Willie Smit’s Very Big Day In. Very, Very Big Day In.

Many of us have found refuge from the coronavirus lockdown in the parallel world of Zwift. Willie Smit, more so than most, as this 1 000km ride shows.

By Tim Brink |

Willie Smit is one of our best road riders, riding with the Spanish Burgos BH Continental team for 2020 after two years with Katusha-Alpecin. He is also no stranger to long, hard days in the saddle; who will forget his 2018 Amstel Gold adventure, in the break of the day for well over 200km.

READ MORE Willie Smit’s Rise From Tragedy To The World Tour

His 2020 Lockdown Big Ride In, though, was next level. Starting at midday on 15 April, he and Pieter Syffert, another South African powerhouse with a penchant for long rides, logged into Watopia, on the popular Zwift online cycling platform, and started pedalling.

When the pair finally stopped, 37 hours and 15 minutes had passed, and the goal of 1 000km on an indoor trainer was done and dusted. Along the way, Smit burned over 16 000 calories (his long-suffering wife Mande was his one-person support crew, under lockdown in Andorra), and climbed 8 150m, not far short of Everest.

READ MORE How Willie Got The Katusha Ride

Being in Andorra proved problematic on the Big Day In, in two major ways; Willie was unable to buy a fan before the lockdown commenced, so was farced to sweat his way through 37 sleepless hours in the saddle with no added cooling, and it is also at 2 000m above sea level. As if the project wasn’t crazy enough, try it without enough oxygen, why dont ya?

Not that anything was going to stop Smit, who has made a career of overcoming sometimes insurmountable obstacles, or Syffert.

Smit’s secondary mission with this ride was to raise funds for the South African Cycling Federation’s development programmes – you can donate right here (what a great initiative): DONATE




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