The fourth race of Zwift Racing League 2023/24 Round 2 happens Tuesday, December 5, and we’re in Makuri Islands for a scratch race on a new-to-ZRL course.
Let’s dig into crucial sections along with powerup tips, bike choice notes, and more!
Looking at the Route: Suki’s Playground
Never before raced in ZRL and rarely used by race organizers, Suki’s Playground in Makuri Islands will be unfamiliar to many racers. That said, it traverses well-known Yumezi roads, so the learning curve shouldn’t be very steep.
All categories will race two laps for a total of 36.8km with 300 meters of elevation gain.
This route is quite flat apart from two climbs on each lap. Smart racers will anticipate attacks on these climbs, and strong racers will initiate those attacks to thin the herd as the race progresses.
Here are the key points in the race:
- 5.5km and 23.8km: the longest climb of each lap (2.6km) takes you up into the Castle area and through the marketplace
- 16.1km and 34.4km: starting just like the first climb, this shorter climb (1.5km) stays right and takes you down to the lap banner
- Finish: the final 700 meters of this route are downhill, so having an aero boost powerup ready will be a huge advantage!
Three types of powerups will be awarded during this race: the feather, van, and helmet. Powerups are weighted equally in terms of probability. A total of 4 powerups will be given during the race at the Start/Finish and Country Sprint banners on each lap.
Lightweight (feather) (33%): reduces your weight by 10% for 30 seconds. Use on uphills to save some effort where effort will be highest.
Draft Boost (van) (33%): increases the draft effect you are experiencing for 40 seconds. Use at higher speeds (flats and descents) when you are already drafting off another rider (since this powerup only helps when you are drafting.) Great for recovery.
Aero Boost (helmet) (34%): makes you more aerodynamic (reduces your CdA by 25%) for 15 seconds. Use at higher speeds (flats and descents), especially when no draft is available (although it is still useful when drafting.) If you want a shot at the podium, you’ll probably need to use one of these in the final seconds on the fast, downhill finish!
Bike Frame + Wheel Choice
An aero bike is the way to go on Suki’s Playground, because the climbs are so short and fast that a lighter bike won’t make much difference. So we recommend the Venge S-Works or Felt AR frames with the DT Swiss Disc wheels.
The Tron bike isn’t a terrible choice here, but you’ll lose a bit of speed in that crucial final downhill sprint.
See Speed Tests: Tron Bike vs Top Performers (Scatter Plot) for more nerd-level detail on frame and wheel performance.
More Route Recons
Many recon rides are held each week on the upcoming ZRL route, and they even give you double XP! If you’re unfamiliar with this course, jump into an event and do some recon.
How will the race unfold? What strategies will riders employ in this scratch race on an unfamiliar route? Remember: in a scratch race, only the finish matters. Here’s what we predict:
- Attritional Climbs: the finish favors heavier sprinters, so lighter riders may need to go all-out to drop punchy sprinters on the climbs if they want a shot at the podium.
- Chasing It Back: the pack will string out and split on each climb, but some riders will be able to chase back on during the descents and flats that follow.
- Tough Finish: the final 2.3km will be brutal, as it begins with a 1.5km climb and finishes with a downhill sprint! Expect lighter riders to attack hard on the climb in hopes of getting away from the sprinters who would otherwise beat them on the downhill. Team tactics could be really interesting here…
- Hold Onto Your Helmets! We’ve already said this above, but we want to be crystal-clear: the aero powerup will be a huge advantage in the finishing sprint. With only four powerup arches in the race, once you get an aero you’ll probably want to save it for the finish.
Any insights or further thoughts on this race? Share below!