How about classes between ABCDE, maybe like D+, C+ etc?
The main issue with the normal classes is the following. I’m normally about 2,5W/kg in this Moment. On an average day I’m winning class D with one finger in the nose. But in C I’m one of the last. So I got no motivation in both classes.
It is not a lot of fun being in the bottom of a category. There are some groups that do have different categories at the lower end.
I would suggest looking for races where you can see all the categories during the race, that way you can try to hang on to the C riders for as long as possible and then have the D riders to finish the race with.
Not trying to be mean at all. But there will be people in the bottom of every category, unless the cats were so specific that every race had everyone crossing the finish line at the same moment, and each cat had only 5 people in it. It doesn’t seem to me like changes are necessary just because some people are on that cat borderline. Because someone will always be on that borderline. If cats are adjusted so that you’re not on the borderline, do we adjust them again when the next person who is at the new borderline has the same issue?
Does being at the bottom of a cat not work to provide motivation to get faster? Not trying to be dismissive, I get what you’re saying. It’s nice to win sometimes And it’s not motivating (except for the cheaters) to just blow everyone else out of the water all the time. But is it even possible to have a solution that puts every single person in a cat in a position to possibly win every race? How many cats would we need to do that?
Not if you are getting dropped at the start of every race and biking on your own for the rest of it. One of the issues Zwift does have is static categories that are fairly broad. There’s no real logic to the exact split but if you happen to be at the very bottom you probably aren’t having that much fun in general and are less likely to want to race.
Personally it works ok for me because I’m somewhere in the middle - will never win, get dropped a lot, but can usually bike with other people for most of the race. But I do feel for people who are at the very bottom of the cat and end up blown away early on a lot.
I do think Zwift racing overall would be more fun if the category definitions were more variable, (even to the point where maybe some events would classify you into pens based on who’s entered just before the race starts so you don’t even know ahead of time who you’re biking with or whether you’re the nail or hammer) that way even if you are at a point in your biking career (and life) where you’re not expecting to improve too much you will have days you’re not sitting at the bottom of the pack no matter what your power curve etc.
So is the idea to mix up the cats just so that different people end up at the bottom of a given cat on a given day? Not trying to sound dismissive, just trying to understand.
There’s no particular reason to split cats at a particular point, top of D-bottom of C, etc. But that goes for any point that you pick. If you raised the limit of D, C, B, etc, you’re just putting different people in the same position, not solving the problem. And there’d presumably be no particular reason to put the dividing line in the new place either.
The dynamic cat adjusting is an interesting idea. Would it just push the demotivation into the race instead of before it? If I pick a race because of the profile, and suddenly at the start I see the entire pack just dust me in a race that, with the static cats I’m used to, I would have done well in…am I now the one who’s demotivated? And am I demotivated to enter a race again for that reason? Choosing races to fit your strengths is a race tactic, right? There are times when I choose races I expect to do well in, and times when I choose races that I know I’ll struggle in. I’ve never had to choose in a dynamic system like you’re talking about, but I suspect I might not be so motivated to race if I had no way of predicting the level of struggle or success I’d be facing.
I definitely feel for people at the bottom of cats–just dumb luck has me at the top of my cat in flat courses and just off the front group in most hilly stuff. If the lines had been drawn differently, I’d just as easily be in the bottom of B and off the back all the time. So I want to make sure to try not to just be biased about all this. How would I respond if I was always off the back? Would I try to make my training more specialized, to try to be able to do better in just one kind of race, and then select those races more often? Maybe.
And maybe some only slightly more granular cats would do the trick, the +/- idea from the OP. My concern is just that there will still be people off the back of any cat you care to define. There’s obviously going to be a sweet spot, right? Just having one giant cat for all Zwift racers would be terrible And putting each racer in their own cat would be pointless. So ‘somewhere in the middle’ is the obvious answer. But there would still be people at the bottom of each cat. How do/will those people motivate themselves? Is there a point where we don’t want to change the cats anymore, even if some people are finding it hard to motivate themselves?
