Lockdown Week 8, 15th May 2020

There’s something peculiarly human, maybe even British, about our ability to find things that are funny, touching, inspriational, even when the bombs and bullets are flying. I’ve started a mental checklist of all the good things to have come out of this catastrophe so far. Top of the list, important things like a new-found respect for those key people who don’t always get credit or reward for the work they do. But I’m also struck by the number of small things we seek out to that help us get through the day.

One of my favourites is the series of Andrew Cotter commentaries on his 2 labradors. Now there’s a Zoom conference call too; pure genius.

Lockdown Quiz

Another thing is the Zoom quiz. There’s something about a quiz to draw out those shared memories with special friends and the best one I’ve seen is the David Watts/ Long 4 photo ‘Where the heck am I?’ lockdown quiz.

Follow David’s quiz instructions on Facebook and make sure you get those answers in by Friday 12th June.

To this week’s guest, the person who, over the years, has set up pretty much everything new the club has done, from the first organised ride routes and groups, to the TT, the hill climb, the club kit shop and now this.

Extremely Serious Silly Pretend Racing Review by John Haile

I’ll keep this brief because no doubt you’ve already seen me banging on about this a lot in our Facebook group over the last few weeks.

Yesterday we finished our first British Cycling South East inter-club Zwift racing series. We came 4th out of the 60 clubs who took part. Probably. The super-computers are still crunching the results from around the world for the exceptionally complicated but very fun team time trial that the series concluded with last night. Not bad for little old us, eh? A club without a traditional racing pedigree.

Unless you have been extremely socially isolated over the last 7 weeks, you’ll know that Zwift is one of a few virtual reality apps out there that you hook your turbo trainer up to and ride or race away in fantasy or recreated worlds. I, like most of our racers, hadn’t embraced the idea up until a few months ago. I’d tried it a few times, but I didn’t get the point. I concede that Zwift isn’t the most honed training tool there is. As with any on-line experience you don’t really know who you’re interacting with; it’s all too easy to be competing against someone who makes out to be a 58kg climber with a sprint that Chris Hoy would be proud of.

As for simply riding around in a fantasy world of volcanoes, deserts, jungles and dinosaurs, well I really just couldn’t see the point. The point for me turns out to be that it’s a brilliant way to keep socially connected during these times, a way to feel still plugged into the cycling community. I’ve joined Zwift old hands on virtual club rides and workouts, and I’ve joined strangers from around the world on several long group rides. The hours sweating away in the shed have flown by as we’ve chatted and worked with the common aim of keeping the virtual group together to tick off the kilometres, taking turns to let others draft behind us and easing up and help the sweepers pace stragglers back into the group.

We’ve set up a Penge CC team on Zwift, which has grown from nothing to 59 members over the last few weeks. It’s particularly great to see members who have moved away have joined us virtually. We are represented from as far afield as Suffolk, the West Country and Jersey.

I guess you can’t say that Zwifting is truly inclusive when the barrier to entry is a turbo trainer, one of the rarest luxury commodities in the world right now. For those fortunate enough to have the technology, it’s great to see that the Penge ethos is alive and well in the virtual world. Our team has a mixed bunch of experience and ability. Zwift racing is organised into power categories, and we’ve been most successful in collecting points in the lower categories, as well as our power house riders taking notable points in the higher categories. It’s good to see that Penge have had one of the highest number of entries from women, who have scored quite a significant number of points, often more than the men.

During the 6-week long championship series we have raced criteriums, individual time trials (alongside national champion Alex Dowsett), up a mountain and through the flat and rolling terrain of Yorkshire, New York and through a volcano. We’ve consistently scored high in the club rankings in each race, and have had podium placings from Emma Dunk, Frances Bonikowski, Wendy Mathie, Tash Lovell, Maxine Clarke, Jarek Maj, Jason Dance and myself (me. Ha!). Sorry if I’ve missed anyone out. More important than the results though has been the fun we’ve had, and the banter we’ve shared before and after the races.

All of this culminated in last night’s team time trial. This cranked the geekiness and required organisation up to the maximum. 28 of us organised ourselves into 4 teams to compete against the clock. My wife, Jane volunteered (was volunteered) to be our directeur sportif, without really understanding what she’d let herself in for. Everyone was equipped with an app which acted as the team radio, so we could communicate on the course. Our shed resembled a mini village hall race HQ with team sheets, start sheets and stopwatch as Jane counted down each team to their start time over the radio.

As in real life, there were a few mechanicals, but to see the Penge teams rolling around the 37km course in perfect formation in matching jerseys (not the beautiful red white and green unfortunately), and to hear them talking each other through the event over the radio was a sight and sound to behold. All but one team (sorry guys) crossed the line together. Where did our teams finish? I have no idea yet, and nobody probably really cares. Everybody had a great time, riding with their teammates and trying to stay less than 2 metres apart. ‘The most fun I’ve had staying in’ as someone said.

The next inter-club championship starts in a few weeks, the team time trial is organised every Thursday if anyone fancies another go and I’m sure there will be more club rides next week. Please do join us if you can. It really is a great way to keep the club spirit alive.


Indoor Cycling

Getting out on the road a little more doesn’t mean the indoor stuff goes – this is here to stay and there is even more planned for the coming weeks.

Turbobeat Live

These sessions are still free until the end of May and are at the following times:

  • Mon – 7.00am
  • Tues – 5.00pm*
  • Wed – 7.00am & 6.00pm
  • Thurs -5.00pm*
  • Fri – 7.00am

The morning sessions are new and offer a slightly more gentle workout than the evening sessions.

In June, Paul will start charging for these sessions and he has set up a number of Turbobeat tickets on Eventbright so you can buy into these by session, monthly etc.

*From June all evening sessions start at 6.00pm

Turbobeat 6-hour special – 31 May @ 9:00am

To wrap up a fantastic fundraising effort, Paul is running a special one-off 6-hour Turbothon. So far, the free sessions in April and May have raised over £3,000 for the homeless charity, Shelter. Drop in on the hour for an hour or more – or even for the whole session and help get that total funding up.

You can support Paul’s effort for Shelter on Justgiving.

Time to dig out your Penge tops for this please. Let’s say thank you to Paul for putting so much into this and for being so relentlessly positive.

Zwift Racing

You’ve seen how much enjoyment the team has got from taking part in this – you may also have noticed the staggering gains in fitness they have all benefitted from. Get on board with the next wave and if you do get a summer, you’ll be teaing it up like a pro.

Details of how to log into the Turbobeat sessions and how to join in the fun on Zwift are on the club website.

Closing Thoughts

Now, where the hell did I put my pump and spare inner tubes. Time to get some real road-time.

Have a great weekend.

James Hanscomb, Chair of Penge Cycle Club.