Tips for Zwift Academy Road 2021

Here are a few tips I have for riders who are participating in Zwift Academy. If you want in on the event and are not already signed up, it is not too late! You can sign up through the companion app or the Zwift app. This is my 3rd year participating in the academy and every year it just keeps getting better.

My first tip is to use ERG mode. ERG mode helps you hit the correct cadence and power outage by increasing and decreasing the amount of resistance that Zwift gives you. For riders who are new to structured workouts, I highly recommend using ERG mode to ensure that you earn all of the stars. Remember, the more stars the more XP! I love everything about ERG mode except for the ERG spiral of death. That is when you are pedaling and it suddenly gets really hard to pedal. One work around that I have found for that issue is to just turn ERG off for about 5-10 seconds, and then turn it back on.

My second tip is to take rest days in between workouts. I found that these workouts are pretty hard for me, the next day my legs are usually dead. If I were to do the workouts back to back, I likely would not hit the power numbers and I wouldn’t get the full benefit. Now that the Zwift Academy recovery rides are scheduled, I would highly recommend joining one of those, turning the HUD off, and enjoying the scenery. Don’t worry about the leaders pace, just go at your own speed and keep the HR low.

My third and final tip is to do an FTP test/Ramp test/Max effort race. The reason why I included a max effort race is because that is how I do most of my “FTP” tests. I don’t like doing the actual test itself because it is less motivating and more boring. Instead I normally do a Crit Race and aim to hold a high power rather than trying to save energy to have a good position in the finishing sprint. For me racing is a lot more fun than FTP tests, and I am pretty sure most people do not enjoy FTP tests. Zwift will automatically detect if you set a new 20 minute power output, and increase your FTP if you do get a new FTP.

Zwift Racing League Season 4

Zwift racing league season 4 details are now out, including an updated ruleset for the 2021/2022 racing season. Here is a link to the rules page on WTRL: https://www.wtrl.racing/zwift-racing-league/#rules. WTRL has also added all of the power ups that will be used in this upcoming seasons routes, the segments are also up. Here is a link to the complete schedule including power up information, primes, and more: https://www.wtrl.racing/zwift-racing-league/#schedule. I highly recommend signing up for Zwift Racing League, I had a blast in the past two seasons and you get to race against some of the best of the best. For a brief schedule, head over to this article that I put together: https://pursuitcyclingforkids.com/2021/09/01/zwift-racing-league-season-4-schedule/. Here is an article with a complete list of recon rides and tips for each stage: https://pursuitcyclingforkids.com/2021/09/28/zwift-racing-league-season-4-recons/.

Some big news for junior riders who would like to participate in Zwift Racing League, riders under 16 are no longer allowed to participate. I have reached out to Zwift for more information on why. Zwift says that this is because they are required to protect riders under the age of 16 on the platform because of legal reasons.

If you found this article helpful/useful or you just enjoyed it, check back often for the latest Zwift news!

World of Zwift episode 41

I decided to write about this video because Zwift will be talking about the Baseline rides which many first time Zwifters are confused about. That can be found in the A to Zwift section. This weeks world of Zwift will also highlight Ashton Lambie, who was the first person to do a 4k pursuit in under 4 minutes. Zwift will also be highlighting some upcoming events in the This week in Zwift.

Here is the video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jAypjgs5jd0.

How To Enter Kit Unlock Codes Zwift

Not many Zwifters know this hidden feature in Zwift, I have an old video that is not very good, so I decided that I would remake the video, making it more descriptive and useful. The old video had poor quality, for the video and audio, and is just outdated. In order to do this, just click P on a keyboard, you will need to be on a computer to do this, then you enter a code, click enter, and then your new kit will show up in your garage! Zwift will say whether the code is valid, if it says that the code is invalid, you likely typed it wrong, or the kit has been removed from the game. To find a complete list of kit unlock codes, head over to this article by Zwift Insider: https://zwiftinsider.com/kits/. Make sure to give the video a like and subscribe! Thanks!

