I took part in the 8PM PDT test ride last night! My experience was mixed, I suspect mostly due to the learning curve. For context, I race cat C, and typically can finish in the top 25% in shorter races, often near(ish) the top in an 8-lap Crit City.
First off: I appreciate the invitation to test it and provide feedback! The feedback screen after the race barely had space for any meaningful comment; it would be nice if they offered direction to a better platform (here?) to do so.
I chose the “balanced” boost option, mostly arbitrarily since starting average seemed to make sense - I might try doing the ride again tonight & try the 50W option.
I was holding on and relatively comfortable with the lead pack for the first lap or so of the race, and then I decided to charge - a poor timing decision on my part. I got dropped very quickly and there was no chance of catching back up. This is pretty demoralizing, especially when you were feeling pretty good - I can’t help but wonder how long I would have held onto them otherwise.
Throughout the next few laps I tried charging/boosting, and felt like it wasn’t really helping or hindering me that much - just sort of introducing arbitrary, self-induced sprint efforts into the race. As far as a workout goes…it certainly showed, my HR was above-average!
The second half of the race I chose to forgo using boost mode, aside from filling both “charges” going down the hill, to save for the end of the race. I was curious to know how this would affect my position relative to other riders - and it didn’t really! For the most part I managed to hang onto others when they used their boosts, and either catch up or take a rest when they seemed to be charging.
When it came down to the final sprint (usually I perform decently here) I used both charges and easily crashed through the finish line as intended. I suspect without them I would have lost a couple places - but I also am not sure I was sprinting to my max, rather I was sprinting hard enough to keep ahead of others.
I ended up 9 of 20 on Zwiftpower for Cat C. I forget the number, but Zwift said I was in the top 18% in-game I think. Overall my average power was a bit lower than I expected - but I have to admit I was more fatigued going into this ride than I would have liked. I suspect there might have been some mental aspect of thinking about boost mode too much which caused my power to drop at points…
In the end, my 8-lap segment record on Strava was a bit slower than other efforts. This could definitely be a variety of reasons, of course, but I can’t help but wonder if I would have stuck with the lead pack if it wasn’t for my poor decision early on…
- The buttons on the companion app are small and very close together. When your fingertips are sweaty, you’re trying hard, and out of breath…looking down and aiming a finger at something finger-tip size is tough. Especially if you were to pretty the wrong button at the wrong time! Also, I wish they weren’t on the left-right slider menu - I find even in normal riding, I can have trouble sliding this left or right…I can absolutely see myself fumbling trying to slide it over to get to the right button, etc…
- I would like it to display both “real” watts and “modified” watts in the HUD.
- A small in-game (or Companion App) reminder of what choices you made would be nice. I couldn’t remember the details (watt drain or charge/boost duration) of what I chose.
- The weight penalty seemed unclear. During the race some people commented it felt like they were heavier with charged batteries, some people said it felt like there was no penalty at all.
- I’m a bit unclear on the benefit/usefulness of the weight penalty at all. If it’s for some sort of balancing, could this not be achieved by modifying the charge/burst watts themselves?
As someone who is stronger at short bursts of power rather than long sustained efforts, I feel like I could just follow others - sprint hard when they activate, and take a break or catch up when they charge, and have a similar experience, without having to worry about my own strategy as much.
I look forward to trying it again with an open mind, but my first effort didn’t completely sell me. I totally see the appeal, but for me it was one more thing to think about (and worry about messing up) instead of simply making the legs spin. I suspect over time as we all get more used to the mode & it’s strategies, I will come to enjoy it more!
Thanks for reading my giant wall of text - I hope you find the feedback useful!