Why Zwift? Part 4, "Races and Group Rides"
Some of the best reasons to ride Zwift go beyond the structured workouts and the ability to roll through virtual worlds on endurance or recovery rides in free ride mode.
Sometimes it is hard to focus using free ride mode or workouts. I have found that the "social" aspects of Zwift have really helped me to improve my attention to proper training.
Races for one, give me a dynamic opportunity to have a hard day on the bike. The mobile app allows me to look for a race that fits my weekend schedule and slot it in. I will start off with about a half hour ride before the start time, or if I want to try for a good result, I will use the workout mode. I like to use Shane Miller's warm up protocol that lasts a little under 30 minutes. I sign up for the race in the mobile app, change the name as per race protocols, and then jump on and start the warm up 30 minutes before. When the race start time comes up, a reminder comes on screen that asks if I want to jump over to the race module, and whamo!
The Zwift races generally fall into categories, A-D with those classes grouped by a rider's w/kg. That means that at about 78kg, I average around 2.5-3 w/kg producing 195-235 watts average in a race. This makes me a C racer. You can find more on categories and strategies here, on the excellent ZwiftInsider site.
Are they fun? Yes and no. I have done a couple dozen in the last two years, and I can say that they will leave you drained. Every Zwift race starts like a drag race and ends like a sprint...so, yeah, they're great! The results are sometimes a little odd, as pc clocks and networks seem to add a little strangeness to the whole mix. Just don;t let it get to you. and just don't get too caught up on the racing too early.
I think the February Zwift races killed my outdoor season last year. I was so good in the spring that I was completely burned out by June. I can remember Father's Day racing in the rain and then every race after that with few exceptions were a nightmare. This year, I plan to be a little wiser.
That brings up the other half of today's post...group rides. The group rides can be found in the event module as well, and they are often days well spent in the saddle. If I need a nice tempo ride or an easy day with a little motivation, I find myself turning to the group rides more and more. There is something for everyone in there, and I have found it motivating to try to hang on to the SZR group rides and to try to help pull folks up hills or back into groups in PACK rides.
Those folks mentioned above run some great rides, and some other good ones are organized by Trek, WBR, and Team Type 1. Zwift, Castelli, and Garneau have also run excellent rides, fondos, and sportives that I have enjoyed this winter.
Today, I did one of the Garneau Sportive rides that went up both the hills in the London course. At 25+ miles, it was a blast. I particularly enjoyed reeling in all the early sprinters as we went up the best hills the Surrey region has to offer. I find giving out a few Ride Ons as I pass people helps motivate them, and it keeps my mind occupied as I suffer. If you are lucky like I was today, you can settle in with a nice group and even chat a little as the time and miles fly by. With temperatures in the low 20s, ice and wind this would not have been possible today in Buffalo. You can see my on Strava ride here.
You can find a ride and a course that you can jump in almost any time. I usually plan my wakeups on the weekends around the group ride or race schedules. I think you will find these a good mix for when you have a nice tempo ride or a nice cruise. The social aspect that you are all in it together helps to make the time pass. Jump on and ride on!