Junior cycling teams on Zwift? Are there any?

     Just like many adults, a lot of kids want to be part of a team, have teammates to race with, work together with, and train with. While there are hundreds of teams out there for Zwifters, they are all made up of adults, which can be pretty intimidating for a lot of kids and parents may not want their kids riding with a bunch of adults who they have never met before. Two of the largest teams that are kids only are Bikely Youth Team, they used to run multiple Zwift Racing League teams but due to the new rule, they cannot. They run weekly group rides, and they have over 80 members. Team Kids, which hasn’t had much action lately due to school and other things, but still has over 30 riders. Here is a little bit about each of them.

    Bikely Youth Team is a team for riders who are competitive and for riders who just want a social pace. It was created in 2020 during quarantine. Every weekend Bikely Youth Team does a group ride at a social pace, some sessions are harder than others. They are usually an hour long at around 2 wpk. They used to have three teams racing in Zwift Racing League, but because of the new rule, they are not able to participate. Their goal is to get stronger and help everyone have fun and improve! They are currently looking for more riders to join, if you are interested, let Paul Vriesman know and he will guide you through the process! Bikely Youth Team now has official public events! To join those, just look on the events calendar for Saturday morning, and you should find a ride titled BYT Saturday Social.

    Team Kids was created in the middle of 2019. It is the oldest kids team still around but they haven’t been very active recently due to school and other things that keep us kids busy these days. This team was very active in 2019 but started to fade when quarantine started. This team has just over 30 riders and does not have any events going on currently but to join the team contact Elliott Blake and he will get you set up. 

    Bikely Youth Team is the only junior team to get public events on the calendar. A special thanks to Elliott Blake and Paul Vriesman for creating these teams for the Zwift kids community. To join these teams you can find them on zwiftpower.

My Favorite Routes on Zwift

There are currently hundreds of routes on Zwift. Of the hundreds, here are my three favorite routes on Zwift.

Released in the July Zwift update, was Suki’s playground. Suki’s playground covers almost all of the roads in Yumezi, excluding the dirt roads. I am not a fan of the dirt roads, and this route also has great scenery, making it my favorite route on Zwift. One of my favorite Zwift pictures I have taken so far was on this route.

Second is likely Richmonds UCI course. This route has a sprint and a bunch of short KOMs that are around a minute long. I like this route because of the short KOM’s because they are quick and easy to pace. They are great for solid 1 minute efforts. One of my segments is probably 23rd street, it is a super steep straightaway that lasts around 30 seconds. The route also finishes on a climb which is much better for a light rider like me so if I am racing I can have a better chance at a good result.

Third is Crit City. I love racing this route because they are short 1.2 mile laps and it helps the race go by faster for me. I like the rolling hills and how fast the route goes by. Even though it is event only it is very fun to race on and set new fastest times, FTP’s, and best results. All of my recent new FTP attempts have been on this course.

Let me know in the comments below what your favorite routes are! Thanks for reading!

Lightweight rider getting Anti-Sandbagging DQ? Here’s what to do

     As a lightweight rider, around 32 kg, my WPK are really high yet my speed is not as high as the other riders around me doing less WPK. Ever since Zwift started testing anti sandbagging features, I have gotten DQ from every Crit city race in C. This is because my WPK are around 4 while the others are doing around 3. As a results Zwift forces me to race in B for the races that I do get DQ from. For awhile I let this frustrate me and I tried to contact Zwift numerous times but they assumed I was the one trying to flag people, that was not the case. After a few months of trying to do these races I gave up. Discovering more races that I didn’t get disqualified from was not too hard and some were more competitive than the ones that I had previously been racing in. This helped me develop a better sprint, strategy, and overall power. In the recent months I have been in the ZRL C division with my local cycling club. These Zwift Racing League races were far more competitive races with some of the best riders in C. Unfortunately riders under the age of 16 can now no longer participate in Zwift Racing League due to privacy and legal reasons according to Zwift. Zwift has also said that if any opportunities come up where they can allow kids in the series, then they will reconsider their decision.

    Here are some tips to keep up with the category above if you are facing the same issue that I am. If you are a B category rider who is trying to race A, then that is a tough one as the best esports cyclists in the world could be racing you. As a C cat trying to be a B, I learned how important sitting on the flats is. Especially on crit city. For my example of when to go hard and when to sit in is going to be on the Crit City course(downtown dolphin), where I have the most B category experience. 

