I never figured I would do a Virtual Everesting. I never thought I would buy a smart trainer. I love riding outdoors. The thought of riding on a stationary trainer was immediately dismissed anytime I thought of it. When it was announced that South Africa would go into lockdown over the Coronavirus, people started panic buying of toilet paper and tinned food. I headed out and bought a smart trainer. Always looking for new challenges, I decided that I would do a vEveresting on it before I had even set it up.
I will write a separate account of my first vEveresting attempt (successful attempt), but I am planning the second one, less than a week after the first. Some people have asked for some input into how to prepare. I had found it difficult to find clear information, so I am setting out the basics here in the hope that it will help others.
Advance Preparation – Trainer Selection
Minimum requirement for a trainer is that it must be controllable (a smart trainer). Zwift must be able to set the gradient. Ideally it should be a direct drive trainer (one where you remove the back wheel of your bike), otherwise you are restricted to climbs that don’t include steep sections. I had purchased the Kickr Core and was happy with it.
Advance Preparation – Zwift
Set the trainer difficulty to Max. By default it is set to 50%. This does not change the amount of power required to climb, but it does change the resistance and requires you to use easier gears. Don’t change this for the first time before the start of your attempt – you need to ride the hill you are Everesting a few times to ensure that you are happy with your gearing.
Check that you know how to do a trainer calibration during a ride.
Get the fastest climbing bike and wheels you can, given your level and the “drops” you have available.
Ride the climb and find the best turn points at the top and the bottom. Research the best place to start your ride to get to the bottom of the climb as easily as possible. Do a few repeats – preferably around 25% of the full distance. This is also a good opportunity to test your nutrition strategy – consume the food and drinks you will use when you do the full distance. Remember not to consume too much carbohydrate, as you will be mainly burning fat at low intensities.
Practice using the U-Turn function, as you don’t want to do extra distance if you turn late.
Advance Preparation – Bike
Make sure that you have cleaned and lubricated your drive chain. Have lube nearby, so that you can add more during the ride where necessary.
Also make sure that you have good ventilation and a fan to keep you cool during the ride.
Before the ride
Weigh yourself and take a photo of the scale, in case you need to prove your weight. Enter the weight into Zwift. Take a screen shot of the Zwift screen showing your weight.
Take a photo of your bike setup, including the trainer.
Ride to the bottom of the hill. This will warm up your trainer. Do a trainer calibration, and take a screen shot of that. (If you don’t move the trainer overnight, you can do this the day before.) At the same time, take a screenshot of the trainer difficulty setting set to Max.
Make a note of the climbing that you have done to get to the bottom of the hill. You need to do 8848m of climbing on the hill. Accordingly if you have done 40m when you get to the bottom, you will need to climb until Zwift indicates that you have done 8888m.
The photos and screen dumps are important as you may need to show these as part of the verification process.
On the ride
Ride slowly – well within yourself. I ride at the bottom of my zone 2. Watch your power and heart rate. Don’t ride too fast when you are fresh – you will pay for it later.
Keep going and minimise stops. You need to ride at a pace where you don’t need to stop. When you do stop, make the most of the time.
If you are feeling really bad, remember that you can stop as long as you like, providing that you don’t sleep. There is nothing preventing you from taking a rest for an hour or two and carrying on afterwards (providing you don’t sleep). Avoid stopping often. If you are struggling take a small number of longer stops.
Be prepared for things to slowly get more difficult. At the start things feel very easy, but slowly it gets more and more difficult.
Have food and drink close by, so that you can eat and drink on the bike.
Specific Advice for Alpe du Zwift
This is a very long climb. Over 1000m per repeat. You only need 8.5 repeats to get onto the Hall of Fame.
Use Road to Sky route to get to the start. Normally you need to be level 12 to get onto Alpe du Zwift, however this has been relaxed to level 6 during the Coronavirus outbreak. If you are not at the required level, get a friend to wait at the base of the climb and join them.
It is a continuous climb and is relentless. Make sure that you have good gearing for it. I did mine with a 36 on the front and a 32 on the back and I felt many gears short. I would have wanted 34 front, 34 back.
The turn is at the top of the climb. As you complete the climb, you get a spinning wheel and you can win some great prizes. Most useful is the wheels you can win. (They are the fastest climbing wheels in the game. If you win them, stop at the bottom of the hill and change over to them.)
As soon as you have got your prize, make a U-Turn and ride until you start going down.
There are no uphill sections on the descent, so you can climb off your bike and let it descend by itself. It takes about 12 minute, which you use as your rest. Don’t let it go all the way until it stops, as you then have to ride back to the base of the climb. Get back on your bike near the bottom and do a U-Turn as soon as you get past the final corner.
Specific Advice – Reverse Epic KOM
I use the Mountain 8 route to get to the start. There are other options, but that gives some warmup time for me and the trainer.
Ride up to the top. The crest is at the sign for the turn to the radio tower. Don’t ride all the way to the KOM banner, as it is slightly downhill and adds extra distance for no climbing. As soon as it flattens make your U-Turn.
The route down is not as convenient as Alpe du Zwift. There are a few places where you need to peddle uphills. Make sure that you are peddling before you get to the bottom and change gears early.
Watch as you get to the bottom. As you turn the last corner and pass the marker for the bottom of the climb on your left make a U-Turn.
You will need around 20.5 laps to get yourself onto the Hall of Fame.