I started Zwifting and Zwift Racing This Last October. I have always hated riding indoors but the bought a smart trainer and thought I’d give it a shot and like all of you i loved it. I am a long time roady and have raced for many years but never once have I had a power meter. When I first started I had an FTP of just under 200 and slowly over the last few months of Zwift racing it has increased to about 275. I am a bigger rider and can generate high wattage fairly easily. Sprint at 1500 watts. One ride, not a race, I used a high cadence burst type technique where I would hit a cadence between 140-160 rpm for 3-5 seconds and this would generate wattage of anywhere from 700-1100 watts then off for 5-8 seconds doing about 100 watts. I was doing the volcano climb and PR’d it by almost 2 minutes. At the end of the ride Zwift bumped my FTP to when I went to do my next category enforced race I was not able to ride in D or C’s but only A and B. I manually changed it on my profile but it still would not allow me to compete where I had been competing. I went ahead and entered a race in the B’s figuring I was going to get me butt handed to me but surprisingly I stayed with the group and ended up top 10. I did this using the high cadence burst technique. I would burst to the front of the group and fade back and do this again and again to stay with the group. Like I said I am an old roady that has raced for a long time so sitting in and conserving is in my nature and over the next several B races I continued to use this technique and I actually won a couple of races. I am just curious the thoughts out there on what might be happening from a technical power meter standpoint? Is this fooling the system somehow or is this a technique that is just well suited for my particular build and ability?
Welcome to the forums @M_ungrysqueet, nothing like kicking the hornets nest on your first post
There is much debate on the microbursting technique. It is well known to give an advantage. I think it is cheating, no one rides like that in the real world, nor would it be possible to do so in a group/race situation.
I would much rather race in the category I should be in and not use that technique. Any idea how can you reset the FTP in order to be allowed to race where I should be?
Your zFTP is calculated from 60 days of data, so if you ride at lower power across all the durations in the curve used to calculate CE (2-50 minutes?) for 60 days, your zFTP will become lower and possibly reset your category. Of course it also depends on your fitness and where you are in relation to the category boundary. The categories are quite wide so if you become fitter and are not near the boundary then you may not see a change in category. You can check the category and the dates of your PRs by looking at the fitness section on my.zwift.com.
According to zwift, there is no benefit to what you are doing.
Plenty of people think there is, but zwift have said in these forums there is no benefit in doing that sprint & coast technique.
Do what you want to do…
Zwift have also said the complete opposite so depends on who from zwift you speak to. And of course there are certain trainers that benefit from the sprint and coast technique.
I would love for Zwift to give an official statement on it to avoid all this debate but in the mean time most organisers will DQ for it if it’s done to the extremes.
IMO, this is more like an exploit than actively cheating. That said, if there’s an exploit and you actively use it, then that can definitely cross the line. As I understand it, some trainers or power meters, when you stop pedaling, they smooth the reported power out. They are actually reporting more work done than you are putting out, however.
I lean towards it being cheating, albeit we can’t guarantee that everyone knows that it is cheating. Now you know. Even if it’s not cheating, I’d urge you not to do it. As mentioned, some race organizers will DQ people for this - problem is, they have to notice that someone is doing it and they have to take action, and they’re all volunteers.
Great information from you all. Honestly it does feel like I am gaining an unfair advantage, thus asking the question in this forum. I truly stumbled onto it accidentally in that volcano climb and i wish I could just reset my FTP back to a more normal spot in a much quicker time than over a 60 day average so i can actually be in a legit race. Thanks for the insight.
As already said, some trainers and power meters are more susceptible to this technique than others. I guess it would be better for you, in the long term, not to rely on this over-reporting, just to avoid the inevitable disappointment down the line if you change hardware
ZRL Rules, 8.1.3
k. Utilizing techniques that exploit a networked game such as ‘Sticky Watts’.
yep it’s just very hard to judge what is or isn’t unless it’s extreme.
Ideally it would be nice if zwift auto detected it and popped up a warning or something. I recently found probably the worst case of flat top sticky watts i’ve ever seen in a rider been doing zrl for seasons.
And the above rule is still confusing as there is sticky watts as in flat top power charts very easy to see what is unclear is if microbursting/varying power falls under the same ruling
It needs to be fixed in the physics calc imo. That way the root cause doesn’t matter, it’s no longer effective.
I have seen this kind of riding (bursts of power) on a regular base when going up the Alpe or Epic KOM doing a free ride or event. Does this type of micro bursting also works on climbing? I ask this, because I have not see this guy do MB on climbing but mainly on flats or decents.
If MB is against Zwift rules, why not make it possibly to easily report a rider doing this.
it’s most commonly used on climbing. The worst examples have flat ish power graph on flatter sections then hits a hill and goes crazy.
Everyone will to a certain extent vary power which is where it’s hard to draw the line. But when riders are going to almost sprint power to stop pedalling over and over is where it looks very sus and has been deemed not a natural pedalling style
such a grey area although nobody enforces it zrl or zhq unless it’s pointed out in high profile events so it’s pretty much left to community organisers that sometimes spot it but it’s almost impossible to confidently say what is or isn’t deemed as cheating so hard/awkward to enforce…
Exactly. You could also just do it very occasionally, for example to chase back on when you are dropped. Almost impossible to determine if it is deliberate gaming of the system in that example.
Without wishing to reopen the can of worms, its not Sticky watts and its a physics exploit over a network latency exploit.
But lack of ownership by Zwift in this area means it has gone unchecked for far to long, as stated above, a clear definition of what is or is not deemed acceptable is the way forward, a broad statement does very little to define what is or is not acceptable.
As per the Cat enforcement rules, your category is the ones available to you, so use it - Ride the way want until specifically told otherwise.
In addition to on VO2Max and shorter climbs, I’ve also seen it on long-ish (to me anyway) attacks to the finish. Rather than a 3-400 m sprint to the finish, people will do it for a 6-800m sprint to the finish. Super obvious when they stream themselves and pedal a bit, stop, then, as the power numbers start to drop (must be using a sticky W power source - either pedals or trainer) they do 5-8 hard pedals, then stop, then start again as the power starts to drop. Over and over again. People made such a big deal about it when well known people were seen to do it a year or so ago that I’d have to imagine that, if they’ve been Zwifting longer than that, they’d know it is cheating and at the very least wouldn’t broadcast themselves doing it, but who knows.
Yep, now that you know, it’s cheating.
The moment you noted it was giving you more power, it became cheating.
It was an innocent route that took you there but now you should be responsible and respectful and don’t do it.
It’s like golf, do you move your ball or not?
Your sentence is to have to race in a higher cat for 60 days.
I recommend you do mass start events and just keep up with the group that best matches your abilities and ignore the podiums.