1st Race Experience

Hi all,

I’m about 1 month into using Zwift and tried my 1st race today. Well it was an hard experience…

I’m about 63kg and my average watts are about 250 I would say for an hour.
I went into the C category race as a marker but as soon as the tape went, everybody was flying away from me. What I’m struggling to get my head around is that I’m pushing 3.5 w/kg on average (B cat) yet I’m being dropped by people doing 2.8w/kg or even less. Surly the more watts you can do the faster your going?
After looking at the results of the B category race, I would have come almost last yet I thought my numbers would put me middle of the group at least.
Are you rewarded for being fat and fit? As oppose to light and average? Or does selecting a different group almost handicap you?


I’m 67 yrs old with a ftp of 230 and I weigh 66.2kg. If I can do B races then you certainly can. Do more races and don’t expect to win or even be competitive for awhile. Enjoy the process of figuring out how to race and how to improve your ranking. Oh and join Zwiftpower.com.

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Good race.
You are always competing against yourself.
Your power suggests you are stronger than Cat C and should be in Cat B.
Try riding with the B pacer bot for practice.
In an open or mass start race, the B group may still pull away but you will still be riding with the C’s and B’s of similar power.


On the flat, being heavy isn’t a disadvantage and is usually an advantage (since heavier riders can normally produce more watts).

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Starts in Zwift races are always manic - full gas from the get go even if most can only sustain it for a minute. But that probably left you in the wind working hard whilst others drafted in the lead pack (hence the manic starts).

But you are probably a stronger B or better who’s moaning that they only almost won a C event, to the annoyance of real C cat riders.


HI and welcome to Zwift racing . That is and almost universal rite of passage in your first zwift race to not be ready for the flag dropped and thus loosing wheel of the mass who head off at unsustainable efforts.

Everyone lliterally will be in the red at this point ( well almost every.one , some might not be set up properly) . That is just how zwift racing goes because events are short and drafting is such an advantage its like the entire peloton decide they want to be in the break from the get go. In this respect it is a little different from a RL race ( although some can be like this … think Crit Racing rather than road racing) .

You really just have to learn how it works and you will see that the pace and effort will eventually ( sometimes quicker than others settle down ) .

Few tips to share .

Start Pedalling harder from 5 seconds before flag drops so when it does you are full gas including any power lag . That way you dont get dropped before you even start while you wait for rendering and display latency of a mass start to subside.

Try and stick with the group as long as you can … at least until the big splits start to happen as that is when everyone will start to back off . This is a big fight to be in a group thats all . When they form things will be a lot less ful gas .That perversely is more the case in the higher Cats as everyone is more experienced and doesnt go with stupid flier efforts that do plague the lower cats . By and large at this point you will be in a “seperate” race from then on , although not always if you are particularly good for example at climbing or TTing to be able to chase down another group. When you get more experience and knowing your capabilities you will know how and when to bridge groups or work to chase down with others…

On the issue of flier or riders with poorly configured set ups . These fall into 2 camps . One is a problem for racing and you . The other not so much . There are those issues and explots or whatever that allow riders to do efforts in an unrealistic way and those that just allow someone to appear better than they might be in RL . In a Community race the later is really not something you should get hung up on . You are racing against at least someone you can predict and enjoy competing against . It isnt real life so dont get hung up on any views about whether things are real or not . The problem ones are the fliers and those who do extremely irratic output that break up and disrupt races . The only advise on this is to join only well organised races by the top event organisers who dont allow zpower, insist on HRM and W/KG parameters and/or learn to recognise someone not set up properly and ignore. Whilst never preventing occassional issues in general you get more mature racers in those events and outliers quickly get flagged and kicked out and will be ignored .

Once you settle into a group , unless you are much stronger than the group e,g, you got dropped for some technical or maybe parcour specific issues , stay in the gruop and lean on it . Work out how the others in the group perform and react, are they climbers or sprinters . What is there and your strengths . Treat this as your race and aim to “Win” that group race. Enjoy the tactically battle , Enjoy having a strategy to win it and trying to execute the strategy .

Sometimes it will pay off and it will feel like a win , sometimes it wont , but in each event you enter you get two things out of it , more experience in how to improve your zwift racing tactics and skills but by far more important a damn good physical workout and feedback on who you are as a rider and where you could train better …

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No lightning bolt either…

And as others are hinting at you

Link your Account to Zwiftpower (Search the forums for that if you dont know)
Get a Smart Trainer

Or at the very least get a power meter.

Back to the original question, I am about the same weight and similar or lower 1-hour power to weight. In B events, I’ve come in near the back of criteriums. I got top 3 in a road race on the Bologna TT course and near the top 25% of the field in a one lap TT, and that course has that very nasty climb. I’ve been near the back of the finishers in one very long road race on the Full PRL course - but of course, the people who were crazy/stupid enough to sign up for a race on that course were pretty strong riders and many people dropped out. (A teammate put me up to it, so put me in the stupid category.) Basically, the OP is likely to do well on hillier courses. Same would be true IRL, really. IRL, you may or may not be able to choose hillier courses depending on where you live (I used to race in the Midwestern US, which doesn’t have a lot of elevation gain), but on Zwift you can!

Also, sustained power is only one element of road racing, including Zwift racing. You need to produce good shorter-duration, e.g. 1 minute and 5 minute power, as well.

Thanks for all the reply’s it’s been a good insight for future races and event that I’ll enter. Like I said, I went for group C as a taster and as the race went on I quickly knew my sustained W/Kg were higher then the rest (cat B next time).

I guess I’ll just have to accept that I’m racing against the group I can stick with and not just the positions I see.

I did get dropped by a group and quickly realised you go backwards very quickly from not drafting and a group 40seconds behind slowly caught up to me.

Smart trainer is on the cards but only if I really get stuck into this as I see it being quite pricey if it just gets shoved in a corner in 4 months time.

I’ll have a gander at Zwift power later.

Thanks everyone…see you on the road :+1:t2:

Prepare for one other shock then: Smart trainers tend to be more cruelly accurate (honest) about your power. You’ll see a bit of a reset when you switch.

3.9 w/kg for 1hr is easily Cat B pace.

also lots of other mechanics come into play in Zwift.

drafting, powerups, frame/wheels loadout, weight/height settings etc.

maybe you were riding a TT bike on a race with drafting enabled? TT bikes can’t draft = ur gna have a bad time.

apart from that dunno. but you did not ride an efficient race compared to ur competititors that’s for sure :smiley: