By David Mulholland
After many years of an expanding waistline and a failed attempt at running, in 2018 I discovered Zwift and decided to get serious about getting fit. Now in 2019 my competitive spirit has taken over and I’ve decided to see how virtual racing (the only form I have tried so far) compares to real life racing and that I would also write a little blog about my journey. My first race is this Saturday (9th Feb 2019) at Hillingdon cycle circuit (West London) and so before I my first race, I thought I would set the scene with some background about what has brought me to this point.
Since 2009 I have worked as a research analyst in finance covering technology companies. Now while I find the job incredibly interesting (it is if you like technology), it also involves long hours which combined with having a wife and two young kids doesn’t leave much time for exercise. So having done essentially nothing of note since starting work as my main sport of focus was motorsport, initially racing karts for 3 years and then doing trackdays. Clearly motorsport relies on an engine other than my own! In 2017 I started running. I never really liked running but the social element of Parkrun kept me at it and after a few months, I was able to run 5km without stopping and shifting a bit of weight.
Then one Sunday afternoon in September I was out karting (I still need my petrol head fix every now and again). The weather had been pretty wet in the days before and so despite the track being dry, the ground beside the track was heavily waterlogged. At the end of the main straight someone had managed to run onto the grass and bring a load of water onto the track. This essentially turned the end of the straight into a skating rink which I promptly followed many others into, lost control and crashed head-on into the tyre barrier. That bit was fine, I had done many times. But, in a moment of madness I jumped off a tyre wall I went over on my ankle and left it rather bruised (possibly more, I don’t know). I have never been a fan of visiting the doctor, so I never got it checked out but even after a few months it was still hurting to run. Come the end of December, I had gained even more weight and it was time to do something.
Growing up in Northern Ireland, I always loved cycling and would on occasion just disappear out for a few hours to ride my bike. My first job even involved my bike delivering newspapers (well I will admit my mum drove me around in the car quite often in winter). So after speaking to a friend who was actively using Zwift and getting an old CX bike out of the garage that I had bought in 2015 as a failed attempt to get fit, I tried Zwift and was instantly hooked. In my second ride on Zwift which was one of the mass group rides during the holidays, I got chatting to a Reg Bestwick who suggested I should check out Team TFC and try out some racing.
Now – I can’t help it (it’s in my genes) – I’m rather competitive and giving me something that would help me get fit, stir my competitive desires and add a social element and support from a team – I was very quickly hooked. Still having some element of youth on my side (early 30s), I was lucky to very quickly see some pretty sizable gains in performance and 13 months on I have cycled >4,500 miles (easily >50% on Zwift), my FTP has risen to 275W and my weight has fallen from 89kg to 79kg.
It’s now time to go test my abilities in the real world. Wish me luck (and yes I have purchased bike insurance just in case).