Questions after my first Zwift Race

Hey Guys,

After a few years being on and off Zwift, I did my first race yesterday in C category (short race of 13km).

Knowing I was rather at the bottom of the C category, I was expecting to suffer. I stuck with the first peloton for around 6km before completely exploding and falling behind (the intensity was way more than I could maintain). I finished 11th out of 14.

After this race a few questions come to me:

  • While in the Peloton, I noticed I was either a the very front or the very back. This seems to be explained by the fact that I may have had some form of delay between my HT and Zwift ? Basically, once I was at the front I reduced my power after which I would start falling back in the peloton. As soon as I noticed this, I would put in some extra strengh to stay in the group but despite this I would continue falling back further and further. It always took quite some time before seing my efforts be rewarded, but then I would finish at the very front of the group again. It was very tiring. Could this be explained by the fact that my HT is a wheel-on HT and not direct drive ?

  • Other question is regarding my heart rate. It was way above everyone elses’. My average heart rate is around 190 during this race while the rest of the people were around 150-170. Am I putting in way too much effort ?

  • Finally, how I can explain that my HR wasn’t exported to ZwiftPower but I have it on Zwift ?

On the other hand, the good news is that after this race my FTP went from 197 to 227 (which probably means that I was too lazy during FTP tests).

I look forward to hearing from you and any general race advice is welcomed.


William -

Firstly, welcome back!

As for your issues, I think it’s probably accurate to say that your wheel-on trainer may be contributing to some delay between your legs and your avatar. Generally though what you’re describing is the “washing machine effect” of the Zwift group peloton. It takes time to get the skill of being able to hang consistently in the middle of the group. That will be more challenging if there is a delay.

Have you been categorized as a C? Are you eligible to try a D race to see if the experience is better?


What is your max HR? Mine is about 183-184ish, there is no amount of effort I could do to average (or even hit for a second) a 190bpm hr.

Everyone’s heart rate is different. My max is around 170, but I’ve ridden with those who are nearer to 210.

doesn’t really mean anything. mine is often quite high. i can hold a conversation at 185bpm

Looking at your ZwiftPower profile, it looks a lot like mine when I started racing. Your 20 minute power puts you squarely in C category. Your “punch” is relatively poor, but it will get better if you keep racing, or if you do workouts designed to increase your shorter effort power. Those shorter efforts are critical to staying with the group during surges so you don’t spend a lot of effort chasing back on to the group. Chasing the group will make any race into something like an FTP test.

Most trainers have some delay between the time that you increase or decrease power and when you see that reflected in the game. It is not like riding a bicycle outdoors. To get good at trainer racing, you need to adapt to the responsiveness of your trainer. A better trainer would probably help but you can learn how to increase and decrease power by continuing to practice drafting a group. The Robo Pacer rides are also good for learning to draft and understand how your trainer responds.

Couple of additional questions… what trainer are you using? Have you calibrated it recently just to make sure the power you’re outputting is accurate. I’m wondering if it might be reading a little low with that HR. Also, longer races tend to be a little less intense, 13 km would be short enough for some people to go all out for most of it.

Hello all,

Thanks for all these great answers, they really help me understand what i can improve.

Regarding my HR, I’m not quite sure what my max is. I remember a few years back it was over 200, but I’m now 31 so it must have gone down. But I understand that it’s not necessarily a good indicator. Although I’m pretty sure it was too high, as I had the impression that I was putting in my maximum effort (but again, maybe this is normal in a Zwift race and particularly in a short one).

Interesting to hear about the “washing machine effect”, I didn’t know of it and will look to improve my skills on this matter. I will look into the Robo Pacer rides to work in this and get to know and maybe master my HT.

To answer Ivany, my HT is Kinetic Rock and Roll. I didn’t know I could calibrate it, so I will look into that. Although the power I’m putting out seems to match the level I think I have.

For my category, when my FTP was 197 I was a bottom level C category. Now that it’s gone to 227, I’m definitely a C as Paul mentionned (76kg, so about 3w/kg).

Basically, to sum up :

  • I musn’t focus too much on my HR ;
  • I need to work on staying in the peloton (Robo Pacer Rides);
  • I need to work on my punch ;
  • Look into my HT to see if it’s correctly calibrated.

Thanks again for your help !


if you’ve hit the front it’s already too late - you have to ease off the gas as soon as you start drifting forwards if you want to avoid the front.

if you do hit the front, prepare for air brakes to be applied, and be prepared to have to do a small surge to not fall off the back when drifting back through the pack (similar to IRL - but more extreme on zwift bcos pack speeds are faster). same principle if you are riding solo and a group is approaching from behind.

zwift has quite a high cost of entry so many people on it are a bit older and thus average HR for most people is typically lower (also there are a LOT of sandbaggers :p)

if you were going full gas and are around 20-30 years old then 190bpm is not unusual. as your conditioning improves with regular cycling, this will likely come down also.

pace partner rides are good, but the best way to get better at racing is just to do more racing. there won’t be anywhere near as many surges in pace partner as in a race event :stuck_out_tongue:

also try joining rides which have more entrants. most big C events have 50-100+ riders and you are more likely to find a group holding a pace you can manage. not everyone in C goes 3.2w/kg 24/7 but in short duration events, expect the race to be SPICY.

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It looks like you’re trainer is a wheel on smart trainer based on my search. Wheel on trainers are known to be tricky to maintain accurate power outputs. They’re often affected by tire pressure and application of the resistance on the roller (number of turns of the knob once it contacts the tire) I’d have a look to see if there are any tricks to getting a consistent and accurate power output.