I’ve got a couple of suggestions that I think could make Zwift racing more compelling to average Zwifters. Some of these things have probably been expressed before, but I wanted to add my two cents.
Introduce Racing Modes: I know Zwift racing presently seems kinda niche. I am not exactly sure why that is, but I wonder if some of it could be that the Zwifting community has been perceived as the primary movers in the “invention” of Zwift racing. This, in my mind, has led to the Zwift racing audience being primarily composed of those with huge passion for Zwift racing. Casual racers start way behind the curve, and tend to be crowded out by the more committed racers. I wonder if a way to improve this scenario would be to offer some different modes of racing like a “career” mode and a kind of one-off “casual” racing mode. The career mode could force participation in things like Zwift Power and include ZADA oversight. Whereas, the casual mode would be deliberately excluded from these accountability partners. Furthermore, the casual racing mode could include some compelling gamification features that may detract from the hardcore “career” focused racers.
Gamify Casual Racing: I think Zwift could do a lot to make the casual racing scene more compelling to the average Zwifter. Here are a couple of suggestions along those lines.
Serendipitous Team Racing: Zwift could introduce one-off team racing that paired folks up based on rider performance automatically. Instead of joining a team on Zwift Power (something casual riders are NOT likely to do) you could join a one-off, serendipitous team race. I’m thinking here of having 4-5 teams composed of 5-7 racers each. Racers could compete in numerous different styles of racing, but your goal is to win as a team. This kind of racing could potentially introduce a lot more people to Zwift racing who may see themselves a weaker riders.
Augmented Strengths Racing: Zwift could introduce races where you are allowed to choose a particular rider type (e.g. sprinter, climber, etc). These could be rider types that are NOT according to your real life abilities. This racing mode could add either unique power ups or redefine the riding algorithm to give you racing strengths and deficits you don’t possess in real life. This could add some interesting components that may force racers to develop some different strategies to their racing.
Racing Modes that “Level the Playing Field:” Zwift could introduce a racing mode that deliberately slows and speeds up racers based on their performance during the race. Get too far ahead and you have a parachute that grows in size (and increases your drag) the further ahead you get. Get too far behind and a jet pack propels you forward to reconnect with the pack.