Over my past three years on Zwift I have begun racing, a lot. I now race around 4-5 times weekly, whether they are Crit City races, hill climbs, or sprint races. When I started Zwift my main motivation to ride was just to explore the worlds and just do some chill rides. I then began to try and level up, complete challenges(I went crazy over the tron bike and climbed WAY too much). Once I began to start leveling up and completing most of the route achievements, my motivation was beginning to fade. It wasn’t until aorund 2 years ago that I really got into Zwift racing.
I started in category D, in my first race I was absolutely destroyed, I don’t remember the full details, but I am pretty sure I was pretty much last place.
Just around 2 years ago I started to race C, my FTP had gone from 90 watts up to around 115. Most of the gains that I saw were mostly just from riding daily and racing ocasionally. I was never a huge fan of structured workouts/training(I still don’t really do workouts). I stayed in C for awhile, I never thought I would come close to racing A, or even B. I was a decent C and I could hold onto the lead group without getting dropped but I wasn’t very good at sprinting. Then came the day where I was disqualified from C because of Zwift’s really lame anti-sandbagging feature. The feature worked for the most part, just not for juniors/lightweight riders. After some emails with Zwift, I realized that Zwift wasn’t going to do anything about it(2 years later and they still haven’t lol). Watch my embarrasing sprint in action in this video below.
Then started my jouney in category B. It was very rough, but I eventually got the hang of it. I got top 5 in my first race(ok fine, there were like 6 people in the race). I was soon able to hold onto the B group, but I still could not sprint at the end of the race. I worked on my sprint some and figured out my timing, my Zwift Power 15 second power went from around 10 wpk, to 12.8. Switching to clipless pedals also helped a bunch as I was able to pull up and push down. Around 4 months ago I was disqualified from B. Watch my first B race here:
WAIT WHAT!?! Yep, Zwift’s anti-sandbagging feature strikes again. I now have to try and slow down and barely hang onto the group so that my power won’t be too high, even then I get disqualified in the finishing sprint, very annoying. Just a few weeks ago I did my first race in A. It wasn’t the best first race in A, there were several riders with FTP’s over 5 wpk, some even 6. I was dropped after 20 min or so. Yesterday I did my first “true” A race, with some high ranked riders, and some average A riders. Full video recording is below. I believe I am now a very strong B rider with the ability to race A(depending on the field size).
What I learned
Most of the gains that I saw were from becoming more strategic and racing more frequently. Believe it or not, recording my races helped me a TON. I was able to rewatch the recording and learn from my mistakes, think about what I could have done better, and it was kinda entertaining ;). One of the main things that I learned was to sit in the draft and use my power wisely. Timing power ups right and working on my sprint also benefitted me a ton. Here is a video with some tips on racing on Zwift.
My recent race in A
Just yesterday I completed my first Crit City race in A. It went way better than I thought, I had a very good average power of around 164 watts/4.8 wpk. I was able to follow attacks and have enough energy to sprint at the end of the race.
Now that I think back on the whole anti-sandbagging feature, it really helped me push my limits and redefine what I thought was possible. Without getting disqualified in C, I’d likely be racing in C still, chilling with my weak sprint, still unable to win races lol. One day I will be a good A racer, one day…
Watch all of my racing videos using here: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PL3J9-KZmX5NbypoZ0Ei7lP0EAolYkQwZi.