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Climbing on Zwift

Old 01-15-21, 03:22 PM
  #51  
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Originally Posted by msu2001la
I also recall reading that there is some high-end trainer that actually includes a motor to drive the flywheel on downhills to better simulate coasting. I don't see the point of coasting on Zwift, but I suppose it is more realistic.
During a race you can be coasting into a dip, then have to apply sprinting power over the sharp rise. If your trainer flywheel stops, the effort to start pedalling from zero is large. A motorized flywheel requires less effort to get going. Sprinting over a rise is a common tactic to break up the group in races and more effective when some people have allowed their flywheel to stop spinning.
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Old 01-15-21, 05:51 PM
  #52  
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Originally Posted by genejockey
As far as descents go, the other night I used the super tuck on the descent from the Innsbruck climb on Zwift to rest my legs after the climb. It is unrealistic, of course, because if you descended at those speeds with no braking you'd die.
I sometimes wonder if my avatar knows I'm riding no handed eating a banana while descending at 70km/h in the rain.
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Old 01-15-21, 08:02 PM
  #53  
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Tour De Zwift Stage 3 fits in well with this thread. I mentioned when I started this thread that I did Alpe Du Zwift and it was tough and then signed up for this stage before realizing it was all climbing, based on your group choice. I chose group C because I was a bit tired and not interested in Group A or B choice. The ride was up to the radio tower and back down and I got my badge for mountain climbing. I definitely enjoyed that more than Alpe Du Zwift and appreciate the variance in grade instead of just climbing. I wasn't really pushing it and finished it around 70 minutes but all part of the goal to improve climbing.
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Old 01-15-21, 09:07 PM
  #54  
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Originally Posted by gthomson
Tour De Zwift Stage 3 fits in well with this thread. I mentioned when I started this thread that I did Alpe Du Zwift and it was tough and then signed up for this stage before realizing it was all climbing, based on your group choice. I chose group C because I was a bit tired and not interested in Group A or B choice. The ride was up to the radio tower and back down and I got my badge for mountain climbing. I definitely enjoyed that more than Alpe Du Zwift and appreciate the variance in grade instead of just climbing. I wasn't really pushing it and finished it around 70 minutes but all part of the goal to improve climbing.
I just finished the TdZ Stage 3, Group C ride. I did it at 100% trainer difficulty, which was horrible, but doable. Then I started down the other side, and I was FLYING!!! I was blowing past people like they were standing still! I got the 100 km/h badge, and went even faster than that, topping out at 67 mph! I was AMAZED!! I wondered if it was because everyone I was passing set their trainer difficulty lower than 100%.

Then I got to the end of the ride, and of course in the closing screens it shows the weight and height specs you gave them. Mine said "Height: 3ft". 3 ft? THREE FEET?!? Then I remembered, last night I proudly lowered my weight by 2 lbs from 207 to 205lbs. And my cursor briefly hovered over the 'Height' scrollable field. I must have scrolled it down to 3 from the correct 6 feet. So Zwift thought I had the aerodymanics of a cannonball, rather than the tallish fat guy I really am. NO WONDER it had me flying down the descent!!

How embarrassing! I've now reset to the correct values. I still put out all the watts I put out, but my finishing rank within the ride is complete fantasy. I think I now need to ride Stage 3 AGAIN, even if it doesn't register. And probably, for penance, I should do the one with Alpe du Zwift, at 100% trainer difficulty.
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Old 01-16-21, 03:34 PM
  #55  
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genejockey LOL that's hilarious, did you get a chance to see what your avatar looked like? I'm picturing this Tyrion Lannister figure riding this high end road bike zooming down the hill. I might try changing my dimensions just so I can see this!

Good laugh.
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Old 01-16-21, 03:55 PM
  #56  
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Originally Posted by gthomson
genejockey LOL that's hilarious, did you get a chance to see what your avatar looked like? I'm picturing this Tyrion Lannister figure riding this high end road bike zooming down the hill. I might try changing my dimensions just so I can see this!

