
My takeaways from that first Zwift session were that it provided a great workout and competition is competition, irrespective of whether it’s real or virtual. Even though the ride was virtual, the motivation was real!
After the ride, it was payback time: I loaded my first Zwift entry onto Strava.
I finally got to and downloaded the ‘Faster in Four Weeks’ files. This was only to find out I was behind before I started – fortunately Day 1 was a rest day so I was only behind by one day.
Before starting the session I noticed Zwift had assigned me an FTP of 240W. I’d recently established that my FTP is actually 304W so I increased it accordingly. Little did I know, the pain that that decision would bring. I did the first session and wow, it was a killer. Luckily this time I shut the heating vent, had water, a towel, a fan and also bought myself a sweat catcher to protect the headset, cage bolts and bike.
It was tough while I was in it but as soon as it was over I was hanging out for the next one.
I did Day 3’s ‘reco ride’ which was welcome relief compared to the previous day’s session. I was still a day behind though.
I did Day 4’s session and it was another tough one. It got me thinking, are all non-recovery sessions going to be shockers? It didn’t help that I left the heating vent open again.
I was busy with work and didn’t ‘ride’ today. This now meant I was 2 days behind.
I did Day 5’s recovery session and again got sucked into ‘passers by’ and decided I should show them what I’m made of, especially the showoff advertising his polka dot jersey status.
I basically rode as hard as I could for as long as I could (which wasn’t long), recovered, then repeated. My bursts were around the 1,050W mark. My interest in power data is growing exponentially. I think I need to buy a power meter but they’re not cheap and I have 11 bikes – mental note: maybe just stick to a Smart Trainer purely for financial reasons.
With hindsight, bursts on a recovery ride were probably not the smartest idea.
I did Day 6 and Day 7’s sessions today and these were both hard sessions (neither were recovery rides). Day 8 is a rest day so I am finally back on track. i.e. I will be doing Day 9 on Day 9.
I did Day 6’s session just after breakfast and it was so hard I almost puked!
In summary, bring on the pain. I’m not sure that I’m hooked on Zwift … not yet anyway. But I sure am hooked on the killer sessions and program. I ride to be challenged and these sessions are very challenging. Unlike real riding, there are no red lights and no free wheeling.
I still think there are a lot of softies on Zwift who do it to avoid the cold and wet of winter and who probably just cruise around ‘the island’ but anyone that does workouts like these, is not soft.
Having said this, I am quite enjoying my excuse for not having to set my alarm at 4am every morning to ride in the cold and/or wet and dark.
As Bicycling Australia’s Faster In Four Weeks Program continues, we’ll bring you updates from other participants Meg Gilmer, Wayne Watts and Darryl Cram. You can also join the challenge by downloading the training programs for free here.