Last week’s big Zwift update included several new “hidden” features which will be tested in private events in the coming weeks. One exciting feature already being tested is called the “Ride Leader Fence”. Here’s what we know about it…
Why a Fence?
One common complaint from social ride leaders and participants is fliers. Those pesky riders who join a group ride which states a specific pace, then proceed to drill it off the front and never ride with the pack.
Nobody knows why fliers do this. Obviously, they don’t care about keeping the ride together. Perhaps they are new cyclists and they don’t even realize it’s a big party foul. Perhaps they’re proud sociopaths who want to show everyone how strong they are.
Regardless of the reason, fliers never improve a group ride, and ride leaders have been asking for features to control them for a long time.
How It Works
When enabled, the beta fence feature puts a semi-opaque “fence” a certain number of seconds ahead of the ride leader (beacon). The number of seconds is configurable.
Clearly, Zwift has put some real thought into this feature even in its early stages. As riders get closer to the “fence” it becomes more visible, meaning if you’re sticking with the ride leader the fence is hard to see or perhaps completely invisible. Start getting too close, though, and it is visible as a warning.
If you ride through the fence then it’s quite visible behind you, and you receive a message stating you need to go back inside the fence or you will be auto-booted from the ride. The message is very clear: “Return to the group to stay in this event, or keep riding to quit this event.”
As a ride leader myself, this all makes great sense. It doesn’t force ride leaders to manually boot fliers, but cleans them off of the ride if they choose to stay off the front. This should also “train” habitual fliers to stop joining group rides when they don’t want to ride at the planned pace.
See It In Action
Watch Martin Björgvik’s recording of yesterday’s test of this feature, led by Zwift staffer Wes Salmon:
Zwift is only testing this feature among other ride leaders at this time, to see if it’s even worth incorporating in the live game. So it’s possible this feature will never see live action. It’s also possible we may see it live in the near future. Who knows?
What do you think of this feature? Is it needed? Does it function in the best possible way? Comment below!