In the Zwift Hot Topic series we focus on popular discussions, controversies, questions, or creative ideas in the Zwift community. We’ll share a couple of different perspectives, but we want to hear your thoughts, too. So read on and chime in below!
Another Tour of Watopia has come and gone, and with it, more arguments about the jungle roads. I found lots of people willing to share their opinions in the Zwift Riders and Zwift Racers Facebook groups.
Do dirt and gravel roads belong on Zwift? Should they act any differently than smooth asphalt? Sure, they can bring some visual variety to routes in Watopia, Makuri Islands, and Scotland. But adding resistance and slowing them down can turn a smooth cruise into more of a slog.
Petra Jungmann: “It used to be my favorite ride on Zwift. From downtown Watopia around the jungle and back. Then they brought in the gravel and totally ruined it for me. … I think nevertheless that it would be nicer to just have dedicated roads for gravel enthusiasts.”
Craig Schaepe: “I just don’t get at all the hate for the jungle loop. Are people put off that they are virtually a few mph slower than on pavement? I have never paid that much attention to the virtual speed since it is fake. … It comes down to just putting in your effort and forget the speed.”
To me, the real potential of mixed surfaces comes out when you’re racing. Do you change your bike and risk not being able to catch your group again? Stay on your bike and risk falling behind? Start with a bike that will let you attack where it matters most? Answer these questions well and you’ll get an advantage on your opponents. Answer them poorly and you’ll be cursing the dirt.
David Hivey: “The change in road surface should add a tactical aspect to the game. Until recently it certainly did. The difference in speeds for the gravel and road bikes made it just faster to do a bike swap on many sections such as the temple KOM.”
David isn’t happy with the recent update that made dirt and gravel surfaces faster. It makes that tactical advantage smaller – to the point where changing bikes no longer helps in some places. I wonder whether this will make anyone happy. Road bikes are still slower on dirt and gravel, but maybe not enough to make a tactical difference anymore.
Some racers don’t want to bother with changing equipment, though. They might find it hard to change bikes and wheels quickly, especially if they have limited access to input controls (like a mouse and keyboard).
What if you’re just trying to ride with a group? Another Zwifter pointed out that dirt and gravel roads can make group rides chaotic, as people naturally lift their effort to keep up speed.
Whitney Stidham: “For mixed surfaces on group rides, it can be tricky; you have people really pushing pace on a mixed surface which of course, pushes the pace of the group. A mass bike exchange entails a mass stop, then everyone changing, and then a mass start… It makes for slower times on group rides, and riders that aren’t as strong have a tendency to fall off the rear because they are tired from pushing on a mixed surface.”
What do you think? Should Zwift stick to road cycling and pave the jungle? Keep road, dirt, and gravel roads separate? Make all roads ride the same on all bikes, or put them back as they were and keep the challenge? Let us know in the comments!