Did a Zwift race and actually enjoyed it

I’ve always been quite snooty about Zwift racing, but this week decided to give it a go for the first time as something a bit different. To my genuine surprise, I actually quite enjoyed it.

The race was ~47km in Douce France, and I did the B category (3.2-3.9w/kg). I’m right at the top of that, so thought I might do pretty well.

Well the first 5-6 minutes went at close to 5w/kg, which was pretty savage, with another hard surge at about 15 minutes. I managed to stay in the lead group (~40 out of supposedly over 100 starters - across all categories), stayed with it at the next push, but couldn’t hold on to another >5w/kg push at about 35 minutes. That left a lead group of about 20 (14-15 cat A riders, and 6 B riders), 3 of us in our own paceline, and the main pack behind. The 3 of us trundled round for about 25 minutes, before realising that the main group behind were likely to catch us if we didn’t push on a bit, so the last 10 minutes were decidedly unpleasant. I hit my third highest HR of all time in the sprint at the end.

I ended up coming 8/28 finishers in the B category, which I thought was ok.

What I did notice was that out and out watts wins races. I had the 2nd highest w/kg for both 20 and 5 minutes in the category, but as a fairly light rider, just didn’t have enough overall power. My 1 min power max is also not good enough; some VO2 max work (and maybe some squats) I think!

But overall, I enjoyed it, and it was a good substitute for a hard threshold session. If anyone is on the fence, I’d give it a go. I’m intending to do one every couple of weeks from now on.


There are all kinds of race events on Zwift, some good, some less so. The TTT events are my personal favorite and make intervals fun. ZRL is amazingly hard competition. FRR has great courses, longer than usual on Zwift, and compresses the event compared to the drawn out season of ZRL. The Sweatfest series is also very good with strong fields and varied courses.

I would disagree re out and out watts though. As a bigger rider I frequently have the highest average watts, yet don’t win. Even in Zwift, racecraft matters.

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Zwfit racing is pretty awesome if you go into it with the mindset of it being really hard and a good way to push yourself. If you feel like you need the be on the podium every time or you’re not happy, then don’t do it. I am an A racer and know that, most likey, I will not end up on the podium. In fact, I’ve only ever won one race. But I get a really good threshold workout. For some reason, I’m not great at doing longer threshold intervals (I’m practicing more) but in races, I know I need to do whatever to stay in the draft.


I was struck by how much fun it was, actually.

My slight worry, though, is that I’m likely to hit 4w/kg pretty soon, and Cat A racing will be very rough! :nauseated_face:

Yep, A cat limit is too low. People are thrown to lions with 4.1 ftp or something. They considered increasing it but it would dwindle cat A numbers. B is already pretty big.
I do FRR, it fits my block training cycles. Categories and structure is pretty good. Right now we are in a 2 week world tour.

Before going into Zwift I heard a lot of shit talking and looking down on zwift racing. When those small pond dudes joined thinking they will smoke the nerd-bikers they got spit out the back and limped home shellshocked.
I did not. Because a couple of irl beasts I know were there and they were top 100 not top 10. That tells ya something: You are racing against the entire world, not your little village. There are monsters from every corner.


I’m in exactly the same situation. I was never interested in Zwift, but I tried my first race about a month ago and really enjoyed it. I’ve done a few since, and did my first Alp du Zwift yesterday.
I don’t think just riding around in zwift will hold my attention at all, but the racing side is certainly a great workout.

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The FRR series is very good. It just needs more people in some of the time zones and it would surpass ZRL IMO. The courses are good, and the stage race format makes it very hard. The premise of comparing times across multiple events on the same course sucks when your time zone has 9 riders and another has 100.

Yes, there needs to be a normalization of finish times based on the race difficulty.
I tried a zrl race but failed to see what all the fuss is about. It is too much legwork just to get into a race. Stuff I hate with a passion. Login here, link there, team discord there, register over there. And rent a super computer to analyse the pointing system. Courses suck too, blob blob attack blob sprint. It is no training. Waste of energy. And why on Tuesdays? What happened to Saturdays?

FRR is on another level. Tomorrow is Mont Ventoux and monday is a 32km flat old school TT.
Perfect threshold training.

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I’ve picked up Zwift racing this winter to give me some variety during colder months and I have to say - I’m pretty impressed!

I don’t really care about the e-racing aspect as a whole but using appropriate Zwift races as training has definately made training indoors more enjoyable. There’s just something about the competetive setting that makes my smooth, lizard-brain go buzz and somehow I’m able to dig way deeper than normally.

Zwift races come in multiple flavours so you have to do some research beforehand to know what races to participate in. Long, 2-3 hour races are great tempo-sweetspot training while shorter races (like Zwift tiny race series) are more like hard VO2max efforts. Stack couple of them back-to-back and you have a great VO2max workout. Not as clean and tidy as your 5x5 intervals but way more fun without that “workout dread” the day before.


This has been my experience so far as well. I did a few races for the first time last week, and was surprised by my output, looking at the data afterwards. I’m sure I would have pulled the plug much sooner if I had just been looking at blue bars and a ticking clock on TR; the competitive aspect helped remove that mental block.

