Tour de Law 2016 – Day One

The 5th edition of the ever-popular virtual Wattbike race is back this Wednesday and Thursday in support of Breast Cancer Care. Participants from 18 law firms ride on stationary Wattbikes in 15-minute slots, with each firm’s cumulative distance used to complete a virtual London-Paris-London loop.


The event creates a great atmosphere in the office with everyone doing their bit for a good cause. There is a lot of cake and there is a lot of cycling. Perfect.

Where there is a finish line… there is competition

The TdL has several layers of  competition. Firms compete to complete the challenge (and return to London) first, cover the most distance and raise the most for charity. Riders compete to be the fastest male/female in their firm and possibly, the fastest male/female overall. There’s also some other spoils like riding the most slots consecutively.

I imagine there is also a lot of googling of riders’ names with “cycling” afterwards to see their Strava profile and how they compare in the real world. 🙂

The TdL usually happens at the end of September and serves as a good opportunity to test myself within a ‘competitive’ environment, to see how I’ve progressed over summer (as it’s the end of the road race season). It’s not a race but there’s a lot more motivation to go all out here than an impromptu wattbike test in the gym (my last proxy FTP test, the Richmond TT, was foiled by a faulty power meter).

15 minutes of pain

My slot was at 9.30am, so my commute served as the warm up… I tried my best to avoid the commuter racing as my legs are still a bit toasted from last week’s 1,000km.

We have a good setup for the wattbikes in a big open atrium, but there are no fans provided! It’s a bit of a problem when you are producing ~3x the wattage at the pedals in waste heat (sweat) but I just pour super chilled water on my neck/back throughout which helps a little. I’d genuinely be interested to know how much further the firm would go as a whole if we had 2 x 20″ industrial fans.

I managed 11.71km in 15minutes, averaging 379w. It is basically identical to my first attempt last year, but 0.07km less distance for 1w more. I’d planned to keep the power ~370w for the first half and slowly increase that to all out with 5minutes to go. I think the ‘game theory’ behind this challenge is a flat pacing profile to get the farthest distance. My ‘negative split’ cost me some distance for the same effort. Fortunately, this means I have some free distance to gain by pacing my ride differently. The downside to this is… it’s going to hurt a lot sooner into the ride, and last a lot longer…

I started off a little bit too easy (under 350w average for a couple of minutes) and finished a bit too hard for a really fast ride. I usually do two slots: one go to ‘calibrate’ myself to see what I can sustain, and another to go all out. The ‘all out’ effort comes tomorrow… with a lot of pain. I very much doubt I’ll be top of the leaderboard overall (there’s still over a day to go and 40 wattbikes with different calibrations), but I’m going to have a crack at whatever the best distance is tomorrow, and more importantly, try to beat my personal power PB for 15 minutes – 386w.

The live leaderboard can be followed here.


Thanks for reading.


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