    On Crit City at the start riders like to sprint at around 8wpk for the first 10 seconds or so. Then the group begins to settle down. I found that on the flats I was able to sit in around 3.7-8 watts per kilogram on the flat parts. On the KOM the grade reaches around 6%, that is where the riders usually bring the pace up to 7-8wpk. Staying near the front of the group during the KOM is very important because catching on the downhill will be hard. On the downhill don’t ease off too much, try to stay in the middle or near the back of the pack on the downhill to take advantage of the draft. Many riders assume that the others will go hard on the rollers, doing around 3wpk then 4.5 on the steep parts that are a slight uphill will keep you in the group. Then as soon as the rollers finish, you will make a right turn into the finishing strip. On the last lap try and stay near the middle of the group, it is normal for the group to be moving faster as it is the last lap. Coming into the finishing strip watch for orange numbers and power ups dropping. When the first two riders go and turn their power-ups on, that is when I typically go.

One huge thing to remember is to stay in the draft. If you are a light weight rider, once you’re out of the draft, you will need to put out tons more WPK than you normally would. Most of the times I don’t end up catching up because of how much faster the pack moves compared to me. The most I have averaged in a Crit City race is 4.5WPK, and I didn’t get disqualified. As you move up in the categories, it gets harder to be disqualified.

    I hope you found this post interesting and helpful! If you know anyone who is having this same issue, send them this link! I don’t expect Zwift to make any changes to this feature anytime soon, which means the only way to race in Anti-Sandbagging races is to just work hard and move up to the next category. Any other questions/comments, leave a comment below. Thanks for reading and I’ll see you in Crit City!

Buffalo bike vs Cannondale Evo Alpe test

     After getting the buffalo bike awhile ago and hearing that it is the heaviest bike, I wondered just how much of a difference that it could make. For my heavy test I used the Buffalo bike with the Disc wheel. The disc wheel is currently the heaviest wheelset on Zwift I believe. For the lightweight test I used the Cannondale Evo with the lightweight wheels. The lightweight wheels are no longer the lightest wheels up the Alpe. They have recently been replaced by the new Roval Alpenist wheels.

    The buffalo bike turned in a time of 80 minutes doing 3wpk up the Alpe. Really slow for that many Wpk. I predicted that it would be around a 5 minute difference between the two. The buffalo bike was definitely slow, but I didn’t think that it was this slow. The climb that the test was run on the Alpe Du Zwift and it is 3,440 ft over the course of 7 miles. It is around 8% average and peaks at around 13%. This test was done using a 30kg rider holding 90 watts (A kg lighter than I currently am to make it a more precise test – 90/30 = 3).

    The Cannondale Evo turned in an amazing time of 70 minutes doing 3wpk. This used to be the fastest bike but is now 2nd to the S-works Aethos. It is also tied with the Specialized Tarmac Pro and Bridgestone bike. The difference of 10 minutes shows just how much time you can save by changing your bike frame for different terrains. If you currently do not have the Cannondale or the Specialized I would recommend getting one of those because it will make a big difference in your Alpe, Epic KOM, Ven-Top, and any others climbs that you do. If you have a lot of drops and are over level 32, I would get the Aethos as it is the fastest climber on Zwift.

    This test was very successful and this test shows just how much equipment can affect your times in Zwift. Even though the way to see the biggest difference is to get stronger, equipment can still help you go sub 1hr on Alpe Du Zwift. I hope you found this post interesting. Any questions or comments, leave a comment below.

How to bridge Ant+ to Bluetooth

     For a very long time garmin has made their Heart Rate Monitors Ant+ only. Many speed/cadence sensors are also Ant+ only. There are only a few different ways that you can bridge Ant+ to Bluetooth so that it will be compatible with Zwift. If you run Zwift on a computer, there is a pretty easy solution to this. An Ant+ dongle will allow Zwift to pair to devices through Ant+. 

    The first and most popular solution is to get this device: https://store.npe-inc.com/cable-connect-ant-to-ble/. It is not very cheap, if it is just one device, like speed/cadence sensors or a Heart Rate Monitor, I would recommend just getting a new sensor that already has bluetooth built into it. This device works very well to bridge to Zwift. It is probably the easiest way to bridge the gap. 4iiii also sells a heart rate monitor that can bridge ant+ to bluetooth that is very accurate in monitoring your heart rate.

