Category Enforcement - How is my category calculated? [February 2022]

I came to this forum topic by google search of “zwift no taper racing”. However, before I talk about that I would like my 2 cents worth on CE and sandbagging etc.
Im 59 and raced road more off than on since 15 years of age. The entire time I hated road and crit cycling because of categories, especially when you start getting into the over 50’s. I tried a few crits when over 50 IRL and the usual suspects would turn up in D grade to fight it out. There was always 2 or 3 younger riders in 20’s who would race D cos " they are coming back" or " I had a big night" or whatever excuse. They would smoke us every time in the final sprint after bludging most of the race whilst complaining about a hangover from last night or similar.
I left Road mostly in the mid 90’ for Triathlon where the race of truth and no drafting made things fairer. Actually I was an above average swimmer and would draft onto the lead guys in the swim leg so I used legal drafting to my advantage.
I jumped onto Zwift in early 2019 but was sidettacked by Short course motorcycle racing. I didnt come back to Zwift until Sep 22 and I think CE is a great idea. Sure, I grizzled a bit when I was almost immediately put up from D to C grade without winning anything of consequence. However, after a weeks thinking I dont mind. My goal is to tick off 2 things on my bucket list IRL in next 2 years.

  1. Do a Grafton to Inverell race and finish. No further expectations. It was on my list for 30 years and I never made it happen.
  2. Complete another Ironman in 2 years when I turn 61. (Ironman Age categories mean at 60 I race all year in 55-59 as I am 60 in Jan 2023.
    My last one was 1999 and in 1998 I missed Hawaii by 6 minutes in the roll down so i was a little disappointed.
    Back to Zwift. I am using it specifically to target those 2 events which are over 12 months to 18 months away. I am never going to win bunch sprints in Zwift being more of a puncheur. I am targetting mostly time trials and duathlons and I dont specifically taper. However, if I have an exhausting event then I will take 2 days or more off. Im just trying to listen to my body and lose some weight and get fitter. One of those 35 min/15min duathlons knocked le around so much I felt like I had a hangover for 2 days. Pushing too hard too soon. :face_with_hand_over_mouth:
    I love stats and ZWIFTPOWER is a great tool. im slowly coming to understand it and thought what I would do is target Zwift points by racing more often than doing workouts or group rides.
    What I like about Zwift is that there are so many strategies and options to take.
    Although I am primarily a cyclist I also love the running side. I wish Zwiftpower could be setup to analyse stats in running similarly to cycling. I know they are there but there is no zwift points table etc for the runners.
    I also like how you can see how you go in age categories and compare yourself against athletes of a similar age and ability.
    I think Zwift has captured a new market as I can only see one or 2 names of athletes I knew in both cycling and triathlon and MTB (I raced mostly MTB from 2000 to 2015). I dont know why there is not a lot more. I even put the call out to my loose MTB club of 100 riders and no one seemed particularly interested. I cannot understand really as if I had this tool 45 years ago when starting out I know I would have been a much better athlete. Back then you just trained on instinct and even a speedo was considered almost cheating. Times have changed and as many times i have been frustrated by glitches of Zwifts and my own making I still love the platform. I like the encouragement we give each other on group runs and rides. I also like getting a Ride on in the middle of an event right when I am suffering most from a stranger that you have come to know jist via this online world. With rideons and friends etc you get back what you put in (unless you are a famous athlete).
    Anyway thats my rave and rant. Overall a good product. Rowing would be a great and easy addition (just a few straight lines) and could be the first leg of a triathlon to attract more triathletles as its good upper body.
    I read most of the stuff about CE and sandbagging etc in this forum (skim read) and I know it exists but I cant personally do anything so i just do my own thing. I do believe the ones who race and have proven to manipulate their weight should cop a ‘nn’ month or permanent ban.
    I have never cheated in any sport (well a few gimmies in golf by myself) and I pride myself on accurately representing myself. My weight can fluctuate by 5kg a week if I binge eat and not exercise. Zwifting regularly helps keep both under control. I have also only DNF’D 2 out of many hundreds of races. One was a bad crash at Heffron park crits as a junior. the other was a duathlon at Dapto and some wanker threw tacks over the road 10km from the finish and i had no spare.
    I think Zwift and other platforms you get what you put in and try and ignore the distractions. I would be happy to eventually race in cat B which is a realistic enoigh goal for an old man. I take it seriously without taking it too seriously. It is just a game but so is the Soccer World Cup. :face_with_hand_over_mouth:
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Confused - ZwiftPower / Category Enforcement / ZwiftRacing Rankings

How does anyone make sense of the current situation?

Some months back I was riding “C” grade under Category Enforcement and “C” grade in Zwift Power. I hadn’t done any races, just social rides and 1 ITT so don’t know how I actually compared with others.

I then had emergence surgery and have been recovering since.
When I logged in to Zwift for my first ride back I found I was rated “D” grade in ZP and CE, which made sense as it was some time since I had done any rides especially where I had put in an effort. So I did my first ride, a Zone 1 “Workout” with my power set at 90 watts for 30 minutes (all I could manage). The next day I logged on and was surprised to see I was now “C” again under CE. This didn’t make sense to me so I emailed Zwift support about it. A few days later I found I could now enter “D” again under CE. I never did hear back from Zwift support but I guess they changed something!

