It all started when RGT Cycling created a gravel course based on the epic UK gravel race – the Dirty Reiver. This is no course for those who are addicted to posting impressive speed stats on Strava! Dirty Reiver is slow – your Strava stats will make you look pedestrian! The course passes you by slowly, no matter how hard you pedal!! This is a virtual cycling course for those who like to suffer. The overall course profile is flat – in practice, it is lumpy and for those aiming for a PB, the 10% gradient near the end finishes off the legs!!
I received a message from Kev Willers, a great local rider, top bloke and known at the Derby Arena Velodrome as the ‘Ridware Rocket!’ Kev set the challenge to go sub-35 minutes for one lap of Dirty Reiver. The rules for the Kev Willers challenge are:
- No bots
- No group race/ride
- Individual TT effort
Throughout, the pandemic period, I’ve tried no to go deep and to keep things sensible. An all-out TT effort, I know from experience, is uncomfortable and the pressure was on. I could only fail and with that my self-ridicule would ruin the days that followed. If I did it, I had to to my best!
Two days of rest preceded the attempt and even on the day of the attempt, I kept putting it off. The evening came and I had to have a go. The nerves started, as did the self-doubt. A voice in my head was saying ‘go outside for an easy pootle on your mountain bike – hit the trails!’ A re-think was needed.
Step 1 – self talk – get my head in the right place
Step 2 – dress to impress – wear my KISS Racing Team skinsuit
Step 3 – Rub in embrocation, just like I used to do in time trials – this time Amp Human. Whether it works or not, I told myself that it would work. It was my war paint.
With legs trembling at the thought of the task ahead, I started with great trepidation. A small climb right at the start and I kept my watts in check and kept thinking ‘smooth and flow’ and I counted to five and kept repeating it. RGT has a feature where the HUD (heads ups display) can be removed very easily (from the app and it is instant) – I decided to go this way and just to go on feel – or perceived effort as the boffins call it.
10 minutes in and I was beginning to hurt and as I hit the Weldtide Sprint, I was blowing through all orifices! Keeping it smooth and keeping the same pressure on the pedals on the ups and the downs, I reached about halfway and my legs were screaming. The lactate had arrive and it was feasting! Self-talk was needed and it was ‘the faster you go the sooner this is over!’ It makes no sense when off the bike, but hey! it works when suffering!
The finish came and had I done it? As I approached the line, I flicked the HUD back on and it said 33m 17s!! Boom – I had beaten the Kev Willers Challenge. Strava confirms a sub-35 minute and an official time of 33m 29s.
Key learning from the attempt:
- Keeping it smooth worked – therefore not rushing at the hills
- The last kilometre suggested to me that I could have gone harder!
- Today, my right foot feels like an elephant has trodden on it – moral – pedal more evenly and check how tight I have my shoes.
- The Amp Human did me no harm and it did my head the world of good
If like me, you have a lifestyle that doesn’t have the space for driving to events at a certain date and time, the Kev Willers Challenge could be for you?! If you haven’t yet used RGT as a virtual cycling app, this could be your chance to try it. The average speeds are slower than say, Zwift. They will be similar to what you get when outside. Your brake for bends (or the programme slows you down) and what you see on your screen is what’s really happening. Give it try and please let me know how you get on.