Power categories or Racing groups are way out of wack

Where to start! I’ve been at the cycling/triathlon thing for 30 yrs, and I’m fairly strong for my age, I’m in no-mans land being recently moved to the B level.
It’s not that I want to win races, I just want to be in the/a group.
While I barley slide into the 3.2 to go B level, I can’t even stay with the B’s on a “joyride” with 85 riders. Made it to the last 5 miles but felt like I was doing a TT (full on redline) even in the pack. The range power is way to big, and in my opinion from many years of riding on the road should be 3.5 - 3.6 on the low end for B’s.
I sure as heck aren’t going to get much stronger, if any at my age (it’s gone down the past few, age sucks!) But now I can’t even begin to enter a race in my zone/level and ride with anything approaching a group.While I get you wanting to make it easy for beginners (E group), you may need to add a group or two and shrink the spread in the power range. May be time after a month to rethink my sub. if I’m actually unable to race.

However the categories are organised, there will be people at the top end and the bottom end of the range.

I’m a “Barely B” myself. In fact, I recently got relegated to C again. When I was racing in the Bs, it was just a case of seeing how far I could get until I got dropped. I’ve seen people stay with the pack with the same overall power as me. The key, I’m told, is to burn the matches at the appropriate time and sit in whenever possible. So sprint like heck if you’re in danger of losing a wheel, then recover in the group.

It’s great in theory, but I find it hard to do. My ideal category might go from 3.0 to 3.5W/kg. Then I, as a 3.2 would be mid-pack. That just shifts to the problem to anyone who’s 3.0 or 3.5. The borders always fall somewhere.

I think the only way to change this might be to have categories that aren’t based on “power”, but on points/positions. More like real life. No one races Cat 2 because they have a certain power output; they do it because the gained enough points in Cat 3 to be upgraded.

The other problem with groups is sometimes you get things like this:

image

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A clear A+ rider sandbagging in the C group. I mean, why? If they want an easy ride, a race isn’t the place to do it. It’s an extreme example, but I think there are significant numbers of people who race below their true level because coming top 10 feels better than being bottom 10 of the higher category. It pees others off though.

As for group rides, they might not be billed as races, but they’re usually races in all by name…

But if you mean the recent Giro di Castelli ride, the “B” ride wasn’t anything to do with power categories. It was just a shorter ride, with a 0 - 5.0w/kg range. The A group had the same range, but a longer ride, while C was the same distance as B but women only.

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w/kg categories is not the best system out there. If your are in the top of the group it is a lot of fun but if you are at the bottom it is a TT every race. A points system will be a lot better where you get points for finishing at the top and that way move up.

I also think the points system should not lock you in a specific group (A,B,C or D) every race should be split into 4 groups depending on the strength of the field. So sometimes you will be lucky and be the top of the C group and other times the bottom.

The other problem is not every one is honest in what group they sign up for. Look at the example below the small letter is where the rider is supposed to ride, but the big letter is the group that they joined. Look at the amount of B riders in the C and even a A in the D group.

And these are only those that are registered with Zwift Power.

Edit: I see Daren beat me to it.

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I just think the ranges are to large per group in B, there is a huge difference between a 3.2 and a 3.6 let alone a 3.2 to a 4.0.
In my opinion B and C should be broken into three groups. just off the cuff, with little thought to it, something like

D - 2.5 to 2.9

C - 2.9 to 3.4

B - 3.4 to 4.0

Number like this would keep everyone in a similar ballpark, not light years apart.

Too many categories can reduce field size though,

I’m a strong C, and the hardest part is figuring out which Cs I’m actually competing against vs the 3.6 w/it “c” racers. Really I just get in the fastest pack I can hang with and race it out at the finish. Some in the pack will usually have B,C and D riders but I just try and beat the bunch at the end.

The system could be improved, but almost every race I enter has a fun finish right now.

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Not fun when you’re alone!

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I do agree, but how about dynamic categories where for a huge field you have 10 categories and for a very small field only 2.

I do like that idea

One of the better racing experience to me is a race where only A and C groups exist and they let the A group out a couple of minutes before the Cs. I think it’s the BRT series

Agreed but you don’t end up riding alone because of people in the wrong categories

Some of the best races are the rides that are not races.
I’m talking about the big Fondo and Tour events that Zwift do.
Very rarely do you find yourself alone as there are so many entrants.

If your feeling fit try starting at the back and hopping your way towards
the front, or get there early and try and stick with the really fast guys and
girls at the front. (There is always someone to give me a lift when I get
dropped).
I love these events. You can work as hard as you like or take it easy,
either way its great.

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In stage three of the Giro di Castelli recently, I started about 280th and finished 99th in the A ride. =)

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Nice One Daren,
great to make the top 100 from that start.

I bet you were looking over your shoulder at the end. :smiley:
“Ride On”

I had 0.4 of a second to spare! :smiley:

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I get the whole some are at the top and some at the bottom talk, fairly obvious. But my point is it should be fairly easy to add another group and shrink the spread. C is only a .6 gap while B is .8 I would think .5 would make for a better riding experiences and a realistic shot to move up, or at least hang with the top of your field for a while anyway. Someone pushing 3.2 has no hope with someone pushing 3.6 let alone 4.0.
There are plenty of Zwifters to fill up the groups, and you may actually get more doing them, if they aren’t constantly getting their faces kicked in.

I seem to be on an island of sorts, but I’ve enjoyed and appreciated the conversation.

Of course, but the other point is no matter how wide or narrow the spread, those at the bottom will never be competitive with those at the top. Likely those in the middle aren’t competitive with those at the top.

When I did a lot of indoor rowing, I used to set annual targets to get into the top 25% for my weight and age category. (Using https://log.concept2.com/rankings) For example, at the moment I’d be aiming for a sub 7m26s time for a 2K.

I think racing can be approached in a similar way. We don’t have to have the goal of winning a race; we can set other targets. As a Barely B in my most recent race I was 15/17 on ZwiftPower (https://zwiftpower.com/events.php?zid=243829). So my current target isn’t to win the B race, but to finish in the top half of the results. Once I can do that consistently, I’ll set a target of “top 5” or something, then ultimately upgrading to A.

(Although as an overweight, short, oldish guy, I suspect it’ll never happen :wink: )

My point is that racing can’t be right for everyone, but we can still work within the system to set our own goals.

Sure, that sound good, but then the field should be on the same level. I can’t aim for top 50% if the top 60% is in the next bracket.

With smaller bands you will have a slight better change to hang on for longer. But as you said someone need to be at the bottom and someone at the top. I am perfectly fine with working may up the field, but it need to be fair.

The “top 50%” I’m talking about is within the category you’re racing in. So top half of the C field, or top half of the B field. There’s always a top half of any group you’re racing in, whatever the range of abilities assigned to that group.

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I was trying to say that if more than half is in the wrong category then it is hard to set goals. So if Zwift can put the right people in the groups then we set goals.

You’re missing the point, it seems to me. Or at least we’re talking about completely different things here. My post about setting goals isn’t intended to be a commentary on whether people are sandbagging. It was a response to Doak’s comment about the range within the group, not whether the people within that range are legitimately riding there.

Even if everyone is correctly riding in their category, if the range is wide those at the bottom still have no chance of “winning” a race. Hence we need to set realistic goals. And when we reach those goals, reassess and set new ones.

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No we are saying the same thing. I am just adding setting realistic goals only work if the category is all in the correct starting pen.

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