Trapped by other riders' wake

I’m not sure if this is a bug or a feature. I have noticed that, as I’m passing other riders, sometimes I get sucked into another rider’s wake even when going as much as 0.5 w/kg higher and as much as 4 km/h faster. The resulting slowdown is significant and abrupt. It feels very unrealistic and it is a bit frustrating. It seems to happen much more often when there are a lot of riders, but it happens even during less busy times. Thanks in advance for your consideration of this potential glitch.

This is the “sticky draft.” See

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Thanks Jim. It certainly seems to be the same and given how long it’s been since that post, it appears they have not been able to get it fixed. The suggestion of increasing power to avoid getting sucked for sure works, except that having to do that all the time is maybe worse than just dealing with the slowdown and getting dropped. Hopefully they’ll figure out how to resolve it.

Sticky draft is, for me, the most annoying thing in Zwift.

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Thanks Jim! I’m still here can’t believe this. It’s…frankly infuriating and I’m a massive zwift fan but … there’s no reason for this period: and they don’t need to fix it they ADDED it compared to the very start they can remove it. No option. See below why not etc.

I wrote separately but am consolidating here: To answer the OP, they think it’s a feature it wasn’t there in the beginning. Also so they know how to cut it out they wrote it in.

Go faster they told me. Thanks right? Yes that’s the problem I forgot that response OMG. First, I KNOW. So we’ve mastered the art of the sticky draft. But yesterday on the end of the UBER passing 400 people (I held my lower pace very well for the ride until then next tune I know I can go a little faster) on the way up redlining to not get stuck while passing every single person/group then recovering while holding a little below my target (not all out) pace but trying to bot pass than stall OTHERS right?. How can you learn to do what you’re supposed to do well and settle in in a long climb…that was really frustrating and I was trying to do that and stay within myself but instead I’d riding my ride I had to play the game and crossed the line feeling sick a bit overdid it not realizing it until too late… from my pacing thing you can tell it made it way harder to…pace!.

Then in general other riders through no fault of their own drive me nuts … if I’m near my limit and they’re close…of course naturally there can be back and forth…EVERY TIME the fact someone accelerates in front of me and slows down traps me. My new mantra is “strength isn’t the only skill” I know ZWIFT wants everyone to get on…for the initiation activation energy isn’t so hard (like IRL racing) that people drop. I’m actually done with my original (hope) that at least it would be gone for some of us: AT MOST allow people to opt in for super low levels but I actually think PROVIDING THAT OPTION IS A BAD IDEA since then they don’t learn. And we’re joking right now people will crash IRL. And new (and a many riders) don’t draft anyway most never focused on practicing it even with the sticky draft! That’s what’s so great about knowing anything…someone else will close the gaps. Drafting IRL 1:1, pacelining, pack floating, especially surrounded by those stronger than you, is an art form there’s no mastery a million levels of subtle learning. It’s not just underpowered people like me: my SUPER fast clubmate didn’t have fun going 1 or 2 in a race recentu?! I asked for a race report on got one frustrated line about asking “them” why he can’t coast at 35 mph like IRL. … (that was his retort …with more colorful language).

The “sticky draft” somehow shoves you back too in the pack if you stop pedaling IRL you slowly slow not suddenly rocket back. Yeah…I KNOW how to deal with that because I figured it out it still is super annoying and why make it intentionally different than IRL?? I’m waiting for stickydraft-gate to go viral…I HOPE they just cut it off soon.

Finally: someone has zero riding knowledge and is strong as an ox…you advantage them and disadvantage the opposite (me) if it’s competitive…is that what you want in races…that CAN’T BE…if it is…that’s simply wrong. Why reward dumb strenth (even if worked very hard for) if no skill, and penalize lower wattage FTP folks who can fleece many of the oxen/sheep sometimes even with sticky draft but WHY?

I’m going to escalate my original title to: NO OPTION. We’re not doing early riders a favor teaching them to ride wrong. I suggested skills clinics even in the absence of steering (yes I know now you can with stuff) it’s really big. I just…can’t believe Zwift thinks this isn’t a disaster and isn’t insanely annoying to anyone from cat 4 to cat 1 and the pros won’t say. Non-racers don’t draft…or barely…and learn slowly over time maybe even with sticky draft…it’s pretty clear riding around in groups there’s little grouping and drafting turns etc I don’t know who people are what their experience is all the cues aren’t there right? I LOVE AND LIVE ON ZWIFT. I’M A MASSIVE FAN AND BOOSTER. I’m personally walking experienced racers through the tech and initiation like they did with me IRL. I’m realizing…am I doing them a favor? I’ll ride forever no matter what, and you’re growing, but I’ve seen a LOT of posts by others saying as soon as something else catching up they’re gone. This is one thing of course they are complaining about some silly things (in my book) The basic physics are key (and…adding a slightly higher crr on road would be good actually the speed is slightly high but just saying I don’t rant about that so slightly higher milage speed oh well) but …sticky draft must go.

