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ZWIFT and KICKR Kicks My Butt

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ZWIFT and KICKR Kicks My Butt

Old 08-16-21, 10:36 PM
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ZWIFT and KICKR Kicks My Butt

My KICKR is relatively new and have only ridden a couple hundred miles on it exploring Watopia, N.Y., London, and other locations. Did most of Alpe de Zwift and a few lesser climbs while trying the rides. I usually ride around 200W with a few jumps up to 300. Have an OK fan and sweat like a pig but keep my water intake up. After an hour, I am whipped. Always a good indicator of how tired my legs are, are the last two steps going up to the second story. I can ride outdoors for two hours at 18 MPH ave speed and usually climb 2000’ but the trainer just wipes me out. I know there is little coasting ‘recovery’ on the trainer but am wondering if the mileage, speed, climbing % on the trainer are so far from reality that they should just be ignored or used only for that bubble/world?

On the plus side, on Strava I am starting to knock off the guys in my age bracket on lots of segments getting fastest time.
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Old 08-17-21, 12:08 AM
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Climbing on Zwift and every other major platform is pretty much spot on because the physics of it are easy to model, weight being the biggest factor.
In general Zwift is very generous with letting you use light and aero equipment while also assuming players use good aerodynamic position, so speeds are faster than in real life.

The hardest part is indeed cooling, with coasting coming a distant second on a smart trainer because no one will ever put out much power on downhills without trying extremely hard to do so.
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Old 08-17-21, 12:32 AM
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I don’t think the numbers on zwift correlate to the outside at all, other than power and time. Watts are watts.
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Old 08-17-21, 07:57 AM
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rsbob - I think you're right that a part of why it can be more fatiguing is the lack of break - and you're probably putting out more steady power than normal because the number is right in your face. I find when riding on Zwift I have to deliberately slow sometimes and ignore people going faster.
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Old 08-17-21, 10:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Viich View Post
rsbob - I think you're right that a part of why it can be more fatiguing is the lack of break - and you're probably putting out more steady power than normal because the number is right in your face. I find when riding on Zwift I have to deliberately slow sometimes and ignore people going faster.
My overly competitive nature has a real issue with people flying by me and not being in the hunt. However I am no longer in my youth, so learning to back off and go my own speed is not a lesson which is easy learned. I will have to follow your lead (but not chase) and ride my own pace.

Vilch, yeah no real opportunities to coast especially when people are flying on the downhills and wanting to hit 50+ MPH is a real issue for me. Need to back off and ride my own ride.
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Old 08-17-21, 10:27 AM
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Originally Posted by surak View Post
Climbing on Zwift and every other major platform is pretty much spot on because the physics of it are easy to model, weight being the biggest factor.
In general Zwift is very generous with letting you use light and aero equipment while also assuming players use good aerodynamic position, so speeds are faster than in real life.

The hardest part is indeed cooling, with coasting coming a distant second on a smart trainer because no one will ever put out much power on downhills without trying extremely hard to do so.
i hit 700w going down the radio tower once. have not tried to best that since. i was amazed i had it in me.
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Old 08-17-21, 10:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Viich View Post
rsbob - I think you're right that a part of why it can be more fatiguing is the lack of break - and you're probably putting out more steady power than normal because the number is right in your face. I find when riding on Zwift I have to deliberately slow sometimes and ignore people going faster.
the chase is part of what i like best about zwift. not completing with anyone but using them as a tool to improve myself. RGT is just full of bots and they are not the same, they never waver, a real rider gets tired and tends to back off at the top of a climb and i like to use that to help make sure i don't do that. then transfer that to the outside where it really matters.
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Old 08-17-21, 10:36 AM
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Zwift races start really hard and never seem to have a letup and the draft is miniscule compared to a real race. If you are tall, the aerodynamic model is horrible. Shorter is always faster in Zwift by a lot, all other factors equal.

I find riding around in Zwift to be very boring and get a better workout with an outdoors ride but the opposite is true for me with racing. Zwift is much harder.
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Old 08-17-21, 11:28 AM
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Originally Posted by spelger View Post
the chase is part of what i like best about zwift. not completing with anyone but using them as a tool to improve myself. RGT is just full of bots and they are not the same, they never waver, a real rider gets tired and tends to back off at the top of a climb and i like to use that to help make sure i don't do that. then transfer that to the outside where it really matters.
I'd encourage you to try out racing if you like to get chasing - it's not really that important if you're near the front of the race or not. There are some really good points formats out there as well. Send me a DM if you want info - It can be complicated to get started. I got involved with one of the online clubs & race teams winter/spring 2020, really makes it more engaging for me.
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Old 08-17-21, 11:56 AM
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I've tried some races, but they're really not for me. During the early part of the pandemic, I did some group rides with teammates. We'd all be on Discord shooting the shizzle, just like in real life, so that was fun. Lately, if I'm on zwift, it will be to provide visual distraction while I"m doing an interval workout.
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Old 08-17-21, 11:58 AM
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Originally Posted by surak View Post
Climbing on Zwift and every other major platform is pretty much spot on because the physics of it are easy to model, weight being the biggest factor.
One thing that took me awhile to understand is the KICKR is not a faithful simulation of hills. Look up bicycle "CIL" sometime and you will understand why. What CIL is in layman's terms is how easy it is to quickly change speed either up or down. CIL is high on downhill and low on uphill. The KICKR flywheel just gives one CIL, all it is changing is the resistance. The KICKR would need to vary the weight of the flywheel itself to change the CIL.

