ZRL vs Crits - Talk me into it!

Hi Everyone

I had joined in for ZRL - (HERD Marine Otters) last year - but ended up pulling a soleus muscle right before the first race. I was having troubles racing in C as I was new to that category - and just the training broke me right before my first race. I was super disappointed. It took a few months of recovery.

Fast forward a year - and a bunch of polarized training. I now can do the C races, and have been working on my sprints. I’ve been podiuming on Crits - and think about getting back into ZRL. I think I’m ready!

However, this is where i need some support and advice. I have been self employed for 25 years, and wake up without an alarm. I run a pottery studio, and it keeps me busy. When I add up the dedication needed for ZRL, the recons, the meetings, the facebook group (yikes facebook!) the training. Well, the training is awesome - and I love having a goal to train for!

But I think I’m missing something that is obvious to everyone else - the meaning of ZRL - is it for the suffering? Or the fame and glory? What is the end game of ZRL vs. crits that I can just pop into when it suits me?

It’s for the sandbaggers :rofl:

Maybe things will be different with CE and the introduction of PD4, but I somehow doubt it.


Do you think there is more sandbagging in ZRL than open crits? Are there different checks and balances with ZRL, like weight checks? Nobody asked me for verification.

league racing is pretty pointless for me, so i avoid it for the most part. being in a team or having a group of people to race with is nice though because you can do stuff like thursday TTTs which are a pretty fun way to get some over/unders done and if you join a nice team, you meet good people.

also, it depends what “pointless” means to you personally. people value different things. it’s worth asking yourself what you want to get out of your hobbies every so often

It seems there are some occasional weight checks on ZRL; my club teammates who podiumed in one of the finals races this past were asked to verify weight following the race using WTRL protocols.

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One reason to not do league races is that it will increase the pressure to do more races more frequently, when that might not be best for avoiding the possibility of your injury recurring. If you can choose your races freely, you might be more likely to decide against racing when you’re experiencing mild soreness that could lead to something worse.


I think the biggest benefit that people remark upon with ZRL is the team racing aspect. If you’re socially inclined, it’s an opportunity to build real relationships with folks online and in IRL (some end up meeting up in real life for rides). In the best scenarios Zwift teammates provide emotional support, insight into Zwift racing tactics, execute team-based racing strategy, and positive reinforcement when things get tough. Additionally, personally I find that I push harder when I have a responsibility to others. I thinks holds true for a lot of folks — most of my teammates finish with much stronger stats at the end of a season than at the beginning. I think these positives are inherent to team racing whether its through ZRL or another channel. The team approach can be whole lot of fun, but as others have said it depends on what you’re looking for.

Also, for what it’s worth, you can do ZRL racing without being on Facebook. I’m not on it, so when I search for teams I search for ones who communicate via discord in other ways rather than primarily through Facebook. There are fewer of them but they are out there.

Happy racing!


Thank you for this insight. “I push harder when I have a responsibility to others” I am sure there’s a lot to learn from team members, and how does one do that without interaction at such a level?

Does coaching come into play in your team? Is there strategy and planning?

I think this probably varies greatly from team to team and season to season. From my own experience, I’d say there’s not a lot of coaching per se, but a medium amount of strategy goes into TTT and points races. For TTTs there’s definitely a race power plan and turns and pace is calculated to riders’ strengths and terrain. There can also be a learning curve to holding a pace line and that is something that is practiced. Additionally, we often had a non-racing team member DS to make turns easier to monitor and to help adjust the plan on the fly as needed on the day. On points races, where FTS (fastest through segment) or FAL (first across the line) points often total up to be more than finishing order points, there will be strategy around having strong sprinters or climbers work extra hard on segments.

Edit: I forgot to mention that while there is not formal coaching, often club members who race with other teams and/or team members who are sitting out will fanview during races and send out helpful pointers (such as reminders about approaching route features and notable behaviors of other racers) via Companion App messaging. They also send motivational messages when you’re up or down.

I’ve also been on the receiving end of other teams’ tactics. Such as a very deliberate attack to drop me when I was in a tiny grupetto with two members of an opposing team (we’d all been dropped from front and we’re conducting our own race at the back). I was refusing to take any pulls before an upcoming climb, cause there were two of them and only one of me, so I couldn’t blame them, lol. I stuck to them like gum on the bottom of a shoe though.


I am very thankful you responded lebasi. Your post is intriguing. I love tactics, strategy, planning.

How do I find the right team since they vary so much? For me to commit such a large chunk of my life, I would like to have commitment from the team as well. How does that work in ZRL?

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Just a guess but I think you’ll probably have to announce your interest in ZRL team racing and your wish list (in terms of commitment and experience) in places where avid Zwift racers hang out. Hopefully you can then communicate with some teams and maybe informally do some ZRL TTTs and non-ZRL individual races with them over the summer. Hopefully by the fall you will have found a good fit in time for main ZRL season.

I’m told the link is a good place to find and chat with Zwift racers. I’m not on Facebook so I don’t know for sure, but could be a good place to start your search.

Bon chance!

The way it’s organised now, with results being determined by points to be won by everything and everyone, on every segment of the course, first across the line and fastest time, there’s no real strategy involved.