Sticky watts are scary

A while back when I first heard about sticky watts I thought I’d test it out to see what happens. At that time it didn’t seem to work with my Stages crank based power meter. If there was any advantage it looks like I lost that advantage due to the 3 second averaging. But, after reading Zwift Insider’s recent article on sticky watts I thought I’d have another look. This time though, I changed the watts display in Zwift from 3 sec average to instant.

After a few minutes of tinkering I had soon worked out a technique to get consistent sticky watts and I was able to do a 2 minute stretch of sticky watts.

Loading the Zwift fit file into Golden Cheetah I had an average of 315 watts for those 2 minutes while the same 2 minutes recorded to my Garmin 530 (I simultaneously record the power meter output to the Garmin) had an average of only 208 watts.

The scary thing is how easy it was to do. I probably couldn’t ride like that for a whole race but it would be so easy to use sticky watts up a short hill or maybe if you found yourself getting dropped. I think I will just set the watts display back to 3 sec average to avoid the temptation.

It would be nice if Zwift could do something about this though. Maybe if Zwift detects someone dropping to zero watts every 3 or 4 seconds they could assume that they aren’t having random dropouts but they were deliberately trying to game the system.