While riding the Innsbruck mountain route the other day, I was thinking about what the philosophy of route design at Zwift might be. So far, I conclude that building long self contained loops is the primary design objective.
I want to suggest that a more map-based approach be used for “infill” on existing maps. A bit of context about me: I ride for no more than an hour and a half in any given night, and I usually ride an hour or less. My fitness is decent, but nothing amazing.
Here are two examples of routes that provide good map-based riding for a person of my fitness/time commitment, and two that do not.
- Volcano is a great map-based design. It can be tacked on to any Watopia route in a number of ways, or it can be ridden by itself in a few ways. There are defined routes that use it, but you can “build your own” on the fly.
- Richmond is also a good map-based design. The choices are limited, but there are many choice points where you can adjust your route and make it what you want.
On the other hand,
- Innsbruck is not very good map-based design. The mountain loop is very long, so you end up committing 30-40 minutes to it without any other choices. Essentially, you end up riding in-town or on the mountain, not both.
- The jungle loop in Watopia is also not very good map-based design. You ride out to the loop, and then you are stuck there for 30-40 minutes. It’s very hard to make a meaningful ride that incorporates some part of that loop without doing just that loop. (alpe du Zwift has a similar problem, but I usually plan to commit to just that ride if I choose it in the first place)
Can you find ways to enjoy riding all of these things as they are now? Of course! And I do it 4-5 times a week! My feature request here is simply to add a few more “connector” roads in between long sections so that I can have more routing options. I suppose I’m also curious about whether this suggestion runs counter to a fundamental design paradigm at Zwift – if so, then I should probably stop thinking about it