In the 20 years that I’ve been riding and racing bicycles, I’ve come across many people who sport the belief that longer rides and races are better than short ones. And while this in itself is a completely valid opinion, sometimes those expressing this view go as far as belittling anyone that chooses to participate in short races, making it seem that short events are only for the new and inexperienced or the “slow and weak”!
In triathlon (which I did for 10 years) this belief is even more widespread and extreme. A lot of people I know and raced against turned to long-distance racing even while trying to juggle their busy working and family lives and constantly battling with their own bodies. In my tri years I competed in some Olympic-distance races, but most of the time I chose the so-called “sprint” distance. (How anybody could call a 750m swim, 20k bike race and 5k run a “sprint” is still a mystery to me!)
But the same belief is held by the majority of cyclists as well it seems, and is also prevalent in our Zwifty universe. So I want to offer a sort of counterbalance. Here are some of the reasons why I think shorter might be better than longer:
- Short races take less time, so they’re easier to fit in. Very handy when you’re time-crunched!
- Short races require less recovery time, so you can get on with your normal life sooner. This also means you can ride or race again, sooner!
- Short Zwift races are over sooner (duh), but that also means you don’t end up spending several hours trying to get your pulse down to finally get some sleep (yes, I’ve been there several times when I did go for a longer race in the evening after a long work day 😉)
- Short races give you the option to really go full gas and enjoy the adrenaline rush. I’ve done some longer races on Zwift (longest was 90 km) which can really turn into a slog. Short races always leave me energetic and happy!
- Short races are more inclusive. They lower the entry barrier for those not able or willing to go long.
Like most things in life: quality is what matters, not quantity. And the argument that a short race is not worth the traveling or even to put on all your kit is irrelevant for Zwift racing!
As an extreme example: a guy like Usain Bolt did not have trouble going to all the hassle for races of less than 10 seconds, and you’d be crazy to call him a newbie, weakling or to belittle his impressive career for the fact that he chose short races.
So no problem if you continue to go long, but please give us “shorties” some respect… and maybe try it once in a while. It’s fun!
What about You?
Do you prefer short races, or long? Why? Share below!