Good laugh.
The strange thing was, my avatar looked the same - taller and heavier than most others. I was imagining a fat Hobbit, but no, it just looked the same as always.
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Old 01-20-21, 02:05 AM
  #57  
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Addendum, or perhaps coda, to last weeks 'Cannonball Run' - I did the same descent today as a 6 foot tall, 205# rider, and my maximum speed was 12 mph slower than when I was 3 feet and 205#. So, yeah - I was right. It was all about the aerodynamics of being a fat Hobbit on an aero bike.
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Old 01-21-21, 08:30 AM
  #58  
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Originally Posted by ingo
During a race you can be coasting into a dip, then have to apply sprinting power over the sharp rise. If your trainer flywheel stops, the effort to start pedalling from zero is large. A motorized flywheel requires less effort to get going. Sprinting over a rise is a common tactic to break up the group in races and more effective when some people have allowed their flywheel to stop spinning.
I get that, and coasting may be more realistic, I just feel like it's pointless to coast during an indoor workout for anything more than a few seconds. Are people really coasting during Zwift races to the point that their flywheels stop? The spin-down time for a Wahoo Kickr Snap on a flat road is between 9-16 seconds from 22.4mph. On a downhill grade, it would take even longer for my flywheel to come to a complete stop. I've never timed it, but wouldn't be surprised if on steep descents it's in the neighborhood of 30-45 seconds. I'm having a hard time imagining anyone coasting for that long during a Zwift race and not getting dropped.

Also worth noting that even at 100% trainer difficulty setting, Zwift halves the downhill gradient. So your trainer treats a 10% downhill as 5%. They did this specifically to prevent a lot of coasting down hills and to not put smart trainer users at a huge disadvantage during racing. Adding a motor to drive the flywheel on downhills seems to just make this situation worse.

Here's an article on Zwiftinsider on this topic: ZWIFT TRAINER DIFFICULTY ON DESCENTS: DID YOU KNOW?
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Old 01-21-21, 10:24 AM
  #59  
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On longer and faster descents you can go into the supertuck and stop pedaling completely.

A Sunday ritual is to jump on a Pack Sub 2 ride for a nice easy group ride and we did the Mountain Route as one of them. I came down the radio tower and the mountain route in a supertuck whenever possible. I literally stopped pedaling and let the flywheel come to a complete stop but still hanging with whatever groups I was with. However to your point, coasting really isn't an option when riding on Zwift outside of those conditions.

I had done the group B ride for Stage 3 of TdZ and it was definitely a grind.
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Old 01-21-21, 01:11 PM
  #60  
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Originally Posted by oris
On longer and faster descents you can go into the supertuck and stop pedaling completely.

A Sunday ritual is to jump on a Pack Sub 2 ride for a nice easy group ride and we did the Mountain Route as one of them. I came down the radio tower and the mountain route in a supertuck whenever possible. I literally stopped pedaling and let the flywheel come to a complete stop but still hanging with whatever groups I was with. However to your point, coasting really isn't an option when riding on Zwift outside of those conditions.

I had done the group B ride for Stage 3 of TdZ and it was definitely a grind.
I did it the same place, but mostly because I was totally gassed after the climb. Yeah, the flywheel stopped, I think, because those quick rises on the way down I was way overgeared till I figured out to downshift while still in supertuck.
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Old 03-15-21, 02:59 PM
  #61  
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Originally Posted by Thomas15
As mentioned I've only done Ven-Top twice. It is a total of 5,000 feet of ascent and an additional 5 miles (or so) of riding to the summit. While the Alpe has 2-4 sharp turns every mile, Ven-Top has basically none. You just keep cranking along and there is not all that much to look at. Also no spinner or reward for the hard work except the satisfaction you get from completing the ride. I don't recall being any more tired after riding it compared to the Alpe but I was both times a bit sore in the seat. According to Zwiftpower, my first time on it took me 2 hours 14 minutes, second time 2 hours even. Lots of room for improvement. Still it's a must do for the climber in us!
I finally did Ven-Top. It is indeed brutal. My time to the summit was 2:04 on the Strava KOM segment (11.83 mi), and 2:10 from the beginning of the route (12.97 mi). That was with an average power output of 175w, which is about 80% FTP. Looking at my Strava segments, I have averaged 200W on Alpe Du Zwift, and recently did 226W average on the Epic KOM climb, so I think I could go a little harder on Ven-Top than I did and possibly get it under 2 hours, but at this point I'm not sure if I'll try it again or not. It was pretty awful.

