It was time to face facts... racing won't be resuming as normal here in AZ this month

I built my plan using plan builder for a 3 day stage race in mid Feb. That race was canceled and I’ve been pushing through to the end of the plan anyway so I have some structure. I’ve been making good gains! Normally we’d start racing about now here in AZ but, it’s all off.

I was scheduled for an easy recovery week next week but am feeling pretty fatigued this week and have been unable to complete the workouts as rx’ed so I decided to go into rest and recovery mode a few days early.

The question now, of course, is what to do next. There’s a single event, a time trial, scheduled in February, and so far just a criterium scheduled in March.

I’ve been enjoying my new smart trainer I got last last year, maybe some Zwift racing? Anyone have any recommendations on races series?

I’ll be starting sustained power build on the 26th as that kind of power is typically a shortcoming of mine so no harm in tinkering with that a little.

Hope you’re all well and safe!
-Hugh

Zwift racing can be ideal for some fun in otherwise boring sustained power stuff. Zwift is, after all, the sweet spot Olympics. What day/time do you want to race? What is your ftp?

The keys to fun in zwift racing are:

  1. Its NOT BIKE RACING. Its fun. Your fitness plays a huge part. Strategy play a huge part. The ways those 2 things are true have little to nothing to do with how they are true in real life bike racing. Its fun when you play by its own weird rules, its frustrating and not fun if you play by rules for outside racing that dont work here (at least not today, maybe some day they will fix it).
  2. zwiftpower.com, the in game results are meaningless cause A riders can enter D races so just ignore them. The real race results are on zwiftpower.
  3. Riding near the top of the classes without going over. Its this game of over/under sweet spot chicken where the strategy exists.

3 is key. If you weigh 80kg and you can do 250ish watts you need to race C. You have a shot of winning, but you need to make sure your 20 min peak power never goes over 3.2w/kg or you get bumped to B. If you can only do 250 you will not even be able to keep up with the pack in B and it will suck. Ideally you enter a class you can average around the upper limit for the whole race and you ride it as an over under but watch your peak 20 minutes (usually the first 20 min). Even if you can do 3.5 w/kg for 20 min you need to keep that peak 20 min down and total average up. Hide in the pack to get that peak down and lay down the power when it counts. All the B riders are really 4.4wkg riders who keep their peak 20 min under 4.

Ride D till you can do 2.5wkg for an hour and a half at .90if. At that point zwift races are just long sweet spot for you. Then when you bump to C you can probably JUST hang on at 3.1-3.2 for 45 min races but it will bury you. Stay in C till you can do 3.2 for an hour and a half. Go to b, repeat.

If you just go hard you will go over the 20 min max WAY before your hour power is strong enough to compete and ruin the fun.

Last point, low kg riders have a hard time of it and it sucks. If a 100kg rider can do 2.5 and a 70kg rider can do 2.5 but neither can go over that without getting force upgraded then the 100kg rider will be doing 250 watts and the 70 will be doing 210. Most zwift races are pretty damn flat. Guess who wins every time. At 85kg if i hide the whole race I have a chance but at 65kg i dont think it would work. The issue is even if i hide, that 110kg guy generally has the sprint power from a top fuel dragster so I cant do a damn thing.

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Awesome man! Thanks! I’m 6’4" and weigh 89kg, my FTP is a modest 2.8w/kg. I’m working on the kg this month but don’t expect to lose more than a kg or 2.

Yes, the very few previous Zwift events I have done have been frustrating experiences in started at 400W and then settling into sweet spot until I get “dropped.” I’ll admit to having not really made any effort to learning or practicing the rules of e-racing. I’ll take some time to do some practice group rides and such. I’ve been racing D or sometimes C but haven’t really put a lot of time or effort into it.

Good advice and much appreciated!
-Hugh

I think you are in a great spot to do D races and have a shot at podiums if you learn to manage your numbers. By the time you get the hang of it, drop a couple kg and add a few watts you will be around 3.0 where you can start to have a chance at C races where you will probably be for a long time. This is the same boat I am in. I am 2.7ish and playing by these rules I can often get top 3 for D but its HAAARD. If i moved up to C i would just get dropped and ride by myself.

I work from home and prefer to race during the day so I can do it as my lunch time so usually EU races work for my times. If you want evening look for US based stuff.
I like the midweek winter SZR races. https://zwiftpower.com/league.php?id=574

around the world midweek crits: https://zwiftpower.com/league.php?id=616

TFC does seasonal D class only races that are fantastic. Current one is the xmas D league:

If you want later in the day and can do Friday the TFC races are great and well attended.

If you want workout as much as a race, filter for road to sky route and pick any race. Dont go hard to stay with the group just run right under 2.5wkg and climb climb climb. https://zwiftpower.com/events.php?s=2186

zwift power tracks group rides as well so dont go hard on a group ride and push your “best 3 races in 90 days” average over 2.5 or you will get upgraded. Its best 20 minute power * .95 < 2.5 average for best 3 in 90 days.

