Beginner Climb


I am brand new to Zwift and not the fittest, by any stretch of the imagination. I would like a Watopia climb which is reasonably constant (I tried to Innsbruck reverse KOM and the stop-start nature of the climb hurt a lot), I don’t do much climbing IRL as I live in a pretty flat place and so am trying to build up my climbing slowly. Any route’s people could recommend for a beginner, who is currently level 4, would be appreciated.

I hear the Epic KOM is a good starting point, but ideally I want to avoid the radio tower extra part of the climb and so would welcome suggestions which don’t include the radio tower (or is it just a case of selecting not to take the radio tower when I get up there?)


I would suggest riding up the Epic KOM (mountain 8 route) and keep straight at the “Bonus climb” Radio tower.

The figure 8

You can just choose going straight past the radio tower when you get there.

Thanks guys, will try the Mountain 8 route then! :slight_smile:

I’m fairly sure the Epic KOM default route avoids the “Bonus Climb” (Radio Tower). But yes, as others have said you can elect to avoid it anyway.

Zwift Mountain 8 does include the Radio Tower I think. Pretzel includes it too.

But unless you’re in an event, you can always choose not to take the turn.

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The volcano is a pretty good starter climb, definitely easier than the Epic.


I like doing workouts that have “sweet spot” (approx. 90% of FTP) blocks of 6 - 10 minutes while climbing the Epic KOM or the Alpe. It helps break the climb up into more manageable sections with some recovery built in. Plus, you gain XP faster in a workout when climbing vs. per mile/km.

Thanks for all the replies, I would be interested if there is a way of setting the FTP training thing you mentioned automatically, as in I have seen someone doing an FTP climb for 10 mins then 5 mins recovery then 10 mins FTP again, how would I set that to happen automatically in 1 of my rides please?

You can create a custom workout, or just choose one with similar settings. You can also adjust your FTP in the “training” menu by sliding the FTP bar up or down (it will be on the right side of the screen). Also, check out the whatsonzwift website to search for workouts easily.

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Thanks Mike, I will check that site out too :blush:

Because you mention you are new to Zwift and don’t mention trainer or trainer difficulty setting I figured I would mention it.
If you are on a smart trainer you can vary the intensity of climbs by changing your trainer difficulty setting (see link below). Conceptually the same effort is required to complete a climb but lowering trainer difficulty spreads the work effort out more. That’s the best explanation I can give. If you have a smart trainer and haven’t tried a lower intensity it might make it more fun.

Hi Mike and welcome!

I would like to echo the sentiment that in Watopia, the Vulcano is a much less heavy climb then the Epic KOM. But you can do either. One can always deviate from the selected route at the moment a junction comes up, so don’t worry about having to do the radiotower. And: Its a virtual world. You can always just start, and stop when you can’t take no more. If that is halfway into the climb, so be it. Just aim at getting a bit further next time you try it. Do not forget some rest days in between, either. After a few times, you will see that you are getting faster and further then before.

Goodluck, see you around in the virtual sphere!

Thanks for the replies Jimmie and Cardoon. Jimmie, I am interested in the training difficulty thing, as I set it to 100% thinking I wanted an authentic climb, as in the real world, but I have since heard dropping the difficulty is more like changing the gearing on your bike, so am I right in saying if I drop to 50% the climbs are 50% easier, but the descents are 50% more difficult? Is that how it spreads it out?

P.S. I run the Kickr with the Climb on the front

The difficulty slider effectively changes the effect the grade has on the resistance it sends to your smart trainer. To echo how Zwift describes it, setting the difficulty at 50% makes an 8% grade feel like a 4% grade. This does NOT change the total number of watts needed to get up the climb, just the effect on your trainer. (I think that if you move the slider over to 0% you effectively mimic a ‘dumb’ trainer and gradient changes will not have any impact on the trainer resistance.) So, while moving the difficulty slider won’t reduce the total amount of effort you have to put out to get up a climb it will effectively let you get up steeper gradients without having to put a really big cog on your cassette in order to do so. (That is, it will be easier to spin the gear up the steep climbs instead of having to mash it.) Try moving it around a bit and find what works best for you.

Excellent, thanks Nigel, that makes sense, so moving it to 50% will probably mean at a 10% gradient I will still be able to spin at a cadence of 80-90, coz at the moment, with it at 100% (my bike is an 18 speed), I struggle with climbs over about 8 or 9% coz I can’t get my cadence up where I would want it, even in the easiest gear. I will definitely play around with it and see how I get on.

Also, on another note, I tried the volcano climb earlier and really enjoyed it. I was pretty slow on the climb itself (about 14 mins) so I will probably wait until I am going up it in a more respectable time before I tackle the harder climbs in the game.

I always liked the Hilly loop, it has a nice little climb then a few rollers.

Route details:
Distance: 9.1km (5.7 miles)
Elevation Gain: 100m (329′)

“Slow” is a relative term. I’m guessing there are plenty of folks out there who would be thrilled with that time! The key, I suppose, is just whether you see improvement over time. (Keeping in mind, of course, that some days are just better than others, so just because your time was slower than your previous time doesn’t mean anything. It’s just the trend you hope to see improve.)

If you are new, and not in fairly decent shape, you might want to avoid the Epic KOM climb, that really is not a “beginner” climb. The original KOM and the Volcano would be better starting points. Once you can handle those fairly comfortably, then give the Epic KOM a shot. The Epic KOM is 25 minutes, +/- a minute or two, of consistent climbing if you are good shape, could be 30 minutes plus if not. The volcano climb would be more like 9 - 12 minutes depending on fitness level.

Lots of climbing advice here and it is all good depending on your goals and equipment but there is one thing that I noted was over looked.
Make sure you go down the the hill or mountain or volcano that you just climbed and take advantage of the “free” mileage points you acquire on the way down.
Since you are new, the experience points will give you access to level restricted courses and you can"buy" better frames and wheels.
The trip down is free.
I’m often off my bike but my avatar is still coasting down accumulating points.
Pair that with doing a workout on the way up, and you will maximize your points.
Just end the workout before the descent because that’s just more work!

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Hey Gerrie, I just went through Watopia Routes List you attached to this post. My two penny has nothing to do with above Beginner Climb request, but I noticed there were 2 routes missing. Whole Lotta Lava (7,6 mls/523 ft clmb), which is relatively NEW to Watopia and maybe that’s why wasn’t there (yet!). Also, Figure 8 has its Reverse option. This one, in contrary, it’s been there for a while, but I haven’t ridden that part of Watopia for a while so I’m not sure if it’s still available (maybe wasn’t consider as separate Route since it is only the Reverse version of Figure 8, but Lutscher CCW in Innsbruck and Knickerbocker Reverse in NYC are…). Thanks for posting it, anyway…:wink::+1: