Temporary lowering of Cat Enforcement level?

3 weeks before Xmas I was booted into A in cat enforcement, barely scraping in with 4.2w/kg. The week before Xmas I got Covid, which has absolutely floored me. There is no way I could even keep up for 30 seconds in A group - I don’t want to stress my lungs too much, but I’d like to race to keep motivation going.

I estimate for now I’d be a higher C/lower B - so 2 questions:

  1. Is there anything I can do to lower my Cat Enforcement level, even temporarily?
  2. Are there other races that aren’t CE but also aren’t just a magnet for the sandbagging crowd?


Perhaps joining races without Category Enforcement is a viable option for you?

One of our team mates tried contacting Zwift for this issue and they politely said NO.

As far as I know about CE, the best thing you can do is keep riding daily (race, group ride, etc…) because the CE algorithm is making adjustments after every ride. Keep feeding it with real, quality data.

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Yeah - the point is I have to enter A grade, and then can’t even keep up after 15 seconds so my ‘race’ is simply me pootling along on my own. Hardly motivating, and definitely not fun.

My question is exactly that - what non-CE races are worthwhile that aren’t just full of the very cheaters that CE thins out?

See this for races that are not CE and you can see all riders. Events

But I would suggest not racing while you are recovering, racing is hard on the body.

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All of the non-CE races I’ve done recently have had people racing below category. Like a mid-sized C pack with 4 Bs and an A. Many DQs afterwards. I’ve even seen 22 of 33 finishers ahead of me get a DQ (not all for sandbagging of course). Personally I prefer racy leaderless group rides to non-CE races. Your purgatory period is 60 days in CE so if you don’t get your fitness back, it will correct eventually. I agree with Gerrie - this might be a good time to focus on base building instead of racing.


Perhaps, the purgatory period is not 60 days. We are in the middle of a daily Tour (13 consecutive days), and some racers got promoted to a higher category and after 4 days they went back to their lower category. This system is gorgeous, you just keep feeding the CE algorithm with data and will perform its magic.

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Thanks all. To be clear, I don’t want to race as such, but ride at an intensity and with an interest level that keeps me motivated. Signing up for a Xw/kg ride, or just following a pace partner around the same course for ages, isn’t doing that.

I’m ok to race, just not at A-grade intensity. Its a little irritating that you can’t just certify as below-grade and even not to be in the results - I’m not interested in winning, just keeping my interest going.

I’ve also been downgraded after a single ride by doing one big 3 minute effort, because my power curve was “too flat”. But if the OP is having problems doing really hard efforts, or should not do a 3 minute max effort for medical reasons, that method isn’t going to help. I don’t feel comfortable suggesting it. Plus if he has A category numbers across the curve from within 60 days, then nothing is going to help with that except waiting. It would be worth analyzing the CE power numbers on the Zwift website (go to My Feed → My Profile → More Info) to see the basis of the category and how old the numbers are.

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Racing during recovery from illness should come with the expectation that your performance will be affected.
You are not a cat B, you are a sick/recovering A
Don’t say “you are not interested in winning”.
You obviously are or you would not have posted your question.
You can do any ride you want and race A and come in last if winning is unimportant.

Just enter in the correct cat and ride with the B or C leaders.


There are some CE races where everybody starts together (eg Herd of mountain goats), so you could ride with lower group riders that way.


No. Not always true. The OP explicitly said that for him racing is “motivation.” This is the same reason many high level riders who are on the bike every day “race down.” (including one forum regular who is currently pulling the villager’s pitchforks out of his back).

The imaginary trophy is meaningless, but your brain still automatically focuses differently in a race. So, it’s an effective distraction …from the monotony. Day in and day out.

I’m not endorsing sandbagging, just explaining something people regularly seem to miss. I’ve seen some (A/B riders) announce their intentions (“I’m just doing sprints today”) , to let the rest of us know not to follow them when they take off. I’ve also seen a (relatively) high level time-trialist from A Cat drop down and try to stay a fixed distance ahead of a huge B chase pack. It was pretty obvious what he was doing. It makes a boring training session go by quicker.

These aren’t regular “cruisers” who’ve been in the same Cat for four years and ride 6 hours a week. These are the ones who, you look at their history, they live in the saddle. 500, 600k + a week. They get Covid and they want to keep riding. They crash and break something, they want to keep riding. They look for a way to put in hours no matter what.

John, there is a competitive endurance ride that’s set up as a chase race on Fridays, with the Cats spaced 5 min apart. Everyone goes bananas trying to catch the next Cat. People always complain about the fast pace and get dropped, but you’d probably love it. You can start in any Cat you like. You should look for rides like that.

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What would an unmotivated race look like?
Why ,under any condition, would a rider want his category decreased.
You can ride with the B group as an A.
You can do anything as any cat.

I have no problems with sandbagging.
That’s just good race craft based upon the rules and now the rules have changed.
I don’t think winning should advance a rider based on current rules. It’s ok to when everyday if you’re in the right pen.

I have a problem with people who have a problem with pen enforcement.

So there’d be no problems with World Tour pros ripping up D Cat races if only the rules allowed for it? No problems at all, of any kind? Okay.

If a world tour pro had numbers that put them in cat D then yeah, race away.
Not many world class riders would be in D.
We may not be disagreeing here.
I’m using sandbagging as one who doesn’t try hard , not one who enters wrong pen.
It’s ok not to try hard.
That’s the most common reason people ask for a down grade, not going to try hard just want a recovery ride etc.

No no, I was asking that if CE went away, if the rules simply didn’t cover it, then would there be a problem with World Tour pros entering D cat races? If the cats were just intended cats, people were on the honor system, but anyone could enter any race, would there be a problem with people riding down?

Your original statement sounded very legalized–‘anything allowed within the rules is perfectly fine’. There are all sorts of problems with that sort of position, so I was wondering if that was what you meant.

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Actually, I think it would be fine.
Just like the Tour de Zwift rides.
No cats, everyone sees everyone.
On your mark, get set, GO.
Those are some of the best rides/race.
1 winner, everyone else just tries hard no sandbagging or pen issues.
Stop the late starts and those races would be perfect.

I do like CE very much and see it as a huge improvement.

But that’s not cat racing, so it’s not what I’m talking about. My general point is this–just because something is allowed by the current rules doesn’t mean there are no problems with it :slight_smile: I’d be good with less ability for people to sandbag and cruise.

But I like the CE rules for the most part too. The people who so carefully manage their wattages to avoid catting up are fairly laughable–they’re around, and they might even win races I enter, but I don’t give them much of my mental energy. The attention they put into gaming a system in order to win fake trophies–it’s like intentionally failing a grade in school so you can be at the top of the class :laughing: It’s effort and attention I’d rather put into the rest of my life, and I think I’m much better off for it :smiley:


What’s the difference between carefully managing your Watts to avoid getting promoted, and carefully managing your Watts in order to be less tired at the finish and get a good result? Is there a way I can tell which riders are virtuously conserving energy as good racecraft, and which are gaming the system? Am I a sandbagger when I enter a CE race and try to sit in the draft as much as possible, do just enough to hang with the leaders on the climbs, and smash the last few minutes? Breaks seem pretty chancy in the game, so doing a race like an FTP test seems like a bad move.

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The question you should ask to get to this answer, do you back off the power because the average is going over X and X is the limit of the category, if yes then yes it is sandbagging.

Racing smart and only chase when needed is just good racecraft. Not having that X category limit in your mind and race the race smart is the way to do it.