Let’s just get this out there: I know what I’m doing when it comes to Zwift racing. I’ve been around since beta days, back when races were a “show up at the lap banner then go when the clock hits zero” sort of affair.
Some aspects of Zwift racing have evolved since then, but the fundamentals remain unchanged. Still, seeing so much advice popping up on YouTube and social media from Johnny-come-lately lockdown Zwifters who think they know everything drives me crazy!
So I thought I’d put together my own list of simple Zwift racing tips, from someone who actually knows how to win. Want to dominate your Zwift races? Here’s the only advice you’ll ever need.
#1: Route Recon Is a Waste of Time
We’ve only got so many hours in a day – I’d rather spend them hammering out watts than researching pretend roads. Zwift Insider has a complete list of routes with overly-detailed maps and descriptions of every friggin route, but who has the time?
Zwift shows a minimap while you ride, and that’s good enough for me. It seems pretty accurate most of the time. Plus I usually get lost anyway, because it’s hard to pay attention when I’m maxed out.
#2: Pick the Category that Suits You
I race to win, not for a “fun workout.” I like to attack off the front a lot, and I win almost every C race I enter. So that’s the category I’ve stuck with for years, even if it’s a little below what Zwift says my FTP is (how do they know, anyway?)
WARNING: Watch out for certain “FutureWorks” races in Crit City or Paris, because Zwift seems to be trying to flag people who they think are “out of category” (as if they can figure that out: they can’t even install pedals on their virtual bikes). Trust me, if you get slapped with a green cone during the race it slows you down and makes it nearly impossible to win. So I would just skip those races, as well as anything organized by WTRL (those guys are the worst).
#3: It’s All About the Watts
You can talk about strategy and routes and pacing and blah blah blah, but in the end, the only thing that matters is what kind of wattage can you throw down. Zwift racing isn’t about subtlety, it’s about powering your way off the front, destroying the peloton, and dominating the podium.
Follow my advice and you’ll start winning – unless you race against me. Then you’ll probably lose.
#4: ZwiftPower: More Hassle Than Its Worth
Look, you’re probably already tip-tapping away on your fancy MacBook, trying to look me up on ZwiftPower to examine my racing palmarès. But I’ve got news for you: I’m not even registered!
Some Zwift racers say, “If it’s not on ZwiftPower then it didn’t happen.” But I’m winning races right and left without even signing up. So how do you like them apples?!
Truth be told, I tried to sign up for ZwiftPower once. But it was pretty confusing, so I gave up. I’d rather just race. You should do the same.
#5: Don’t Take It Too Seriously – Everyone Cheats Anyway
Zwift is full of cheaters. Grown men who weigh 140 pounds? Come on. Kids who can outsprint me? Not possible.
Usually when I lose a race, I can find someone ahead of me who was obviously cheating. They’re the ones with super low heart rates, or the ones with a super strong sprint that blows away the field at the end of a hard effort. Come on, man. You’re not fooling anyone.
I’ve done my share of outdoor racing in my local area, so I know where I stand in the universe of cyclists. Suffice it to say, there are either a lot of riders in the world who are super strong, or Zwift is full of cheaters. (The correct answer is obvious.)
#6: Teamwork? More like Dreamwork.
There’s lots of talk of “teams” racing on Zwift, but come on: does that really work? How is racing with a team any different than racing alone? If you think you’re teaming, you must be dreaming.
I’ve never even hassled with joining a team on Zwift, for two reasons:
- Why would I care about working with a bunch of people I don’t even know?
- What good would it do anyway, since team tactics don’t work on Zwift?
As they say, “it’s lonely at the top.” That’s certainly been my experience on Zwift. So my advice is to keep your eyes open and race for yourself.
#7: Ride What You Want
Here’s another big time-waster: worrying about which virtual bike frame and wheelset you’re using in a race. I mean come on, people. They’re virtual! Just ride the pretend bike you like.
I have a Pinarello IRL, so I ride the F8 in game with Zipp 808 wheels. I’m grabbing podiums right and left, so it seems to be working.
Wrapping It Up
Well, those are my tips for winning Zwift races. I hope you learned something.
If you found this post useful, please say so in the comments so I can earn a few more greenbacks putting together Zwift racing advice for all you n00bs here on Zwift Insider.
Questions or Comments?
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