After moving from C to B I got dropped on the start of every London Race. Practising the start of that race not only helped me to do better in Zwift races it also made me a lot stronger. I was looking for races in London and ride as hard as I could every race I would hang on a bit longer.
I would say that was probably the best thing that could happen to me
Right, that is actually what I’m saying. If the boundaries are mostly arbitrary, why not have more flexibility in the system to enable variability in how pens are grouped so people can get a breadth of race experiences more readily. It’s just different ways of separating riders of ‘similar’ ability and having different definitions of that concept.
Today A/B/C/D and associated w/kg boundaries are completely made up - They are also very broad because of how few categories there are, so the people at the top of a category will tend to have a much different race experience from the people at the bottom. There are hilly races, flat races, but you already have a good sense of how the race is going to go given how static these are and the route.
To add to this, there are some people who try hard to stay in the top of a these very static non-changing boundaries (cruisers/sandbaggers) who should probably be in the next one which compounds that issue.
Then there are people who can spend an entire season at the bottom of one of these completely random categories either due to the limited amount of time they have to train/race, or because they are struggling just to maintain their fitness given their life stage even if they have a lot of time to train etc…
There are some races that do try to do sub-cat splitting (C+, or C- races etc.) but those are not the norm and there’s no way for race organizers to enforce these.
The pens are meant to group riders of similar ability but there’s really no reason Zwift needs to keep those group definitions static. If race organizers had more flexibility in how they define their pens (using compound score instead of w/kg, using ranking, using different w/kg ranges) then there wouldn’t be a single target sandbaggers/cruisers to just hit under, and the people at the top of C wouldn’t always be the hammer, sometimes they’d be mixed in with some of the B’s and be the nail. Similarly, the people at the bottom of a category wouldn’t always be the nail.
I get what you’re saying about the variability. I guess I’m just skeptical about what would happen. If the variables are unknown before you enter a race, I think a lot of people would be unmotivated to enter races. I simply want to know what I’m getting myself into before I race.
If the categories were entirely variable and announced beforehand–how many people, if given a choice between race X that puts them at the top of the field and race Y that puts them at the bottom, will choose Y? So you’d end up with races with very limited fields. Yeah, maybe all of those people would be more equal in ability. And I guess maybe that would satisfy some people. But if the end result is finishing in the Top 10 out of a race of 10, and that’s every race, would it help just to have those 10 people be finishing the race together?
Maybe it would. I get the crappyness of racing all alone. Back when I did a lot more triathlons, it wasn’t rare for me to find myself in a big gap between groups, pedaling into the abyss. It’s not great. But for my money, the fact that I am competing against people who are going to do much better than me (or at least there’s the chance of it) is motivating. Would I be motivated to get better if I was guaranteed of always being able to find a race that put me in a pack of 10 that would all finish together, regardless of how fast I was myself? (Because a slower me will just be able to choose a different group.)
I’m not saying that you’re wrong, or that various changes wouldn’t work. I’m just skeptical that they would improve the system as a whole. Yes, part of my satisfaction when I do well in a race is knowing how big of a pack it was that was finishing behind me. I don’t think that’s unusual–it’s rather the point of racing, right? So smaller, more granular categories could easily lead to less enjoyment for all. If every race became only a small pack that finished together, how many people would lose interest? And again, if I have a choice between otherwise identical races, why would I choose the category system that would penalize me?
So the people finishing in the bottom of Cat C, if we adjust cats, won’t be now beating other standard Cat C people. They’d be relying on standardly high-performing Cat D people to willingly sign up for a race where they are now at the bottom of the new cat. Just so those lower range Cat C people can have the satisfaction of beating them. I’m skeptical that they would do that.
Sure, if you had every option available at every time then you would choose the one perfect one you’d most likely win (except Gerry who has the most fun when he’s immediately dropped apparently so he’d choose that race so he can then go back and train for months to get better, then come back and no longer have fun getting dropped ).
