6Points Mallorca meets Yorkshire

The Royal Pump Room 8 course

What a tough course! Its also quite complicated, so I had to give and repeat quite a lot of information at the outset!

Instructions I gave to quite a large starting group, 88 at 2 minutes. We had 146 eventually

There is a 14% wiggle (the Strava segment is the Pot Bank reverse wall (in this direction)) at the stream at the western extent of the course – see it here:-

14% incline…and quite a long, steep hill altogether

This is quite apart from the two sprints, the first KOM (the Harlow climb) taken at tempo as a peloton, and a second, reverse KOM taken as part of the 10kms minirace to the finish. Probably a good thing my HRM wasn’t working, I might have frightened myself! All ride data is at https://zwiftpower.com/events.php?zid=262499 for those registered, and on Zwift Companion for everyone.

1st page of ZwiftPower results

We had 162 booked to ride, with 146 riders and 64 finishers which says something about the difficulty of the course!

162 booked to ride – I just beat the hour!

Companion dropped out three times in this ride, but David was able to keep communications going on screen. He, Sean Ekblom and I were on Discord which is a BIG help in coping with any tech issues!

It’s a difficult course to keep a peloton together, as it is so undulating with stiff climbs, as we saw in the “wiggle” picture above. This figure 8 course also has the sprints and KOM too close together to regroup easily in between. Eventually the course flattens for the last 4kms run into the finish, but by then the damage is done! I did have a little group to sprint with to the finish! I beat Bisani, but the “nearly” philosopher Nitschke beat me!

The little subgroup I sprinted with to the finish (but that beacon chevron isn’t very “aero”!)

I lost too many to the fence for my liking, some quite near the beginning, as the first sprint is only 2kms from the start, and the fence needs to be tight for the lead-in to that.

21 removed by the fence in this picture, after only 5.6kms, just after the first sprint

Maybe two forward or two reverse laps would be better – to be researched! Congrats to Christiaan Stange for his win (he suggested this course and now we know why!) and to Sean Ekblom for his podium, both regular riders of ours. Sean will get his Tron bike on his next big ride later today, following the 490m(!) of climbing on our 6Points course. Here are all the results:-

As we can see above, this week I was actually slightly under the advertised pace, averaging 2.3w/kg and 177 watts. To be honest, I was having to peer so closely at my pace notes to make sure where the sprints and KOMs were, I couldn’t press on as hard as I might have done.

Clockwise from bottom – Companion on iPad, annotated map, sprint/Koms, and all distances

6Points Mallorca Zwift ride: Yorkshire Royal Pump Room 8

Our Zwift ride this weekend, at 11.40am UTC, is over one lap of the Royal Pump Room figure 8 circuit, a very undulating course. As Zwift Insider says at https://zwiftinsider.com/royal-pump-room-8/:

From the start, we ride under the start banner, then north to the Queen’s Highway loop. This is the smaller, northern loop of the Yorkshire course, and we ride it here first in a counter- clockwise direction. This northern loop contains the Yorkshire sprint segments (a different segment in each direction), and this time around we will hit the longer sprint, the Hereford sprint.

Next, we proceed through the start/finish banner and onto the much larger, southern loop portion of the course, in a clockwise direction. Ride up the forward KOM segment, then catch your breath as you descend to the next portion.

Now it’s back to the northern loop, this time in a clockwise direction, with the Yorkshire sprint to the same sprint arch as before but in the reverse direction. This small loop makes up the Duchy Estate route. Finish this loop and head south for one more lap of the big loop, this time in a counter-clockwise direction, beginning with the reverse KOM segment. The route finishes at the start/finish banner.

The following map shows the essentials of the route:

Royal Pump Room 8

The blue arrows show the direction of travel on the sprints and KOMs for the first half of the ride, and the yellow arrows show the corresponding sections for the return loop of the figure 8. Distances are shown in kilometres in red figures, to a total ride of about 27.2kms (~17 miles) for an elevation of 480m (~1500ft).