    This second solution is one that I discovered when I had this issue. PM5 head units on Concept 2 rowers can also bridge Ant+ Heart rate monitors to bluetooth. I wrote about this in this article: https://www.pursuitcyclingforkids.com/how-to-use-concept-2-with-zwift. This should work to bridge the gap. This is a pretty long process just to get a heart rate monitor to pair with Zwift, which is why I ended up just getting a new heart rate monitor.

    Thanks for reading and I hope that this solves any issues that you may be having! If you know of any other ways, or if these solutions don\’t work, just leave a comment below!

Getting Started With Zwift Running

Background information

     In early 2018, Zwift Running was introduced to the public. You can join Zwift running for free, if you are not a cyclist, you do not have to pay anything to use Zwift Running. Zwift running is pretty basic, as in there are not many features, courses, events compared to Zwift cycling. Zwift running will still make running on a treadmill more interesting though. Zwift runners have 21 levels that they can unlock, unlocks consist of hats, glasses, shoes, and kits. 

What\’s needed

    To get started with Zwift running, all you need is a treadmill(smart treadmills that are compatible with Zwift do not require a run pod/speed sensor), a runpod/speed sensor, and a device that is compatible with Zwift. Zwift currently makes their own run pod that you can purchase for $39.99 USD on their website(Link to product: https://www.zwift.com/shop/product/zwift-runpod), they also sell the Runn made by NPE(North Pole Engineering) which costs $99.99 USD, it is available for purchase on the Zwift website(Link to product: https://www.zwift.com/shop/product/runn). Zwift also has a list of compatible treadmills here: https://support.zwift.com/en_us/supported-running-hardware-SycvahzDB. That is all that is needed to get started on Zwift running! Note: Zwift running and cycling both use the same app. 

    I hope you found this article interesting and helpful, thanks for reading and ride on! Any questions or comments, leave a comment below 👇.


Lasko High Velocity Fan Vs Vornado 630

Background information/details

     Recently we got two new fans to keep us cool over the summer when we ride indoors. One of the fans, the Vornado 630, was on sale for $39,99 at Costco, the Lasko High Velocity Fan was $49,99. The Lasko fan is very similar to the Wahoo Kickr Headwind. The main difference is that the Wahoo Kickr Headwind uses your heart rate data to determine how hard the fan should blow. Both of these fans are super easy to use, all you need is to turn on the fan and tap whichever setting you want, on the Vornado fan. The Lasko you just need to turn the knob to whatever setting you wish. For both of these fans all you have to do is plug it in to get it set up. Both are adjustable, I would say that the Lasko fan is slightly more adjustable than the Vornado, the Vornado can just be tilted a little bit. The Lasko has a tilting click system, which is good, until the part you want to target is in between two of the clicks.

Fan Speeds

    Now for the important part, how hard do the fans blow? Both have three settings, they each control how hard you want it to blow. 1, 2, and 3 on the Lasko, 1 bar, 2 bars, and 3 bars on the Vornado. The Vornado covers a broader area, while the Lasko High Velocity is more targeted and also has a stronger blow. I would say the Lasko High Velocity is definitely the stronger fan. If you want the fan to cover more of your body while you are riding, rather than a targeted blow, I would go with the Vornado or another fan that is still strong and wide.

Better than a trusty old tower fan?

    The previous fan, which we considered our stronger fan(and yes I hogged it 😉). I think that the Vornado is actually slightly more powerful than our old fan, and definitely more portable than the old tower fan. Here is an image of the old fan, and a close up of each of the two fans.

Conclusion

    Overall I think that these are two great fans. They get the job done and are priced reasonably. I think that if you are in the market for a new fan, the Vornado is good for a broader area that it covers. If you only need the fan blowing on your face(or wherever you want to blow on), I would get the Lasko High Velocity fan. Thanks for reading! Any questions or comments, leave a comment down below 👇.

How to grab your first sprint jersey on Zwift

      In Zwift, there are tons of sprints all over the various courses that Zwift has. Some riders can take sprint jerseys no problem, others it is harder. Here are a few ways that you can increase your chance of taking the sprint jersey.

    The first way is to use your powerup. Usually in Zwift you get a powerup pretty regularly so if you have one when there is a sprint, definitely use it. It will help you go a lot faster. The most effective powerup is the aero helmet. This makes you 50 percent more aerodynamic which makes a pretty big difference if you compare it to other powerups such as the feather.

