In Zwift racing, there is a category system. D being the lowest, and A being the highest. Many Zwifters who are looking to improve their racing try racing up a category. While moving up from every category is tough, the jump from B to A can be the hardest.
How do you make the jump?
In order to ‘become’ a category A rider, you must first work up to it. Category A ranges from riders like yourself, to Zwift pros who have FTP’s of almost 6 WKG. The best way to get used to racing A is by finding smaller, less competitive races. Some races, such as the KISS or 3R races, attract some of the best riders in Zwift, making it an extremely hard race. Some smaller races that typically host some beginners in category A are: Zwift Crit City Races, Evo CC Sprint Races, Kirchmair Beginner Races, and dozens more. Typically when there are more than ~30 riders in the race, you know that it is a pretty competitive race.
What’s the difference between A and B?
Based off of my experience, racing in category A and B are not too different. One thing that I have noticed is that in category A, riders are a lot more tactical, meaning there will likely be lots more attacks throughout the race. In most B races, riders tend to sit in and wait until the finishing sprint. In the finishing sprint of A races, the pace is typically very high in the final minute.
How much faster is it?
If you are a top B rider(~4wkg FTP), you will likely be in Zone 3-4 for most of the race. The average speed of category A races are quite a bit higher than B races. Most B races average around 27 mph, while most A races are around 29 mph. Over 10 laps of Crit City, I ended up finishing around a minute faster than the B group finished. When you aren’t chasing an attack, the race is actually very mellow, maybe even slower than B races.
The finishing sprint
Category A riders are the best of the best. The average category A rider has around a 12 wkg 15 second power, while most of the top riders have 15 second powers that are well over 15 wkg. Until you are able to easily hold on to category A races, you likely will not have enough energy to contest in the finishing sprint.
While some are forced to upgrade, others choose to upgrade themselves. There are a few reasons why one might want to race up a category.
- Zwift Power Score: Some are obsessed with decreasing their Zwift Power Score(like myself), so this is a great way to get some ranking points.
- Get Stronger: Racing is a pretty good way to gain strength, and some riders want to be challenged with a race at max effort.
- Why Not? It’s a Zwift race, they happen literally every hour, so why not give yourself a challenge?
Here is a video that goes over many of the things that I went over in this article: