As 2020 continued to unfold and July, then August came around with no announcement about Red Bull Timelaps 2020, it became apparent that the live event was very unlikely to happen – and the most we could hold out hope for was a virtual event, following in the footsteps of iconic events like the 40th London Marathon.
Then finally, it was confirmed. Red Bull Timelaps would be going ahead in 2020 as a virtual event. And although I’m not a fan of virtual events at all, I saw this as an opportunity to make this years 25 hours of cycling everything that the in real life event wasn’t in 2019 and couldn’t have been. As well as making it everything it probably will never be again.
What is Red Bull Timelaps?
Starting at 12pm on Saturday and ending 12pm on Sunday, in teams of four riders aim to clock up as many miles as possible in a relay format. At 2am (BST) the clocks go back to 1am (GMT) creating an additional hour known as the Power Hour.
I knew what I wanted this virtual event to be – in an ideal world. Simply put, luxury; the luxury of sleep, sleep in an actual bed. The luxury of warmth and the luxury of choice – i.e not having to ride in the pouring rain like last year.
And I knew what I didn’t want – mostly to be confined to the same walls I had been for the majority of 2020. Timelaps is the only event I had planned on taking part in for 2020, and it still stood so I wanted it to be an event to remember.
Meet My Red Bull Timelaps 2020 Team
From left to right: Sophie, Georgina, Sam and Myself.
Our original plan was to meet up in a barn in Essex we hired on Air B’n’B using it as a base to ride from and in, on a turbo trainer. Less than a week before the start of Timelaps, Essex went into Tier 2 ldown meaning groups were no longer allowed to be inside together. So we needed a new plan…
At the last minute, Red Bull confirmed they had hired Printworks in London where our team, and another team could ride. Space was no issue in this venue so now all that was left, was to get to the start line…
Training For Red Bull Timelaps 2020
Considering I had no idea if Timelaps was gonna go ahead or not, I couldn’t really train for it. I had however started a 3 month training plan in early September and had been taking part in Zwift Academy for the 3 weeks preceding race day.
Ideally, if the race had been confirmed earlier, I would have trained for the event – probably with multiple sessions in a day and at various times of the day. But I knew if I could survive it in 2019, as unfit as I was then, I would make it through 2020.
Timelaps Team 2020 Race Strategy
Now, everything was a little last minute for this event, including our team race strategy. Georgina put together a schedule where we started with one hour rides, progressing to two hours during the night to allow for sleep. Once morning broke, we were back to one hour rides.
Looking back at my 2019 write up and now in hindsight of this event, I definitely would have preferred to start with 90 minute stints when feeling my absolute best. I managed just over 30k in my first hour, and I know I could’ve pushed more and for longer.
My Individual Race Strategy
Once the virtual event was announced and we had decided to get together as a team, I had pretty much decided I would do my hours on an indoor trainer. Strategy wise, you could have more control over terrain and reduce the risk of issues like punctures, mechanical failures and getting stuck in the middle of nowhere.
When we switched venues to the warehouse, I was even more sure I’d stick to the turbo but figured I wouldn’t 100% say no to riding the track until I’d seen it.
This year, I rode the Liv Avail 2020 Advanced Pro 1 again. Last year I chose it mainly due to the 700×32 tyres which were perfect for tackling Windsor Great Park and the awful weather.
This year, I chose it as it’s the same bike Sophie rides so she had the skewer needed for the Wahoo turbo trainer we were loaned, because my Liv Avail 2019 is on my own turbo and the Avail is known for all-day riding comfort.
Once I saw the warehouse space, I made a decision to stick with the turbo. You can check out the track in Georginas video below – the floor was pretty smooth, the course was pretty short at ~350m and it had lots of bends. On minimal sleep, I figured I would do my best on the turbo.
I did some research and learnt that the Tempus Fugit course on Zwift was the flattest route I’d be able to ride. I had been told to switch to the TT bike too, but in all honesty, in the rush of getting set up for my first hour, I completely forgot about that.
