I’ve been doing a bit of Zwift racing since the end of last year (2021) but really got into it when I met a group of guys on Cyclechat forums and joined their C team for Zwift Racing League (ZRL) back in April 2022.
I found out that what I’m good at in real-world road cycling is the same in Zwift. So from that point of view you can say it’s quite a good simulation. Short, punchy climbs around 60s duration is the only area I’ve ever managed to get a road KoM on Strava. It just seems that my particular combination of size, weight and power has a sweet-spot which makes me fairly competitive in that narrow niche.
The main problem with that is there aren’t many races where that is the sole deciding factor. I had some success and fun – great VO2max training too – with the Micro Mountain Massif races and some of the Zwift Insider Tiny Race series. But they were all short 2-6km races focussing mostly on the bit I can do – the punchy climb.
The problem with longer races is
they give other people a chance that you need more than just “punchy climb” ability and fitness. If the punchy climb is a short summit finish after 19km, you have to get there with the front group in order to be able to do your magic at the end. That’s the part I’ve found difficult, since flat and rolling routes depend more on raw Watts than Watts/kg, the heavier guys have a Watt advantage everywhere except uphill. So until you can get really fit, as a lighter rider you might be spat out the back of the front group before you even get to the final climb.
I think I’m finally getting there with that fitness, and today was the first time I’ve managed to win a race longer than about 10km. In fact it was was 20.3km and the finish was textbook. Apparently I had plenty left to go all-out on the climb and left everyone else for dead. Very satisfying…