This is a long, hard climb that never lets up and is a bit monotonous. Really takes some mental fortitude to grind out those last few KM on the upper 25% of the climb. I was thoroughly exhausted by the end.
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Old 03-15-21, 09:06 PM
  #62  
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I just did Ven-Top for the first time on Saturday. I don't know why climbing in zwift is so difficult for me, I think my average power is actually lower than on a flat course. I think it's because I don't know how to shift. I could use lower gears.
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Old 03-16-21, 06:41 AM
  #63  
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Originally Posted by unterhausen
I think it's because I don't know how to shift. I could use lower gears.
Not sure about that, if I remember correctly I just sat in the granny gear the whole time! Kills my average power as well and makes for a long haul. If i was to mash it out in a higher gear for the entire time, I think my knees would be screaming at me for days.
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Old 03-16-21, 10:39 AM
  #64  
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Originally Posted by unterhausen
I just did Ven-Top for the first time on Saturday. I don't know why climbing in zwift is so difficult for me, I think my average power is actually lower than on a flat course. I think it's because I don't know how to shift. I could use lower gears.
If you are in your lowest gear and unable to maintain a decent cadence on climbs, you could try lowering the "trainer difficulty" setting down a bit. It is essentially the same as adding lower gears.

I usually try to maintain 80rpm or so on climbs and work up and down the cassette to stay in that cadence. I have my trainer difficulty set around 75% and with this setting I can hold 80rpm on the steepest climbs (over 12%) and be around or just above my FTP in my lowest gear (the bike I use on my trainer is a 1x setup, so the lowest gear is 42/34). This setting usually results in me having a gear or two left on moderate climbing sections (say 5%-10%) so I have some flexibility to spin faster or recover a bit on those sections, but on the really steep stuff I don't have much choice but to go for it.
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Old 03-16-21, 10:43 AM
  #65  
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I was wondering about trainer difficulty, but I haven't researched it yet. Default is 50%, right? So if I want to lower my gearing I set it to a lower percentage?
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Old 03-16-21, 12:54 PM
  #66  
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Originally Posted by unterhausen
I was wondering about trainer difficulty, but I haven't researched it yet. Default is 50%, right? So if I want to lower my gearing I set it to a lower percentage?
Correct.

The default setting is 50%, so a 10% climb in the game is simulated by your smart trainer to feel like 5% worth of resistance. The higher the setting, the more realistic the gradient changes will feel, but also the more gear range/gear changing you'll need to deal with more extreme grades (just like in real life). The lower the setting, the flatter the road becomes. I've never tried it, but if you set Trainer Difficult to 0% your smart trainer will effectively become a "dumb" trainer and treat everything like a flat road, so big climbs don't have any noticeable added resistance and likewise on descents, no noticeable easing of resistance.

The game doesn't really care what gear you ride in, or how much resistance you have. All Zwift cares about is watts. It translates your watts into lower speeds on steeper gradients, so if 150 watts normally propels you along at 20mph on a flat road, those same 150 watts on a 10% climb will only get you 4-5mph, regardless of how little or how much resistance your trainer is applying.

So, if you don't have enough gear range on your bike to deal with the amount of resistance your trainer is throwing at you on steep climbs, just lower the trainer difficulty setting which will dial down the amount of resistance. You can even hit the menu button and do this mid-ride, so you can lower the setting on the way up, and crank it back up on the way down. Personally I've found a setting that generally lets me ride the entire range of gears on my bike and I just leave it there.

It's a heck of a lot easier than swapping to a bigger rear cassette with lower gears, which is how you'd deal with this in real life.

Here's a pretty good article on it: Zwift Trainer Difficulty setting explained
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Old 03-17-21, 01:05 PM
  #67  
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I have done only one (1) 20 mile ride in the last month. At a point about 4 weeks ago I was doing some big hills, making it but really not with the normal energy level. I decided to take a week off that has turned into almost a month. Kind of blaming this on the second C-19 booster shot which really kicked me in the pant seat.