    The next way is to join group rides. During group rides there is usually a group. It is not very often that the leader sprints too. Usually the leader gives you the option to sprint. If you are in a group fall back to the back of the group and maybe even get slightly dropped, put your powerup on and sprint as hard as you can when the time comes. When sprinting at around 9 wpk you can get to almost 36 mph when sprinting through/pass a group. This is just the way that the draft works and I am not quite sure why this happens. Using a powerup with a group increases your speed event more! Especially when using the Aero boost or the truck boost.

    Another way is to ride the reverse of a route. If there is a sprint on a route, there is almost always a reverse version of the sprint. Most people don\’t bother to flip a u turn to go the other direction so doing the reverse there will definitely be less competition. You could also go onto a world that is not currently on the schedule doing the meetup hack, where you create a meetup with yourself on a course that is not in the rotation at the time. There are typically 100 riders or less on the course so there is a very high chance of grabbing segment jersey\’s.

    My final tip is to build up your speed before the sprint starts. If you have a friend riding too, make sure to drop back slightly and use them as a slingshot to gain momentum. Starting your sprint around 3 seconds early helps you build up your speed, don\’t start too hard but do a decent sprint to get your speed up to around 50kph, then turn your powerup on as you pass the green sprint start. I have found that this worked numerous times including getting my first sprint jersey in Makuri Islands. I also used this strategy in a recent group ride that I did.

    I hope you found this article fun and helpful. If you did please tell others about the blog! If you have any other tips that are not listed leave a comment and I will add it onto the article.

Zwift Racing Experiences #1

This is the first article of a series of things that I will write about surrounding Zwift racing. These are things that I think about when I’m racing that I would like to share with the community. This article is about a Crit race that I did earlier this week.

On the final lap of the Crit race, a big gap formed, the burrito powerups completely separated the group into a group of 10 and a group of 4. I was with 4 riders, I was not sure whether they would bridge the gap, or if they would just give up and leave me sticky drafted behind them. As this moment was happening I was thinking to myself “Should I try and bridge myself but lose every last bit of energy that I have been saving to sprint? Or sit in and let them bridge?” I think that in this scenario the best option would be to just go myself. It is a risky choice as I am a very light rider, so my solo speed is not very high. I think that if the gap was 3 seconds or less the best option would just be to sit in depending on how hard the riders are working. In this case some were trying to bridge and others were starting to ease off and drop. In my scenario the gap was 5 seconds so I was worried this would end up deciding the race.

In any scenario if the gap is more than 1 second but less than 3, I would say sit in and let the others bridge back especially if you are a lightweight rider. I think that for heavier riders will likely be able to bridge as their speeds will be pretty similar to the packs speed.

After getting dropped several times and assuming that others will bridge the gap, I learned that it is worth using energy and powerups to bridge back to the main group. If riders are holding a good wpk or more than the main pack, then I wouldn’t worry about bridging as the chances of the other doing it for you are high. Taking your pulls and helping other riders to get back on is important though. Thanks for reading! Any questions or comments? Or any questions you would like me to write a post around? Leave a comment below 👇

Zwift Classics Series 2021 announced

In the recent years every summer Zwift has done a classics series. The classics series usually consists of 1 race in each of Zwifts worlds, they are solo races. This year Zwift is partnering up with WTRL to make the Zwift classics series even better! WTRL has put on other events such as Zwift Racing League, WTRL team time trials, and more!

    The races are usually less than 10 miles long, maybe 1 or 2 laps of courses at most, depending on the course. Last year this was a very popular event especially with lockdown at it peak in most places. That was when I first started doing Crit City races. Races that can be seen in this series are, one lap of the UCI Harrogate course, 1 lap of the Richmond UCI course, 8 laps of crit city, 2 laps of Innbrukring, 1 lap of Bologna, and more! It is highly likely that we will also see a race on the new Yumezi world that was released in late May. Zwift community live will also be broadcasting these races. Just like last year there will be a Pro-am series where the pros will battle it out on the same courses as the community. This post will be updated shortly with event links along with the courses and distances of each race. Look out for more information being released soon! The courses are listed below(distances remain unknown). For more information on this event please visit wtrl.racing.

Courses

July 13th – Yorkshire Grand Prix

July 20th – The apple lap

July 27th – Crit City slam

August 3rd – Richmond Challenge

August 10th – Watopia Cup

August 17th – Rund Um Innsbruck

August 24th – Trofeo Bologna

August 31st – London Int\’l

    Zwift has also revealed that they will be using a new Auto Categorization feature that is currently being tested.