By Chris Stratton
Published 03/04/2023; Updated 03/04/2023

Although snow blanketed the Pioneer Valley overnight, it was a fully green spring in the Makuri Islands as Brant, Henry III, John, Melissa, Tim, Zinj and myself set out on a 40 mile plan consisting of two laps of the Temples and Towers route.

9am saw me logged into discord chat, but still fighting with equipment after changing a chain and then watching Zwift update itself for the second time of the week, so I was among the four who started the ride late.  Zinj and I both took advantage of the ability to drop in to where the group was a bit over a mile into the course.  Melissa and another (perhaps Henry? I’m not sure) in contrast chased hard from the actual beginning of the route, eventually managing to catch up with the rest.  Unfortunately not long after they joined up, I for the 2nd or 3rd time let a 10 second gap open up, and had to accept that I was neither going to be able to catch up again, nor keep up after – but one of the nice things about the indoor rides is that falling behind doesn’t mean dropping out of the chat!

The first topic of discussion of course was the snow – estimates ranging from 4 to 6 inches between those of us in lowlands like Northampton vs those in the hills.  Melissa mentioned that registration for many outdoor hillclimbs is starting to open up, and had some tentative success in persuading Henry to consider riding Crank the Kanc as well (fortunately the shorthand name means I don’t have to try to spell that!).  From there discussion moved on to home solar installations – leases versus purchase, but also the various ways of getting money back such as net metering, credits, etc and the uncertain economics of buying batteries in addition to panels – all mostly speculation from memory, as all were working too hard to look anything up.

And that hard work continued!   Though I was trailing at an endurance pace I was regularly seeing over 4 watts/kg from the front rider or two, and well into the 3’s from those following.   I seem to recall an extended stretch of silence with a lot of effort visible on the webcams.  Towards the latter part of the lap there was a lot of gravel – which being virtual gravel was nicely dry and compact, unlike the sticky mud I’ve found when I dared briefly venture off pavement the last few times I’ve been out in the real world.

By the time the main group transitioned into the second lap Henry had opened up a lead of around 4 minutes, and managed to keep most of that to a solo finish.

I’m probably overlooking assorted accomplishments but Melissa and Zinj both had PR’s for the route lap, while Zinj put down some power to PR the Temple KOM as well.

Of course the most remarked upon accomplishment of the day was when it become apparent after a few miles that Zinj was setting his season record for distance ridden on rollers without stopping to wax a chain or tinker with the chainline of a new power meter installation.