It’s no secret that Zwift racing is exploding worldwide. We’ve got the UCI planning an eSports worlds in 2020, world tour pros participating in races, and Zwift’s own CEO talking about the Olympics in 2028.
And while today’s Zwift racing experience is far from perfect, it’s worth taking a step back to appreciate what Zwift and its community have built in just a few short years. Think about it: right now, any cyclist can sign on and race their guts out against a global list of competitors.
It’s a brave new world, and there’s much to love about it. Here are my top 10 reasons to love Zwift racing.
#1: Stiff Competition
I live in a small Northern Californian town, and while our cycling community is dedicated, it’s also tiny. It’s easy to get deluded into thinking I’m something special as I snatch Strava KOMs from a short list of competitors.
But Zwift racing humbles me. If ever I’m feeling especially gifted, one race up Box Hill puts me in my place. And that’s a good thing.
#2: Keeping the Rubber Side Down
In just the past few years, several of my local riding buddies have sustained major injuries while on the bike. Some from vehicles, some while racing. Sometimes the cyclist’s fault, but often not.
I chose to stop crit racing last season after yet another dicey finish with riders wiping out just ahead of my front wheel. Especially in crits, it’s only a matter of time before you crash, no matter how skilled of a bike handler you may be. For me, the risk just isn’t worth the podium t-shirt.
Zwift is an crash-free zone. Go as hard as you want. You might avoid that 15-year-old chopper outside, but inside you can half-wheel him to your heart’s content. Pure, risk-free bliss.
#3: No Charge
No more race entry fees–Zwift races are free!
In my case, most outdoor races became an all-day affair: driving 2 hours to San Francisco or Sacramento, racing, eating lunch out… a guy could burn through $100 easily. And while my team covered most of those costs, what I couldn’t get back was the time it took to make it all happen–and time is money. Speaking of which…
#4: Time Efficient
There’s no more efficient way to race a bike than Zwift. No traveling to the race track. Just kit up, hop on, and go!
You’ve also got a lot of flexibility with Zwift races: no longer are you stuck racing the one date and time slot for your category on a Saturday or Sunday. Now you can make the schedule work for you! Decide which time works best, then race at that time. There’s almost always one available. Let’s talk more about flexibility…
#5: Have It Your Way
Zwift racing has a much larger universe of options than outdoor racing. Where my outdoor calendar basically has one doable race every week or two, March-August, Zwift has multiple races every day, year-round, and those races vary in terrain, length, and field size.
I can pick the race that fits my schedule. I can pick a race that uses a course which suits me. (Or, if I’m feeling masochistic, I can pick a hilly route and get my butt kicked!) I can ride TT races, double draft events, or chase races. So many options!
Racing is fun. But working as a team in a race: that’s next-level fun.
Like any good cyclist, I love data. And racing on Zwift gives me a window into race data which I simply never get outdoors. Suddenly I can see my competitor’s power numbers and heart rate data. I can see their historic performances. Thanks to ZwiftPower, anyone can drill down and really learn about the competition so they can ride more strategically.
#8: Weather Be Damned
Who cares if it’s cold or wet outside? I control the climate in my pain cave, so my race day isn’t dictated by Mother Nature.
#9: Family Fans
I love having family and friends on-sight to cheer me on for a Zwift race. Outside, the best they could do was yell something incomprehensible as the group flew past on the crit circuit. But when I race on Zwift, they can stand near, watch the action, and cheer loudly. It really does help!
#10: Pushing Limits
I still remember my first few Zwift races, because they were a revelation. I was just beginning to race outdoors, and Zwift showed me that I had a lot more to give than I’d been giving.
There’s something about being in your own home that lets you push harder. It’s not needing to worry about making the call of shame when you bonk 40 miles out–it’s not being concerned with threading the needle in the finishing sprint. Leave it all on the mat, because after your Zwift race you can fall off the bike, crawl to the shower, and wash up.
Pushing it to the max builds fitness for sure, but it also builds mental toughness and helps you surpass self-imposed limits, even in outdoor riding.
What about you?
Got more reasons to love Zwift racing? Share them below!