Not sure what to do next

I already emailed zwift, but maybe you guys can suggest alternatives.

I recently purchased a Kinetic Road Machine (InRide) to use exclusively with zwift races.

The issue I’m having is that in every single race I’m struggling to keep up with the rest of the group during the first few minutes. I decided to write today because I was riding a “D” race, and I’m struggling to keep up with the “D” group after 5 minutes. I know I’m no Geraint Thomas, but I don’t think I’m the slowest cyclist in zwift.

I’m 41-yo, 5’9", 170. I play competitive racquetball every day and ride about 30 miles every weekend. With that said, is it possible that I could be slower than every “D” and “C” cyclist from all the races? I’m asking because I would assume I’m not since I’m an active person, but I honestly have no idea. I’ve never ridden a real race, so I don’t know if it’s possible that “D” racers are actually faster than I am.

What’s most confusing is that I was doing great with my cycleops mag trainer. The only reason I switched is because I didn’t have enough resistance for sprinting at the end of the race.

Any help is appreciated.

Maybe this is part of it: some riders in D races have the power to be in C or B races. Zwift does not regulate who enters a race classification. So you can quickly get dropped from a group at the head of a D race, when those are actually C or B quality riders.

Another possibility: you’re not warmed up. Races have furious starts. If the body and mind are not ready to sustain power above threshold at the start, you’ll get dropped.

Other possibilities: various mechanical and calibration and power estimation issues.

HI @Vaughn_Myers, some trainers read different than others, It can be that the new trainer is a bit more accurate or reading low. You can test this by borrowing a power tap wheel form a friend just to get some piece of mind.

You said you entered the “D” race, what are your FTP and weight or you can just give me your FTP/weight.

Talking about FTP did you do a FTP test?

You can go to and compare your effort against the other riders.

Last note: Racing is a lot of fun, just keep training. Remember the Start is crazy you have to go full gas 5 sec before the GO GO GO.

Disclaimer: I’ve no medical or sports science background, so what follows might be a load of rubbish! :smiley:

Along with the other replies, I’d say it might just be a case that racquetball fitness doesn’t transfer to cycling fitness in the same way. I don’t know the sport well, but I’m guessing there’s an aerobic component to it. That endurance part of your cardiovascular profile should translate well to cycling.

But I’d also assume it’s relatively more like running very short sprints. 30 miles isn’t very far in terms of cycling (although I don’t know what sort of speed you’re riding at; 30 miles at 15mph is a lot different from 30 miles at 20mph). It might be that you’re just not that developed in cycling terms yet. I’m the opposite - I’ve been cycling for decades. Can do 100 miles, and a 26 minute “10” (which is in itself not super fast - average 23mph). But I’m a pretty slow runner because my legs aren’t adapted for that.

Also bear in mind that maybe a lot of the more recreational Zwifters don’t enter races in the first place.

So yes, it’s entirely possible that you could be slower than all the D racers.

The good news is that if you just keep Zwifting and pushing yourself, gains tend to come thick and fast in the early days. :smiley:

Just my .02, I switched from a cycleops mag trainer to a kickr and lost almost 40 watts off my FTP. At least in my experience, zPower was pretty optimistic. As stated above, Zwift is probably not something that casual cyclists use, so even a “slow” cyclist in Zwift is at least someone who is willing to drop money on a trainer and a monthly subscription.


No shortage of good comments so far…

  1. Zwift races start stupid-fast right out of the gate, regardless of category. It’s just the way it is. You have two choices: adapt and do what you can to stay with the pack (even though it’s hard and ultimately unsustainable) because the longer you can hang on in the draft, the faster you’ll go w/ ‘reduced’ effort. OR… go at your own pace and accept that those are A/B/C racers who are going to drop you eventually anyway.

  2. zPower vs. power meter: it can be a rude awakening. Mag trainers have very linear resistance curves that don’t mimic reality (or even virtual reality!) very well. The problem is compounded If you’ve been using one with the resistance setting in the ‘wrong’ position (vs. the setting that Zwift used to generate the zPower curve for your trainer model).

This is a long-winded way of saying that your w/kg as estimated by Zwift for your mag trainer was probably very optimistic. So, now you feel as if you have to work much harder on your new trainer (perhaps impossibly so!) to achieve the same speeds you’re used to.

(FWIW, this can and does occasionally work the other way around. In my case, i found that the zPower curve for my very old Fluid2 was horribly pessimistic. I rode Zwift for a year thinking my FTP was hopelessly stuck at ~ 2.1 w/kg. Then I bought an accurate direct-drive smart trainer and found that my FTP is actually 3.5 w/kg).

  1. Sandbagging: it definitely happens a lot in Zwift. My ftp puts me at the low end of the B group, so that’s what I enter. But there are always some in the C group that finish faster than Bs, etc. Same thing happens IRL.

I agree with all the above. You have to start like a bat out of ■■■■. You must stay in the group to draft. Once out of the draft, you’ll be gone off the back fast. Just like outside, the group effect is huge. It is quite hard to close a 5-10 second gap solo.
Ride on!

Thanks for all the replies.

My FTP is 407. How is that number calculated? I changed some values (ie. set weight to 300), and it remained at 407.

