In the world of cycling and triathlon, innovation is the name of the game. The advent of virtual racing platforms such as Zwift offers athletes an engaging and efficient way to enhance their training.
Zwift racing is particularly exciting, with the thrill of competition and the convenience of racing at home on your trainer. But what exactly is Zwift racing, and how can it benefit you?
What is Zwift Racing?
At its core, Zwift racing is an interactive training platform where cyclists and triathletes can compete in a virtual environment. It offers the excitement of a race without leaving your home.
However, many assume it’s too complicated to get started. This assumption couldn’t be further from the truth. To get started, all you need is a solid trainer setup with a reliable heart rate strap and power meter. Pair this setup with a stable internet connection, and you’re ready to step into the dynamic world of Zwift racing.
Utilizing Zwift to Improve Your FTP
Perhaps the most exciting aspect of Zwift racing is its potential as a training tool. The competitive nature of the platform can drive improvements in your Functional Threshold Power (FTP). By regularly participating in Zwift races, you’re likely to see your FTP increase, indicating significant improvement in your cycling performance.
If you’re a beginner, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. It’s essential to show up at least 15-20 minutes early before the race begins. This time allows you to warm up adequately. Plus, the start of a Zwift race can be intense, with everyone pushing big watts right from the go.
So, to keep pace, you should start pushing high watts, well over FTP, 10-15 seconds before the race begins. Here is a great guide with additional information on how to get started with Zwift racing.
Dropping Into Zwift Racing
Finding your first race and registering for it is a user-friendly process. Zwift’s platform provides an easy-to-navigate overview of upcoming races. You can choose the one that fits your schedule and matches your skill level.
I find that the easiest way to find and register for a Zwift race is on the Zwift Companion app. There are literally races 24 hours a day since it’s a worldwide platform. Register with a click, and you’re all set for your first race.
Make sure you get in the right category for your first race. The classification of ability levels in Zwift racing generally follows these guidelines:
- Group A: This represents athletes with an FTP of 4.0 w/kg or more
- Group B: This category includes individuals with an FTP ranging from 3.2 w/kg to 4.0 w/kg
- Group C: Athletes with an FTP between 2.5 w/kg and 3.2 w/kg fall under this section
- Group D: This is for participants with an FTP less than 2.5 w/kg
In Zwift, your race category is not determined by past performance but by your current fitness level. This fitness level is quantified through a metric called Functional Threshold Power (FTP), which is your power output measured in watts per kilogram (W/kg) – essentially, your power-to-weight ratio. The higher your FTP, the higher your race category, and the stronger your competition will be.
Getting Started with Zwift Racing
To enhance the authenticity of your racing experience and see official results, make sure to sign up on Zwift Power. This site is your ticket to official race results and helps you keep track of your progress and performance over time. Here is a great video I found on Zwift Power. In the video, he does a good job explaining the purpose and how to get signed up.
So, are you ready to power up your performance? Don’t let misconceptions hold you back. Embrace the thrill of competition, the satisfaction of improving your FTP, and the camaraderie of the Zwift community. Sign up for your first race today and unlock a new level of cycling fitness. With Zwift racing, the entire globe becomes your racecourse. Let’s ride!
Jeff Lukich is the owner and head coach of Drive Multisport and leads Better Triathlete's coach match program. He is a USA Triathlon (USAT) Level 1, USA Cycling (USAC) Level 2, and USA Track & Field (USATF) certified coach. A 10x Ironman finisher and Boston Marathon Qualifier, Jeff specializes in coaching long-course triathletes, ultra-runners, marathoners, cyclists, and athletes with unique events, such as double Ironman, staged races, and SwimRun events. Learn more about Jeff.