Pro rider raises the bar and racks up 1,000km in single ultra-distance Zwift ride  

The Burgos-BH rider spent 37 hours in the saddle in one activity

(Image credit: Getty Images)

There has been no shortage of unbelievable Zwift rides taking place since the coronavirus lockdown started.

Last month Astana’s Laurens De Vreese spent 11 hours in the saddle, while Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas is currently deep into his three 12-hour Zwift rides to raise money for the NHS.

But pro rider Willie Smit has just raised the bar even higher, by completing a 1,000km ultra-distance ride on the indoor training app.

Smit, a former Katusha-Alpecin rider who now races for Spanish ProTeam Burgos-BH, spent 37 hours in the saddle to complete the enormous challenge he set himself.

Even more impressive, the South African completed the ride at 2,000 metres above sea level at his home in Andorra and without the benefit of a fan to cool off, as he wasn’t able to purchase one during the coronavirus lockdown.

Smit, 27, broadcast portions of the ride live on his YouTube channel (opens in new tab), as he rode for a total of 37 hours and 15 minutes, climbed 8,150 virtual metres and burned 16,300 calories.

After setting out on his ride at midnight on Tuesday (April 15), he finally stopped turning the pedals on Wednesday afternoon, riding straight through with no sleep.

Smit also hopes to raise money for a good cause, with any money donated going to South African Cycling to help support young riders. You can donate to the appeal here.  (opens in new tab)

Speaking for 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 gruelling two days on the bike.”

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Smit rode for WorldTour outfit Katusha-Alpecin for two seasons from 2018, until the team was taken over by Israel Cycling Academy for 2020, which prompted his move to Burgos.

He has already raced than most pros this year with 14 race days under his belt, including the Vuelta a Murcia and the Ruta del Sol, before the racing season was derailed by coronavirus.

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Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.