Finally! Cheating made easy for everyone

I am thrilled! And I just had to write another wall of text about it (it has been a while since so it’s OK):

Finally I have installed on my PC what I have been looking for the last couple of years!

Finally everyone can cheat on equal terms! Yes, that means YOU TOO!

I’m referring to the Zwift Activity Monitor. It turns out it was released quite a while ago, and I completely missed that. (I have scoured the internet countless times in the past for something similar and always came up with nothing.) Thank you, Kevin Ruff, the creator, for this release! It means a whole lot to the Zwift racing community.

What is Zwift Activity Monitor (ZAM)? It’s a little PC app that you can put as an overlay on top of your Zwift screen. It sniffs the network packets your client sends to Zwift and can thus pick up crucial real-time data and splash them right in your face as you grind away on some Zwift ride. It looks like this:

I would imagine the intended purpose of ZAM is to be a much needed real-time data display for time trialists, triathletes and people in general who e.g. try to break the hour on Alpe du Zwift or some other personal record. You can set up splits and get data on segments, crucial if you need to pace a route and make sure you really give it all where it counts. However…

…to me ZAM is the ultimate cheating tool. Exactly the tool I always wanted. I will explain why. But first, let me introduce myself to those who haven’t had the pleasure to be annoyed in the past because they are new to Zwift or to this forum.

I was reborn a superhero a couple of years ago. It happened, just like that, overnight. But before that I was like everybody else. New to Zwift at first. Entered my first races. Did surprisingly badly. Worked my way up to the top of a category. Thought I would be somewhat competitive at that point but still got crushed. Tried harder to no avail. Then eventually got upgraded without ever seeing a podium. Rinse repeat. Until the day I figured out what exactly is going on in your average everyday Zwift race. The massive cheating. And could see how countless others went through the same experiences as I had in the past, the same confusion at first, asking the same questions in the forums. Then ultimately the same disappointment and the same realization that Zwift is rigged in favor of cheaters and that you are unlikely to ever podium in a Zwift race (sub-cat A) by playing fair, regardless of your physical prowess.

First you had the sandbaggers. The people who ZwiftPower labels one category but who consistently enters a lower category instead. Just because Zwift lets them. They are rather easy to spot once you reach the upper end of your category and can see them fly. But then as time went by I also realized that there was a whole lot of more subtle cheating going on as well. There were the cruisers, a term I borrowed from someone else on this forum.

The cruiser belongs to his category according to ZwiftPower, but he (typically male) has overcapacity and should actually move on to a higher category, but instead he stays behind, makes sure he doesn’t go over W/kg limits and distributes his overcapacity in the race in such a way that you don’t stand a chance against him. He is too strong. He really shouldn’t be there. It just doesn’t show on ZwiftPower.

And then there were other injustices as well. Like e.g. the heavy weight advantage in Zwift races. You are always better off being heavy in a Zwift race.

Anyway, I woke up one morning and suddenly I had superpowers. Oh, and a nice spandex suit! I had transformed into Zwiftcruiser the superhero and now I could suddenly crush unsuspecting oppontents in my races by cruising the crap out of them. And I started to podium. And podium again.

Yes, I was deliberately cheating. But very open about it, mind you. To me it was a rebel act in order to draw public attention to the obvious flaws of the W/kg cat system that made a superhero like Zwiftcruiser, or his many many nemesis riders doing the same thing in races, possible at all. As a cruiser you don’t really compete against non-cheating riders. You compete against other cheaters. Who is the smartest? (Or the heaviest?)

I documented it all on my blog. But cruising, in order to win on ZwiftPower and still look legit, was something of a challenge. Don’t get me wrong, it is not physically challenging. That’s the whole point of cheating, to avoid physical challenge. But it is mentally challenging. Or was, rather, we’ll come to that. Because you used to face a tricky lack of real-time information in your races and had to make constant difficult decisions. I covered this in my cheat school on the blog, where I tried to teach the art of cruising and encouraged everyone to try. The price you had to pay for mistakes was not just lost races. You also risked an upgrade, after which you could no longer cheat since you ended up in a category where you actually belong. Then you had to downgrade again, like the top-notch supercruiser studied in this cheating lesson, a very time consuming process (3 months).

But the cheat school is now luckily partly obsolete. With the help of cutting edge technology, freely available - yes, I am referring to ZAM - anyone who runs Zwift on a PC and who is stronger than cat D can cheat, win and fool ZwiftPower with just a few minutes of preparations.

Why would you want to cheat? You really should cheat. It puts much needed pressure on Zwift HQ to fix the flaws in Zwift racing. The more cheaters the better in the long run. With enough cheaters racing will break down completely (it’s merely totally screwed up at the moment - we can do better!) Plus it’s FUN TO WIN!

So how do you cheat by using ZAM? It’s easy. Install it and set it to show your 20 min average power and make sure you stay close to the cat limit in your race but never go over it. That alone will get you a huge advantage.

The reason why it was so difficult to cruise in the past was that there were no reliable ways to determine your moving 20 min power or W/kg average. Zwift doesn’t display this to you. The Garmin phone app (if you had a bike computer) may have had this, I’m not sure, but e.g. Wahoo certainly didn’t. All you could see in the typical bike computer or smart trainer app was your total average for the race, which is usually completely useless information, or your best 20 min in the race, which is also useless. You want to monitor a trailing 20 min average, your last 20 min, to make sure you are always in line throughout the race.

