Women's C Race Category, too broad for good race experiences?

I’d appreciate feedback on the Women’s C Race Category which I am in and love. But, the Women’s C race category of 2.5-3.1 just seems to cover too broad a range of racers. Many smaller women quickly have 2.5 w/kg but often cannot get their power a lot higher. This group of low end Cs, did not get to enjoy the D racing long at all before they are tossed to the very competitive C racing. I love a good racing experience for all levels and Zwift has almost perfectly provided this. But for many lower Cs, they are dropped quickly on races with no hope of being in the fun of racing in a pack with others. That experience is reminding me a bit too much of In Real World women’s road racing. Perhaps this is true of other categories. For many D and C level racers, the experience of racing is more of the goal than continuous advancement. For me, when I entered Zwift racing, I started as a D and was able to slowly work up over a year to a C. Then, as a C, I have slowly worked up among the Cs so the racing is great. But, I know that I am blessed with an “all around” body weight and young enough to still improve my power. The format works for my body type but I am not sure it does for smaller & lighter women. I’d appreciate thoughts and whether it would be worth while to ask for more Zwift racing categories?


Your experience applies to both genders and all races.
A new C will still be racing with the old D group.
My advice to all of Zwift is
“Race the ones you’re with and ignore the colorful dots.”
I agree, the power ranges for the cats could use some tweaking , either on the organizer level or for the whole platform.


Have a look at some of the split Cat races… TFC Mad Monday… SZR Wednesday… RWB Friday… you will find that the lower C Cat will have riders of a similar ability…


The split categories you mentioned can be great training tools, I know I use them, but those races are mixed and not women’s specific. While a lot of us are comfortable racing mixed, there is a huge contingent of the women’s racing that is not.

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The category limits, eg the 2.5 to 3.2 for C are some what arbitrary and potentially should not be the in same places for women as they are for men. For men and women with the growth of the racing community, a 5th category may benefit many of the midlevel racers who like to compete for fun but know that there is no pro contract waiting at the finish line. I think looking at adding a category is a great idea but then we still have to contend with participation numbers for the women’s races. I know a lot of women wo are not comfortable with racing mixed, and racing the single women’s category where its D’s against the A’s is absolutely no fun when that’s your only option, and can be very discouraging to new riders. Adding categories and ensuring multiples women’s categories are avaible probably would require Zwift to look at curating the racing schedule a little bit to funnel more people into the same races.

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Agreed Wendy. Broadening the categories levels the playing feild…makes it more equal…and ensures folks dont get discouraged!

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Why are women reluctant to race mixed races?
Honest question.
I realized many comments from males maybe inappropriate but usually, there not a lot of chit chat in a race.
Group ride- lots of talk.
Also, we are only virtually there.
Safety is guaranteed.

I’ve said before that Women’s B is perhaps the best category to race in, because it is the narrowest category at 0.5 W/kg (3.2-3.7)

Mixed category widths
D- 2.5
C- 0.7
B- 0.8
A- 0.5 (admittedly not really realistic because most races group A & A+)
A+ (unlimited)

D - 2.5
C- 0.7
B - 0.5 (narrowest category)
A - unlimited

But using only 20min power to categorize riders should be changed. On average, men have greater short duration power, which means that the mixed races can be a bit of a hard time for many women. (not always, some of the best sprinters I know are women)

@Sara_Horsey_6986 - It has been put on hiatus for the ZRL season, but the Herd SHEries is a categorized women’s only series on Tuesdays, and the Herd Women’s individual Time Trial series (multiple times through the weekend) is now categorized.

(from the league leader:)

Women’s Time Trial Racing p/b Herd Racing


I’m not even going to guess where this finishes, but it’s mostly flat so I guess somewhere flat. Just go as fast as you can for 16.1km and it’ll all be good! 🥳

We’ve gone back to separate categories this time around, with weeks alternating between the standard 10 mile / 16.1km TT and a longer 20 mile / 32.2km TT to mix it up a little.

12 events this time around, with the best 10 counting towards your final overall score. Draft is disabled, and there is a open bike selection – pick carefully so you go the fastest you possibly can.

Whether you’re a TT veteran or just wanting to give it a go, you’re all very welcome – 6 time slots over the weekend, hope to see you there!

Events (all times GMT/UTC)
Saturday 0900: https://www.zwift.com/…/tag/herdwomensitt/view/2692511
Saturday 1200: https://www.zwift.com/…/tag/herdwomensitt/view/2692560
Saturday 2000: https://www.zwift.com/…/tag/herdwomensitt/view/2692674
Sunday 0100: https://www.zwift.com/…/tag/herdwomensitt/view/2696794
Sunday 1200: https://www.zwift.com/…/tag/herdwomensitt/view/2696913
Sunday 2000: https://www.zwift.com/…/tag/herdwomensitt/view/2697028

Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/zHerdRacing
All Herd Women’s TT events here: https://www.zwift.com/uk/events/tag/herdwomensitt

Zwiftpower League: https://zwiftpower.com/league.php?id=968

The 20 minute category system really does the women over. Women generally have flatter power curves than men so whilst we can match them on 20 mins our 15 second will often be more like 2/3 of someone with equal FTP. Given that 15-60 second power is probably the most crucial thing on zwift (not losing the draft when someone kicks or the gradient rises), it’s really hard to not get dropped in mixed races even with a really strong FTP


Great question. I think Alice and Sara answered. I am fine with doing mixed races but now I understand why they are harder. The power curve difference makes sense. Also, in my experience, many women who are new to racing are just plain intimidated by racing and seem to be more comfortable around other women. Their comfort level with racing with men improves after they have raced more. There is a new generation of women whom I am sure are more comfortable in mixed races from the start. IRW and on Zwift, I am always interested in all of the skill, conditioning, and emotional levels that racing tests. We humans are fascinating. I take great joy in people of all levels/ages discovering the joys & challenges of racing. I am always trying to figure out how to increase participation.

