If you’ve been paying attention to Zwift racing this year you’ve heard of JZRA (Jones Zwift Racing Association) through their unique one-off races like the Zwifta Bianche and the Team Time Trial events. Recently I’ve been seeing the JZRA name pop up even more often as other races have started to feed into the new JZRA ranking system. Because of all this I decided it was past time to reach out to JZRA and learn more about the people behind the name.
What follows is an interview with Tim Jones, who along with his brother Arnold are the brains behind JZRA. (According to Arnold, Tim is “actually more the driving force and brains behind JZRA” while Arnold handles more of the PR side of things–so Arnold deferred to Tim to do the interview.)
Tell me a little about yourself–how long you’ve been riding, what sort of riding you do, when you discovered Zwift, where you live, etc.
I live in Lancashire (England), I’m a student and I’ve just entered my 6th season of racing. Not many compared to some, but at only the ripe old age of 18 it means I feel like I’ve been doing it a while. I mainly ride and race on the road but I do enjoy cyclocross in the winter. This season I’ve been racing mainly at junior national series rounds along with a trip abroad to Belgium to race the Junior UCI Kuurne – Brussels – Kuurne, and a couple more planned for later in the season, which means quite alot of travelling. So I’m quite serious I would say. For those who are interested I am a cat 2 currently.
I first found out about Zwift seeing Laurens Ten Dam on Strava riding around Jarvis. I was confused at first by what he was doing in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, but when autumn came around I couldn’t wait to get on the island. I think it was October 2015 I started zwifting.
I know JZRA doesn’t just organize races–but that is part of what you do. How would you describe your philosophy as a race organizer? What is most important to you when organizing Zwift races?
Organising races is probably the main thing we do at JZRA, as an organiser our philosophy is to put them on for great training. Since we also think competition is the best way of training we introduced the rankings, more competition between riders, better training for them, better results in real life. What’s important to us is trying to make our races stand out from the others and making them different from your regular KISS and ZTR type events.
What race(s) are you currently organizing on Zwift, and how long have you been doing them? What makes these races different than other Zwift races?
Well we don’t have a usual slot for our races. We tend to jump around with different one offs. We did our first event (Zwifta Bianche) back in January. We try an make each one different. For example the Zwifta Bianche races are 65km long with a hilltop finish so a bit longer than normal. Other events of ours include the Team Time Trial which really has gone down very well both times with Zwift HQ even sending a team to the second one, and of course the Elimination race! (Which is publicly debuting today, May 11th.)
What suggestions would you give to someone interested in joining your races for the first time?
Our best advice really is to pick a format you’ll think you’ll enjoy. Not everyone wants to do 65km in a race, not all want to go hell for leather for just 30 minutes like the Richmond Criterium series we held. Other than “just enjoy it!” my real advice is read the instructions fully… twice! Make sure you get your head around what’s happening, nothing worse than being at a race and not having a clue what on Earth is going on!
Apart from organizing races, what else does JZRA do? I know you post some written race reports on your site, and you’ve also got the rankings which seem to be catching on quite nicely.
The rankings is pretty much it other than the races and the short little updates on the homepage from the racing that counts towards them, we try and do those weekly along with the rankings. Initially just our races counted but then the dZi Summit Races and now KISS and ZTR are getting involved with too, it has seemed to have taken off pretty well, some riders are really throwing themselves in head first. Helps to raise the profile of our events too which is a bonus! (Note from Eric: we’ll have a separate follow-up article discussing the JZRA ranking system soon!)
If the folks at Zwift HQ could add one feature to Zwift to make your job easier, what would it be and why?
I think I’d have to ask for a filter on the names list on the right, just get those people in the race listed, it works pretty well as is at the moment.
But incorporating some stuff like the logger couldn’t hurt either. (Note from Eric: Tim is referring to the “zLogger” created by Jonathan Lemon which logs race results very accurately in Zwift. It is being used by many of the race organizers.)