The first “Hereford” Sprint starts at about 2kms; the first (forward) KOM climb starts at about 11.5kms, and is 1.2 kms long at about 5.5%. The second “Yorkshire” sprint starts at about 14.6kms, and the second climb, the reverse KOM, starts at about 17kms, and is 1.2kms long, at 3.8%.

We look forward to seeing you and your avatar there for this hilly 27kms, a tough rolling course with sprints and KOMs, with very little flat riding. Prompt regrouping to the yellow beacon (riding at ~2.5w/kg) after each sprint section, please; and the closing mini-race is to start at or behind the beacon, with the fence in use to assure that.

I will likely start that minirace at the bottom of the second KOM ascent, with roughly 10kms to go.

Our fifth 6Points Mallorca Zwift ride – Sand & Sequoias

Another record ride today, with 195 bookings, 159 starters (of whom 98 on ZwiftPower) and 93 finishers. Watopia’s Sand & Sequoias is certainly a lovely route, probably my favourite at the moment, starting and finishing in the Fuego Flats desert:

Heading for Zwift’s Las Vegas equivalent, Saddle Springs, past the dinosaur…

and taking the forest route back to the start through Titan’s Grove, which takes riders up and down the KOM.

Alerting riders that we start racing here second time around
The full map of the route shows the varied terrain

David was my backup beacon, and all went very well; my averages were 2.5w/kg and 183w, spot on as advertised.

The closing minirace on the second lap of this course is, if anything, tougher than London 8 up and down Box Hill – it’s longer (10kms), and as well as the KOM itself, it’s quite undulating both before and after the KOM.

All ZP results are at https://zwiftpower.com/events.php?zid=256904 for those registered, of whom there were 98 starting:

or on Companion for everyone, with 93 finishers in all today.

Sobremunt, the essentials

I have put together more of my GoPro video of Sobremunt, exploring the summit area in more detail, which can be quite hard to find amongst the various private estates up there, one of which IS Sobremunt. This was part of the wider circuit I did, reported previously.

The turn to Sobremunt from the Palma to Puigponent road, the Ma 1041. The side turning here is Cami de Casa Calixtro

Fourth 6Points Zwift ride

A very good ride today with a responsive peloton (although we lost 11 to the fence early on, despite fair warnings and fence toggling). I was able to flex the fence between 10 and 5 seconds with no problem, and also to 2 seconds for the start of the minirace.

3 minutes to the start, with 60 riders already arrived

The InnsbruckRing course is a really good blend of flat riding with a usefully difficult hill, but just one, so it’s quite easy to keep a group together as well as have a demanding course.

4 laps of the InnsbruckRing town course

Quite a few regulars were out, and help from David Smith again as backup beacon. All ride data at https://zwiftpower.com/events.php?zid=251293 for those registered…

The ZwiftPower results, for those registered

…or at Companion for everyone else.

178 riders were booked, with 144 starters and 86 finishers, the best yet in all categories for 6Points Mallorca rides. I was on the button at 2.5w/kg, or 187w average for the ride as advertised.

144 riders in the peloton since we started (some were Late Joiners)

It was also good to get appreciation from riders during the ride, and at the end, as usual. This one was particularly effusive, from William Kletzien during the ride, on Zwift messaging, that I (as beacon and ride leader) and riders use to communicate on screen, using Companion to type our messages. As you see above, William finished 10th on ZwiftPower.

Internet backbone glitch yesterday affecting Zwift?

I had an Internet glitch yesterday morning, but I think (hope) it was a national backbone issue. All sorts of sites (including my ISP, BT) had outages at the same time. I carried on pedalling alone, and after the main ride I got Internet back and could save the (60 minute) ride, but I wasn’t in ZP or Zwift “results” as I crossed the 60 minute point (with a banner telling me how far and how fast) without Internet. That’s the first issue I’ve had for a long time, I definitely think it was in the network.

Finishing the ride alone!

It all ended OK, but 2/3 the way through my C-G ride today, I started riding alone. I was OK in the Volcano, and sometime between then and the next screenshot I lost Internet.

All’s well at this point

This usually indicates a Wi-fi dropout, which I haven’t had for a long time, and it usually short-lived, but this lasted until beyond the end of my 60 minute ride (the Zwift game runs in the device, so Internet isn’t needed except for login, seeing other riders and saving the ride).