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Craig and Sara,
I am learning so much. Great input. I was wondering why the different spreads of the 20 min power criteria. Racing is also learning skills beyond power. The Zwift race teams I have been part of have been great at mentoring. I encourage new racers to join a team for that reason.
I have always had joy in racing even if I was there only to make the fast riders look faster.

Hopefully as pen enforcement materializes and some solution to cruising is developed then the cat ranges can be adjusted.
But if all 3 of these occur, would it address the issue of the cat system does not identify the strengths of women racers.
The issue of flat power curves exists for both genders.
This is an issue I have and now I do specific above thresh hold VO2 max intervals that are just brutal.
That said, racing is brutal.
Racing , in general, will only appeal to small percentage of riders.
I think the events attractive to the most users will be the sprited group rides such as TDZ.
I just finished the 2 pm CST race and when I signed up, there was 27 women signed up for the women’s ride.
There was 450 + in the C ride with many women in my group (around #200).

This conversation has given me an idea.
If the current A-B-C-D cat system was further divided to A±A-B±B-C±C-D±D, then the we would just have 8 categories with all the faults of our current system - that being, it is based upon a single power curve point.

But if A-B-C-D was still based on 20 min power but then the A+,B+,C+,D+ was based upon the 5 min power.
Would this be an improvement?
Zwift all ready has all the data.

Tim, I’ve said for a very long time that results need to matter in categorization. I watch a C rider that wins pretty strong B races, and there’s a problem with the categorization system - but I don’t need to figure it all out with a full power curve - everyone is always going to have a different power curve and perform differently on different race courses. If someone wins, give them points towards a move-up. There’s a lot of options there, but definitely a results component needs to be added.


As well as the several valid points that have been made about women riding in mixed, there’s the very straightforward point that 220W/60kg is a really ■■■■ place to be in mixed racing as you come up against a bunch of 320W/80kg (and worse) guys in B cat. That applies the same to the 60kg men as much as the women, but I think that a fairly high proportion of women fit this description, more or less.

A lot of the women who get on well in mixed races are effectively racing “down” a category due to the absolute watts threshold - their watts are low but W/kg is high. Of course this also applies to sufficiently lightweight men who can dominate on hilly courses, but there are fewer of those. At least in the previous (hillier) ZRL seasons I’ve seen a few women doing very well in mixed divisions. But…only a few.


I’m very much with you on this, and it’s been great to see my fiancée go from someone who just Zwifted on flats and did free rides to someone who pushes harder and now is on the verge of trying racing. Sometimes she does mixed rides and sometimes she prefers the idea of riding just with women - I think the latter is basically because we’ve been conditioned to believe women and men can’t/shouldn’t compete, an opinion which is gradually changing.

I’m a big believer in categorising racing by ability rather than gender or age. But I do think to make racing truly inclusive for different body types you need a few different systems of measurement/categorisation so people can choose their favourite. It makes sense that at least one of these would be built towards characteristics which are more likely to work for women.

Hopefully, when we eventually get enforcement of the current category system we can see a few different systems come in.

We were not conditioned to believe that. It is a true fact of life top Men are stronger and faster than Top woman. That is why the woman wanted their own competitions. Woman are free to ride with the men but woman should have their own competitions.

Once we have pen enforcement the organizers can redefine the bounds for Woman racing categories.

I found this site with some good information: How does your cycling power output compare? — Cycling Analytics

This could be used to redefine the category boundaries.

This is a generalisation that on average, men are stronger and faster and that most of the time, the strongest and fastest will be men. But it’s just a generalisation, similar to the ones we make about performance in relation to age. There are plenty of women who are far, far faster and stronger than me.

When you get below the elite level, none of us are the strongest, none of us are the fastest. So if you only judge people by their ability, men and women can compete; even if on average you might see men who are further from elite competing with women who are closer to elites.

On Zwift, I’ve raced side-by-side with women and with handcyclists, all of whom had the same ability as me to produce watts. Sometimes they beat me, sometimes I beat them. It’s all fun.

I don’t want to get into this argument because it is totaly off topic.

Look at the data I posted above. The author found that on the median (50th percentile) FTP w/kg men and woman are the same because woman are lighter than the men. So they can climb at the same speed. So yes on that climb men and woman even out. Now put a 10km flat road before the climb and the men with more raw power will start the climb before the woman.

but if the woman want to ride with the men they are more than welcome.

But the OP asked for better categories for the woman and I agree looking at the data it should look different than men.