How Much Harder are Category A Races?

Overview

In Zwift racing, there is a category system. D being the lowest, and A being the highest. Many Zwifters who are looking to improve their racing try racing up a category. While moving up from every category is tough, the jump from B to A can be the hardest.

How do you make the jump?

In order to ‘become’ a category A rider, you must first work up to it. Category A ranges from riders like yourself, to Zwift pros who have FTP’s of almost 6 WKG. The best way to get used to racing A is by finding smaller, less competitive races. Some races, such as the KISS or 3R races, attract some of the best riders in Zwift, making it an extremely hard race. Some smaller races that typically host some beginners in category A are: Zwift Crit City Races, Evo CC Sprint Races, Kirchmair Beginner Races, and dozens more. Typically when there are more than ~30 riders in the race, you know that it is a pretty competitive race.

What’s the difference between A and B?

Based off of my experience, racing in category A and B are not too different. One thing that I have noticed is that in category A, riders are a lot more tactical, meaning there will likely be lots more attacks throughout the race. In most B races, riders tend to sit in and wait until the finishing sprint. In the finishing sprint of A races, the pace is typically very high in the final minute.

How much faster is it?

If you are a top B rider(~4wkg FTP), you will likely be in Zone 3-4 for most of the race. The average speed of category A races are quite a bit higher than B races. Most B races average around 27 mph, while most A races are around 29 mph. Over 10 laps of Crit City, I ended up finishing around a minute faster than the B group finished. When you aren’t chasing an attack, the race is actually very mellow, maybe even slower than B races.

The finishing sprint

Category A riders are the best of the best. The average category A rider has around a 12 wkg 15 second power, while most of the top riders have 15 second powers that are well over 15 wkg. Until you are able to easily hold on to category A races, you likely will not have enough energy to contest in the finishing sprint.

Why Upgrade?

While some are forced to upgrade, others choose to upgrade themselves. There are a few reasons why one might want to race up a category.

  1. Zwift Power Score: Some are obsessed with decreasing their Zwift Power Score(like myself), so this is a great way to get some ranking points.
  2. Get Stronger: Racing is a pretty good way to gain strength, and some riders want to be challenged with a race at max effort.
  3. Why Not? It’s a Zwift race, they happen literally every hour, so why not give yourself a challenge?

Video

Here is a video that goes over many of the things that I went over in this article:

ZRL Race 8 – Sprinters Playground Guide

Overview

Note: There are no power ups due to a Zwift bug, this will be fixed in the next game release(likely May 12th). This is the final race of the Zwift Racing League season(technically the season already ended, but this still counts as ZRL). For those who still aren’t quite sure what exactly the WTRL Finals are, Zwift Insider has a great article about it: https://zwiftinsider.com/wtrl-racing-finals/. For the final race of the season, riders will be racing 3 laps of Sprinter’s Playground. A route added with the Neokyo Makuri Islands expansion in November. The route consists of a few main parts. The route consists of two segments where FTS points can be obtained: Alley Sprint Reverse, and Railway Sprint Forward. There are also 4 sprints where FAL points can be scored: Tower Sprint Reverse, Castle Park Sprint Forward, Alley Sprint Reverse, Railway Sprint Forward. The total distance is 37 km, or 23 miles, the total elevation is 201 meters, or 659 feet.

The race begins at the main Neokyo ‘banner’. Note that the banner does not give power ups. You will first make your way through the Tower Sprint. The Tower Sprint will likely take most riders less than 20 seconds. You will then make your way to the Castle Park Sprint, this is a pretty short sprint of around 15 seconds. You’ll ride on the Castle road for a bit before making a left turn to make your way to the Alley Sprint. Watch out, because right when you round the corner, you will immediately hit the sprint. This is the second longest sprint on the course, it will take most riders around 23-25 seconds. Finally, you’ll head towards the Railway Sprint, first going up a small incline. The road will remain a slight incline for a few minutes, before hitting the sprint. This sprint will take riders 25-30 seconds. This is also where the main split of the race will occur, so watch out!

Video

Here is a video recon of the course, along with some of the details presented in this article.

Best bike

The best bike choice for this route will likely be S-Works Venge Disc with the most aero dynamic wheels you have, for some that would be the DT Swiss Disc wheelset. For most riders who do not have the S-Works Venge Disc will likely be using the Tron Bike or the Canyon Aeroad 2021.

Points Opportunities

Here are the places and distances where points will be up for grabs.