Let’s do the maths. It’s simple. Let’s say you should really be a cat B rider but you have managed to get classified as a cat C rider by ZwiftPower (refer to my cheat school if you don’t know how to do that). And now you want to cheat and win cat C races. Let’s assume you weigh in at 85 kg.

So the W/kg limit you must never cross in any race is 3.2 W/kg. How many Watts can you safely produce then? It’s 85 x 3.2 = 272W. But this isn’t quite correct.

ZwiftPower treats your best 20 min in a race as an FTP test and tries to infer your actual threshold. As long as your actual threshold doesn’t take you over 3.2 W/kg, then you won’t be disqualified. And an FTP test, according to Zwift, is a 1 hr measure inferred from 20 min under the assumption that you will only be able to hold 95% during a whole hour of what you manage to push during 20 min. This means we can go higher than 272W.

272W / 0.95 = 286W

So the entire formula is (weight x W/kg limit) / 0.95. That is your limit.

So as long as your 20 min moving average never hits 286W, then you won’t be DQ’d by ZwiftPower. I would aim for 280W personally. Then if I had to push it a nudge higher to not get dropped or to drop competitors in a climb, I would still be OK.

And then you just take it from there. If you are actually a cat B rider at 85 kg, then 280W will be easy. The first 20 min will be a bit delicate because the race starts are always hard. Even with ZAM you will have to make some difficult decisions about what group to go with at start, because there will be sandbaggers left and right and you might get carried away. But beyond the first 20-25 min, once the hard starting minutes are discounted and forgotten, then you will likely build a sort of power buffer in your average. ZAM will likely show a lower-than-limit average at that point because the pace of the frontmost legit/semi-legit group will usually drop under your limit after a while, unless you are really light, and so you get to decide when to bring the hammer down and still stay within your limits. Toward the end of the race, the last lap, only other cruisers will be able to follow your moves. That’s how you crush the noob legits. Then you just duke it out between you, you and the other cruisers and elephants. Winning in Zwift below cat A is not about superior physical effort. It never was. It’s all about optimizing your effort.

Sadly, I can’t take advantage of ZAM myself just yet. A pretty bad fall (in a double sense) has rendered me in a sorry state. I just got rid of the plaster. But towards February I should be in enough shape to be able to start cheating again, now with the help of ZAM. See you at the start line then. Let’s fight for the podium and leave the legits behind, poor suckers.

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Or they will just remove the ability to use this program and other programs that are truly helpful and not used for cheating.

This is why we can’t have nice stuff.

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What will help you even more, see that racer who you compete with week in, week out and you really want to beat… Add their Zwift ID to the tool and you can have all their personal data delivered to your screen to keep an eye on them.

Power, WKG, Hr… all there for you to view.

I fully expect this thread to get pulled… Will be pretty hypocritical if it does though seeing as you can use the tool but you can’t discuss it.

i just use an abacus personally

Its much easier with a slide rule.

Rather pointless, considering that you can accomplish more or less the same with a suitable head unit as well…

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That’s kind of creepy!

B winner in Herd of Mountain Goats has podiumed the race several weeks in a row, usually taking the gold. His numbers are quite high, so I’m not sure why he isn’t getting DQed. Maybe has something to do with claiming he’s 54.9kg (which is actually up from 54kg just a couple short months ago.

Sorry about hijacking this thread. Please return to the topic at hand.

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his best 3 efforts put him at 242w FTP, way under the A threshold

Very much so… it’s the big issue I have with the tool… As others have said, you can do the rest with a head unit albeit this packages it all up nicely for you, but that tool will pull others data.

And this is the sad part they will block it and the cheaters will go back to using cycle computers and we will loose all the non cheat data maps and gadgets.

And this is why we can’t have nice things.

Uh, I can’t find what the thresholds actually are. Lots of references to w/kg, but I can’t find the FTP thesholds.

But 54.9kg? Hmmm. I guess that’s how you win hill climbs with relatively little power.

https://zwiftpower.com/viewtopic.php?f=68&t=5372

4.6w/kg and 300w for A+ cat
4.0w/kg and 250w for A cat
3.2w/kg and 200w for B cat
2.5w/kg and 150w for C cat

I blame the race organiser

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Surely the counter point to that is, if it can be easily replicated elsewhere, its no great shakes to lose it.

There are lots of ways to cheat, this is just one of them. What I don’t do is loudly advertise them for everyone to copy them and reduce racing to a farce.

Most don’t cheat, despite what you think; joining their ranks makes you WORSE than they are, because you should know better.

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Most don’t but I’d say the majority at the top end of cats do. Just look at ZRL it was rife with power monitoring.

It used to annoy me more but now I’ve pretty much accepted that it will continue until Zwift fix the system, I don’t blame the players they will do anything possible to win within the rules.

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You are not doing anything to hurt Zwift by cheating. All you are doing is upsetting your fellow zwifters. I get the thought behind it but the only way to actually make Zwift take quick action would be for a large subscriber base to get together and cancel their memberships until Zwift fixes it. Money talks…What you are doing is the equivalent to a gnat flying around a buffalo.

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I don’t usually bother turning mine on, but is this thread effectively saying that using a head unit (eg. a garmin) is considered cheating?

@JOHN_CRAIG, no, they are saying if you use it to monitor your average power so you don’t go over the cat limit, then you are “cruising” which is considered cheating.

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