I only really had one goal in mind for this event, and that was to beat the distance I rode back in 2019 (which tbh, wouldn’t be too tough).
- A Goal: Ride 100k+
- B Goal: Beat 2019 distance
How The 2020 Event Was Different to 2019
With the obvious difference of this being a virtual event – meaning you could ride outdoors, on a turbo or a mix of both, there were some other slight differences.
A couple of the main differences were the application of penalties and how the Power Hour could be ridden. In terms of penalties, should two riders record rides that cross over for any amount of time. Thankfully our team got very few penalties but in most cases, nothing could be done unless you deleted the entire ride. I’ll cover Power Hour in the next section…
Also, in this virtual event there were no pit-door neighbours to chat to, share track pumps with and get help from. The virtual format definitely lacked the feeling of camaraderie we had when we were all being pelted with freezing cold rain and wind in the pits!
The Virtual Power Hour
Choosing who rides the Power Hour is always a tough call – even tougher when you’ve never ridden with your team before. Georgina nominated Sophie for our team Power Hour and I had no issues with that tbh.
I’m not sure we had read the rules at that point but it was allowable to have more than one person ride during the hour – which was a change to the rules for the virtual format. That would however mean, more than one person would need to be awake.
The Home Straight
Having ridden my laps at 12midday the Saturday, 430pm (a delayed 4pm start after connection difficulties with Zwift) and then 9pm, I managed to nip back to the hotel for a couple hours sleep in a very big, comfy bed.
I was up bright and early for my next laps at 4am and then my final laps at 8am. After my 4am ride, I had to take a couple hours nap on a beanbag to get me through the final hour. It was less the distance and more the stop starting and lack of sleep that was getting to me at this point.
Once my 8am hour was done, I popped back to the hotel to have a shower, grab some breakfast and collect my stuff ready to get back to Printworks to cheer the rest of the team on for their final stints.
Red Bull Timelaps 2020 Team Stats
- Total Distance: 294.88 miles
- Power Hour Distance: 13.92 miles
- Power Hour Bonus: 13.92 miles
- Position: 13th Female Team
- My Total Distance: 137.39km (85.37 miles)
- Riding Time: 5 hours 32 minutes
- Hours Slept: ~4 hours
Tinelaps 2020 Vlog by Georgina, Fitcetera
Find out more about what my teammates got up to riding laps around Printworks, London in the video:
It Wouldn’t Have Been Possible Without…
Now it’s time for my Thank You’s for this years event… I’m keeping it as short and sweet as I can:
- Massive shout out to Fresh Fitness Food who sent us away for the weekend with enough food and snacks to fuel an army. Not having to think about food was a massive weight off my shoulders and it tasting great was an added bonus.
- Liv Cycling (for who I am an Ambassador) for letting me take over their IG account for the event. You can catch up on the highlight here.
- Giant Loughton for sorting me out with my on the bike fuel and again, listening to me chatting about this event, laughing at me, questioning me on team tactics… and more!
- Thanks to Wahoo for the loan of the KICKR Smart Turbo Trainer and the KICKR Headwind Smart Fan (and the KICKR Climb – but no climbing was desired lol).
- Last but not least, without a doubt, Thanks to Red Bull for sorting out the venue and looking after us all over the weekend!
Who’s Back For 2021 Then?!
I had always planned on doing 2020 because once you take part, you have to take part again to put all your learning’s into practice. Being a virtual event, meant it was very different to previous years so I think, I’ll still have to do it again at least one. more. time.
Also, I’ll keep doing it to champion some diversity. This year there were 114 All Male teams vs 14 All Female teams (including my team). There were also 65 Mixed teams.
I feel like many would have been put off entering if they felt they had no chance of winning – but you know what? The old cliche of “it’s not about the winning, it’s about the taking part” is actually spot on.
Gonna put Red Bull Timelaps 2021 in your diary then? Did you take part this year?!