Find the thread and join the TR team. I would really like it if we had some more D class riders. There is so much more that could be done if we actually had teammates.

Family and work life mean I can only be on trainer on Tues and Thurs mornings at 4.45am or on the weekends. I’ll look for events at those days and times. Thanks!
-Hugh

p.s. I updated my blog: https://cat1-to-cat4.blogspot.com/2021/01/gambling-on-success.html

Mind sharing which races you’re talking about? I’m in NV would love to sign up for these.

Try looking here: https://www.azcycling.org/

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Oh boy. lol. When I first started racing the main challenge was to understand the draft dynamic and how to modulate my power. So I’d basically slip off the back, then power off the front, slip off the back, etc. It would have been worth my time early on to do a bunch of paced group rides and learn about the pack draft dynamic and how to module my power and speed. Something to keep in mind is that when picking your category, for races you use your WKG at FTP, for group rides they normally break into categories based on expected avg WKG for the ride. So if your FTP is at 3wkg, pick the race category that contains 3wkg in the range. A group ride listed at 3wkg it will be a threshold ride.

For race series, the KISS series are well regarded and get hitters. I think there is a weekday one on Wednesday, though could be mistaken. If you want longer races there is the KISS 100 on Sundays which is usually around 100km, though last weekend was 200km and the one before that was 100 miles. I have done both series and they are on the stricter side with zpower / simulated power, HR, category enforcement and disqualification. I haven’t raced the SZ series (Swedish Zwift I think?) but a lot of the hitter do that series as well. There’s also the WTRL if you can find a team. BMTR also has a ‘Fundo’ on Sundays that can be ridden as a ‘race’ and there are some ‘group rides’ that can be ridden that way or more like hard group rides or races. I also do TTs and there are hill climbs. I haven’t tried the chase races, but that looks like an interesting format (categories have staggered starts and the goal is to work together as a category to keep the higher categories from catching you and to catch lower categories in front of you, then sprint.)

If you go to zwiftpower you can look through upcoming races, see which ones fit into your schedule and if a series does, then go for it. I don’t do whole series, but there are some I do on a semi regular basis. The nice thing about ZP or looking at the companion app is you can see the course and distance. I, personally, aim for 50+min long races, the short ones are just flat out the whole time, unless you want that. I don’t want to do a 20min race that is just full gas the whole time.

One thing I like about zwift races is the power ups and trying to use them in unconventional ways. I think it adds an interesting tactical element. Like, most people drop the aero power up in the sprint, but my sprint sucks. I want to try dropping it going down the Forward KOM (after climbing it from the reverse direction) and sprinting the downhill and see if I can hold the gap until the finish.

Have fun! There’s a learning process at the beginning, but its a good way to motivate yourself to knock out some unstructured intensity. I’d def recommend trying many of the different race formats to see what you like.

That kinda reads like you are advocating sandbagging. Considering all the complaints one can find about sandbagging, racers in the wrong category, and dodgy trainer setups, I don’t think that is good advise.

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I wholeheartedly disagree but thank you for saying so. I think a lot of people feel the same and I welcome the chance to voice an opinion on it. I advocate playing by the crappy ruleset we have to play within today and making it as fun as possible.

People entering the wrong category is cheating. People lying about their weight, hacking software or hardware to lie about their numbers is cheating. Playing by the rules that exist rather than the rules that should exist is playing the game as it must be played. Everyone is welcome to complain their rules are horrible, cause they are. In sport when a governing body makes a dumb rule you still play by it, and complain, until it’s fixed.

There should be a system by witch you earn points for winning and get moved up by results not power, but there is not. The rest is strategy within the rules. Do you think its sandbagging to hide in the pack in a crit then go as hard as you can in the sprint? Cause thats how you race these.

The 2 or 3 lead groups in every class are all right at the power limit, this is how it is if people like or not the the race platform vendor has been deaf to change. So, this is an option to follow the rules and actually be able to compete at the edge of your fitness and still have it be a serious toss up if you get a podium or 10th, just like real races. The other choice is go as hard as you can in the first 20 min, still lose the race by a massive amount, get upgraded a class and never see a lead pack again, ride by yourself which is not a race, dont have fun and quit.

One final point, hopefully this one is the best. Here is my TR ride file for a race from wed. I was with the 2nd lead group and finished 7th. The first lead group was a bunch of people from class C who entered D, they were going to be DQed by zwiftpower so no big deal. The people who got first and 2nd both weighed a LOT more than everyone so they could do 250+watts so they managed to hang with the cheater lead group. They won by a minute plus, there was likely nothing any of the rest of us could do to stop that. I was within +/- 10 seconds at the finish of the whole group for the real race. My IF for that 45 minutes was 1.04. I have a 209 ftp and finished with an average of 207 and a np of 217. Look at that ride report and tell me it was sandbagging. The rules dont say you go less hard than you can, the rules say you have to carefully choose when you lay it out. Its restrictor plate racing.