  1. Tower Sprint ~ 1.6 km
  2. Castle Park Sprint ~ 3.4 km
  3. Alley Sprint ~ 4.7 km
  4. Railway Sprint ~ 8.4km
  5. Tower Sprint ~ 13.9 km
  6. Castle Park Sprint ~ 15.8 km
  7. Alley Sprint ~ 17.4 km
  8. Railway Sprint ~ 20.7 km
  9. Tower Sprint ~ 26.3 km
  10. Castle Park Sprint ~ 28.1 km
  11. Alley Sprint ~ 29.8 km
  12. Railway Sprint ~ 33.1 km

Race Recons

Not many recons now because it takes place on a Saturday, which is when most of the recon races normally occur.

ZRL Race 7 – Downtown Titans Race Guide

Overview

Note: There are no power ups due to a Zwift bug, this will be fixed in the next game release(likely May 12th). The next Zwift Racing League race will take riders through the roads of Watopia. All of the categories will be racing a points race over the Downtown Titans course, one of the former Zwift Insider Rebel Routes. The race will start at the downtown banner, and make it’s way through the Titans Grove section of Watopia. The first power up and points will be available atop the Titans Grove KOM Reverse. The Titans Grove KOM will take around 1-2 minutes for most categories. This is where the main split will happen, but expect some riders to make it back onto the pack while heading towards the KOM. Once riders make it through the Titans Grove, riders will make their way through Ocean Boulevard and head up the Watopia KOM. The Watopia KOM will take riders around 1-3 minutes depending on your category.

The points for sprinters will be available at the Watopia Sprint Forward. This is very close to the end of the race, around 2 miles from the finish line. Riders will then make their way through the Esses and back to the downtown banner. Something that I have seen frequently is riders starting their sprint very early on this course. When I was racing this course a few days back, some riders went as early as 1 mile out. For those who are looking to go early, be aware that the pack will come in with a lot of momentum as it is a slightly downhill before the finish.

Video

Here is a video recon of the course, along with some of the details presented in this article.

Best bike

The best bike choice for this route will likely be S-Works Venge Disc with solid all-arounder wheels(Enve 7.8s, DT Swiss Dicut 62’s). For most riders who do not have the S-Works Venge Disc will likely be using the Tron Bike or the Canyon Aeroad 2021.

Power Up and Points Opportunities

Here are the places and distances where power ups and points will be up for grabs. The power ups being used in this race consists of the Aero Boost, Truck Boost, and Featherweight.

  1. Titans Grove Finish ~ 6.8 km
  2. KOM Finish ~ 17.3 km
  3. Sprint banner ~ 22 km

Race Recons

Electric Spirit Co. – https://www.zwift.com/events/view/2855763
TFC Spring Series – https://www.zwift.com/events/view/2990169
Team Italy ZRL Recon – https://www.zwift.com/events/view/2990234
Wahoo Le Col Racing Series – https://www.zwift.com/events/view/2906206
Team NL Sunday ZRL Recon – https://www.zwift.com/events/view/2924133
Evo CC ZRL Recon – https://www.zwift.com/events/view/2991542

ZRL Race 6 – 2018 UCI Worlds Course Guide

Overview

The next Zwift Racing League race will take riders through Innsbruck. All of the categories will be racing a points race over the 2018 UCI Worlds Course(one of the few courses in Innsbruck). The route will first take riders out of the Innsbruckring, and up the Innsbruck KOM(first opportunity for points). For the sprinters, the only opportunity for points will likely be FTS(fastest through segment) points at the sprint banner, as the top 10-15 riders will be climbers. Racers will then descend the other side of the KOM, making their way back onto the Innsbruckring.

Be careful of the downhill, if you get dropped on the downhill, there is likely no catching back up. Once riders are back on the Innsbruckring, riders will make their way up the “Leg Snapper”(~1 min effort). Expect some riders to attack on the leg snapper, then riders will hit the sprint(~10-15 seconds). Riders will likely sit in until the final sprint, where there will be a sprint off. At that point only around 10-15 riders will remain in the lead group, maybe less.

Best bike

The best bike choice for this route will likely be Scott Addict RC with solid all-arounder wheels(Enve 7.8s, DT Swiss Dicut 62’s). For most riders who do not have the Scott Addict RC will likely be using the Tron Bike or the Canyon Aeroad 2021.

Video

Here is a video recon of the course, along with some of the details presented in this article. *Coming soon

Power Up Opportunities

Here are the places and distances where power ups will be up for grabs. The power ups being used in this race consists of the Anvil, Truck Boost, and Featherweight.

  1. Lap start banner ~ 0.2 km
  2. KOM finish ~ 10.8 km
  3. Sprint ~ 22km

Race Recons

Electric Spirit Co. – https://www.zwift.com/events/view/2855761
TFC Sprint Series – https://www.zwift.com/events/view/2979526
Team Italy ZRL Recon – https://www.zwift.com/events/view/2980510
Wahoo Le Col Racing Series – https://www.zwift.com/events/view/2906206

How to Improve Your Finshing Sprint on Zwift

One of the most crucial parts of Zwift racing is getting your finishing sprint down on Zwift. In most races on Zwift, it will almost always come down to a final sprint, so knowing exactly when to start sprinting is key to winning the sprint off, even if you don’t have the most powerful sprint in the group.