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All about Alpe Du Zwift

Ever seen this mountain looming over Watopia? Alpe Du Zwift is a crazy high mountain, although it may not be the tallest mountain in Zwift now, it is still the most scenic and rewarding(In my opinion). In this article you will learn all about the challenges that this giant mountain brings. You can see this climb from almost everywhere in Watopia. Once you get to a certain part of the climb, you can even be up above the clouds and look down at the rest of Watopia.

Alpe du Zwift is a simulation of the real life Alpe d’huez in France. Over a thousand meters high, making it the tallest and most challenging climb in Zwift. It was released into the world of Zwift back in 2018, since then, thousands of riders have tackled this climb, from the average riders, to the professionals. The climb features 22 hairpin turns, a spinning wheel at the top where you can win exclusive gear, or XP, and over 1000 meters of climbing. Once you start the climb, a segment board will come up, showing you your average power for each segment, heart rate, and time. It will also show your PR’s for the climb if you have done it in the past 30 days.

Zwift easily motivates people to take on this challenge by putting a spinning wheel at the top, where you can win gloves, a helmet, or even some new wheels. To get one of these prizes you must finish the whole climb, not just part of it. If getting to the top is easy for you, try doing it in under an hour! Or try and grab the jersey! Getting to the top of the climb takes around 3.4wpk or more to get sub 1 hour. I have done the Alpe in under 1 hour twice so far. One hidden feature on Alpe du Zwift is the Yeti, riders can very rarely see the Yeti roaming around turn 9-7 on the climb. I personally have never seen the Yeti, but I know of others who have. Have you seen the Yeti? If so, leave a comment below with an image of it!

Recently I climbed up Alpe Du Zwift for the 25th time, Which was the same ride that I got to level 50 on. It usually takes me just over an hour to get to the top of the climb, so a pretty solid effort. The thing I was really looking forward to was the spinning wheel. I ended up getting the laser bullet helmet, which was what I wanted. Overall, Alpe du Zwift is probably the most scenic climb in Zwift. It is no longer the largest climb in Zwift, as last year Zwift released Ven-top, which towers over 5000 ft high. 

I would highly recommend using a light bike for this climb. The current lightest set up is the S-works Aethos and the Roval Alpenist wheels. You can also win the Meilstein wheels at the top of the climb, which are currently the 1st fastest.

Thanks for reading this article, I highly recommend trying to tackle this climb, it is very challenging yet scenic. If I am looking for a long effort, Alpe Du Zwift is my go to climb. In my opinion it is much better than Ven-top as the scenery on Ven-top is not great. Here is a quick promo video that Zwift has of Alpe Du Zwift: Alpe du Zwift Preview. Any questions or comments, leave a comment below!

How to create a Meetup on Zwift

     Many cycling clubs also train/ride on Zwift. Since Zwift has not fully rolled out their clubs feature, cycling teams and clubs have to use the meetups feature to create a group ride/race. The meetup function is great for smaller group rides, but is not ideal for races. Here is a step by step tutorial on how you can create a meetup.

    First, be sure that you have the Zwift companion app installed, also be sure that all of the riders are following you. In order to invite riders they must be following you. To get started creating a meetup, just click the events tab, meetups tab, and hit create meetup. It is that simple!

    Once you hit create meetup, you will have all sorts of different setting that you can change, the time, date, world, route, distance/duration, meetup settings, and a meetup message. To change the setting around just tap the setting you want to change and you will be able to scroll or click a different option. Every world and route is open except for event only routes/worlds. You can also switch so that you are creating a run meetup, which has the same settings.

    The last thing that you will need to do is select who you want to invite. You can invite up to 100 riders other than yourself. You can only choose from the riders that are following you. Then, hit create meetup! Up until 5 minutes before the event starts, you can edit the details. 

    In order to have the most riders possible, contact the riders and let them know that the ride is happening so that they know to check their companion app. Riders/runners will get a notification telling them that they have been invited to a meetup. You can also comment on their activities or use other forms of communication to let them know that you want to ride! Thanks for reading and ride on!