Tonight I get back on. Gonna try to ride 35 miles that will level me up to level 38 which I should have completed a month ago. Will probably do the Mountain Route. For the upcoming weekend the weather doesn't look all that great but with some luck will be riding outside the following week. All I know is spring is on it's way and I need to get on the bike!
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Old 03-17-21, 02:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Thomas15
I have done only one (1) 20 mile ride in the last month. At a point about 4 weeks ago I was doing some big hills, making it but really not with the normal energy level. I decided to take a week off that has turned into almost a month. Kind of blaming this on the second C-19 booster shot which really kicked me in the pant seat.

Tonight I get back on. Gonna try to ride 35 miles that will level me up to level 38 which I should have completed a month ago. Will probably do the Mountain Route. For the upcoming weekend the weather doesn't look all that great but with some luck will be riding outside the following week. All I know is spring is on it's way and I need to get on the bike!
Good luck. I'm getting my second shot Friday and planning for a few rest days, but hoping I'll be good to go by Monday. The first shot wiped me out for a few days.
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Old 04-25-21, 10:53 AM
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I don't know how people can become good climbers on a trainer. I became reasonably good climbing IRL with a VAM well over a thousand because I liked the challenge and had access to a lot of beautiful, hilly, country roads in NW New Jersey (Hunterdon, Warren and Sussex counties). Getting back into riding on Zwift I don't feel the joy of getting to the top of a hill. They only thing I like about climbing on Zwift is when I happen to pair up with another rider of comparable ability and know just how much they're suffering too as we grind up a big hill together, swapping leads.
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Old 04-25-21, 12:50 PM
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Well, I will never become a good climber, so being a bad climber is similar on zwift as outside. I have done plenty of climbing in that part of New Jersey, zwift does bear some similarities actually. Like climbing old mine road and then turning left to go to Blairstown and wondering why you are doing that instead of going to Delaware Water gap.
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Old 04-25-21, 01:16 PM
  #71  
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its easy to become a good climber on a trainer. just keep doing it. just like outside, the more you do it the better you get. i can do the alpe du zwift in under 60 min and the big hill in france in under 90. granted they are simulated but they keep me prepared for the real thing as the weather gets better. one of my local routes takes me up 500m across 10km. did it just this past wednesday on my second covid shot. 33 minutes. not my best but certainly not my worst either.
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Old 04-25-21, 02:50 PM
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I need to drop 25 pounds to even be in the range of mediocre climber
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Old 04-25-21, 08:57 PM
  #73  
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Originally Posted by Terex
Getting back into riding on Zwift I don't feel the joy of getting to the top of a hill. They only thing I like about climbing on Zwift is when I happen to pair up with another rider of comparable ability and know just how much they're suffering too as we grind up a big hill together, swapping leads.
This sounds more like a motivation issue than a training benefit issue to me. Yeah I get that one can feel less enthused about getting to the top of a virtual hill in your home without actually going anywhere... but power being power, the training benefits are generally the same.

Though ideally I also feel that one should do such hill training under the proper resistances. I mean, for example - training to spin up a virtual hill at 90rpm isn't going to be as beneficial if you don't have the gears to do the same thing outdoors.

Last edited by atwl77; 04-25-21 at 09:01 PM.
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Old 04-26-21, 10:47 AM
  #74  
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I have lower gears on my road bike than my trainer bike.

I find that the feeling when I get to the top of a zwift climb is very similar to when I get to the top of a big climb IRL. Relief that it's over. But also, descents just mean you have to climb some more later.
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Old 04-26-21, 12:46 PM
  #75  
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Originally Posted by gthomson
Determined not to give up, I tackled it again on Sunday when I had more time and slogged my up. Finally finished it in 1:35 roughly and earned a blue helmet. I was soaked, my legs were toast and i was tired for the rest of the day. I had earned the Trek Emonda the first attempt, so used that for the 2nd ride, put on my Zipp 202 wheels but it didn't help much.

Anyone consider this fun?
Sounds like you got a good workout in

If you want to make the climbs a little easier (they'll take longer), set up a custom workout that's like a 2hr free-ride block. That way, even if you're poking along at 120 watts, you'll still keep moving.

btw, 1:35 is respectable. You definitely earned a beer

You'll definitely be stronger outside, so there's that --
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