If you’re referring to the “Pace Partners” which are a relatively new feature being tested solely in the Watopia “world”, then, YES – these are 'bots (not real). Well, I suppose nothing at all is real in Zwift - but most of the other “avatars” you interact with are driven by “real” people on trainers, unlike the Pace Partners. In group rides, you will encounter ride leaders and “sweepers” (avatars that are not see-through) which also have a beacon over their heads (Yellow for ride lead, and red for sweeps), but these are driven by in-real-life (IRL) persons. At present, each of the four Pace Partners are running Watopia at specific fixed power outputs according to varying levels as follows:
- D. Diesel Dan (1-2.4 w/kg)”** : Casual-paced group ride with a few gentle hills
- C. Coco Cadence (2.5-3.1 w/kg)** : Moderately-paced group ride with occasional hills
- B. Bowie Brevet (3.2-3.9 w/kg)** : Expert-paced group ride with frequent climbs.
- A. Anquetil (4+ w/kg)** : Elite-paced ride on a challenging route. Many tough climbs!
The animation to which you refer DOES NOT at present, indicate whether you are in front or behind the pacer 'bot. In other words, when you get the warning “Stay With Pace Partner” (together with a distance delta), one cannot tell relative position vis-a-vis forward or behind when the pace 'bot is not visible on the screen, which is one of my major bug-a-boos. If you drop your concentration for a split second, it’s easy to find yourself ejected from the group dynamic and having to restart the clock.
In this screen shot, I’m actually forward of Coco, but the graphic animation suggests that she is in front of me. I’ve repeatedly suggested that Zwift fix this animation to place the rider ahead of the 'bot (when in fact the rider is ahead), and to show the rider astern of the 'bot (when in fact, that is the case). I find using the view mode (camera angle) “9” (press the 9 key on your numeric keypad or cycle through the EYE key in the Companion app), facilitates my keeping a better perspective on relative position when riding with the pace partners, but that’s a personal preference.
Regarding Ride-ons “rains”, when one presses and holds momentarily the red Chevron on the map screen (Companion App), you will automatically distribute up to 5 ride-ons to riders nearby. This may be (and is) done repeatedly, to the extent different riders are close-by your position. That’s how the rains of thumbs appears!