Pace partners, and their pacing

The actual pace of the pace partner is a problem for me. I’ve had bad heart failure and D Deisel is like riding with an erratic mentalist. Fast enough on the flat, and then slows down to driving miss daisy speed on the hills (and I’m verging on dead myself). I overshoot them on the hill without barely turning a crank, and then he cranks back up to speed like a stabbed rat as soon as they crest.

Then the fact that there is no overlapping of difficulty is a let down. Moving up to C Cadence is just too fast for me at this point. To have some overlap between difficulty levels (so you would maybe have 6 different pace partners with some overlap of difficulty) would be a lot better.

Lower trainer difficulty setting to 25% or less. It won’t make things easier per se but you’d manage to keep DD pace evenly between flats, small hills and descents.

Wont that just make it too easy on that flat as well? He is at the right pace once up to speed for me, it’s just too on/off. needs smoothing to the changes in pace is all.

The trainer difficulty doesn’t do anything on the flat.

0% trainer difficulty = everything is flat
50% trainer difficulty = hills are half as steep
100% trainer difficulty = hills are correctly steep

The cycling pace partners maintain the same watts per kilogram come rain or shine, first kilometer or their 500th, or even incoming nuclear missiles or dinosaur killer asteroids. They could be going up the Alpe du Zwift in a hailstorm and they’d maintain their power output. They could be going down the Alpe du Zwift in a hailstorm and they’d maintain their power output.

And that’s the cause of some of your problems. I think that two of them (B and D) are modeled as heavier riders (like 80kg), and those guys slow considerably when going up the hills. Yes, they maintain the same W/kg, but they slow down more than a lighter rider would. And then, when going back down the hill, where a sane person would coast, the pace bots keep up the same power output. That’s why you feel like you’re chasing your pace partner on the downhills. I get this a little bit with the B pace partner as well.

Personally, the C bot is OK for an easy-ish ride for me, the B bot is fairly challenging - I can stay away on the Titan’s Grove climb with a V02max level effort - and I think the A bot would eviscerate me and maintain her usual bland expression. I can see that the gap in outputs between C and D is pretty big, if you are in that power range. So I would support adding a couple of pace bots, and I’ve upvoted the thread. I don’t run on Zwift, but I hear that runners feel like the running pace partners are too spread out in paces as well (plus it seems like those guys maintain the same speed come ■■■■ or high water, not just the same W/kg).

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Have you actually used a pace partner? (or do you work for zwift?)

They very much definitely do not behave as you indicate. Firstly if my W/Kg is all over the place, so is theirs, not hard to test. Other people have shown graphs from their trainers showing the wild fluctuations in power in output required to meet pace.

I am 80 kilos. and the problem here is that they slow down so much a man who recently nearly died of heart failure (me) finds it ridiculously annoying.

And the changes in pace do not automatically reflect a change in gradient. If they behaved the way you suggest then changes in pace wouldn’t be a problem as when we hit a hill the pace partners reduction in pace would more closely mimic a normal rider and would gradually vary as the gradient increased.

The changes in pace are on/off and some are in odd places and seem like they have been crudely drawn into a set pace program that is the same on every lap. D deisel slows down half way down the hill to the italian village as if he is expecting to slow down when he hits the cobbles (so you overshoot them significantly going into the sprint) and then on the way out towards oceans drive he starts speeding up again going uphill.

I have since revised my views on this anyway, I think zwift team have actually put significant changes in pace into this to make pace partners somewhat similar to a spin session and probably made these more dramatic on D/Deisel to gear this towards those riders, however the difference is that they have overlooked the necesitty for an audio or visual indicator of changes to the pace.

It’s less noticable on C/Cadence but still you see a marked difference in power output as soon as the gradient hit’s 1%, however as the change in pace is more modest, most riders just let themselves overshoot her on the hill and then let her catch up on the flat. The whole pack is generally miles in front of her on the hills.

What would help with D/Deisel is some shout outs. I’m smashing it now! or something like that. Just so you know to start building up the speed because you cannot see behind you where they are and the change in pace.

Overwise, you’ve just gone way out front of his dawdling ass on the hill, and whilst scratching your crack waiting for them to catch up you can easily be dropped to the point where you have to start plowing in 4W/Kg or more for a fair amount of time to keep up. If you are trying to avoid over working yourself this gets pretty annoying pretty quick.

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I dont think you understand the problem I am describing. I can beat his pace uphill using my pinky fingers as legs and then when he decides to start plowing past you at 2.5 W/Kg you have nothing to notify you that he has just gone to full power and is about to blast past you.

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I understand your problem fine, my comment was about someone’s suggestion to change trainer difficulty, which doesn’t do anything other than to reduce shifting.

Yes, but no. My comment about difficulty reduction is a common knowledge on Zwift that lower difficulty helps smoothing power output between flats, up- and downhills. Applicable for both races and PP. Yours is just missing the point.

It won’t make flats easier (define easier though). You’ll still have to output same watts to go the same speed/time. However, it will make it easier to match, as in to make smoother, PP pace up- or downhill. You won’t shoot up the hill or drag downhill due to the cycling natural behavior of putting more watts uphill and coasting downhill because hills are flatter now and closer to actual flats with even power distribution.

Eventually you’ll learn how to pace yourself regardless of the gradient/trainer difficulty but in the meantime, you’re welcome.

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I can relate to the same issue. I’m a heavy rider (98kg), but o the hills I need to slow down to 100w otherwise I leave Dan Diesel in the dust. Just on the brow of the hill he speeds up like a maniac and you have to do 300w to catch up. Also on some of the downhill stretches (like just before the cobbles) he does at least 2.5w/kg.

