Downhill and putting down huge watts efforts are not realistic

Downhill should be relooked into. Got dropped yesterday in the Vatternrunden, when exiting the new dessert section. Was at the back of the pack of about 33 riders, just briefly lost connection with the pack (due to I was not paying attention), and got dropped. A long 400 watt efforts did not got me back, so I road the next 60 km solo at 3,8 watts/kg. Looking only at the watts/kg results at the finish leaderboard, I should up ended 3rd or 4th. But now I got stuppely dropped into 33th place, in a way that has nothing to do with cycling. Putted beast-mode on and battle me into a 10th place overall.

The Zwift engine for downhill should be modified. For exemple, downhill the Epic climb, or tower climb. When you go downhill at 60km/h, 300watts or 400 watts is not going to add some extra speed. Mayby 400 does a tiny bit, but 300 not. Going +70km/h … doing 400w … does not give you extra speed.

Looking at your Strava fly-by you can see you lost a lot of time because you were not in the draft. You actually kept your gap the same down the Volcano. by the time you got to the top of the volcano you lost more than 2min on the lead group.

Getting dropped on that section cost you a lot of time. You did a good pace to the end.

w/kg is not the only parameter that will determine race results, a lot of that route was flat so staying in the bunch out of the wind is the place to be. w/kg is only applicable on steep climbs.

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Yes I now watt/kg plays the bigger part on climbs and less on flat roads. However, I had no draft so had to pedal harder on the flat roads. so got a little more fatigued then I should be, at the start of the climbs.

at the top of the first volcano climb, I switch to the Zwift TT bike. Lost some extra time there, but I hoped to gain the lost time with the aero benifit. Switch back to the road bike later (and lost again some time), when I caught up with some folks in the second lap near the ocean blvd hill. Still don’t know it was the good thing to do? Lost 2 times about 15-20 seconds, so 30-40 seconds. Road about 30 km(?) on the TT- bike.

Road with them folks a few miles to the start of the 2nd volanco climb, then solo again.

Overall I would agree with the OP, but Gerrie is also right about the draft, which, IMO, is a bit unrealistic. When a rider gets out of the draft in Zwift it can be significantly harder than IRL to get back, and the larger the group you are trying to latch back onto the more exacerbated the effort becomes. IRL if I get dropped off the back of a group of 2 riders or 20 riders the effort is not significantly different, but in Zwift the effort to get back to to the group of 20 riders is markedly more. Even in the 1.3 wkg groups it can often take an effort of 5 wkg or more to latch back on, even if you’re only off by a few seconds. IRL a rider could pretty much roll back on with a 2 wkg effort. I’m not necessarily sure, though, if this is solely an issue of draft as larger groups also seem to move unrealistically quickly in Zwift.

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My experience in the downhill sections is it does not matter how hard you pedal on the steep sections but you have to put down a lot of power on the small bumps while going down. So holding 300w downhill help to keep your speed when the gradient change to 1,2,3% , or if you know the downhill you can go the the aero tuck position and only go hard when the gradient change. (this sort of make sense in my head, I don’t know if I articulated it that well. LOL)

Back to Draft: in Zwift we have an infinite amount of people pulling in the front constantly rotating. IRL you have to find a gap and it take time to rotate. If you look at the pros how quickly they catch the small breakaway when they rotate at the front. I am sure drafting can be improved, but how i don’t know.

i agree with your assessment of the downhill. the other day i was riding down the epic KOM (towards the jungle) and there was a guy doing about 230w pretty consistently the whole way down. i ramped up to 36mph and then tucked at 0w. for each of the inclines, i knew they were coming, so i ramped up to 300w out of the tuck just before them.

the guy maintaining 230w stayed behind me the whole time even though i was literally putting out 0w for a big chunk of the downhill.

maybe if he had been doing 300w the whole way i wouldn’t have stayed ahead, but i’m not sure – and that is a lot of effort to put out compared to how little i was putting out.


Downhill is brutal if you miss the draft. The problem is, the faster you go the bigger the wind resistance gets and you need so much more power to go faster. Just using the website I entered a -5% decline and entered in 300W and 400W to see what the difference in speed would be. 55.23kmh vs 57.81kmh. So a 33% increase in power gives you about a 5% increase in speed. Compare that to on the flat where the speeds are 36.95kmh vs 41.03kmh which is about a 10% increase in speed.

When you consider that the group is benefiting from drafting plus they don’t have to worry about safely descending (no need to brake in corners plus they can descend as a blob instead of a strung out line so getting even more draft) then it’s almost impossible to rejoin on the downhill. You’re better off to descend at a normal pace and then try to get back on the flat. Or just don’t miss that draft at the top of the hill.

I don’t think Zwift need to change the power to speed on descents as that is just going to make things worse but maybe they should look at the drafting and reduce it’s effect on downhills so it would reflect what happens in the real world (ie a line of strung out riders instead of a big aero blob).

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