The Tour of Watopia (ToW) has been popular, with hundreds of participants in the five stages I’ve ridden so far.
I hope that there will be more events like this, and that there will be more start times on the schedule for each stage in future tours.
The ToW start times have been 2 to 2.25 hours apart. On a weekday evening, or morning, wrapped around family and work and community responsibilities, that can be tough to fit in. There are going to be maybe two start times that are realistic, and if the first one is a bit too early, the second one may be a bit late, for a longer stage. In the eastern US, for instance, 5 p.m. is early, and 7:15 p.m. is starting to get late to do the stage, wash up and settle down for a good sleep.
I’d hoped that Late Joins might be the way around a start time that is too early, an allowance of 30 minutes or more to get started after the announced group start time. You won’t win the stage, and you will have fewer Zwifters to ride with. But it would allow getting the stage done, so you can go on and finish all seven. Though you might still need the make up days, since it might still be impossible to ride on the two days that any individual stage is available.
Zwift has announced that Late Joins are not available, via their email to participants: “And please be on time. Late joins were counted in stages 1 and 2, but they won’t count for the rest of the Tour. We suggest you log in to Zwift 10-15 minutes before your event starts.”
So if Late Joins are not possible, for technical or other reasons, more start times become more useful. And really, more start times would be better than late joins. It’s good to ride the events with many others. Even if the present groups were spread out across twice as many rides, there would still be good numbers on all the rides I’ve seen. And I suspect the participation count would go up as well.