24/03/20 - Tuesday Smashy Volcano (Regent’s) Laps
Welcome race fans, to another addition of the Dirty Wknd Zwift group ride series. It’s a beautiful blue sky day here in Watopia, as the DW crew take on the smashiest of smashy group rides - the weekly Tuesday Volcano laps!
It may be blue skies on the ground, but this morning the series is heading up the mountain to the Volcano Circuit. Blue skies will be soon be replaced by lava, fire and ash - perfect conditions for a bike ride! The ride premise is as simple as it can get - the pretence of a group ride, whilst all the riders hit out as hard as they can and see who can hang on. Exactly the kind of type two fun everyone loves to hate! The lap is 4.1km, and perfectly replicates a certain park in central London, oft frequented by local cyclists who like to ride around in circles as fast as they can to try and drop their mates.
And so to the start line. As the clock ticks down to go time, the riders congregate on the start line, social distancing rules being wilfully flouted as some riders seem to be sitting directly on top of each other. Some of the finest Zwift group riders were in attendance, big names such as Gary Callaway, Roland Karthaus and Paul “Ride Leader of The Year” New. Strap in race fans, this is going to be an epic race.
One of the start list, fan favourite Cycy Marteau, got a little bit lost on the way to the line. Post ride reports spotted her in New York City, smashing laps around Central Park shouting ‘are you here for a Dirty Wknd’ to other Zwifters as she passed by. Another fan favourite, Luke Bright, had also apparently joined the group on his commute, and didn’t feel like getting too stuck in to the fray, so quickly waved the group off. He’d obviously missed the ‘no bag drop’ note in the ride details.
Back to the action and the group were really motoring. Roland is on the front (a feature of the ride, it would turn out) as the long distance time trial specialist got into engine mode, with Gary, David and Paul hanging on in his draft. ‘RLOTY’ Paul came over race radio sometime into the lap to ask what the Zwift equivalent of feigning a puncture was (it’s ‘my battery is going to die, just need to get my charger’ for future reference Paul), and then disappeared off screen. Paul’s DS later confirmed that his battery was about to die, and he had to get his charger. Meanwhile Cycy was happily sightseeing in NYC, wondering where everyone else was!
As the laps ticked on, the three riders left in the peloton took turns on the front, digging in to see what the others had left. The Volcano Circuit in Watopia is perfectly flat, just like Regent’s Park. Which of course means it’s not flat in reality, but has a nice gentle little climb in the corner. When you’re trying to hang onto a group, this is exactly the kind of climb you don’t want to do lap after lap. However the three men kept plugging away, with lap times remaining nice and consistent around the 6 minute mark. 30 minutes passed with little change. 45 mins and all was still together. Then at around the 48 minute mark, the hammer dropped and it all kicked off. Whether Gary attacked across the line and taking Roland with him or vice versa is one for a nice long twitter debate, but either way David wasn’t paying attention (probably taking photos for instagram) and the two quickly developed a 5 second lead. Try as he might, David attempted to close the gap to no avail. In the press room after the race he stated that today was just a leg loosener for future races, and he wasn’t really ‘racing’ anyway.
Back to the action and we find Gary and Roland taking lumps out of each other with 10 mins to go. The rest of the field having sat up, are watching these two titans try to make the other go pop. Roland the TT engine, who’s used to knocking out 300 watts for hours on end, vs Gary, who has been surgically attached to a Digme bike for 6 months whilst training for the Dallaglio charity cycle. These two well matched competitors were taking this one to the wire.
The final lap came calling as the two men started to look at each other. Sizing up an opponent at this late stage of a race is no easy feat, as any pro cyclist will tell you. As the finish line neared it was Roland who just had the edge of Gary, opening up a little gap in the sprint to avoid troubling the finish line photographer. A great ride from two of the very finest Zwift group ride champions around. The test will be if Roland can defend his title next Tuesday in round two.
As for the other competitors, we can confirm that Luke made it to work in record time, Paul had two ‘battery mechanicals’, which we believe is a first in Zwift group ride history, and Cycy is still cycling around NYC!
Join us next week race fans - for more exhilarating Zwift group ride action!