Alone in the desert!

I have learnt that it’s best not to panic, especially on the Apple TV which doesn’t have an easy local way of retrieving a partial file from the device, as for laptops and mobile devices.

Companion seemed to run OK for a while, connected to the game (indicating local Wi-fi was OK) but that disconnected eventually (maybe a coincidence) and it was hard to get it to reconnect (or even start on my iPad, although it would start but not connect on my iPhone).

Then I looked at my DownDetector app, which tells me what problems any well-know public Internet services might be having, including ISPs like BT (mine), and LOTS had a spike in problem notifications (although not Facebook and some others). Maybe this was a geographically local issue, perhaps UK only.

Unfortunately Zwift isn’t one of the services DownDetector monitors, but I think there must have been an Internet backbone problem in the UK affecting a lot of services, including BT, and this is why I lost my Zwift connection.

I eventually restarted my BT modem (remotely by Wi-fi), and although I wasn’t reconnected to Zwift immediately, it came back soon after.

The usual service resumed, with Zwifters Nearby list populated

Also, Companion then connected OK. It seems as if it not only needs to be on the same Wi-fi network to connect, but also that the Zwift game needs to be Internet connected (as it now was).

I had kept kept riding all this time (having photographed the screen a few times, without stopping the ride yet) and I went onto Zwift.com. I saw my warmup there, and also a ride (at 38.1kms) which for some reason had saved (but not on Strava!) even though I hadn’t stopped or saved the ride.

I had also decided, through all this, NOT to try to save the ride since then I might have lost it (no Internet) and also NOT then be prompted when starting Zwift again that I hadn’t saved a previous ride (this happens if for some reason your device closes down before a save of the game).

So seeing a 38.1km partial ride up on Zwift.com, though, and now that I wasn’t riding alone (ie the Internet link was re-established) I decided that rather than just turn off my Apple TV, hoping that I’d be prompted to save the ride properly when logging in next time, I would photograph the screen and attempt to save the ride normally and see what happened (I was a bit over 40kms at that point so would only lose a couple of kms at most as a 38.1km ride was already up there (somehow!)

The ride report just before saving – which worked!

I saved and closed as normal, and then looked at Zwift.com to see what was there – two rides, perhaps, or just the old 38.1kms.

What was there was the full 42kms I had now done. It also had loaded up to Strava.

The full activity has replaced the 38.1kms version which had been there before

So, conclusions?

  1. the Internet has had some kind of backbone blackout at about 11.40am for a lot of services including my ISP, BT. Maybe not for Zwift itself (servers in the US?)
  2. Zwift is now saving partial ride files for the Apple TV up at Zwift.com the way it does locally for laptops and mobile devices ON those devices (and maybe at Zwift.com?)
  3. Zwift.com only uploads to Strava once the ride is complete (presumably flagged by the rider’s final save of the game).
  4. Therefore, this is perhaps the reason that, in the past, if I have had a glitch at save time, and no ride is there on Strava, I’ve always (so far) been able to find it on Zwift.com. I had not realised before, but that file would have been an auto-saved file (every 10 minutes I think for other devices, on the device).
  5. So Apple TV is even better than I thought! Not only is the Apple TV virtually bullet proof itself, but when I MIGHT have a ride saving problem, the ATV isn’t all or nothing (as I had thought, because there is no easily accessible Documents/Zwift/Activities folder on the Apple TV) but in fact there is a partial ride file available (it seems) on Zwift.com, up to the point there is any loss of Internet connection.
  6. So – it’s best to keep the game alive until the Internet comes back, or when you can provoke it to come back. I lost other avatars (riding alone) well BEFORE the 38.1kms point (probably at 20-25kms) but I’m sure when the Internet came back The Apple TV sent its periodic ride file to Zwift.com at that point, not provoked by me.
  7. Patience is key!
  8. Just a bit worrying if leading a ride as beacon. It’s why it’s always good to have a backup buddy beacon riding with you.
  9. As I completed the 60 minute ride while still off the Internet, just as for a normal ride that finishes on a given lap or at a given distance, Zwift doesn’t record you as finishing the event if you aren’t on the Internet at the end, and so ZwiftPower doesn’t have an entry for you either, as it picks that up from Zwift.