But, if you have the same number of racers and the same number of races you see today I don’t see why you’d have limited fields. People are often constrained on what times they can race, so they’ll choose whichever race looks best to them during that timeframe. Sometimes they will be the hammer, sometimes they will be the nail. I think what you’d see rather is more people who otherwise wouldn’t race coming in and filling a lot of gaps. Those are people that maybe wouldn’t want to be the nail for an entire season, but are happy to jump into a situation where they’d be more mid-pack once in a while.
It kinda boils down to how it’s implemented, and how much flexibility there is in the system. If there are races that can be grouped by critical power, rank, wkg, different sub-segments of wkg etc, it would just provide a bit more variability in how the pens are grouped, and as a result enable people to experience various racing scenarios throughout a season without needing to do a big static category change.
You could easily be right that it would help to have a more complex system like this. So I’d go see about entering a race, and I would first have to see what the Cat definitions are for that race/day/week/etc. And if they aren’t favorable to me, I’d have to make the choice to either race, or wait until the Cats change again so they are favorable. Would that spread the pain and the happiness around a bit more? Maybe.
Would it lead to big issues with categorization overall? It would remove any ability for someone to say they were ‘Cat X’ period, because the Cats would be changing. It might remove any motivation to Cat up, given that for me for example there would be no ‘catting up to B’. (Although it certainly seems like all the complaints I see are people desperately not wanting to advance their Cat ) It would make evaluating someone’s performance a lot more complex, as you could no longer look at placement within races in a Cat–you’d have to check independently with each race to see what the Cats were.
Would all/any of that be worth it? Don’t know–not impossible that it could improve things. It might also make the whole system less enjoyable for the whole community. A given competition requires that there be people who don’t win. Will it devalue the competition overall if we play around with the system to try to ensure that everyone gets a chance to be a winner? Would people be motivated to just pass on a race with Cats that wouldn’t suit them and wait till next week? Maybe. I dunno–it’s been a long day of grading papers, I can’t think complicated things anymore But I thank you for explaining your position, it does make a lot more sense to me now, even if I’m still skeptical about pieces of it.
But I have said it before. It will be awesome if you enter a race it doesn’t show you a category only the race. Once in the pen in the last minute the pen closes and release every category one by one you don’t know if you are A or D until the race finished.
I see you had much fun with my unspecific question I think I should explain my “solution” a little bit more. It is much easier than you discuss here.
I think about overlaying Cats like this:
D: 1.0 to 2.5
D+: 2.0 to 3.0
C: 2.5 to 3.2
C+: 2.9 to 3.5
B: 3.2 to 4.0
B+: 3.6 to 5.0
A: 4.0 to 6.0
You could also just overlay the normal 4 Cats like this:
D: 1 to 3
C: 2.5 to 4.2
B: 3.8 to 5
A: 4.6 to infinity
The Problem with the strict borders is not only a problem for the lower Cats. Before Covid I was somewhere about 3.5 to 4 W/kg and I had the same problem at the border from B to A.
If the cats would be overlayed like this, Zwift also had a better tool for rising (and even falling) from one cat to another. For instance if we are using the 2. model (4 Cats), it would be possible to say: If you got 3 races between 2.5 and 3 W/kg you are able to rise to C. If you got 6 races there you must rise. And we can use the same rule in the other direction. A little bit like leagues.
If you’re between 2.5 and 3.0 you can rise to C after 3 Races. From this moment you got 6 races to try to get stronger than 3.0 otherwise you fall back to D. Then after 3 more races you got the next chance to rise. I think this could be more challenging against yourself and could be a new aspect.
I don’t think that’s any simpler than what we were discussing It’s interesting, but I don’t think it’s simpler. For example, won’t you have people just managing their performances so they don’t Cat up? And won’t the problem just be pushed to other people–take someone who’s at 3, or 4.2, or 5 in the new chart. They’re still very far from the top of the Cat, and unable to go down. Yes, there are potentially people below them in the Cat, but those people also have the ability (particularly if they game the system) to stay at the top of the lower Cat. So if you’re 3/4.2/5, won’t you just be off the back of the race, the same way we’re talking about other people being off the back now?