Why your Garmin Heart Rate Monitor Isn’t pairing Zwift: 3 Work arounds

Many users wonder why most Garmin Heart Rate monitors won’t pair with Zwift, this can be for several reasons. Three reasons and possible work arounds will be discussed in this article. I personally had this issue when I was trying to get a Garmin HRM to pair with Zwift. None of these work arounds really were a good option for me, I ended up getting a new HRM, a Polar H9. I highly recommend checking it out, other well reviewed HRM’s are the Wahoo Tickr, and the Garmin HRM Dual.

Reason 1: Your HRM does not have Bluetooth

This is most riders/runners issue. I did not know going into it that most Garmin HRM do not have bluetooth. The only 2 HRM’s made by Garmin that have Bluetooth are the HRM Dual, and the HRM Pro. If you are riding on a computer and have access to Ant+, this should not be an issue. Note: The use of Ant+ requires an Ant+ dongle which can cost up to $50 depending on the one you choose. If you do not have access to Ant+, you could get an Ant+ to Bluetooth bridge. The only one that I know of that works well is the NPE Ant+ to Bluetooth Bridge. It is just about $50, which is almost the same cost as a new HRM, which is why I did not end up getting the bridge. If you have multiple Ant+ only devices, this could be a very useful purchase. If not, I would recommend getting a HRM like the Polar H9, or a Wahoo Tickr. If you are also a rider who rides or runs outside, most watches/bike computers can pair to Ant+ HRM, so you could always have one for indoor riding, and one for outdoor. If you don’t want/need 2, you can also sell it on ebay or other places like that. Here is a link to the bridge: https://store.npe-inc.com/cable-connect-ant-to-ble/. The newer Garmin watches can also broadcast Heart Rate from the wrist Heart Rate or an external device. For a tutorial on that, head over to this article by Dcrainmaker: https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2020/04/quick-how-to-garmin-wearable-heart-rate-broadcasting-to-apps.html. One random/unexpected work around that I found was that you can use a concept 2 rower to bridge Ant+ and Bluetooth. I explain the whole process in this article: https://pursuitcyclingforkids.com/2021/08/17/how-to-row-on-zwift/.

So your telling me none of these work???

Reason 2: Your HRM is out of battery

This is a very simple issue to fix. Unless….. You don’t have the correct batteries. Most HRM’s use a CR2032 battery or a CR2025 battery. These can be found at a local shop or Amazon. For instructions on how to install the battery, head over to this video by Garmin: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9qDzMJQaFrs. You can find the correct batteries under the specs on the product listing. I am pretty sure they all use CR2032. For a link to some Duracell Batteries, here are some that I found on Amazon.

Reason 3: A possible bug in Zwift

If you think that your issue is a bug within Zwift, leave a comment below and I will investigate and see what I can find. If there are any currently known bugs, there will be a part in bold here saying so. As of 8/28 there are no reports of issues with pairing a Garmin HRM with Zwift. One work around is to use Ant+ instead if available. Ant+ dongles cost around $20-40.

Conclusion

Unfortunately, there are no super good work arounds for this issue, which can be very disappointing. This was a very frustrating issue for me which is why I wanted to post about it so that others know what the issue is, and what are possible work arounds. Thanks for reading! If you have any questions or comments, leave a comment below.

All about Zwift’s Heads Up Display

Many riders who are just starting out on Zwift will be confused about all the different data fields that there are on the screen. In the past couple of months Zwift has been updating the HUD to make it easier to use and adding more features.

Power/Cadence/Heart Rate

In the top left corner of you screen you will see your current Heart Rate, Power, and Cadence. Below that you will occasionally see a segment leaderboards page where you can see the times and names of the top 15 riders for each segment.