The third 6Points Mallorca Zwift training ride

A surprisingly good ride today; having not ridden Richmond for quite a while, I was a little nervous beforehand that I might have forgotten the landmarks; but all was well!

I was also concerned that we had moved the start time back to its proper time of 11.40am UTC after the first two events; and also that Richmond is not liked by some Zwifters for some reason, and that this might have affected rider numbers. Again I need not have worried!

Zwift Companion end-of-Ride listing, 153 entrants

Actually, Richmond’s full UCI circuit suits the sprint and minirace structure we use – 2 marked sprints per lap (we only used one of them, twice, but could have used both) and then the closing minirace over the three hills that Zwift’s criterium racers like as a finish.

The group was good – particularly just before the minirace, they all withdrew from the fence so that I could bring it in to 2 seconds, to give a tight, fair start. No one was within 3 seconds of the fence at that point, great!! That means the finishing order is a true reflection of riders’ performance in the minirace. I did lose 9 riders to the fence in the first half of the event, but they had ignored repeated toggling of the fence off and on three times, to give them three times as much time to get back behind the fence, but they didn’t seem to want to play the team ball!

Fence at 2 secs, just before the start of the minirace, a fair start for 128 riders

All ride data at https://zwiftpower.com/events.php?zid=246258 for those registered with ZP. Zwift Companion shows that we had 153 booked to ride, 128 starters and 79 finishers, great numbers for only our third 6Points Mallorca event. I averaged 2.5w/kg, 190w, right on the money. And there I was, mid-pack!

Many nationalities, and some regulars – David Smith, Gerry Venditti…

And Zwift Companion shows the results for all 79 finishers…

The Points of 6Points Challenges – or – why I love 6Points cycling

Introduction

I was attracted to the 6Points back in 2018, when I was already committed to some mass participation events which, while challenging and demanding, are a completely different experience from 6Points.

I set aside 2019 for my first 6points entries, both for the Mallorca event in May, and also for the Ibiza and Formentera event in October, both of which had been held in 2018, with Mallorca the inaugural 6Points event in 2017.

I have organised my thoughts into 6 points(!) which highlight the essential elements of 6Points for me, and why I intend to participate in 6Points twice a year from now on. But first, get a flavour of the Mallorca 6Points from the official video:

Official 6Points Mallorca video, 2019

1) Charitable purposes

I have ridden a few, not many, Sportive events, and they had all been in the UK previously. I’ve done them mostly because friends have recommended them; some of them have elements of my “6 Points” of attraction here, but none of them cover them all.

It’s always good to know that an event has a specific charitable purpose, as the 6Points has, as have some other events. I have raised significant funds for Marie Curie myself doing the Prudential RideLondon 100 twice, and, for its size, 6Points parallels that charitable focus.

Prudential RideLondon 100, 2019 (top of Box Hill)

But I doubt whether many others events are as proportionately successful as 6Points in fundraising for their chosen charities, especially events at the same kind of scale. I was frankly amazed (not in a good way!) to see the Mallorca 312 organisation broadcasting their €10,000 charitable donation this year, which even though the 312 is a commercial event, and not primarily a fundraiser, is really disappointing given that 8,000 people were riding. See more about the 312 and how busy it is (at least early on, until we decided to focus on the 225kms version) in my video collage from the 2018 event with my neighbour and cycling buddy, Leslie:

Mallorca 312 in 2018, with Leslie

By contrast, 6Points have managed, both from entrant fundraising and from their very active sponsors, to raise over €65,000 for their chosen charities (of which Asdica* is a primary one) in just three years of activity.

From a financial standpoint, the 6Points purpose is PRIMARILY charitable, and very successful, and that is good to see.

2) Location

I have to own up and say that I have virtually given up road riding back in the UK where I spend most of my time.

On the other hand, I LOVE riding in Mallorca (and now Ibiza and Formentera too, thanks to 6Points) and have been coming to Mallorca for 40 years and more.