And I agree with what was said above about racecraft mattering; I had never ridden in a group in Zwift before, so I didn’t do a good job staying in the draft. Once I got dropped it was basically impossible for me to catch up no matter how hard I worked :man_shrugging:

In any case, I’m definitely going to try to incorporate racing in my training. I’m doing a 90 km Norseman race tomorrow (which gets you into a drawing for an entry to the Norseman triathlon) in lieu of my scheduled 3 hour endurance ride, and I’ll do the same with the Zwift fondo series over the next few weekends.

Exactly. It’s kind of nice not knowing precisely how hard and how long you have to endure. You just keep pushing until the pack settles down … and then you go again :smiley:

I’ve often thought that TR ignoring Big Z does so at its peril, but I don’t own or run the business and they may have views or information that I do not.

I think there are a lot of us that want to Get Faster both IRL and on Zwift. I’ve have always viewed TR and Zwift, particularly as it comes to racing, as complimentary products with an overlapping user base. TR will have good data on how much of its user base rides and races on Zwift. I know part of the Zwift product offering competes directly with TR and I am sure that’s the main reason it’s hard for them to even acknowledge a competitor.

Yes, there are lots of flaws with Zwift racing but my sense is that more people are “racing” on Zwift than IRL.


Im in the same boat as well. Sort of.

Stopped riding for about 4 months. Finally started to get back into riding and started playing with mywoosh. Just did not feel like structured training. Then I was given a 30 day zwift trial. Started riding it in zone 2 just to try it out. Then did a race and was hooked but I realize that its not great for me at this time. What Ive done now is get back into my TR plan and now I run zwift at the same time. I let TR control everything and I do the workout and I go for leveling up and entertainment from zwift. I always watch a race on eurosport at the same time and at times I am stuck to the zwift screen and forgt about the race I am watching. The trial is almost up and I will end it at the end of the trial as I am a bit cash strapped but I am grateful it helped me get back on the bike and really enjoy riding again.

I just looked up when I need to cancel and it says I am good until April 15. Somehow they gave me a few months.

Guess I will be leveling up for a while longer…

I’ve been racing in zwift since there was racing in zwift. It’s good for scratching the competitive itch without trips to the hospital and long recoveries from crashes. I stopped racing crits after my last crash with major concussion and vertigo issues for over a year. Now I’m mostly gravel, endurance MTB, and maybe a road race everyone once in a while. Zwift is obviously not the same rush as real life and lacks some of the tactics (particularly wind-related stuff), but it can still be extremely tactical. There are also a lot of zwift-specific skills that help you efficiently navigate the pack and make compelling moves. While I find that Zwift does favor big engines more than real life, it’s not just a wattage competition. I find a lot of similarities to gravel racing, a good balance of pure power and tactics. I am personally not a fan of the power up gamification and I wish the powerups were removed from all zwift racing, but I have to admit it does add a certain randomness that has some parallels to real life racing. For me, zwift racing is more of an off-season thing after I’ve wrapped up my real life racing. It’s a great way to have some fun with all that leftover fitness you built when all your events are done. I’ll also sometimes use zwift races as an opener session for a real life race. If I have a saturday morning real life race, I often jump into the start of a zwift race for 20-30 minutes the night before. I’ll do some attacks and push some watts, as much about building some pre-race confidence as it is a physical thing.

For training, I’ll incorporate some zwift group rides, particularly for tempo and endurance work. The BMTR and fasters masters groups can be very smooth and deliberate, I find them excellent and you can usually maintain decent zone discipline (unlike the races). I need all the help I can get when doing hours of tempo on the trainer. I find a zwift group ride more motivating than even riding solo outside for that kind of stuff. Something about holding that wheel (even when it’s not real).


Have never tried Zwift, but have raced on Rouvy, and am now on BKOOL where I’ll do three threshold rides of around eighteen miles a week. One of these will be a ‘group’ ride, where my aim is to catch and not get caught. Occasionally this can get interesting as was the case last Sunday. On that ride I had caught another veteran Brit who’d had a three minute start on me, and was travelling pretty quickly on a lower W/kg so presumably a bigger guy than me. Being a ‘gentleman’ I slowed to give him a tow, with him occasionally taking a turn, and me inadvertently dropping him when I failed to dial it down a bit. There were some ramps at the end, which I planned to blast up and I thought I’d probably lose him there, but no; having had an easy time of it, he dropped me on the first ramp, and it was an all out effort on my part to follow him over the line! Hopefully ‘Paul’, you had as much fun as I did!
I like the video rides on BKOOL, really enjoy looking at random samples of other bits of the world, and it’s a lower cost option at £7.99 a month. They also have a 3D world on some routes and that’s a good option for ‘group’ rides as the avatars for your fellow riders make for more realistic racing.
Overall, I find BKOOL very useful for maintaining a good level of fitness through the winter months.

I’ve been on Zwift for a couple of months now. I started racing about once a week when my Road Cycling Academy coach suggested it. I’ve found it’s the best way for me to make myself push past my limits in a way that interval training just doesn’t. The competition will just make me work that much harder. It’s also been a way for me to deal with my IRL racing season being cut in half. I’m in the military and stationed in Okinawa Japan. Last year they had six races held on the bases over here but this year it’s been cut down to three and the season doesn’t start until June instead of March. Racing Zwift is so far proving a great way to scratch the itch as well as get myself ready for full gas race efforts that I’ll need in June.