Zwift racing is fast becoming a cycling discipline all its own. While fitness is a major factor, more riders than ever are jumping in and realizing they need to learn new lingo, strategies, and game-specific facts to product top results.
The 5 Intermediate Zwift Racing Tips post received a lot of good feedback, so here’s a follow-up with four more tips.
#1: Show Up Early
For larger races (75+ riders) joining the event as early as possible assures you a starting position closer to the front. Pro tip: once you’re in position, you can actually quit Zwift, go ride a warmup, etc, then join again before the event starts – and you’ll be placed in your original position!
Since the first few minutes of any Zwift race is fast and crazy, being near the front of the pack at the beginning helps you keep track of attacks and easily spot packs of riders going off the front.
#2: Tweak Trainer Difficulty
This tip only applies to smart trainer users – but that’s most of us these days. In races do you typically overtake riders on short climbs, then need to put down extra power to stay with the pack on descents? That’s the joy of racing against “dumb” trainer users. (For the details behind why this happens, read “Hanging with the Group Over Gradient Changes” and “Using the Trainer Difficulty Setting in Zwift“)
One way to reduce this yo-yo effect is to adjust your trainer difficulty settings under Menu>Settings to something in the 10-30% range. Doing so will make your resistance change less in response to gradient changes, helping you keep the power more consistent so you can ride more efficiently.
#3: Mind the Gap
Often in races it’s not the gap that opens ahead of our wheel that gets us – it’s the gap that opens one or two riders ahead! This tip applies outdoors as well, but minding the gap is an especially devilish challenge on Zwift because of how the draft works, and because we aren’t always paying close attention to the riders ahead.
The further back you are in a group, the more chance you run of being on the wrong side of any gaps that form. Floating near the back of a group isn’t dangerous when the group is blobbed up, but when it stretches out due to riders pushing the pace at the front, gaps will form!
Route knowledge will help you anticipate most of the stretches that will occur. Having a large enough screen, and paying close attention to it, will also help you maintain ideal position. If the group begins to stretch, push hard to get near the front while staying out of the wind. It may feel like unnecessary work, but if a gap forms several riders up, you may never have a chance to close it!
Nathan Guerra and the team at Zwift Community Live (ZCL) have been doing a wonderful job of covering Zwift races since the early days. If you’re in a race ZCL is covering, watch or listen to the broadcast to get a full picture of what is going on. Knowing you’re being watched may help you push just a bit harder!
(Note: broadcasts generally focus on the A category, but will go back to lower categories whenever possible.)
What About You?
Are any of these tips particularly useful to you? Got other tips to share? Comment below!