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How Long Is Too Long on Zwift?

Dr. Stephen Seiler analyzes a 13-plus-hour Zwift ride by Jonas Abrahamsen of the Uno-X Pro Cycling Team from Norway.

When the Covid-19 pandemic first shocked the world in early 2020, so many things were put on hold, including the cycling race season.

Many athletes looked for new and somewhat unorthodox challenges to fill the void. There were some long Zwift rides that spring, performed by professional and amateur cyclists, young and old.

In this video, Dr. Stephen Seiler analyzes one of them—a 13-plus-hour Zwift ride by Jonas Abrahamsen of the Uno-X Pro Cycling Team from Norway.

Reposted on Fast Talk Laboratories with permission of Dr. Stephen Seiler.

Video Transcript

Endurance Athletes Making the Most out of Lockdown

Dr. Stephen Seiler  00:03

Hi, this is Dr. Stephen Seiler. You know, we’ve been in the middle of a big lockdown, and endurance athletes all over the world have been trying to make the best of a very difficult situation, and this is a team that I’ve had a little bit of interaction with, a coach Espen Aareskjold, and he sent me a few files of some of the rides that his riders have been doing on Zwift, and alone during the period of you know, where the entire season was put on hold, and I just thought I had to show you one of them because it is pretty exceptional if you ask me.


Jonas Abrahamsen: Thirteen-Hour Zwift ride

Dr. Stephen Seiler  00:43

So, one rider did a Zwift ride, I’m going to show this ride to you. The young riders name is Jonas Abrahamsen, he’s 24 years old, he’s on this development team for Norway. So, he got on Zwift and did a long ride, and before I tell you how long his data is, this is a very exceptionally low resting heart rate. Here’s his Max, 67 kilo rider, his six-minute power almost 450 watts at 67 kilos, his 60-minute power 356 watts. So very good numbers very well-trained athlete, but even within the realm of endurance, this is a kid or a young man who likes to go long. So, he did a 13-hour Zwift ride, that’s right folks, 13 hours continuous.


No Dropouts

Dr. Stephen Seiler  01:52

Now here is the raw data file, or this is the raw data from that ride, and what I want you to see is there are no dropouts, there are no periods where he stopped for lunch or stopped to, you know, use the toilet or anything. As far as I can tell, this is 13 continuous hours of riding, and I’ve expressed it as percentage of his six-minute power, which is 450 watts, and percentages heart rate reserve, and, and this is the role I wanted you to see, but I’m going to go ahead and smooth it out and use 122nd rolling average here, and that is going to clean it up a bit.


Even Heart Rate

Dr. Stephen Seiler  02:45

So, then you get to see now very even power all the way through until the very end, and then he goes up a little bit. And amazingly, his heart rate stays very constant, very little drift of heart rate across 13 hours, which is quite amazing. I’ve broken this up into labs or segments and those segments are 3600 seconds, meaning one hour each, so 13 one-hour segments. And then we can go down and see how that looked in this table. So, 13 hours and 15 minutes in total, and I’m going to do something for you here, I want to I want to make this top part go away, and I’m going to make that part go away, and now that table will be easy for you to see. So, there you go, that’s what a 13-hour Zwift ride looks like. Average power 230 watts, very constant, 225-240, did a little bit at 250 at the very end, heart rate ranges from 116 in the first hour, to about 129 when he’s going harder in the 14th hour. But in general, his heart rate did not go up or drift up more than 10 beats in 13 hours. Exceptional endurance ride just an example of tremendous durability that you see in some of the very best endurance athletes, and of course also an example of some people being really bored and needing to challenge themselves with some amazing rides solo on Zwift, and otherwise, during this COVID-19 period. So good to see people back out on the road, and hopefully we’ll see lots of racing again soon, but I thought I would show you this.