Practice

Practicing your sprint is the hardest of these(even though it actually isn’t hard). The best way to practice is by doing sprint intervals(30 seconds all out sprint x however many intervals you would like to do). Another great way is by join sprint group rides, there are lots of “spin and sprint” group rides available on Zwift, one popular choice is the DIRT Sprintapalooza ride.

Racing Consistency

This is very similar to practice, but requires a bit more dedication, and a lot more racing. One thing that I found helped me improve my sprint was racing consistantly. If you race often enough, you will soon learn when to hold your power ups, when to sprint, and more. I often race Crit City races as they offer some competition, but not too much that it’s impossible to contend in the finishing sprint.

Sprint timing

Getting your timing right on the sprints is extremely important because if you are not able to catch the draft of the first few riders, it will be nearly impossible to win the race. Something that I like to do is start ramping my power up in the final half mile to get a good positioning in the group, then once 2 or more riders start sprinting, I start my sprint. I have found that sprinting earlier is definitely better than sprinting late. If you watch some of my videos on my YouTube channel, even sprinting half a second too late can really damage how well you do in the final sprint. Depending on your rider type, you might want to be that rider who sprints first, for some, you might not. It all depends on your 15-30 second power(can be found through Zwiftpower.com).

Power-ups

Power ups are a crucial aspect to Zwift racing. When you go through each banner, you will receive a power up, Featherweight, Draft, Aero, Steamroller, Burrito, Mini-plus, or Ghost. Some races have certain power ups enabled, so this might not always be the case. The best time to turn on a power up is around 3 seconds before you start sprinting with a draft boost. With an Aero or Lightweight, use it just after you start your sprint.

Zwift Race Analysis

Over the past few weeks I have been making a bunch of Zwift Race Analysis videos with tips for others, and what I could have done to win the race. Check out the videos using this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WdfyQ6RCJt0&list=PL3J9-KZmX5NbgfrrxzIUJJSXJrutzsnhT.

How to Hit 100 KPH in Zwift

After getting some experience in Zwift, I realized that there was a badge for 100kph. The goal is to hit 100kph, or 62 miles per hour. For many riders this is very difficult, but if you time your sprint, bike choice, and choose you descent wisely, it will be pretty easy.

Descend the Radio Tower

One option is to descend the Radio Tower, the steepest climb on Zwift. With an average gradient of 13.7% and 150 meters of elevation gain. In order to get to the Radio Tower you must first climb up the Epic KOM reverse, then take a turn near the top of the climb when the route selection comes up. Once you reach the top, I would recommend switching to a TT bike, the most aerodynamic one you have. You can find a list of the fastest TT bikes on Zwift Insider. Start at around FTP to get your speed up as you start heading down the climb. Once the gradient turns to around 12-13%, start you sprint and hold it for as long as you can. Around 2/3 the way down the descent is when you would likely get the 100 kph badge. Good luck!

Descend in a group

Another option is to descend a climb with a group. We all know that Zwift pack speeds are slightly unrealistic, the draft is much more powerful than a single rider. Descending with a group will easily get you the badge, but you need to make sure the group is bigger than just 1-2 riders. Make sure that you are all on road bikes. The best place to descend a climb with a group is likely the Radio Tower or the Bologna TT course. For upcoming group rides/races on a route that goes through the Radio Tower look for group rides/races on routes like Mountain 8, Mountain Route, Muir and Mountain, Three Sisters.

Video recording

Coming soon!

How to Take Awesome Screenshots on Zwift

Everyone wants to show off their awesome pictures on their rides. The best screenshots are often taken while on a computer, as there isn’t the custom camera angle of iOS and other non computers. Taking good screenshots are great for showcasing your cool in game gear, or taking an image with the Yeti up the Alpe! Here are a few tips on how you can take a great screenshot on Zwift.

The best way to take screenshots on a computer is by using the F10 key. On iOS/Android the best way is likely with the companion app, so you can concentrate on getting a good angle in the app, and quickly snap the screenshot with your phone. Unfortunately, the only way to take a screenshot on Apple TV is to use the companion app.

Use camera angle 0

Using camera angle 0 allows you to control the angle in which the camera is facing. You can use the arrow keys, and the + and – keys to zoom in and out, and turn left and right. This makes for great screenshots and getting the perfect camera angle.

