Going Nowhere Fast

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On the 25th July I’ll be attempting to set a new record for the greatest distance cycled in 12 hours on a static bike.

Rather than the mountain roads and unreliable weather of some of my previous adventures, the main challenges here will boredom, saddlesore (you try sitting in one position for 12 hours), and the complete lack of freewheeling.

Read on if you’d like to find out more about this rather unorthodox undertaking.

You’ll be riding more than 400km in your bedroom. How big IS your bedroom??

Fairly big as far as bedrooms go. Without taking a tape measure to the room it’s roughly 4m x 4m. I’m lucky, plenty of space to slog out a 12 hour time trial without too much trouble.

So you’ll be riding around in circles the whole time? I’m confused. Won’t you get dizzy?

Ah no, I’ll be Going Nowhere Fast in reality, but Going Fast in virtual reality. My bike will be stationary, my legs will not. The bike is mounted on a Wahoo Kickr smart trainer, and when hooked up with Zwift there’s a whole world of utopian roads to be ridden from the comfort of my bedroom. Otherwise known as Watopia, for Zwifters in the know.

So you’ll be in an imaginary world. Is that like Narnia? What will it look like?

Yes, just like Narnia. But with bikes.

There’s no wardrobe to step through though, I can just log in and be teleported to Watopia with my avatar armed with the super speedy Tron bike, which I quite rightfully earned by climbing 50,000m virtual meters. This is the ultimate Zwift weapon on which I will complete the challenge.

There is something for everyone in Watopia – snow capped mountains, desert flats, jungle tracks and even a volcano to ride around if riding in a sweaty room, going nowhere isn’t already hot enough. Oh, there’s also a fable that a Yeti roams the lands, so perhaps it is quite like Narnia.

Sounds great. So you’ll have the whole place to yourself?

Well, I’ll have the whole bedroom to myself except for perhaps when my skivvies bring me extra food and water.

In Zwift terms I’ll be sharing the road with approximately 8,000 other nutters, all riding remotely from all over the world. The fabulous thing about Zwift during lockdown has been its ability to unite cyclists, enabling group rides in remote safety. What’s more, I can draft just like on the road, so the plan is to find a fast group and sit in their slipstream for 12 hours before going for the sprint finish with 300m to go, just like on the road.

Wait – so I can come and join you in your imaginary world?

Of course! It would be awesome to see you on the (virtual) road. I’ll be riding laps of the Tempus Fugit route – 17.3km with 16m of climbing; flat and fast. Assuming you are set up in your own pain cave with a bike, turbo trainer and Zwift on the screen then there’s just a few extra steps before our avatars can be acquainted.

  • Find and follow me on the Zwift Companion App, my name is Nicky Shaw – 12 Hour TT.
  • Log in to Zwift and choose your world (Watopia).
  • Click on my name to ride with me, and you will be teleported to where I am.

Do you look fast though? Don’t show me up.

And by the way, it’s not an ‘imaginary world’… it’s a VIRTUAL WORLD.

OK, OK. So will there be food and drink in this virtual world? Virtual cafes to stop in? Virtual petrol stations to top up on Skittles and Red Bull? Virtual bushes for when you need a pee stop?

I’ll pass through one small village (in fact I’ll pass by it countless times) called Saddle Springs, which is a 1950s inspired US resort town. There’s even a fairground and the best nutrition I’m likely to find is candy floss and hot dogs.

But virtual food will be no good to me, don’t you agree? And it’s not like I can get off and have a virtual wee. My avatar can’t walk and only knows how to do one thing well: ride.

Back to reality, I’ll be fuelling myself on real cycling substance just like I would for any long ride. Think homemade rice cakes, Veloforte bars, roast potatoes, banana ice cream and perhaps the occasional Red Bull for when things get desperate. My hydration will be covered with Veloforte electrolytes and coconut water; riding indoors is sweaty business.

The great advantage of riding on Zwift is having home comforts at hand; I don’t have to wait for the ideal bush to present itself – the bathroom is just down the hallway. The clock doesn’t stop, I’ll be riding from 8am to 8pm. Therefore I have to be time efficient; the plan is to have a short break at the midway point with a quick shower and change of kit. What luxuries!

So why are you doing this? Just for fun? For fame? Or because lockdown boredom has driven you to distraction?

I blame this madness on a certain pandemic, without naming and shaming. So yes, I suppose lockdown boredom has driven me to distraction. With ultra races being cancelled (and everything else) left right and centre, I needed something to aim for and train for. Having a goal and purpose can come in many forms, and for this one I don’t even need to leave my bedroom. That’s not to say it won’t be hard. I expect it to be very hard, but also fun. Perhaps it won’t be so fun, ask me that question at 8pm when it’s all over.

I’m also doing this ride in memory of my Mum, who very sadly passed away last year after a tough battle with Multiple System Atrophy. She won’t need to worry about me riding through the night with failing lights and no food for this challenge! Click on the link below to find out more about the MSA Trust. Any donations are very much appreciated.

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/12hourvirtualtt

Rather conveniently, the ride also falls at the same time as when the Transcontinental Race would have departed from Burgas, Bulgaria. While this doesn’t quite fill the adventure void of racing across a continent, there will be the highs and lows that accompany all ultra rides. Staring at a blank wall for 12 hours is actually amazing mental training, and the mental capacity of ultra racing is equally important as physical condition. I can’t wait to be lining up in Burgas in 2021, with another year of mental and physical training under my bibs.

I’m in awe. So apart from riding with you on Zwift and making a handsome donation to the MSA Trust, is there any other way I can get involved with this adventure?

The core challenge is to set a new (unofficial) record for the greatest distance cycled in 12 hours on a static bike. Therefore, I invite you to get involved by guesstimating the distance I will be able to cycle in this duration. Your chosen distance can be entered alongside a comment on the Just Giving page when you donate. The person who donates and guesstimates closest to the final distance will be awarded a £50 Attacus voucher.

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