Straight To The Big Time
If you’ve been toiling on your lonesome for a while, you’re probably itching to join a group for a ride. These tips will ensure you’re good enough to be there.
WHEN LEAH THORVILSON, 38, found out that the online training platform Zwift was hosting a competition for women – with a slot on the Canyon/ SRAM pro team as the grand prize – she didn’t see bright lights; she simply saw the chance to improve her riding. “I didn’t think for two seconds about what I would have to do to win,” says the former elite marathoner, who had only recently taken up cycling
after a mixture of a torn hamstring along with a series of knee surgeries ended her running career.
But in December 2016, after six months of Zwift Academy – a programme including challenges such as virtual training rides, power testing, and a 10- day camp in Mallorca, Spain, with Canyon/ SRAM riders and two other Academy finalists – Thorvilson learned that she’d topped the field of nearly 1 200 riders. In January, she gave up her job to chase the fastest women in the world – and work on developing prolevel group-riding skills to match her powerful aerobic engine.
We caught up with Thorvilson after her first few European races. ( While she failed to make the time cut in her debut, she rebounded to place 74th at the 101km Le Samyn des Dames.)
Here’s her advice for anyone trying to keep up with a faster group – on Zwift Island or IRL.