Chad Tavernia will be riding 100 miles non-stop on rollers without a saddle. Yes, you heard correctly. He will be standing up the entire time!
There’s something about the sport of cycling that lends itself to extreme challenges. The quest to make the innately difficult undoable, and then doing it, appeals to our psyche. We find hidden elegance in our sport when seen from the perspective that few have envisioned. It becomes the thing of legend, lore, if not anywhere other than in our own minds.
Despite the difficulty, virtual Everesting has become relatively commonplace, as have double centuries, triple centuries, 24-hour ultras, and a host of other incredible virtual cycling feats. It has gotten to the point where finding a unique challenge is a challenge in itself.
Chad Tavernia has done just that. I must admit, this is a new one!
A Bit of History
I first heard mention of Chad Tavernia in 2016. It was during Stage 3 of the 2016 Green Mountain Stage Race in Vermont, a 104.5 km “Queen Stage” that took us over four major “Gaps.”
A small group of us made the selection. Chad attacked the group and soloed to victory, holding on to a slim margin at the top of App Gap – a brutal climb that averages over 20% for the last 500m. Find Chad’s Strava Profile here.
Some time had gone by, and I started seeing the name again. I was following a cyclist on Facebook known as the “Cycle Jockey.” His inspirational messages and dedication to training, cycling, and life, in general, spoke to me. You will find the “Cycle Jockey” media link here. Unbeknownst to me, the Cycle Jockey was Chad.
Chad and I called to the line of stage four!
It wasn’t until “The Controversy” that I made the connection. I had read the post about Chad’s No-Saddle Century, and after marveling to myself the significance of the accomplishment, it went into the memory banks.
A short time later, I noticed chatter in my newsfeed about detractors skeptical of Chad’s feat. The doubters claimed a slew of absurdities, the most outlandish being that he had doctored the photo he took documenting the ride to hide his saddle.
The Birth of the Virtual No Saddle Century
The story gained the attention of a few cycling-related media outlets. You can find an account of the controversy here. It also caught the attention of Simon Schofield, who asked Chad about the ride and the stir it created in Episode 99 of the Zwiftcast. You can find a link to the podcast here.
That’s when it happened. Simon challenged Chad to another challenge to top the other challenge. A Virtual No-Saddle Century!
Chad was nice enough to spare some time on the eve of the attempt to answer a few questions. I wonder how he is feeling mentally and physically as the ride rapidly approaches? Here goes!
I appreciate the opportunity, Chad. Tell us a bit about yourself. What do you do? Where do you live? Family life, that sort of stuff.
I am recently retired from the New York State Police, where I was a Trooper for 20 years. I am single, with no children, but I enjoy spending time with my family and friends.
What is your cycling story? How did you get involved in virtual cycling and eSports?
I first started riding a bicycle in 2009 as a form of exercise. I stopped in 2013 for three years but have been head over heels in love with training since February 2016. Being a New Yorker, I discovered Zwift as a way of continuing training throughout winter. I love the platform and enjoy training hard and competing. Chad’s ZwiftPower profile is here.
What are your career highlights, and what goals do you have for the future as a cyclist, athlete, and person?
In 2012 I finished 3rd overall in the Category 5 field at the Tour of The Catskills and The Green Mountain Stage Race.
In 2016 I finished 3rd at The Green Mountain Stage Race in the 35+ Masters Field and won Stage 3, which finished on top of Appalachian Gap.
In 2017 I won the Skiff’s Orchard Hill Climb on the opening day of Syracuse Race Weekend in Category 4. In 2019 I won the Whiteface Mountain Uphill Bike Race. That year I also won the New York State Elite Road Race Championship Road Race and, in doing so, won the category 3 State Road Racing Champion jersey.
How much did you eat and drink during the attempt? How did you manage to eat while out of the saddle? Did you have to account for a more significant amount of energy expenditure?
During the attempt, I ate no food and only consumed about a ¼ of a bottle, which I quickly drank on a few of the longer descents on the route. One thing about riding with no saddle is eating and drinking is very challenging.
How did the physical demands of the no saddle century differ from other century rides? How was it different in other ways?
It was undoubtedly more mentally challenging. Riding with no saddle for nearly 5 hours straight means being mentally tuned in the entire ride. And having to fight off those urges of wanting to sit and let the legs rest a little.
Were you faced with any unforeseen challenges during the ride? Did you learn anything about yourself as an athlete or individual?
