Unfair Promotion?

Hi All,

First time poster, sorry if its a whinge but I’m genuinely struggling to understand the category enforcement.

I started on Zwift in June and absolutely love it. It’s part of rehab as a 51 year old who has spent the last 10 years having over 15 knee surgeries. I have no ACL or much of a PCL in my right knee after a failed reconstruction, and have gone from 90kg in January to 81kg where I sit right now. Not that this is relevant as such but just so you know my numbers are pretty much the absolute best they can be right now. There is no sandbagging going on at all.

Anyway, as my fitness gets better I have done a couple of races, and as I’m trying to get the Zwift Academy badge I figured I’d do both of those. Imagine my amazement, when after finishing 12th, I’m upgraded to Cat C!!!

Now this race was my giving the absolute best that I could (felt sick at the end, was running at pretty much my max heart rate at the end and some fellas just breezed past me) and I wasn’t within an asses roar of winning it (as with any other race I’ve done). My average power for the short race was 2.9 w/kg which I understand is above category but there are others above me who have not suffered the same fate. Guys part of racing teams, with hundreds of races under their belt, many with podiums and looking at their power numbers, far more capable, experienced riders than I am.

In an earlier race, I was beaten among others, by a 50+ y/o at 46.5kg, also with hundreds of races under the belt, who somehow managed to cruise the whole thing and then produce 9-11 w/kg at the end? All still Cat D.

Its frustrating because I was really enjoying the races and thinking I might try to do one weekly but I may as well not bother and just use the trainer as a trainer because I will be dead last in Cat C.

I just dont understand how with such a short history, that a single absolute max effort from me gets me upgraded to a Category I cannot be even in touch with the front. As I said, its not like I have any podiums or anything but I have managed to usually hang with the front group in the races I’ve done and be modestly close to competititve while being under no illusions that I have a chance against the people I’ve raced with.

Is there anything I can do? How long do I have to wait to get downgraded?

PRs used to determine your category have a 90 day lifespan.

There are various races you can try such as TFC Mad Monday. In VirtuSlo Split-Cats events you might still be in E category - try signing up and see.

You can also “race” leaderless group rides like the BMTR Fundo.

I also recommend the 5v5 Club Ladder events if you want to try team racing. It uses the zwiftracing.app category system.

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More group rides you can race…

if you go to “more info” next to your fitness metrics on your zwift feed, there is a brief but useful faq on how the system generally works. it stops short of telling you the exact formula, but as far as i can tell, which is pretty far, none of the information in there is wrong or misleading

the tldr of it is that it’s recommended to have maximum, or close to maximum, efforts over a variety of intervals. if some of them are clearly submaximal, zwift will just guess instead, probably inaccurately.

i recommend making sure you have maximum efforts recorded for the four intervals zwift suggest having them for and keeping them more or less up to date as frequently as your programming allows for

Congrats on the the promotion!
I start every fall/winter in Cat D. At some point I get promoted to C. Even a low cat C you can still podium or stay with the main group with the right strategy. Just figure out your strengths and focus on races that you can do well in. And be patient. It might take a month of racing C before you start to see the front. The other races that are fun are the ones where everyone is visible. Just let the A’s, B’s and high C’s take off, then just hang back with a group of C/D’s and wait for the sprint finish. If you can’t do sprints because of the knee, try focusing on the 5 minute power and do 3km breakaways.

2.9 w/kg is a good starting point, the race below I podiumed in C with 2.7 w/kg

A month later I podiumed twice with 2.7 and 2.8 w/kg efforts.
Last spring the best I could do was 8th out of 28th at a personal best of 2.9 w/kg.

And you do need to be realistic. How competitive would you be in a real bike race? I race during the spring/summer and am usually happy if I am not last. Intermediate level races.
For many Zwift races, the people competing are the ones who feel they have a chance at the podium. With a sprinkling of sandbaggers. But if you can stick with the front group then focus on your strength near the end you can still have some success.
Good Luck!


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