First time racer

I’ve been riding on Zwift on and off for a while and have decided to try one of the races, does it really matter which group I sign up for during my first race? How do I get seeded moving forward? What happens if I’m a D riding in a C? Honestly, at this point I don’t care about what place I finish, I care about improving.

Make sure you choose a road bike not the TT bike for the race unless it’s a TT race obviously.

A lot of races are mass start so everyone is in together. If you don’t care what position you come choose Category A that way no one will accuse you of cheating. After your first race look at your average w/kg and use that to choose your category from then on.

Other option is to check if zwift has already calculated an estimated FTP in the pause/menu screen click on the edit pencil top left (where you change your weight etc). See if in there there is an FTP. Your true FTP will be higher unless you have done an all out 20 minute effort. Take that FTP and divide by your weight in kg. That tells you what category to join.

1 Like

As long as you keep your nose well away from the wind, that is, only keep drafting others and not ride in front to push up the speed of your group, it makes approximately no difference to others what category you ride in during the race (the final sprint is a different matter, of course). So in principle you could just start in D and see how that feels. But if Zwift has already estimated your FTP, please use that as your starting point instead as instructed by Ben above. Then again, you could also just start in A, try to hang on for dear life (or just ride comfortably along, depending on your fitness level), and after that you will definitely have a pretty good FTP estimate from the software.

Do keep in mind that while racing in an easy category may be good for your ego, your legs will appreciate a tougher category a lot more.

1 Like

Hi Todd - consider signing up to Zwiftpower also. That will also give you a Cat to ride in.

1 Like

Zwiftpower will eventually give a category after a certain number of races. However, the instructions for signing up are often a bit complicated for someone that just wants to try out their first race. I’d recommend looking in to it after a few races.

How about signing up to a couple of Time Trial races to start off with?
A TT will be a solo hard/ max effort and will provide you with an idea of what you are able to sustain over a period of time. Longer TT races could give you a new FTP which will then give you absolute guidance on your CAT.

For the record, when you do a race be prepared to hit it hard for the opening few minutes before it settles down.

1 Like

This is a good idea. TT gives the best measure of your steady state fitness and should be very near an FTP effort (duration dependant) and therefore a great way to evaluate what Cat.

Just keep in mind that the road races will have surges mostly at the race start and any climbs. Tactics and a sprint in the end will also come into play.

The good thing about Zwift TTs is that you can see how you place against the competition throughout the race (except for races that use the “proper” TT mode) so it isn’t as boring as IRL TTs. The bad thing about that is that a critical skill in TTing is knowing how to pace yourself and seeing the competition can easily push you to go too fast from the start.

Anyway, don’t overthink it. Just go race. (If you’re in doubt about categories, just start with one of the Tour for All races. In them the category system is such a mess in any case so one more sandbagger won’t change a thing…)

3 Likes

Thank you all for the feedback! I think what I did this morning was a group ride and I’m signed up for something else tomorrow. I have a FTP of 212 at 210lbs, so it seems like I’m a C/D rider. I’m just going to feel those rides out and go from there. Thanks again everyone

3 Likes

Yeah, with those numbers D is a good place for you to start, just ride your own race and don’t worry about the sandbaggers in front. On flat courses you have an advantage over lighter riders at the same W/kg because absolute watts matter the most there, so don’t be afraid to try C races as well when you get the hang of it.