Tour of Watopia 2019 Stage 3 (and group workouts in general)

(Patrick) #1

I love the Tour of ___ multi-stage events that Zwift puts on - I do all of them that I can. I also really like the concept of the current Tour of Watopia showcasing new features and adding some different elements to each ride. However, I need to share some constructive criticism of the current stage, the group workout Stage 3.

I get what you’re trying to accomplish here - introduce people to structured workouts on Zwift - and I think it’s a great idea. However, I found the execution to be severely lacking.

First, you guys need to relax the rubber banding. It’s a great concept to keep everybody together regardless of individual FTP, but as it’s currently implemented, it’s enforcing one of the most antagonizing situations in all of Zwift. The huge clump of riders all jammed together and bumping around with no way out is completely maddening.

I certainly understand the appeal this would have in a group of several friends or a club, but I don’t need to be neck-to-neck with 970 randos when I’m also being asked to throw down 730W.

That brings me to my next criticism. Jon’s mix is a terrible workout if you’re actually trying to get new people to think this is a good idea. Short warm-up, then hold 3 reps of 150% FTP for a minute each? Followed by 5 short sprints at 265% FTP? I’m well familiar with a lot of the structured workouts, so I handled it fine, but this is a horrible intro to structured workouts for anyone who’s new to it. I saw so many “WTF” come flying through the chat and so many people complaining they had no chance to hold these numbers.

It makes no sense. Make it a nice workout if you want new people coming out thinking it’s something they might want to try again - maybe some SST - don’t push us all through the kludge you use to beta test your new features.

I rode this one because I’m a completionist and want to ride the whole tour. I usually enjoy each stage, but I’m just glad this stage is over.

(Patrick) #2

One other thing - the single most significant area where Zwift loses out in comparison to its competitors is in the apparent seriousness of the approach to structured workouts.

This would have been a fantastic opportunity to introduce a new, well-written multi-week training plan and have Stage 3 be a workout representative of this new plan. Then, follow that up with a commitment to new official Zwift workout plans that are well thought-out and competitive with the selections from the likes of TrainerRoad, Training Peaks, Sufferfest, etc.

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(Gerrie Delport TeamZF) #3

I do agree with this I am also not a fan of the rubber band (but I know of a lot of people that really like it), I don’t see the point of seeing the whole group on the same screen, I would prefer we all go at our normal speed but we can chat as a group, not seeing other riders or other chat messages. I was on Discord with friends and it was fun chatting and suffering during the workout, I don’t even know if they were on the same screen as myself.

I did not think Jon’s mix was that bad but I do a lot of workouts on zwift so I think I was prepared for a hard session.

Having that many riders on the screen was very taxing on my system, I saw my FPS drop to 19 at certain points.

(Patrick) #4

Gerrie, you bring up another point that I forgot to mention. I wouldn’t be surprised if a group workout of this size causes a lot of problems with people having dropouts and/or poor frame refresh rates. I’ve never had issues with this sort of thing, but I know it’s been a problem in past large events.

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( -) #5

I’m totally agree. The stage 3 yesterday was absolutely no fun.

You guys from the zwift HQ really think its funny to share the screen with hundreds of other riders? It’s nothing but chaos and far away from a nice workout.
You really think it’s funny to hammering over 700 watts to the pedals and than moving with 9km/h because of the rubber band? No, it’s not, it’s frustrating.
And its also not funny to be overtaken from hundreds of riders in a few seconds with no obviously reason, because of the rubber band.

And i also agree about the choice of the workout.
It was a good workout for me, but I’m at level 21 and I’ve done a lot of workouts before.
But if i was new at zwift and this would be me first workout at all, I would never try a workout again.

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(Graham) #6

I completely agree stage 3 has to be my worst experience of zwift so far. So many riders together terrible frame rates, no way to escape. I ride on rollers this workout was actually impossible the sprint wattage too high, and then drop to a wattage so low to make balancing very difficult. I gave up trying, this was neither fun nor a good workout. Poorly though out and badly executed.

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(Mike ) #7

I had the opposite experience. There was no rubber banding. At one point I only had 9 people on the screen, out of 450. I didn’t see the point of the leaderboard and I slowly slipped from the top 100 to 400th, with no understanding of why it was happening. In a 54 minute session I went 12.5miles. Normally I’d do about 18/19 miles in that time. I appreciate the workout isn’t about distance but it felt painfully slow at times. Descending down into the jungle and we are doing 26kph, usually be doing over 40kph. It certainly didn’t make me want to repeat the process, either on the tour or a separately organise event.

(Ricky) #8

I did find this pretty funny tbf. My guy is out the saddle sprinting like Billyo while simultaneously crawling. :joy:

I agree with this. 6 minute warmup got my to about 160w and then BOOM, 3x1min @ 350w :scream:

It’s also not the best workout to be the example, because ERG doesn’t really get itself sorted in time for 10 second intervals, at least on my Cycleops Hammer anyway.

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(Nigel ) #9

I agree with what’s being said. Being crammed in with 700+ other riders is no fun however towards the end of the workout the rubber band broke and myself and a few others rode off the front. Screen grab attached. This further reduced to 3 of us.

