Willie Smit completes 1,000km Zwift ride

Willie Smit prepares to ride on Zwift
(Image credit: Willie Smit)

South Africa's Willie Smit (Burgos-BH) has completed a 1,000km continuous ride on Zwift, covering the virtual distance in 37 hours, to raise funds to help develop cycling via the South African cycling federation.

Smit's ride is the latest of long rides by riders under lockdown. Geraint Thomas is riding three consecutive 12-hour shifts on Zwift in his garage in Wales in support of the British National Health system. Other riders have clocked up thousands of kilometres to rise up the pro rider Zwift leaderboard.  

Smit broadcasted long parts of his ride live on his YouTube channel and posted his final data on Instagram. It revealed he climbed 8,150 virtual metres and burned a massive 17,081 calories. He began his extreme ride at midnight on Tuesday and hit the 1,000km mark Thursday morning, riding without sleep and only taking occasional rests.

Smit's ride was made more difficult because it took place at altitude at his European home in Andorra. He rode through the dark but was often joined other riders at a steady pace of between 150-200 watts, with a normalized power of 157 watts. He symbolically raised his arms in a victory celebration when he rode through the 100km mark.

Smit rode for the Katusha-Alpecin team in 2018 and 2019 before joining Spanish ProTeam Burgos-BH. Smit had raced 14 race days before the COVID-19 pandemic sparked a lockdown across Europe and even in the microstate of Andorra.

Before the ride Smit said: "This will by far be one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done, taking into consideration I’m 2,000m above sea level and it’s on an indoor trainer. It will be a grueling two days on the bike."

Smit hopes to race on the road when the COVID-19 pandemic eases, with another ride at the Vuelta a Espana his next goal.

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