The main data(Stats in the top middle of the screen)

The main data shows a lot of different things, distance, speed, elevation, time, drops, and your current level as well as a progress bar to show you how far through the level you are. The new Route UI will also show up when you are following a route, if you are not following a route, the route UI will not be shown. At the very bottom of this display, you will see your route progress bar, this is how you can see how far you are through a level. You can also click menu and it will say your exact XP. When you are going through a segment, your time for the segment will be displayed there. Once you near the end of the segment, the times will expand and show you vs the competitor closest to your current time. To learn more about drops and how you can earn more, head over to this article: https://pursuitcyclingforkids.com/2021/08/10/all-about-zwift-drops/. Note: Zwift has added remaining distance in a previous update. The distance is now shown next to the finishing flag shown on the image below.

The Mini map

The mini map will show the upcoming terrain for whatever course you are following, it will show the upcoming hills, where you are on the elevation graph, and where you are on the roads. By tapping the map it will either zoom in or out.

The Route UI

This was implemented in the recent August update 1.16, it is a great new addition to the UI and it is very helpful when doing a route. This data will not however show the exact distance remaining in the route. It will tell you what route you are following, and a progress bar to show where you are in the route. Once you complete the route, it will say completed, then restart the route if it is a loop, if it isn’t, then it will go back to the regular display.

Hide the HUD mode

Zwift has also added a button that allows you to hide all of the data on the screen. You will not see watts, cadence, speed, distance, or any of that stuff. Only your avatar riding through Zwift. This can be very helpful to work on timing in sprints, it can also make it more challenging in races and you really have to be focused to see when riders avatar get out of the saddle rather than their WPK. It can also be helpful if you want to take better photos, or take in all of the details of the worlds in Zwift.

The riders nearby list

At first you may think that the riders nearby list just shows the riders nearby. There are a lot more things that Zwift incorporated into the list though. The riders nearby list can show who is on Zpower and who has a real power meter, it will show how many watts per kilogram you are doing, whether you follow that rider or not, if that rider is “Verified” or a Pro. More on what kinds of pros and what kinds of riders can get verified later in the article. The Riders Nearby List will also show who is using Zwift Companion, who is doing a workout, and what country they are representing. Depending on which device they are using it will show a different amount of riders.

The little phone icon is what shows whether a rider is using Zwift companion or not. The little lightning bolt next to a riders WPK shows whether they are using a real power source

Verified/Pro Badges/Big Z meanings

Zwift staff get the orange Z next to their name on their profile, this is to recognize that they work for Zwift. Riders, runners, and Triathletes can all get Pro badges or a Verified symbol if they meet certain requirements. Here is what Kate Veronneau from Zwift HQ has to say about it. “Pro badge is strictly for WorldTour Riders, the Verified Badge is for other UCI pros and verified celebrities, VIP’s, and such. We review on a case-by-case basis. It’s similar to the check mark on Twitter or Instagram. Sometimes we apply the badge because we know them, other times, riders and runners send in a request to be Verified.”

The power graph

Your last 10 minutes of power will be displayed at the very bottom of your screen. If you do not see this, click the bottom of the screen, and scroll until you find the little power graph symbol, then click the symbol. The power graph is also colored. Grey is Zone 1, Blue is Zone 2, Green is Zone 3, Yellow is Zone 4, Light Red is Zone 5, Dark Red is Zone 6 and beyond.

Thanks for reading! I hope you found this article interesting or useful. If you have any questions or comments, leave a comment below!

Level 50: How it was done

When I first joined Zwift back in January 2019, I never thought that I would one day be at the max level in Zwift, let alone get there only 2 1/2 years after joining. I remember the days when I was so proud of riding over 70 miles of week, hitting 300 watts, setting a new FTP. Over the years my FTP has gone from under 90 watts to 132 watts. This goes to show how much I have improved, and that if you work hard at a sport, you can improve a ton. Over the years I have learned tons of new things about Zwift, most of which you can find on my website. Some of my biggest takeaways over the years are, don’t do FTP tests, do hard races like Crit City, it is a lot much easier mentally. There will also be times when you don’t feel like you are making progress, or not feeling like riding. That is completely normal. If you are starting to get bored of Zwift or losing motivation, take a break, try a race, or find an achievement do try to achieve. Being one of the first kids to reach level 50 in Zwift is a huge achievement for me. Those of you who are working at it, keep pushing and you will eventually get there. I never thought that I would soon be creating a website, creating events for kids, or be a B category Zwift racer. It is very exciting for me to be one of the first kids to be at level 50 in Zwift. My total distance was 14,000 miles with over 600,000 ft of climbing.