Find the clean images in files or remove the HUD

When viewing your image files on a computer, you will see the standard jpg image, and a clean version. The clean version is basically the same image but without all of the data that you would normally see. This is not an option on iOS, but you can click the little green picture icon when saving your ride to remove the HUD. You can also turn off the HUD and take an image with the companion app.

Have fun taking some cool screenshots!

How to Livestream Zwift to YouTube

Livestreaming Zwift may seem pretty daunting at first, but once you get it set up, it is a fairly quick process. In order to stream your races to Zwift, you will need to download an app called Streamlabs OBS, this will allow you to stream directly to YouTube, Twitch, and more. This example will be using YouTube.

Step 1. Download Streamlabs OBS

Once you have a YouTube account/channel, you will need to download Streamlabs OBS. Once you download the app, you will have to go through some settings. Once you have set it up, just click settings, then stream. You will have to option to connect a YouTube or Twitch account. Here is a link to download: https://streamlabs.com/.

Step 2. Select something to stream

In order to select Zwift as the main source, you just need to hit the plus under sources, then you can add Zwift. You must have Zwift open in order to add it as a source. Then, just size it however you want, start up your ride, and stream!

Step 3. Start a stream

You can start a stream from Streamlabs OBS, and it will automatically publish to YouTube, so your viewers on YouTube can watch. Once you are done with your stream, just hit stop stream, and the YouTube stream will also stop within a few moments. You will then be able to rewatch your video on YouTube.

How to Get Your Teams Custom Kit On Zwift

Here are some ways that you can get your teams kit into Zwift, so you and your teammates can represent your time while riding through the world of Zwift. There are a few ways to do this, and none of them are very easy.

Have a team in the Premier Division

In order to get a custom kit, you team must win the A category Zwift Racing League D1, then beat all of the other D1 teams before making it into the premier league. Part of making it into the premier division includes getting your own custom kit. Once you make it in, you just need to send your design into Zwift, and they will get it into the game. Typically kits are added in the monthly game releases, so it might take up to a month for your kit to actually show up in the game. Zwift then needs to add the kit to your account in order for you to wear it.

Have LOTS of members

At first, only the biggest of the biggest teams had their kits in game, but now Zwift is adding in game kits to smaller teams of around 200+ riders. You are more likely to get your kit in game if you lead weekly group rides, and have a good reputation.

Event series/race series that requires a kit

Lots of racing series and event series include an in game kit, which can be unlocked or used by the users. This is a good way for companies that also have a Zwift team to get their kits in game for their riders to use.

Mark Cote, a member of the Zwift Staff posted this on the forums around 10 months back. These are the factors considered when adding a kit to the game.

“-Zwift or partnership campaigns requiring new kits
-Racing leagues (often with broadcast components) that require differentiated brands to know who’s competing versus each other (Super League Triathlon, Zwift Racing League Premier Division, etc)
-UCI ProTour Team requirements, as well as national federation requirements for sanctioned eSports competitions
-Prominent Event Promoters who benefit the community by representing their identity on kit
-Strategic partners who require brand presence in the Zwift ecosystem

Note that this is a manual process, and Zwift says that they have to design the kits pixel by pixel, which is very time consuming. Getting your kit in game has gotten a LOT easier in the past few years. At first, Zwift would just add a few kits each month, now dozens of teams are getting their in game kit each month.

How to Perform a Zwift World Hack

The world hack can be used to ride any route you want at any time, it just involves changing a line of the code in your files. The better way to this is to create a meetup in the world you want to ride in on the route you want, and you don’t have to mess with the files.

How to

First, you need to find the Zwift Document files, once you find them, you will find one that says prefs.xml file. Open that in an app like textedit or wordpad. Then, add this line just under the <zwift> tag. Don’t place it anywhere else or it could mess stuff up. Then, load up the game and you will see Watopia replaced with whichever world you chose.

Code for each world

Watopia = <WORLD>1</WORLD>

Richmond = <WORLD>2</WORLD>

London = <WORLD>3</WORLD>

New York = WORLD>4</WORLD>

Innsbruck = WORLD>5</WORLD>

Yorkshire = WORLD>7</WORLD>

Makuri Islands = WORLD>9</WORLD>

France = WORLD>10</WORLD>

Paris = WORLD>11</WORLD>

Sample

Here is an example of what the first few lines will look like when world hacking to Makuri Islands.

<ZWIFT>
    <WORLD>9</WORLD>
    <DEVICES>
        <LASTCONTROLLABLETRAINER>294866911</LASTCONTROLLABLETRAINER>
        <LASTHRMDEVICE>376296600</LASTHRMDEVICE>
        <LASTPOWERDEVICE>294866911</LASTPOWERDEVICE>
        <LASTCADENCEDEVICE>294866911</LASTCADENCEDEVICE>
    </DEVICES>