Yeah Jon’s Mix is a badly designed workout. The 10 second power targets are higher than I’ve been able to achieve at any time. I guess they are over so quick my trainer doesn’t have time to lock up.

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(Mike ) #10

I must have fallen off the back

(Nigel ) #12

There is no drafting in workouts. Plus the speed is painfully slow. You pretty much go the pace of the slowest rider.

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(Yotam) #13

To help riders that might be surprised by the difficulty the workout popups should (and very early) tell people how to pageup/pagedown to control the difficulty.
As an experienced user (who rode hard for an hour right before starting the stage) I went very quickly to that PgDn button when the intervals hit :sweat_smile:
This will certainly make it a more pleasant experience for new users.

EDIT: maybe there was such instruction and I missed it, but worth repeating in my mind.

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(Yotam) #14

Next time - use PgDn/PgUp to control the difficulty - no need to mess with the FTP setting.

(Jim) #15

Alternatively, just don’t even bother. The thing about group workouts is that you’ll be carried along with the group regardless of what you’re doing. For Stage 3 yesterday, I just stuck with my training plan, which called for 4x12 over/unders. I completely ignored Jon’s Mix, and it sounds like I was happier if it. The only segment I got a star for was the warmup, so I did cheat myself out of some XP, but at least Drops accrued at the regular rate.

It does leave me wondering, though…what is the point of a group workout?

(😺🐾) #16

Wow, I didn’t know you could change the difficulty setting. I’m new to Zwift and I’m using the Android version. I guess the arrow buttons on the UI controls the difficulty level, and I pressed them wondering what they do…

(David) #17

Been considering diving into workout mode recently, so this was a first for me, and probably last … as I an only echo a lot of the criticisms on here. My budget end smart trainer (Flow Smart) simply wasn’t capable of ramping up to 715 watts in the space of a 10 second interval, so I failed to get stars for those sections, and the whole experience was just inherently unsatisfying with the rubber banding creating a genuinely surreal feeling of pedaling hard and getting nowhere before suddenly lurching forward at speed.

It also seemed to be easier to maintain wattage while going up what would normally be an incline … what is that all about?

Finally, XP. I understand that XP is awarded at the end of a workout rather than during the ride, but my progress bar didn’t show any movement at any time, and there was no notification of XP awarded in the post ride report? Again, what am I missing.

Overall, nice idea to include a workout in the Tour, but either a poor choice of workout, or it’s just not my thing.

(Gerrie Delport TeamZF) #18

There are a lot of trainers that just cant do it that fast, I would suggest trying it without ERG. Well even without ERG you have to be quick to reach that power in 10 sec.
That workout is in zwift so you can try it anytime.

(Patrick) #19

@David_Cooper, I would highly recommend you forget this experience and take a shot at a regular structured workout or workout plan. My position here is mostly that their hearts were in the right place, but Zwift did a terrible job of selecting the actual workout for this event.

For example, this past winter, I did the Build Me Up 12-week program that is built-in and ready to go on Zwift. It was great and I had awesome results. Following up on that, I’ve downloaded the files for the ODZ Zwift Fitness FTP Challenge 8-week program and added that to my Zwift installation as a custom workout plan (https://whatsonzwift.com/workouts/). I’m in week 5 of that and it’s also fantastic.

There are also a number of one-off single workouts that you can browse through and try out, all will be scaled to your FTP, so you’ll be in a good zone as long as you have that set reasonably close.

As far as ERG mode goes, leave it on for workouts and you’ll get used to it. It’s easy - just maintain the proper cadence and the trainer will hold the power for you. Those 10-second spikes in the Stage 3 workout were ridiculous - nobody’s trainer really nails those, so just let that go.

Don’t let Stage 3 sour you on structured workouts. As far as group workouts go… I don’t have much else to say - take 'em or leave 'em. I suspect they might be alright in a small group, but I’ve tried a few now and I’ve sworn them off until they improve the rubber band effect.

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(Patrick) #20

Re: XP, on a workout, you get XP as you finish each block, at the same time you get stars. For a full star, you get something around 10-11 XP per minute on a flat block, about half that for ramps or free-ride blocks. If you don’t hit the power (and maybe cadence) targets, then you may get a fraction of a star or no star at all, depending on how far off you were, and a similar fraction of the XP.

It actually works out that you probably get more XP per minute doing a workout than you would get for mileage out on a free ride. Any mileage and vertical climbing you do also counts towards challenges, etc.

As for the different feel going uphill when in ERG mode, the terrain doesn’t affect the power level that your trainer holds - that’s entirely up to the workout. The only difference is that your avatar will move faster/slower per the power you’re putting out and the incline. It may work out that you’re putting out a really low wattage that makes it seem easy, but your avatar will just go real slow up the hill - maybe even slower than you would if you were in granny gear. That’s just how the math works out.

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(Jim) #21

I’ve pretty much given up on Zwift for structured workouts and training plans. It’s clearly not their core competency, nor does it seem to be a priority. Instead, I use Trainer Road for my training plan. I run Trainer Road in one window (and let it control my trainer), and I run Zwift in another window just to provide entertainment.