Words by Tim Fulford, CyclingHub
You’ve heard of this ‘Zwift Racing’ from a couple of your club mates, to you it seems a little crazy, but they swear by it and claim that it has really helped with their off-season motivation and form coming into the new season. Trying anything for the first time is a daunting experience and so we asked Tim Fulford, Team manager for the Wahoo p/b CyclingHub, to document a few top tips that should get you up to speed quickly and beating your local club mates in no time!
Zwift has a number of power-ups in the game, all of which have different abilities, ‘the truck’, ‘the feather’ or ‘the aero’. If you are racing in Zwift the most powerful one have is ‘the Aero’ power up. This reduces your avatars CDA allowing them to accelerate faster and get to higher speed. There is a time and a place to use any power-up you get from Zwift, but you will want to take an Aero PU into the final sprint of any race you find yourself in.
“Never use an Aero uphill”
When racing on Zwift, there is no neutral rollout, it is big numbers straight from the gun. Once you have that aero power up and you are sitting in the pens get ready to go. When the clock falls to 00:00 you will need to be putting out over 5.0w/kg to get your avatar up to speed, make sure you have a good warm up and you are ready to go, you don’t want to get dropped before the race even starts
“Ever done a Cyclocross Race? It’s just like that”
Zwift has ‘drafting’, the concept whereby those within a group on Zwift will be able to maintain lower average watts than those on the front or those trying to break away. With this taken into account, much like outdoor racing, you want to be drafting as much as possible to save energy for potential attacks or the sprint finish.
“Never sit on the front… that is all”
Know the Course
Racing on Zwift comes in many different forms and takes place over many courses. Knowing the subtle differences in each course and how to exploit them can be the difference between winning and losing or even staying with the main pack and being dropped. When to push on the pedals and when you can take a breath whilst still staying in the bunch. Course profile also varies massively, big sprinters won’t want to be racing up Alpe du Zwift and mountain goats won’t want to take on the sprinters down into Downtown Watopia.
“Knowing where to accelerate and where to relax can save so much energy”
Perhaps the most important piece of advice when racing on Zwift is to ENJOY IT. You don’t know who you are up against, whether they are calibrated properly or have entered the right details, but regardless of that it is fantastic exercise, it challenges you both mentally and physically and it provides new tests and scenarios every time you race it. When taken back to its basics, you are chasing pixels, but that is what is so addictive about it!
“SM Park was too strong for me today, but I still got a great workout”