Zwift Academy Road 2021 Baseline Ride FAQ

Hey all - welcome to week 1 of Zwift Academy Road. The team at HQ noticed some questions and comments pop up in chat during the Baseline Rides we did with you, so we hope this guide helps address them.

Most Reported Questions by the Community:

Does the Baseline ride function as an FTP test, or do I need to also do one of those first?
The baseline ride does not determine your FTP. If you are unsure whether your FTP is accurate or if you have not set your FTP yet, we recommend taking the ramp test.

Is late join turned on?
There is no late join for these events. You should prepare for your ride by jumping into the event early and making sure everything is in working order.

Should I do the Baseline Ride in ERG mode?
The baseline ride is not a workout, and thus should not be done in ERG mode.

Is drafting turned on for these events?
The event is set up for no drafting, so don’t worry if you aren’t hanging with a pack. Find a pace that works for you to maximize your efforts. Drafting is turned off so you have consistent environmental factors for both the baseline and finish line rides in order to get more accurate results.

How do I know when to start the segments in the Baseline Rides?
If you are riding the Advanced Baseline ride, you will arrive at the segments at this point during the ride:

  1. Short Segment: 2.6 km / 1.6 mi
  2. Medium Segment: 11.9 km / 7.4 mi
  3. Long Segment: 21.7 km / 13.5 mi

If you are riding the Standard Baseline ride, you will arrive at the segments at this point during the ride:

  1. Medium Segment: 4.3 km / 2.6 mi
  2. Short Segment: 16.8 km / 10.2 mi
  3. Long Segment: 21.3 km / 13.2 mi

Do I need to stay with the group on the Baseline Ride/What if I can’t?
The event is set up for no drafting, so don’t worry if you aren’t hanging with a pack. Find a pace that works for you to maximize your efforts - this means going hard during the segments, but recovering in between.

What is the Baseline Ride measuring?
The baseline ride is determining how you perform within the three different energy systems: sprint (or phosphocreatine), anaerobic, and aerobic. By the end of Zwift Academy, you should be able to determine what type of cyclist you are based on what energy system you excel in.

How does the baseline ride impact the rest of my ZA workouts?
The goal of the baseline ride is to get a gauge on what your fitness level is prior to starting your Zwift Academy workouts and provide a comparison point for the Finish Line ride.

How can I tell what my strengths/opportunities for improvement are based on my baseline ride effort?
Strengths/opportunities for improvement are unable to be determined by baseline rides alone. Only after going through Zwift Academy and completing your finish line ride will you be able to get a greater understanding of what your various segment efforts mean and how you can use this data to continue your training. Be on the lookout for a blog post which will go into greater detail coming soon.

Is this a race?
This is not a race. The goal is to give it your best effort for each of the three segments! At the start and in-between the segments, use this time to recover by taking these sections easy. This will ensure you maximize your efforts and get the best results.

Where do segments begin and end?
The segment start point is indicated by a flashing beacon on the right side of the road and a flashing dotted line on the ground. The segment finishing point is indicated by a Zwift Academy Arch.

Does the event end at an arch?
After the final segment, the ride will continue on for a little longer, but you can spin easy until you reach the finish (seen in the image below).


Power ups should’ve been disabled too


These numbers may vary, due to the longtime group ride distance bug(s?). When I hit the start of the Volcano KOM doing the Standard Baseline, I was at 21.0km, and I saw people around me ranging from 21.0km to 21.7km, but all within probably 50-60m.

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Thank you very much for this. I struggled with the start points yesterday, and I wasn’t the only one. Will try again today.

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Can you provide alternate start times across the week please. One day at 3am, 5am, 7am, the next at 4am, 6am, 8am etc.

With no late join enabled it would be good to have this more flexible.


This is very helpful. Most of this is explained in the event details - it was interesting that a fair number of participants hadn’t read the details. Most helpful is the guidance on when the segments start as it enables you to prepare mentally for when to dig in. This ride was much better than the segment ride that was included last year, not least because we were provided with much more information about what the ride was trying to do.


We are looking to update remaining Baseline rides (likely starting 9/2) with Power Ups disabled. Agree and thanks for the note, Mike.


The exact numbers can vary depending on what paddock your avatar starts from, but yes - they should be pretty close.

The distance issues isn’t just because of start pens (not sure i’ve even noticed it that early). Distances covered by close riders can vary widely and the gaps grow as a ride progresses. I’ve had rides where two people who started together in the same pen and and are riding next to each other were over 1km separate in reported distance.


I only saw the flashing light on the sprint segment. I was looking for it and was not sure when the other segments started. I had to assume when the segments score box showed up that it would start.
Why is there not a progress bar for the segments to help you pace them?


Totally agree. The same schedule repeated every day isn’t flexible. There are no 6am or 8pm baseline rides (my time zone and preferred Zwift time)

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This has a lot of potential. Using SIM mode and the virtual terrain of Watopia is a brilliant idea to perform baseline testing outside of workout mode (and without the limitations of ERG).

What this lacks is the hand holding in-game. Notifications on-screen at a minimum. Thinking a few steps ahead, having audible cues throughout the ride as you approach segments would be brilliant. eg, Having the voice of Rahsaan Bahati in our ears as we enter the sprint would be super motivating!

As it stands, I had no idea what was going on with the ride. I (and many others, I assume) don’t have time to read FAQs, watch videos, then re-do this test ride, etc. We want to step on the bike, click a few buttons, and get it done. This is not an optimal on-boarding experience for ZA for any level of rider. I appreciate the limitations of the platform and the reliance on CA to breakdown the results… but it was a letdown for me today.


I struggled to spot the beginning of the segments as well. It might be good if there was some warning letting riders know that a segment is coming up? It’s probably my fault (relative newbie) and reading this FAQ helps. I’ll do the ride again. Will the system know to use my second baseline ride as the baseline instead of my first?

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It would be nice if Zwift would display the ride description or some instructions while in the starting pen. A simple text overlay that appears as soon as you join the pen. It would go a long way towards helping overcoming the issue of people signing up for a ride without reading description/FAQs or ZwiftInsider articles beforehand.

Also, Zwift added 500m to go markers in the segments. Why not a great big fat arsed banner over the start of the segments which are notoriously difficult to spot unless you know exactly where to look? This is at least doable with the current Zwift system isn’t it (see 500m to go markers)?


I thought this would of been a lot more dictated, and thought incorrectly it was going to be somehow structured.

One thing I got totally confused about was the new Academy 500m markers, after doing a couple of the segments its now obvious these are to signify ‘500m to the finish’ - however I incorrectly assumed on the first sprint its was showing you “hey - get ready - you have 500m to start…”

I was then confused when I I saw the standard KOM road markers and then a few minutes later the new Academy marker, I proceeded to slow down again and get ready for the start, only for it not to appear (as I was indeed already into the segment)

So having to give this ride another go.

You need to add more visible markers or visual guides for these types of rides.


I agree with you, I feel like progress bar is an extremely necessary feature for this. I don’t understand why can’t Zwift include such simple feature.

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I think if you repeat baseline ride it will take your best time for each segment. You can see number of attempts and personal bests in Zwift Companion.

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Happy Thursday all. Just wanted to update you that per a sensible community request, Powerups have been disabled on the Baseline Rides moving forward.