The 5 advanced Zwift racing tips post received a lot of good feedback, so here’s a follow-up with more tips. Keep in mind these are Zwift-specific tips… I’m not trying to analyze racing tips and strategy which work outdoors as well, such as riding near the front of the group, attacking at the crest of hills, etc. There are plenty of places to read about overall race strategy, and almost all of it applies to Zwift racing as well!
Show Up Early
For larger races (75+ riders) joining the event as early as possible assures you a starting position closer to the front. Since the first 5 minutes of any Zwift race is fast and crazy, being near the front of the pack at the beginning helps you keep track of attacks and easily spot packs of riders going off the front.
Trainer Difficulty Tweaking
This tip only applies to smart trainer users. In races do you typically overtake riders on short climbs, then need to put down extra power to stay with the pack on descents? That’s the joy of racing against “dumb” trainer users. (For the details of why this happens, read “Using the Trainer Difficulty Setting in Zwift.”)
One way to reduce this yo-yo effect is to adjust your trainer difficulty settings (under Menu>Settings) to something in the 30-40% range. Doing so will make your trainer resistance change less in response to gradient changes, helping you keep the power more consistent so you can ride more efficiently.
Watch for Slower Groups
Until ZwiftHQ lets us run races on closed courses we have to deal with riding next to non-racers. It’s not a big deal most of the time, as long as you understand powering through the sticky draft. But non-racers can really throw a hitch into your race plan when there are many together in a large, slower group ride!
Watch the road ahead for any group rides (which are typically easy to spot because they usually all wear the same kit.) If you see one coming, throw down some extra power to move to the front of your group to avoid getting dropped.
Why would you get dropped when riding through a slower group? Because savvy racers know the momentary confusion makes this a perfect attack scenario. If you’ve got the legs, consider making an attack as soon as you hit the slower group.
Watch for Faster, Non-Racing Riders
This tip will be a bit controversial. But it needs to be said.
Riding in a race pack on Zwift means you will be flying past most of the non-racers on course. But this isn’t always the case. You may be passed by a solo rider doing a hard workout interval, or a small or large pack on a fast group ride. When this happens, riders in your race group will attempt to follow those faster riders, using their draft to attack and drop your group.
(Of course, in outdoor races drafting off of racers outside of your category is severely frowned upon and even penalized. But it is allowed in Zwift, because there is no way to police it.)
When it happens, you must choose to either sit on your high horse and get dropped–or join in the fun and use the faster riders to your advantage. I say do the latter.
Grab a Pre-Race Power Up
Many Zwift races allow power ups to be used, so why not begin the race with a useful power up? Ride through the start/finish banner, a KOM banner, or a sprint banner to grab a power up before joining the group at the start gate.
The aero boost, feather, and van are all useful power ups in races. Not sure what each does? Learn more about power-ups in Zwift >
Follow the Race Broadcast
Nathan Guerra and his team at Zwift Community Live (ZCL) have been doing a wonderful job of covering Zwift races since the early days. If you’re in a race ZCL is covering, watch or listen to the broadcast to get a full picture of what is going on.
ZCL not covering the races you ride? Don’t fret: they are working on expanding the races they cover, with two new broadcasters coming on to cover additional time frames.