The ride did go as expected. I completed a few 50-mile no saddle rides in the weeks leading up to the century, so I knew it just boiled down to picking a cooler day when my legs were rested.
I understand there was a little controversy surrounding the initial attempt. It even got some publicity in several cycling-related media outlets. Tell us about it.
Some people don’t believe I actually completed the ride. Doubters made several allegations. The contentions ranged from swapping my bike during the ride to claiming that I photoshopped the picture I took near Chazy Lake to document the event.
I don’t spend too much time focusing on the negative comments. I am too busy trying to accomplish my goals.
Did that have any influence on your decision to attempt a Virtual No Saddle Century?
No. I never even thought of attempting it on a virtual ride until Simon from the ZwiftCast laid down the challenge. I love a good challenge and feel I can replicate the ride on my rollers.
Tell us a bit about your thought process leading up to the virtual attempt. How did you prepare, and was it different in any way from the first time? Timing, course selection, equipment, etc., that sort of stuff.
My preparation has just been my standard training. Riding out of the saddle is something I have always been able to, basically as long as I wanted to since I started riding.
I selected a moderate route that should put me somewhere in the ballpark to my time riding during my outdoor no saddle century. As far as equipment, I train on Inside Ride E-Motion rollers, which I know like the back of my hand.
You completed the IRL attempt solo in one continuous ride. How did you do it? Do you plan to have any support for the virtual ride?
I did stop one time during the outdoor ride. But solely to take the photo near Chazy Lake to document the ride. Riding without stopping is something I often do and have even done 135+ mile rides outside without stopping before.
Unless it is sweltering out, I don’t need many liquids on the bike. I will have no support during the virtual ride, and I plan to ride the duration without stopping unless I get an uncontrollable urge to use the bathroom.
But that will be it. And I am planning on replicating the IRL ride, which was basically with no nutrition.
What is your virtual cycling setup? How do you anticipate the difference from your road rig will impact you during the indoor attempt?
Indoors I always train on rollers, and Inside Ride E-Motion smart rollers are my favorite. I feel the virtual attempt will be more challenging in two ways.
For starters, on rollers, there is no coasting. So it will require constant pedaling for the duration of the ride. And second, cooling is more complicated inside. I will have three fans running, which will hopefully do the trick.
Chad’s Setup – Cannondale Evo “Minus the seatpost & saddle”, 1X drivetrain with 54T chainring on Inside Ride E-Motion smart rollers with 3 fans.
How do you feel physically? Have you done any special training for the attempt?
I feel 100% capable of completing the ride and haven’t done any special training. I always spend lots of time riding out of the saddle.
Are you in the proper headspace? What have you done to prepare mentally?
Yes, again, I feel 100% capable of executing the ride. To prepare, I have just envisioned myself completing the ride!
What do you anticipate will be most challenging about the virtual attempt?
Indeed, it will be completing the ride with no nutrition. I will just make sure I go into the ride with plenty in the tank.
Okay, that brings us to the big question everyone has been waiting for me to ask. When are you going to attempt the Virtual No-Saddle Century? Which virtual cycling platform and on what course will we find you? How can others get involved?
Monday, November 22, 2021, at 1:00 p.m. EST time I will begin the ride. I will be using Zwift and will be riding loops of the “Big Foothills” route.
I certainly could use all the ride ons anyone is willing to offer during the ride! I will be live streaming the ride on my athlete’s Facebook page, “Cycle Jockey.”
You got this, Chad! Is it okay if we check in with you after the ride to see how it went?
🙏 and ABSOLUTELY 💯
Thank you, Chad! We’ll catch up with you after the ride.
Semi-retired as owner and director of his private Orthopedic Physical Therapy practice after over 20 years, Chris is blessed with the freedom to pursue his passion for virtual cycling and writing. On a continual quest to give back to his bike for all the rewarding experiences and relationships it has provided him, he created a non-profit. Chris is committed to helping others with his bike through its work and the pages of his site.
In the summer of 2022, he rode 3,900 miles from San Francisco to New York to support the charity he founded, TheDIRTDadFund. His “Gain Cave” resides on the North Fork of Long Island, where he lives with his beautiful wife and is proud of his two independent children.
You will read him promoting his passion on the pages of Cycling Weekly, Cycling News, road.cc, Zwift Insider, and Bicycling. Chris is co-host of The Virtual Velo Podcast, too!