By Michael Bello
Published 12/29/2021; Updated 12/29/2021

To close out 2021 on Zwift, several of us wanted to tackle one of the longer routes. Zwift awards badges for each route, and after comparing our lists of outstanding badges, we settled on the Four Horsemen route in Watopia.

The Four Horsemen route is officially 55.5 miles with 6,929 feet of climbing. We had an old fashioned meet up so that when we inevitably got separated, we could ride and draft with non-NCC riders.

We had six riders (Brant, Iggy, Melissa, Tim, Zinj, and me). As always, Zinj showed up late. Somehow, he still qualified for the Zwift badge, but did not make the Strava leaderboard for the segment. Iggy was also late, so we told him to not join the meet up and just select the route so he would be eligible for the badge.

It was very nice to chat on Discord throughout the ride. The conversation allowed us to concentrate on something besides the massive amount of climbing! Melissa, Tim, and Zinj were our lead group. Brant and I were together for the majority of the ride, while Iggy was a few miles back.

Our conversation started with a discussion of the Festive 500 (500 kilometers between December 24th and December 31st). Tim completed the Festive 500 yesterday after riding 100 kilometers for five consecutive days. After all that, he still joined us for today’s adventure.

Melissa is enjoying her new Kickr Climb. I also have one and we compared notes. She is enjoying having the bike move so that she is not seated in one position for an entire ride.

We discussed recent movies. Since I most likely will not be able to walk for the next few days, movie recommendations were welcome. We did also chat about foam rolling and massage guns for recovery purposes. I will most likely employ both recovery methods as I watch movies the next few days.

The route is composed of four climbs: Zwift KOM, Volcano KOM, Epic KOM (and Radio Tower), and the Alpe du Zwift. The Zwift KOM and the Volcano KOM were significantly shorter and easier than the final two climbs.

At the top of the Epic KOM, but before the Radio Tower extension, Brant and I decided to stop for water. We honestly did not plan it, but we both put on fresh jerseys before resuming the ride. I cannot speak for Brant, but this made me feel much better. I’m still very confused how the others did not stop for more than 30 seconds at any point in the ride.

The Alpe du Zwift is a very long climb (7.59 miles with 3,398 feet of climbing). Despite the fact that we all agreed to ride conservatively up the mountain, Melissa (58:45) and Zinj (58:40) decided that they would break the 60 minute mark! Melissa has a rug below her Kickr, which was getting bunched up by the movement of the Kickr Climb. At the top, she had to pause briefly to stop the rug from hitting her pedals on the downstroke.

Tim was close behind our leaders with a time of 1:05:19. Unfortunately for Tim, his Apple TV froze at the top of the Alpe. Apparently this is a known Zwift bug. I was also using an Apple TV to run Zwift and somehow made it through the point of the bug. After 6,365 feet of climbing, Tim’s day was done. We all felt bad for him since he had done all that climbing.

Brant and I proceeded up the Alpe much slower than our leaders. I finished the climb in 1:24:26. My legs were hurting towards the final few turns. Brant was approximately five minutes back at 1:29:25. After a noble effort, Iggy called it a day after passing turn 8.

The nice thing about climbing the Alpe is the 7.59 mile decent. At this point, Melissa and Zinj were so far ahead. At the base of the Alpe, several of us changed to mountain bikes so the trek through the dirt roads in the jungle would be faster. Brant fended off a cramp by eating more food and briefly stretching before continuing the final ten miles.

Towards the end of the ride, Brant and I were the only two left. He tortured me by telling me about an ice cream pie that he was planning to eat after the ride.

Brant, Melissa, Zinj, and I earned the Four Horseman route achievement, which doubled our XP points for the ride. The official times on Strava were impressive:

  • Melissa: 3:32:02
  • Michael: 4:19:26
  • Brant: 4:37:57

Not surprisingly, Melissa is now the NCC QOM leader, and in second place overall, for the Four Horsemen route.

The NCC’s full slate of Zwift rides will resume in January. Check the NCC calendar for full details on all events. To learn more about the NCC and Zwift rides, please visit our Zwift page.

Don’t forget that on New Year’s Day, the Temperature Ride is back. As of Wednesday evening, the temperature looks to be in the high 30s.