Many of you who are reading this probably follow me and have given me a ride on before. Ride ons are very motivating in Zwift, they keep me going. There are lots of hidden badges in Zwift that give XP. There are also lots of ways to gain XP faster. A lot of articles say to switch to the Metric system but since I am used to miles, it is way too confusing for me. I found that doing workouts up the alpe, getting nearly all of the achievements, and doing new routes are the best way for me to gain XP faster.

The pandemic and Covid definitely helped give me more time to ride and race. School was much shorter, less homework, and I couldn’t really do anything outside of the house. For me, the tron bike was probably my biggest motivation to keep riding and climbing, after that, trying to level up to get new bikes and more drops. I am a big fan of the drop shop and the most drops I ever had was just over 2 million because I was constantly buying new bikes.

My Zwift setup has also changed a ton over the past 2 years. At first I rode on my dads Wahoo Kickr, then I got my own trainer, a Tacx Vortex which we used for over 15,000 miles, for almost a year, our house was being remodeled and I rode in our grandparents garage.

For the final ride to get to level 50, I did 2 alpes, a workout up each. The first time up with a harder workout and the second just a relaxing workout. My dad joined me for the first Alpe but had to go on the second. After the first alpe my legs were dead, but I kept going to level 50. I got the Masochist badge on the 1st time up and 250XP from the spinning wheel. On the 2nd Alpe I got wheels which pushed me just over to level 50. My family was there to cheer me on and encourage me. Level 50 is the greatest cycling achievement for me so far. Thanks for reading and if you work hard, you will get to level 50 at some point. Look out for a video of how I got to level 50! Look out for an exclusive video on how I got to level 50.

Leveling up faster on Zwift

Everyone loves it when they level up and the orange banner appears showing what cool gear they have unlocked. But how do riders level up so quickly? Here is a complete guide on how to level up faster on Zwift. First of all, there is an event going on right now called Tour of Watopia where riders get double XP for every mile, if they get a route achievement too, then that is triple the usual XP!

My first tip on how riders can level up quickly is route achievement’s. Route badges are the quickest way to level up on Zwift, they are practically double XP! Zwiftinsider has a guide to all the routes and what badges give how much XP. The longer the route the more XP riders will receive, this is my favorite way to level up. There are also different badges for completing certain things like 5 laps of volcano, 5 alpes, and more! Those are also worth around 1000xp which will help riders level up.

The next tip is to do workouts up the alpe. Workouts up the alpe can earn over 2000xp up and down the alpe! This is much more than riders would normally get because at the top of the climb there is a spinning wheel, once riders get all the items, riders will get XP instead, they all give 250XP unless the spinner lands on the wheels, which give 1000XP which is a lot! I have noticed that after I got the lightweight wheels, the spinner landed on the wheels a lot more frequently. When using this strategy I got 2,200 XP from doing a workout up the alpe, then getting the wheels are the top. This is a very effective way to earn XP faster. Here is the Zwift workout if you would like to download it. I held roughly 3wpk for this workout and it got me up the alpe almost perfectly. You may need to shorten or increase the length depending on your FTP and weight. Here is the workout that you can download: https://www.zwiftworkout.com/editor/5tbi9sgy9rd. Once you click on the link it will take you to a website where you can then download the ZWO file.

My final tip is to ride a TT bike, riding a TT bike can sometimes be slower but every time a rider goes under a banner they will receive 10xp. All of the XP will add up but if a rider goes under an arch more they will receive more XP. Beware that TT bikes can only provide draft, not receive draft from other road bikes.

I hope you found this article interesting, helpful, and informative. Any tips or article requests leave a comment below and I will get to the comment as soon as I can. Keep in mind that leveling up can be a long process but unless you are level 50 you will level up eventually! I am nearly there! Lookout for a post about my journey to level 50 in the coming days.