I like the idea, but it would be better I think to just let him ride at 1.5w/kg steady, and don’t let him have any draft.

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What I find, is that with Zwift realism setting at 100% even on a flat ride with CC, my power jumps anywhere between below 100 and above 220 if I try to stay relatively close to her, which feels very annoying. So yesterday, closer to the end of the ride, I tried a different tactic - I kept around 160-170W (2.5 W/kg for me) steadily and going ever so slightly above that on the false flats of Tempus Fugit. And it worked great.
I hovered around the very head of the bunch, and when I was going a bit ahead, I was naturally slowed down by aerodynamics and reeled back in by the group.
Pros:

  1. I was going at my ‘own’ pace with a very steady power output
  2. I was going with the speed of the group
  3. There were still people around, but of course not as many as right next to CC

Cons:

  1. Most of the time I was way ahead of the drop bonus zone

To be honest, there is not much use for the drops, so I didn’t care about the con much if at all. :slight_smile:
I’m now tempted to try it with another pace partner on a hillier route - don’t see why it wouldn’t work. I’d just be more careful if the group is reeling your in on a descent to be prepared to add more power to match the group speed a bit faster.

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Sorry mate replied to the wrong person.

Hi Ed, No you dont understand the problem.

This impression that the pace partners put a flat wattage out is just an assumption people have made because it doesnt show their wattage changing on the screen.

This is clearly not the case though. D/Deisel for example always surges into the promenade by the sea at a pace of about 2.5 W/kg, and then halfway along drops so quickly to about 1W/kg when he has been on the flat for about half a mile that this is clearly not what is happening. As soon as you go through the start line for the hilly loop he surges off again at 2.5W/kg.

Clearly what it says they are doing in W/Kg is not what they are doing. The other pace partners do not oscilate as much so it is less noticeable.

If they were doing a flat W/Kg like it says on the their avatars map listing, then why did Zwift decide to list advertise D/Deisel as 1-2.5W/Kg, and C Cadence as 2.5/3 W/Kg n the route selectio screen and all their press releases?

They clearly vary. People have just made a false assumption because it doesnt show the variation on the scoreboard/map thing whatever you want to call it.

The problem is just the immediacy of the changes. The inhuman jerky nature of them. They are just annoyingly abrupt. The other issue is that from a position a few metres in front of their avatar, it is almost impossible to judge when he has suddenly applied the power so you always end up having to respond by a huge power surge of something 3.5/4 W/kg to avoid losing the whole peloton.

Dont get me wrong this is great exercise and having been nearly dead not long ago I’m nearly in a position to keep up with C/Cadence and probably have this crazy behaviour to thank for a lot of it.

It would be nice to have a camera angle that sat a bit further back and overhead like a peloton shot so you could more easily assess when he is about to smash it past you.

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DD is listed as a range because he is running at different levels of power output on different days. At least it used to be the case: I’ve never seen him above 2 W/kg, but definitely some variation around 1.5 - 1.8.

As for him (or other pace partners) surging - you are seeing your power output, not his, so it is you surging which does not necessarily mean he is surging as well. The surges happen because you only feel your own effort, but not other factors Zwift algorithm uses to convert your power to speed - changes in aerodynamics depending on where it positions you related to the group, terrain undulations and so on. Hence, when you try to maintain steady power, your speed relative to the group (pace partner) will vary, and if you try to instead maintain the same speed, you will inevitably vary your power. And since you don’t “feel” the group dynamics you can’t get in sync with the pace partner naturally and will overdo your power changes both ways - slowing down too much and then having to surge to catch up.

It doesn’t mean pace partners are perfectly steady - I have no inside knowledge about their current setup, it just means that their power output is far from a perfect correlation to power output of anyone else in the group.

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Hi Mikhail,

What you describe though demonstrates that the pace partner is actually changing W/kg. And what I am complaining about is the jarring unatural severity of their changes in pace.

All Zwift needs to do is smooth the pace adjustments so they feel natural to a human being. Otherwise i can just go on a ride alone and try to maintain 2.5 W/kg.

The fun of the pace partner is the changing pace, it’s just not smooth enough.

If someones speed drops halfway down a hill they are not producing a fixed w/kg.

End of.

Either that or they have brakes.

I’ve gotten the impression that Dan’s speed is off at times. I’ve seen it, for instance, coming out of the undersea tunnel and crossing the stone bridge. If I end up solo, ahead of Dan, I’ve ridden along solo at 1.0 to 1.5 w/kg, mostly below 1.5, waiting for Dan and the group to catch, and I stay in front of them, solo, no draft. Our weights are in the same ballpark; it’s not the case that I’m doing more raw watts.

One of these days I’ll use the Wahoo mobile app to set a constant 1.5 w/kg resistance for myself, ride with Dan, and test the experience in a more controlled way.

Hi Steve,

Exactly. The change in pace on the sea front has been noticeable in all my recent rides and that’s flat as a pancake.

I think that Zwift have done this intentionally, but for whatever reason they have chosen not to make his W/Kg in the rider list update in realtime giving everyone the impression that he produces 1.5 W/kg at all time.

I think the other bots do this too, but as the range of power output for them is much more modest at 0.5 W/kg it is less of a problem.

I just think they need to smooth the roll off a little.

Except this statement is incorrect.
On a downhill air is a brake. Consider this simple scenario:

  1. DD starts riding downhill inside the bunch with a steady power.
  2. He is sheltered, hence his aerodynamic drag is low, and his speed gets high.
  3. Others in the bunch put lower power on a downhill (which is natural), so their relative speed starts decreasing and they fall behind DD.
  4. As soon as DD reaches the front of a group his aerodynamic drag increases and, since he is maintaining constant power, his speed will drop.
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