competition · cycling · fitness · racing

From DNF to podium, oh, Zwift

I had a odd night on Zwift recently.

I was scheduled to do the Monday night race that my team organizes. Fine. I did a short 5 km warm up. All good but then the race began and the speed was not something I had any hope of maintaining. Wowsa.

Zwift starts are brutal at the best of times. Unlike real road races there’s no gentle rolling away from the start. You’re in danger of losing the group right off the bat. But usually things settle down.

Reader, this race did not settle down. I hung in there and stuck with the front group of women for first 10 km of the Monday night race and then decided it was too long, too fast for me. We were averaging 40 km/hr and I was dying with 30 km to go so for the first time in a Zwift race I pulled the plug without completing the distance.

DNF time.

DID NOT FINISH.

I was already warmed up though and I still wanted to ride so I browsed my activity options on the Companion app. I might have opted for a fast social ride if one was happening but there wasn’t one. Instead, I saw that a 7 km sprint race was about to begin. I love sprinting. It’s kind of my thing I quickly hopped over to the sprint race and sprinted away. In that race I stayed with the front group with energy to sprint all out at the end.

I came third! Woohoo! The joys of a really good warmup. And knowing your strengths. And knowing when to bail.

My total for the night was 22 km. One DNF, one trophy for my virtual trophy case.

(An aside: Part of the problem and the explanation for what happened in the first race is with the women’s category. I’ve worried about this before. For all riders there’s A, B, C, and D groups based on power and performance. The idea is that you race with people with whom you’re competitively matched. It makes amateur racing fair and fun. There’s also a women’s category and the women’s category contains all women regardless of their power. Lots of the women race in the B category. I’m currently a D but “almost C.” I should race with the D group. That’s the category I won in the Sprint race after bailing on the Monday Night Madness race. Why did I race with the women? That’s the topic for another post. But the short answer is I’m trying to support women’s racing and help out my team and we benefit from having riders in the all the categories.)

A gold trophy, from Unsplash

3 thoughts on “From DNF to podium, oh, Zwift

  1. Great post! I agree– there’s so much here for followup. The whole business of having all-categories women’s races can be so discouraging for slower riders. But– we need the numbers in order to sustain women’s racing. I did a road race that was supposed to be cat 3/4 (I was a slow 4), but ended up being cat 1-4. Cat 1s shot out, with Cat 2s gunning to keep up. Cat 3s were struggling, and Cat 4s were like, “wha happened?”, already dropped 200m from the start line.

    So cool that you pulled the plug and hopped in to a race where you were in your element. Again, more to explore there. And yay for making the podium!

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    1. The good thing about Zwift is that it’s not men’s D though A and women’s all category. The A through D categories are open to all. So I’m often left wondering why there are separate women’s categories in virtual racing. It’s not like the men are larger or more aggressive or badly behaved in some way.

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