For most of us, 2020 has changed how we live our lives and for keen cyclists and athletes, it has provided obstacles to training and being able to get out on a bike. With these challenges, however, has come the opportunity to adapt and most of us now know of the ever-growing popularity of indoor trainers and online racing platforms.
As many of us dust off our indoor trainers again and commence winter training, we chatted to Vitus Pro Cycling rider Joe Sutton to gain insight into his challenges throughout the year and to learn about how he has adapted his training and taken his first venture into online racing.
"Lockdown was a testing time. No racing. No social life. Low morale. I am a bike racer, I train to race. Of course, I enjoy riding my bike, but I ride to improve and win races.
The first hurdle I jumped was changing my mindset, I needed to train to train. Fortunately, the weather was on my side. With no cloud in sight, I cracked on with my training program, built up a fantastic tan, and saw an increase in my power figures. My motivation was high, I had a very good routine and structure, I had taught myself how to be motivated by my motivation."
"Because there was no racing my current team, Vitus pro cycling had to find alternative ways to interact with sponsors. We did some brainstorming for fun and alternative ways to push the brands. My team manager Cherie came up with an idea to do a virtual Mount Everest challenge. We chose to do this in aid of calm the charity which helps prevent suicide.
Calm is becoming more and more in demand due to the global circumstances. They are experiencing high call volumes because of the increased stresses people were facing in their day-to-day life. Although there was no racing, I found it so helpful to be part of Vitus. Being surrounded by teammates helped keep my dream alive."
"Zwift and I have a love-hate relationship. As road racing was canceled, Zwift’s popularity grew! Early in the year, I struggled with virtual racing, firstly because I'm a small rider and secondly, I had difficulty replicating my road figures on a static trainer. During the lockdown period, Zwift became such a valuable tool for teams to showcase their sponsors and demonstrate the strength of the squad. My teammate Chris McGlinchey was ranked Zwift number 1 in the world which was amazing! That boosted my keenness for the home trainer. I began racing more and my mindset started to change.
As I raced different courses I started to learn there was a lot more to Zwift than I first thought. For me, there are two aspects that are so valuable to grasp. Course knowledge and energy saving. Out of the two, course knowledge is the most important, because the rest will follow. I have found either riding/racing the course or using Zwiftinsider to be the most helpful."
"Like any other race, knowing what is coming around the next corner can make or break the race. It’s no different in Zwift. Knowing when to ease off the power or press on the pedals is the way you can be fresh at the end of the race. In the beginning, I found myself pushing too hard on the flats and down hills, meaning I couldn’t ride hard enough on the inclines. I experimented with how easy I could ride in the wheels before I started to get distanced and when I could stop pedaling on a big descent. When I got to grips with this I found results started to come."
Lastly, road figures on a turbo takes time. Race and ride Zwift as much as possible! It took me about a year of Zwifting to see the gap between my virtual and real-world figures to decrease. They still aren’t matched either! Personally, I believe you will always get higher numbers on the road because you can move the bike and use your upper body. But don’t let that put you off! It is great training and can be a social event too."