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Yeah sticky draft has been with us for a long time . We get the feature and what it is supposed to do and why (because there is no braking in zwift) we “need” it . In practise though it many of us feel it does cause as many problems as it solves . Its also like quite a lot of long term issues like this appearing to be exacerbated right now for whatever reason . The good news is they are “testing” some improvements and the 1 ride i tried it felt a little better , but it was hardly a rigouous test , just one ride. The difference was marginal mind you rather than revolutionary . Not sure if Zwift will feedback on it and/or refine it , do they have in game beta testers , I assume they do to get specific feedback.
Fingers crossed as it can be a problem , It should be less intrusive.

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To my understanding, stickydraft is for a completely different purpose than to keep a rider behind a rider to draft them - it’s to change the behavior of groups so that a group of riders doesn’t accelerate unreasonably from riders slingshoting past each other constantly. I think the ‘new AI’ trials that Zwift was doing in the TdZ make-up rides was a possible different or adjusted mechanism.

So instead of drafting being much faster we’re “stuck.” And, I imagine, while apparently it wasn’t easy, there probably are other solutions. I love Zwift … I loved it when it was 1-2 routes 3 jerseys a squirrel and a guy playing a banjo with a doppler effect as you crested the hill. The basic physics and immersive avatar experience are fundamentally critical. I see that others complain there aren’t more routes…that’s absurd especially at this point. My comment on this frustrating aspect (and I see I’m far from the only one who speaks up about it…and you know for the few “loud” ones there are so many that you never hear from if it’s a real issue). My post from about ~5 years ago was “archived.”

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IRL of the person in front isn’t goofy, as in the original zwift, I try to modulate my power to slide in with it braking. And drafting on the track! No brakes! There’s a super fast ride near me where I got a lot of practice and had to be super efficient to hang.

If you can find a pace partner that is not swamped with a peloton (Angela is normally good for this ) that is a great way to practise and refine your abliity to surf the draft., The other pace partners are too over subscribed unless you are riding when the world is very quiet,

Everyone is talking about this sticky draft in the context of group dynamics, which I, of course, agree with. However, I wanted to point out that this “issue” happens even with only two riders. Just yesterday, I got stuck in the wake of one rider in front of me that was going around 0.7 w/kg lower than me! That’s just too much. I know the issue may not be so simple to find because even though it is very reproducible, it is not consistent; it doesn’t happen always which makes me wonder if it’s also related to other things like environment, rider characteristics, etc…

I would love for a Zwift developer to chime in and share whatever info they can on this. In fact, I messaged Zwift directly and they told me it’s best to post in the forums so that their developers can read it and participate. @GoZwift?

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Zwift are implicitly at least aware that drafting is not ideal currently and are experimenting with changes.
The scenario you describe we all get and can never work out if it truly is sticky draft being way too much for small groups like this or if its just a slow screen redraw which any of us who investigate seem to find this starts to be something that has to be factored in . Likewise the draft from a giant peloton is no where near enough and this results in such things as finding yourself at the back of a group having to put in big efforts whereas in large groups like that in RL it would mean you could stick in with far lower efforts (view any pro race and witness riders freewheeling in behind big efforts ).

There is going to be a lot of reasons and maybe even complex (although I propose that here it is NOT complex enough) factors at play . The fact is pretty much established that relying on the screen visuals or the riders nearby view is not reliable enough . The only thing I could suggest that Zwift developers provide is some numeric “draft effect” value we are getting so we can work it backfrom here . OK I know its getting training back to number crunching and not immersive experiences but for now anyway we have to accept that is where the technology is .

I beleive from recent leaked screenshots in ZRL broadcases Zwifts are looking at this as it was displayed on screen … All I would ask Zwift is please dont sit on this like much other things , get it out to users as this would make much difference in the conversation here . It would firstly make our understanding better for starters and secondly would mean our reporting posts could be with better context and detail. By all means of course make this a toggleable option for those who prefer not to have such things on screen. Or even set it as a “debug” level … something I suggest is much needed by Zwift to be able to verobosely log so it makes thinks easier to diagnose .

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“Post in the forums” has been a common Zwift support response for years. Over the history of the forum there’s been little interaction in the forum from developers on any subject.

I would be extremely surprised if developers did … at least in an official capacity , But I would expect Product owners to potentially consider it and for sure to be taking this in and in due course giving some sort of feedback. It has to be remembered that developers and probably many in tech will be as keep to improve these things as we are. Business strategy might not be too conducive to just doing that . I would say that there are some positives there of late . Hasnt resulted in the radical change in delivery but its a start and shows willing , now its for the business to support it …
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