Most of my riding is on Zwift nowadays, but 6Points (around which I now plan my Balearic cycling) gives me the opportunity to ride in much more relative safety (from a traffic perspective (or lack of it!)), in far more reliable weather, over many more days per year, and in great company.

Mallorca and the other Balearic islands are well provisioned with beautiful countryside, great views, and a suitable café around every corner, it seems, very often near the top of the wonderful climbs that abound on the islands.

I do have some of these possibilities where I live in Scotland; good company with my club, Glasgow Green Cycle Club (GGCC); and the topography and views – the Trossachs are on my doorstep; but road quality, weather and traffic are far less bike friendly than Mallorca.

Two road falls in Scotland (2015 and 2016), both owing to road conditions (and my own lack of foresight(?)) have persuaded me that the high mileage I like to do is safer indoors for the pain and base miles, and with 6Points Mallorca for the pleasure!

I know that many others, who have been even less fortunate than me regarding traffic, pothole and weather related incidents, are ready to change (and some HAVE changed) their cycling regime regarding training, racing and pleasure cycling: turbo for training; road (and track) for racing only; and somewhere sunny like Mallorca for pleasure!

3) Company & camaraderie

Most serious bike riders join a Cycling Club, as I did, and when I started riding (in the early 1960s) I almost immediately joined Bruce Castle Cycling Club. It’s the shared ethos of cycling for fun, the mutual support in case of adverse events (mechanicals, biologicals, psychologicals etc!) and all sorts of collateral social interactions that help the enjoyment of cycling.

6Points is just like a Club in those respects, only more so. As with GGCC, with 6Points we ride in small groups of 10 or a dozen or so. The groups pretty much self-select in terms of pace, covering all abilities and preferences, from the usual “steady” at 14-16mph, through several levels to a faster pace at 20mph+. There is freedom to swap between groups (we don’t always feel the same every day!), and at the cafés and over dinner, plans can be made to make sure you are in the right group for the day, or part of a day.

Each riding group is supported by its own vehicle (see below).

Above all, and we are lucky as cyclists with this, 6Points succeeds in attracting people who share that mutual ethos and shared supportive outlook which makes sure that everyone has every chance to get the best possible experience out of their days with 6Points. Many riders are back for their second or third visit, so that any rider can rely on having great company and experienced support: emotionally, practically and socially.  

4) The 6Points Challenge

On the 6Points Mallorca, we ride between 100kms and 100 miles each day. I have done quite a few 100 mile rides (when I was younger, back in the 1960s, it didn’t seem such a big thing – or I was so ignorant I didn’t know enough to worry!) Here is my “rider view” video photo collage of the 2019 6Points Mallorca event, where you see its Clubrun nature

6Points Mallorca, May 2019

I have done a few Imperial Centuries in recent years with my Club GGCC, but I admit that before the first 6Points, I wondered how I would cope with the Mallorca format of 160kms, 115kms and 160 kms on three CONSECUTIVE days. But it’s a challenge, right?!

Well, it turns out that even at 72 then (73 now) I need not have been concerned as a regular rider (albeit mostly on Zwift at 60kms a day, 5 days a week (that’s my regime)).

I know Mallorca quite well from many previous holidays and cycling trips (we are lucky enough to have an apartment there) so much of the route wasn’t going to be a surprise.

The first day is what I call “the Little Daddy” after the Mallorca Cycle Shuttle term “Big Daddy” for the ride from Andratx to Port Pollensa along the Ma10 road (very smooth and safe!) taking in the climbs to/from Port Valdemossa and Sa Calobra.

The “Little Daddy” version, in my terminology, misses out the descents to Port Valdemossa and Sa Calobra (and therefore the climbs out!) but we DO ride west first from Santa Ponsa to Sant Elm (the West “Point” of the 6Points) before heading east via Andratx and the Ma10 to Port Pollensa via the big climb at Puig Major (the high “point” of the 6Points) and quite a few other hills on the Ma10 (such as Coll de Femenia), to the very welcome dinner at Tolo’s (a sponsor) and an overnight hotel stay, after the odd 160kms.

