Journals Riders

Jenny Holl journal: eRacing for beginners

Rider journals 2020: Jenny Holl #04

Jenny Holl and five other cyclists are keeping rider journals for The British Continental this season. The 20-year-old Scot is currently in her third and final year at the Great Britain Cycling Team Senior Academy rider. This is Jenny’s fourth entry…

Even six-ish years of stationary training pain really couldn’t have prepared me for my first Zwift race

I’ll be riding the ŠKODA V-SERIES Women’s Tour this week. The eRace comprises three virtual stages, running from Wednesday 17 and Friday 19 June, with riders participating from across the world, including my garden (rain permitting).

eRacing has been one of the new additions to life brought about by lockdown (new to me anyway). Training on the turbo has been a regular part of life for years, since I was about 14. But even six-ish years of stationary training pain really couldn’t have prepared me for my first Zwift race (other eRacing platforms are available).

UCI Track Cycling World Cup, November 2018 – Lee Valley VeloPark. Women’s Team Pursuit qualification, Team Breeze’s Jenny Holl, Josie Knight, Rebecca Raybould and Jessica Roberts. Photo: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com

The majority of racing cyclists, maybe even some serious non-racers, will have at some point undergone the delight that is power testing. It can be done on the road, but as there are obviously more variables on the road, the turbo is more reliable. Tests vary, but the testing I have done consists of two sprints to find your max power, a three-minute test and a twelve-minute test, each aiming for the highest average wattage you can manage. For anyone who has never done a similar test, they are best avoided. They hurt. Like, really hurt.

From my early experiences, I would say eRacing is very similar. I have so far done one ‘proper’ race, the Trofeo Bologna, and a fortnightly short race with the other Senior Academy girls, the Junior Academy girls, and our coaches (who have all beaten me more than I would like to admit). But here is a little run down of some of the things I have learnt from these races, lessons I will be trying to use in the V-SERIES this week.

Your turbo is a swimming pool of sweat and your legs hurt so much that you can’t even really feel the pain anymore

  1. You need to start really hard. Proper sprinting. I wasn’t aware of this in the Trofeo Bologna, and I was about 30 seconds down on the peloton alarmingly quickly.
  2. Hopefully you’ve made it into the bunch. After the initial effort, you need to be able to settle at a power that is likely slightly higher than you feel comfortable holding…
  3. …but that’s OK, kind of: eRaces are shorter than proper road races. The races I have seen have varied between 20 and 40km, so generally last an hour at most.
  4. After you’ve been absolutely battering yourself for the best part of an hour, the floor under your turbo is a swimming pool of sweat and your legs hurt so much that you can’t even really feel the pain anymore. It’s time to drag yourself out of the saddle to sprint for the line and hope your legs don’t buckle underneath you.

I’ll be totally honest, I didn’t do very well in the real race I did. I finished a good few minutes down and, to top it off, I hadn’t known that I needed to be registered on ZwiftPower, so I actually got DQed in the end. Not ideal. [Ed: ZwiftPower is a community-driven website used by Zwift racers and ride organisers to track – and to some extent police – result.]

Hopefully the three stages this week will be more positive, now I’ve had a bit of practice, so should be more prepared. In any case, I’m definitely looking forward to getting as close to a race and a start line as I can at the moment.

Jenny rides for a three-woman Great Britain Cycling Team at the V-Series. Line-up: Megan Barker, Anna Docherty, Jenny Holl

The V-Series takes place between 17-19 June with the first stage taking in the final 38.4km of 2014’s stage to Bury St Edmonds, the second made up of the finishing circuit of 2019’s stage into Burton Dassett. The last stage consists of 35 laps of a 1km circuit in Canary Wharf. The series will be available to fans on the BBC Sport website and app as well as on BBC iPlayer.

Featured photo: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com. 2018 UCI Track Cycling World Cup – Lee Valley VeloPark, London, England – Women’s Team Pursuit qualification, Team Breeze’s Jenny Holl, Josie Knight, Rebecca Raybould and Jessica Roberts.

Find out more

Jenny Holl journal: lockdown training

Jenny Holl journal: national track champs reflections

Jenny Holl journal: about a girl

Rider journals 2020: introducing Jenny Holl

Jenny on Twitter

Jenny on Instagram

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