Here’s a question someone recently asked us:
Sometimes I’m working to complete a long route and get the badge, but I can’t do it all in one session because of scheduling issues. I know I can get off the bike, keep my Zwift session running, then come back and finish the route even an hour or two later. But is there a limit to how long of a break I can take in the middle of my session?
That’s a great question! Here’s the answer…
Why Take a Break?
We’ve all taken short intermissions during a Zwift session, pausing things for a nature break, a bidon refill, or a variety of other reasons. But why would someone want to take a longer break? Here are a few reasons:
- Schedules: you’re trying to complete an event or route which will take 3-4 hours, but you only have 1-2 hours free at a time. Parents of young kids, people with busy schedules – you know how it is!
- Recovery: you desperately want the PRL Full badge, but your nethers can’t handle being in the saddle that long. So you consider splitting the effort up over two days.
- Unexpected emergency: we’ve heard of Zwifters who were in the middle of a long session when they got a phone call requiring them to drop everything and address an urgent matter. They may want to pause their workout and come back to it hours later so they can get all the stars for completing it and/or receive the route badge.
- Hardware malfunction: if your trainer or bike breaks in the middle of a long, hard session, you may want to finish the session hours or days later after everything gets fixed.
- Internet outage: your Internet connection may drop in the middle of a session, and you want to ride with others and/or make sure the session will save properly when you’re done. This may mean waiting hours or days before your Internet is restored.
How Long Can It Be?
The official word from Zwift is that there is no limit to the length of time you can rest in the middle of a Zwift session.
Zwift does automatically put you into a “lurking” state if you’re inactive long enough, which basically means you stop being broadcasted to the network so others won’t see you on course or see you in the list of active riders to join. Once you start moving again, though, you’ll be taken out of “lurking” mode. We aren’t sure how long you must be inactive before you’re set to lurking status, but it’s at least 5 hours in our tests.
To test how Zwift would behave if we took an especially long break, we began a session at 10:23PM on February 23rd, rode a couple of kilometers, then got off the bike and left the session running. We returned at 9:25AM on February 27th (~83 hours later), rode a few kilometers, then saved the ride. Here it is on Strava >
Everything worked perfectly fine on Strava’s side. The only weirdness we spotted is Zwift displaying the overall ride time (from the start of the ride to the last pedal stroke) instead of the “moving time.” So it shows the activity time both in Companion and in our zwift.com dashboard as 3 days, 11 hours, 4 minutes, and 38 seconds!
A Few Considerations
So Zwift allows us to take very long breaks if desired, which is great. But that doesn’t mean we should all start recording crazy-long Zwift sessions! Here are a few things to consider:
- Hardware/software glitches: the longer you leave an active session running on your device, the better chance some sort of glitch will occur and you’ll lose your session data. Sure, it can usually be retrieved one way or another, but there is a risk you could lose your activity to a computer crash, power outage, or other unexpected glitch.
- Training data accuracy: taking big breaks in the middle of a “single activity” can play tricks on your training metrics. The various calculators and tools are really built around the idea of measuring one continuous activity, and throwing a long break in the middle can have some unintended consequences.
- Tainted achievement: taking a 12-hour break in order to finish the PRL Full route may let you get the badge, but that’s a different “achievement” than doing it all in one go. There’s nothing wrong with it as far as we’re concerned, but make sure you’ll be able to live with yourself if you make the decision to take a long break in order to complete a route.
- Massive “ride time”: again, as mentioned above, Zwift currently displays the total time from your first pedal stroke or step to your final one, which will make it look like you did one very long activity.
- Loneliness: if you’re riding on the guest map then stop to take a long break, you may return only to discover everyone is riding on a different guest map due to the scheduled world changing (Zwift’s version of the first Twilight Zone episode). You may be rather lonely for the remainder of your activity.
What about you?
What’s the longest break you’ve ever taken in the middle of a Zwift session, and why did you take it? Share below!