So I’ve built up and done a few short races since and after an EVO CC Sprint race last night I’ve been upgraded to “C” again. Here is where I can’t make sense of it all.
In the race “D” and “C” grade started together, 17 C and 6 D I believe. The race quickly broke into a leading bunch of C riders with one D rider. I was in the second bunch made up of mainly C, myself (D) and 1 or 2 other D riders. The lead bunch stayed away for the whole race with the D rider finishing with them and taking the D grade win. I finished in the second bunch and was best of the other D riders. I looked at the result in Zwift and saw I had finished second out of 6 D riders so was very pleased with my effort.

I then looked on ZP and confirmed I was 2nd. I have a few good finishes on ZP but they are all against really small fields, often 1 or 2, as most riders either don’t have ZP, don’t wear a heart rate monitor or don’t have a power meter, it seems.

I then tried to enter another event and have found I’ve been upgraded to “C” grade under CE. When I look at ZP I’m now “D grade almost C grade”. When I look at the race winners he is still “D grade”. I can’t see his grade under CE.

I then looked on ZwiftRacing app as I expected my rating would have gone UP. Well it actually went DOWN … I suppose it expected me to do better! The D winner did go up.

How does anyone make sense of any of this, or is the idea you just don’t try, and get on and ride!

Currently Zwift can make sense of it but you can only make guesses about what’s happening. I was encouraged by Flint’s recent comments about increasing transparency for CE values soon. Not everyone likes the idea but hopefully it will happen and these discussions can be more substantive.

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You received the “almost C” due to your last event having 20min 2.7w/kg - taking 95% of that and adding to previous best 2 is what gave you the “almost C”.

The other person put out load more watts than you and watts win the flat races. His 20min w/kg is lower due to weight.

2.7w/kg of your last event is Cat C in both ZP and very likely CE. ZP just averages over 3 best whereas CE takes your best efforts (not averaged).


Yep, it looks like me working in the second group rather than sitting on is the reason. Anyway, I’m just happy to be getting fitter after my health scare … everyday is a bonus!

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Link to event so I can check the rank change?

Edit - found it. You came 2nd out of two riders so lost rank.

Hi James, yes I assumed I lost rank in ZR as I had performed below the expectation. I suppose I had been seeing ZP, CE and ZwiftRacing as being related in some way. However if you can go up in ZP and CE and down in ZR then that is an incorrect assumption.

well, as someone who races between categories often, i could win an A race with a lot less power than i might win a B race with, regardless of the quality of field and strength of competition. it really just depends how fast everyone else goes

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I’ve been categorised as an ‘A’. My average in a race is around 3.7w/kg and am happy racing ‘B’. I’ve never one a race! . I tried racing ‘A’ but was dropped pretty quickly. Racing on Zwift is what i predominantly do and this new cat enforcement has completely ruined my experience. I’m left with no resort but to cancel. I know a lot of others who are thinking the same.

The official response from zwift is blah, blah, computer says ‘no’, we’ve got an algorithm that calculates critical power. What it doesn’t recognise is that I’m 50 and trying yo keep fit…!

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If you have put out cat A power at some point recently, which I assume you have, why should you be allowed to race in the B category?

Doesn’t look like A power in his Zwiftpower profile, though…
Did he do any stronger free ride efforts, possibly?

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depends on where on the power curve that is though surely? if it’s for a short effort then that shouldn’t equate to being able to put it out for a 30-50minute race, everyone is physiologically different but when a power curve gets breached at a single point means an upgrade in category maybe its time for another rethink on how its done

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maybe a ranking system :wink:

Until then this CE farce will continue.


Looking at your 5 to 12 minute power (which is pretty flat), those would indicate that you could do over 4 w/kg for up to an hour. You only do short races? How about doing some longer ones?

That happens to everyone who enter a new category… Instead of fighting for victory, I too am fighting against being dropped.

You do still have the option to race ZP categorised Cat B races as you are, and will probably remain, in ZP Cat B. There are however fewer and fewer ZP races available.

I notice you also raced in WTRL so I think they also remain Cat B for you, or so I believe.

Not ideal but, I hope, better than giving up.

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That’s not how the calculation works. It creates a curve to calculate your critical power, not a single point that pushes it over. Once your critical power is above the limit you get promoted.

I know there is scope for some improvement - mainly around the W’ component and pushing up the riders with the strong shorter duration power. But for the longer durations the curves are extremely consistent and that is why it is an effective estimate at CP.

The model shows the accuracy of fit (see the high North CP calculator). Yes it can be less accurate if there is a lack of available data, but show me a system where you can put C in and not get C out.

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i would like to know how they are calculating vo2 so i can reverse engineer my way into finding out how many cigarettes a day i need to start smoking


I’ll have to disagree with you where you say a single point over the specified value wont put you up a category

5-8min effort apparently

This is where people get hung up on how CE works. Somehow it’s extrapolated that he’s able to put out over 4wkg for an hour, yet his closest race to that duration (50minutes) he was able to only do 3.6wkg. Barely hits 4wkg for races 20-25 minutes in length.