What I fail to understand is why there’s such a huge difference between my performance with the CycleOps Mag and the Kinetic Road Machine.

With the mag trainer, I would ride “B” races because I’d already won several “C” races without riding too hard. I switched to a road machine because I couldn’t sprint since there wasn’t enough resistance. Zwift employees can corroborate that.

I then change to a Road Machine and all of a sudden I’m so slow that I can’t even compete in “D” races? That doesn’t add up.

If I recall the numbers correctly, you probably rode at an average of ~428 watts for 20 minutes at some point, and Zwift offered to update your FTP to 407 (95% of 428).

If your weight is 170lb (77kg), your FTP is probably less than 407 watts. An FTP of 407 is 5.28 watts/kg, which is quite high for an amateur cyclist.

I suspect that your previous setup was over-reporting your wattage.

You could try an FTP test (from the workouts) with both setups to compare.

When I started Zwift, I was riding a mountain bike and my setup (the tire size and trainer selection) was completely wrong since I was new to all of this. In my first race, with the extremely wrong setup, I was a top-10 in “A” races, which is obviously incorrect.

I stopped doing zwift until I bought a road bike, and from there on, my setup has been correct.

I didn’t know zwift had updated a number, that’s completely new to me. How can I reset that number?

Thanks again.

See this page for details.

Inadvertently running the Cycleops Mag trainer in the wrong resistance also makes your FTP readings even worse (I did one ride like this and my FTP was insanely high). You have to use resistance 5 IIRC to make it even close, if you were running your mag trainer on resistance 1 or 2 then it would be off by quite a lot. Reading more into it, the Cycleops Mag isnt even a “zPower” trainer, its an estimated power trainer. All of this to say that the old trainer was probably no where close to 400 watts.

How can I reset my FTP? That way my FTP will be correctly set with my current setup.

I’m not sure how my FTP affects my performance in races, but if it’s somehow based on a number “generated” by an incorrect setup where I was almost winning “A” races with a mountain bike, then the number is way way off.

Your Zwift projected FTP will not affect anything other than Zwift workouts which use your FTP to set the various target wattages for the intervals within the workout. In the races, it doesn’t matter what your FTP is, either you can keep up or you cannot.

What will affect your race performance is whether or not your power is accurate. If your trainer is not calibrated properly and thus allows you to push 400W for an hour w/out breathing hard, then you’re going to be at the point end of the race. While usually it’s power is artificially higher, I have seen some instances where a problem resulted in it being artificially lower. In this scenario, you’re about to have a heart attack and the Zwift runners are passing you on the flats.

That’s exactly what’s happening with me. I start strong but 5 minutes into the “D” race I feel like I’m about to die from a heart attack. My watts go to about 180 and everyone else is passing me.

I can accept that I’m slow, but I ride every week 40 miles, so it doesn’t make sense that Im the slowest person in a race with over 200+ Participants.

You wrote, you were 170 (pounds, I assume). That would make 180 watts equal 2.3kg/watts. That should be OK for most D races.

Are you sure, you have entered your weight correctly in Zwift? If you have entered 170kg instead of 170 pounds or something like that, that would make you pretty slow at 180 watts…

FTP in Zwift is 0.95 x your best 20 min average power output (in watts).

This number is unaffected by the weight in your profile. BUT… your speed in the game is absolutely impacted by your actual power:weight ratio (i.e. W/kg). So… setting your weight to 300 lb doesn’t change your FTP, but a 300 lb rider @ 400W is going to go much slower (in general, but particularly going uphill!) than a 170lb rider at the same 400W.

In order for your Zwift speed to be accurate, both your weight (in profile) AND your power output need to be accurate. And consistently so!

To reset your FTP, you really should take an FTP test using your current setup - making sure that your trainer is properly calibrated beforehand!

You can adjust your FTP setting in Zwift at any time by using the slider on the right side of the screen in the workout selection menu (see below).


As mentioned, changes to this slider won’t impact how fast or slow you go in races - it is used for setting wattage targets in workouts. If you set it too high vs. your true FTP, you won’t be able to complete workouts. If too low, then you won’t be training effectively. That’s why I recommend taking a new FTP test. It will update automatically when you finish the test, and you’ll be good to go w/ no guesswork or trial & error.

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I would reiterate all of these comments on the technical side. The FTP value that Zwift uses will not affect the races or the power you put out, but you should make sure that your weight is entered correctly, especially since it sounds like you messed with it a little bit in an attempt to fix things. Make sure your weight is correctly set.

And yes, I know that this is going to be mentally hard to hear, but I suspect 407 was an over-estimation from zPower not being set up right. That would be almost shockingly fast, especially for someone who doesn’t ride that much (despite being generally active / athletic).

I think you should tell yourself that you’re going to start over from scratch (in order to reset mentally), re-run some of the performance tests to get a better, more accurate baseline, accept that this baseline is where you are RIGHT NOW and that it is perfectly normal / good, and then start grinding away to bring it up.

Good luck to you sir!

Yes. For 170lbs, 407W FTP would be an elite level. A friend of mine is the Masters Elite TT national champ with an FTP about 375 and rides a lot more than 40 miles a week. I suspect either entered weight incorrect or trainer accuracy issue.