If you are an A class rider racing in D and just doing 2.49w/kg the whole time you still probably wont win, and you wont have any fun at all. If you happen to be able to go over the class limits for 20 minutes but you cant hold it for 22 minutes why should you not be allowed to be in the pack of racers all within +/-5% of your fitness?

I would honestly like to hear other people’s opinions on this.

I’m an A rider, I could just not race for a couple of months to let my category reset on zwiftpower and then race as a D. Is it acceptable to restrict my power to 2.5wkg for 20min in races so I can keep racing as a D but uncork 5.7wkg 5min efforts at the end of races? Is that fair? I’m sure people do that because all they care about is winning and it is within the rules of the current categorization system. I believe that violates the spirit of fair competition which is why I refuse to do it and speak out against it.

I am excluding people from my criticism who have legitimately improved, exceed category boundaries and are asked to upgrade. I applaud those people. zwiftpower also does not automatically bump you from D to C if you break 2.49wkg for 20min in one race. It is the average of 3 and they have some wiggle room so if you are 2.52wkg average or something like that it will not bump you up.

But considering that b/c/d races have to deal with people unknowingly selecting the wrong category, knowingly selecting the wrong category, using incorrect weights, dodgy trainer setups, zpower, etc., I don’t think it is good advise to tell people to sandbag. It just makes these problems worse. Do I think that sitting in a crit to take the sprint is sandbagging? Of course not, that is tactics. Is self-restricting your power so that you can remain in a lower category than you are capable of sandbagging? yes, when the category system is based (indirectly) on FTP / power output.

I think a fallacy is the thought that everyone should be vying for the win. With any categorization system some people are going to be at the top of the category and competing for the win and people will be at the bottom and not competing for the win. It doesn’t matter what system is used, this is just the one we have. We could have a points based system and people will complain about all the new 4+wkg people doing the beginner races and crushing people (because they have no points.).

The argument that its okay because I didn’t win even though I’m restricting power to stay in a lower category (i.e. sandbagging) doesn’t hold much water with me. If one’s power/weight is X cat but they are restricting power during races to keep themselves X-1 cat in zwiftpower, that is basically the same as being X cat and doing X-1 races.

That is my last comment on this. My opinion has been expressed and people will take actions for themselves based on what is permitted by their moral / ethical framework.

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Bah! Dont do that. This is not an internet rant where people are shouting at each other from the rooftops and not listening. I happen to disagree with you at this time but I am wrong all the time and honestly want to hear the opinions of others in hopes of being wrong on fewer things over time. I am not trying to troll you or piss you off, I am actually trying to have a conversation.

If you as an A rider went down to D that would certainly be within the letter of the rules but not the spirit. You also wouldnt have any fun, and you certainly wouldnt get a workout. As an A rider I its possible you have not experienced how much not fun it is so ride C races when your FTP is just barley enough to contest D. I suspect you dont get to see how frustrating it can be to be force upgraded when your best finish is 25th. You built a straw man of an A racing D, that is never what I proposed. I proposed racing where your fitness puts you within single digit percent of watts against the other people you are racing, making for fun competitive racing at the limits of your fitness where strategy and who is willing to hang it out there that day dictates the win.

I agree this is not fair, not fun and not the spirit of the rules. The funny part is you also wont win. The 110kg guy whos 20 min power is 70 watts higher than yours is allowed to be still wins by 2 minutes if he just solos sweet spot. Even if you can somehow find a great group and keep him in sight his sprint will be A class levels in watts (not wkg) and he wont be close to cat limits so he can smoke you there as well because your sprint w/kg may be bigger but the watts are what matter not wkg as most races dont have enough hills to make any real difference. Also you would probably get DQed because you will need to be running at nearly the class limit to stay with the pack so all that power would blow your 20 minute number out and you would get WKG DQed. I am telling you, there is a whole lot more strategy to it than you think even if you showed up to race with an extra 200 watts. Plus, the rules are dumb no matter how you slice it. I am trying to make the best of what we have.

So, do you feel you should go as hard as you are able in the first 20 minutes and get a forced upgrade or do you stay in the group, conserve your energy and use it on climbs spints and the finish to try to break people and contest the race? When you are strong enough to JUST hang onto the pack the next class up and not get dropped in the first lap, you move up. That point where you can just hang on happens to line up with when lower level races would fall under .9IF and stop being real workouts.

This is not true. The .1 wkg wiggle room is per race not on the average. You can go up to 2.59 (for 95% of peak 20 min) on 1 race and not get WKG. If your average for your best 3 races in the last 90 days goes over 2.49 you get UPG.

I did a great zwift ride on Saturday where I just practiced drafting and experienced a lot of that same pass and get passed by someone because I was under/over-doing it. Then, went out and rode outdoors easy for a few hours yesterday and SNAPPED MY CHAIN! Gah! My lack-a-daisical approach to preventative maintenance strikes again! LOL! Didn’t fall or anything but had to strider-bike it home.

New chain and cassette ran me $100 today!
-Hugh