I’ve done that ride before a few times (from Andratx, anyway) and so forewarned was forearmed, and also I KNEW it was going to be enjoyable. I have to say that in 2019 the weather was unusually – erm – windy and a little damp, but hey, it’s the exception that proves the rule!

But the good thing about the 6Points Mallorca format is that the hardest climbing day is that first day, for which you have time to prepare; the second day (Tolo’s up to Cap Formentor, the North “point”) and back to Tolo’s for breakfast, and then down to Cala Millor for our overnight stop via the East “point” at Cala Radjada, is just 115kms and fairly flat by comparison – an “active recovery day” I would say!

Finally, the third day is the same distance as Day 1, but also relatively more flat, from Cala Millor, via Cap Ses Salines (the South “point”) back to Santa Ponsa via the north side of Palma and Calvia, finishing where we started, on the beach at Caló d’en Pellicer (the lowest altitude “point” of our 6Points ride).

This is definitely a challenge, but from personal experience I can attest that doing the 440kms circuit of Mallorca in 3 days with 6Points is FAR preferable to trying to do the 312 kms of Mallorca in one daylight day. I want time to smell the flowers (and the coffee), not just my handlebars and stem!

In those respects, the 6Points IS a Challenge, but also a delight – not just afterwards, as an achievement to look back on, but also, crucially, DURING the event!

5) Organisation & support

One element that sets the 6Points experience apart from a Club ride is the high level of backup, with a vehicle available to support each group with equipment, water, food and any kind of moral support required. See the support in action during our October 2019 6Points in Ibiza:

6Points Ibiza October 2019

Although the events are described as “unsupported”, and riders are encouraged to plan JUST as they would for ANY long ride each day, and to carry the usual items on their bikes for small emergencies, there IS that backup if bike or body should fail in any way.

I have been getting a flavour, having got to know the event better, of the huge amount of work undertaken by the Visser family, and friends and sponsors (such as Ticket, for example) prior to the event: route planning; hotels researched and booked; any travel required (for the Ibiza and Formentera event especially); support vehicles and volunteer drivers; baggage and equipment transport; sponsor identification and confirmation; other funding; entry and rider communications; and much more.

I can see that the reason the event has the “family and friends” touch and feel mentioned below is because that is exactly how it is organised; with close attention to detail from a small, consistent group of dedicated people, determined to make sure the event is fault-free for those they regard as their friends and family!

6) Touch and feel

I first heard of 6Points in early 2018 when I had already entered the Mallorca 312 that year. along with the Prudential RideLondon 100, which I have also ridden a couple of times. These are mass participation events, with 8,000 and 32,000 riders respectively.

As I said, the 6Points has very much the feel of a family and friends event, at a scale which is much more akin to a Cycling Club event, albeit over a few days.

Depending a little on which group you choose to ride with, frequent/sufficient café stops are part of the planning, and overnight, between good days of riding between 100kms and 100 miles, there are hotels and evening meal locations chosen to suit the needs of cyclists riding those kinds of distances.

Social interaction and discussion is highly encouraged, and lively!

The prime intention for the riders is that they should ENJOY the event. Some Sportives (as I know very well) turn into races for a proportion of the participants, which for mass events can create issues for fun riders.

At 6Points, with the Clubrun feel it has for each small riding group, each rider knows that those around her/him have the same, FUN objective. No-one is under pressure to keep up a pace – the groups, and especially the “steady” group are no-drop, and there is, as mentioned, great backup to keep everyone going.

Summary

I am a convert! I plan to do the 6Points events into the foreseeable future, both Spring and Autumn, with Mallorca the Spring focus, and, in 2020, with Menorca on the autumn calendar for the first time. Here is the Formentera 6Points from October 2019:

6Points Formentera October 2019

I have an extensive network of Zwift and “in-real-life (irl)” riders and friends, both locally and internationally, and I recommend wholeheartedly the 6Points experience to them all – and to you!

*Asdica – a Mallorcan charity benefiting disabled children. See lots more on the 6Points website at https://6pointschallenges.com/