Quatch Quest On Zwift: The Leg Burner
Updated: Oct 21
Every weekend, I try to complete a long ride either outdoors or on my smart trainer. A long ride for me is an hour and a half or more. That might mean a 15-mile ride with a good amount of climbing or a 30-mile ride on a flat route. I felt determined to push the limits in both distance and elevation this time.
One of my goals on Zwift is to complete every route on the app. I’ve finished most of the rides that take me 2 hours or under. And I’m now at the point where the remaining routes are over 40 miles long with a good amount of elevation and difficulty. After browsing through the potential routes that I was going to do, I came across Quatch Quest, a 29-mile leg burner with 5,500 ft of elevation gain. It includes one of the hardest climes in the game, and what many people dread, or try to avoid, Alpe Du Zwift.
When I told my Fiancé that I wanted to do over 5,000 ft of climbing on the weekend ride, she immediately laughed. We constantly tease each other, and I knew that it wasn’t because she didn’t think I could do it, but it was still enough motivational fuel for me to try and get the job done.
I knew this ride would take me over 3 hours total, which I haven’t done a 3-hour ride in 7 years when I was training for a Half Ironman. Normally, I can do a whole ride with just water and electrolytes, but for this long of a ride, I had to think about fuel. I tend to have a sensitive stomach during exercise, so less is more for me in workouts. I cut up 3 oranges, got a handful of pecans, and 3 water bottles, let’s do this.
This route includes 2 main climbs, the Epic KOM and Alpe du Zwift. I cruised through Titans Grove and the sequoia forest, staying between zone 3 and below. I didn’t want to go too hard up the Epic KOM, as I wanted to save all my energy and strength for the final climb.
Prior to starting Quatch Quest, I didn’t look up the details of the route, but I knew that there were 2 big climbs. As I was going up the Epic KOM, I saw a break in the road to go up the radio tower. I was really hoping the route wasn’t taking me that way, as it’s one of the steepest climbs, and the hardest part of the ride was yet to come. A big sigh of relief hit, when I kept going straight, and had a little rest for my legs descending toward the Mayan Jungle. I was still feeling good at this point.
As I finished the descent, my map started to look different. A switchback counter popped up, and the long climb to the Alpe began. On the map, it showed 21 switchbacks remaining, and I don’t if showing this was a good thing or bad thing. I turned on the Tour De France during the climb for a little more motivation to get through this long grind.
Up to this point, I hadn’t taken any breaks, but after my 6th switchback, I was starting to feel it, and needed to get better with my fuel. I had to take a couple of minutes to eat a full orange and electrolytes before continuing. I then set a goal to finish 3 switchbacks before taking a break. By the 2.5-hour mark, I was wondering if I even wanted to finish the climb, but I was hungry for the route badge, and I’ve already made it this far.
As I reached the final switchback, I was ready to forget about this route and not do it again. My next thought was that this wasn’t even the hardest ride ahead. The next thought after that was, I needed food, but I had to reward myself with a downhill coast first.
Most of the time was spent in Zone 4 at a little over 2 hours and an hour in Zone 3. The dips on the right of the graph came from my breaks every few switchbacks on the Alpe. My average heart rate was 152 bpm and I burned roughly 2500 calories, and I was ready to eat that all back.
I may have sounded dramatic talking about Quatch Quest, but it was a great route to learn from when it comes to pacing, nutrition, and mental willpower.
If you haven't attempted Quatch Quest yet, my advice is if you have a time goal for the route, plan a little extra time for any breaks you may need. Make sure you think about you're going to eat. Lastly, pace yourself and try to have fresh legs for the Alpe climb.
On to the next, The Pretzel!
Do you have a favorite route on Zwift?