Thames Turbo Virtual Duathlon #lockdown2020

Race Reports May 08, 2020

8th May 2020

by Owen Delaney

Well, along with everything else in life these days, that was a bit different.

Julia from Thames Turbo shared this event with me on FB and I thought it would be a fun way to kick off the bank holiday weekend. I've done a couple of the Thames Turbo Sprint triathlons a few years back when I was biking and swimming more. They're great events and were a nice intro for me into triathlon racing.

Fast forward to today, and along with just about everything else this year, this weekend's proper event was cancelled what with this pesky virus and lockdown, so the organisers put on a virtual duathlon instead. The idea being that we do the bike leg on turbo trainers at home, in the Zwift world of Watopia. Specifically using the regular "Fast Friday: Tempus Fugit Time Trial" events.

Since the world flipped upside down a couple of months ago, I've been spending a fair bit of time on Zwift. Heading into the virtual world of Watopia, with its volcanos, deserts, jungles and mountains, has been a fun way to keep the fitness ticking over and escape the madness of reality. Hell it even has dinosaurs, what's not to love!

The kids have been using it a bit too. The boy even did his own little duathlon earlier this morning, a solid effort in Zwift's Crit City Race on his bike, followed by the same 5k loop I'd do later.

My art studio has been doubling up as a pain cave. It's the perfect size to throw the bike onto the turbo trainer, and it's set up nicely to have Zwift running on the computer monitor at my desk.


The bike time trial today was on a route called Tempus Fugit, an out and back across the Fuego Flats - an appropriately scorched land what with the hot weather in the real world.

image from Zwift Hacks

With the Time Trial events in Zwift, you're given a start time at some point soon after the actual event begins. For me it was 2.05pm. We sat on our (much shinier and more expensive looking that reality, for me at least) virtual bikes in the pens and wait for the clock to count down to our individual starts.

Then I was off, trundling through the desert at a soon to become apparent excessive pace...

A couple of miles in and I realised I'd set off a bit too quick and wouldn't be able to hold that pace for the whole thing. Also a fear of the run leg to follow started to linger in my head. I've never been much good at pacing myself, so why would today be any different? I eased off a little and managed to then hold it at a steady speed for the rest of the ride.

Eventually I reached the end of the bike leg in 26.57. I've not done one of these time trials before so that's now my benchmark to have a crack at beating next time.


Transition involved making sure the bike workout had saved on the computer, dismounting the bike like a sloth with a limp, wobbling into the house for a quick kit change, out the front door to look at my watch as it contemplated whether the satellites might be staying at home too, and eventually into a movement you might loosely describe as running. All in all about 2.5 mins of faffery.


Now I'm wishing I'd stuck with the original plan of a 6am start, or even left it to the 10pm one. Going for a run in Bushy Park on a hot afternoon reminded me precisely why I've been avoiding it in favour of the turbo trainer. Far too many people out taking their daily exercise to comfortably keep a distance and remain calm. Took a good half a minute to get myself through Laurel Road gate...

That heart rate data looks well dodgy, but I don't know which half is more accurate. I'm going with the first half, ~175bpm is certainly how it felt. Scorcher out there today, and I've never been much good at running in the sun. Nice out though.

At least I managed fairly even splits for the whole run. That doesn't happen too often.

Never mind that 0.08k at the end, I'll put that down to the emergency diversion when I decided to avoid the human soup at Laurel Road gate again, instead swinging round to Hampton Hill and finishing just before Blandford Road.

Anyway, all good fun. Nice way to spend the afternoon. Apart from missing out on the post race party due to spontaneously combusting at the end.