I noticed this difference not long after I got on the KICKR but only recently did I understand the physics behind it. One effect of the high CIL of the KICKR is hills are not real hills, they are just like mashing the highest gear on a flat. You will use different muscles for that as you can "pulse" your power on each stroke more if you have a high CIL (you can better maintain speed between strokes).

Anyway, beyond the power numbers perhaps being a bit off etc, this is one more thing that makes the Zwift experience with a KICKR different from an actual road.
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Old 08-17-21, 01:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Viich View Post
I'd encourage you to try out racing if you like to get chasing - it's not really that important if you're near the front of the race or not. There are some really good points formats out there as well. Send me a DM if you want info - It can be complicated to get started. I got involved with one of the online clubs & race teams winter/spring 2020, really makes it more engaging for me.
i tried it once. i put myself into my proper category based on my w/kg and all i saw was a sea butts soon after the start of the race. i was put off by that. two problems that i observed, first was that my w/kg level put me at the bottom of the category, second was that i am pretty sure all the others that entered the race *probably* should have been in the next higher category. i'll probably try again but put myself into the F category. do they even have an F?
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Old 08-17-21, 01:11 PM
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Originally Posted by scottfsmith View Post
One thing that took me awhile to understand is the KICKR is not a faithful simulation of hills. Look up bicycle "CIL" sometime and you will understand why. What CIL is in layman's terms is how easy it is to quickly change speed either up or down. CIL is high on downhill and low on uphill. The KICKR flywheel just gives one CIL, all it is changing is the resistance. The KICKR would need to vary the weight of the flywheel itself to change the CIL.

I noticed this difference not long after I got on the KICKR but only recently did I understand the physics behind it. One effect of the high CIL of the KICKR is hills are not real hills, they are just like mashing the highest gear on a flat. You will use different muscles for that as you can "pulse" your power on each stroke more if you have a high CIL (you can better maintain speed between strokes).

Anyway, beyond the power numbers perhaps being a bit off etc, this is one more thing that makes the Zwift experience with a KICKR different from an actual road.
had a quick look and did not turn up anything on CIL. what does CIL stand for? i'm interested in learning abou tthis, i too have a KICKER.
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Old 08-17-21, 01:12 PM
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When I ride IRL, there are places where I go hard and places where I dawdle, and of course some where I coast. On Zwift, I coast a lot less frequently and I dawdle hardly at all. And there are no stop signs, or traffic lights to wait for. So, riding on the road is just more varied, and gives you more times when you can rest.

This is especially true in races. I don't race IRL, but I've been watching race videos from NorCal Cycling and others, where they display the speed and power during the race and in a real race there seem to be a lot of times when, even for just a few seconds, the power is zero - curves for instance. In a Zwift race, my experience is that there's no point in the race where you can just stop pedaling, even for a second, without getting dropped and having to fight like hell to get back on. I just looked at the last race I did, and there's not one point in the whole race where my cadence dropped below 55. No rest at all. I'm pretty sure this is because there aren't really curves on Zwift in any real sense. Sure, your avatar is going around corners, but there's no change in how you pedal, even for the tightest virtual hairpin.
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Old 08-17-21, 01:25 PM
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Originally Posted by spelger View Post
had a quick look and did not turn up anything on CIL. what does CIL stand for? i'm interested in learning abou tthis, i too have a KICKER.
CIL stands for Crank Inertial Load. I found a pretty good tutorial article on it at Cycling Tips. Here is another read which talks about the trainer effect.
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Old 08-17-21, 03:00 PM
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Originally Posted by genejockey View Post
When I ride IRL, there are places where I go hard and places where I dawdle, and of course some where I coast. On Zwift, I coast a lot less frequently and I dawdle hardly at all. And there are no stop signs, or traffic lights to wait for. So, riding on the road is just more varied, and gives you more times when you can rest.

This is especially true in races. I don't race IRL, but I've been watching race videos from NorCal Cycling and others, where they display the speed and power during the race and in a real race there seem to be a lot of times when, even for just a few seconds, the power is zero - curves for instance. In a Zwift race, my experience is that there's no point in the race where you can just stop pedaling, even for a second, without getting dropped and having to fight like hell to get back on. I just looked at the last race I did, and there's not one point in the whole race where my cadence dropped below 55. No rest at all. I'm pretty sure this is because there aren't really curves on Zwift in any real sense. Sure, your avatar is going around corners, but there's no change in how you pedal, even for the tightest virtual hairpin.
this in my opinion is where RGT shines. it will apply the breaks for rapid turns, more realistic but a little hard to judge. sure you can peddle through but your added power won't apply so they are in a sense wasted watts. this at least gives you a chance to rest but in the few rides i have done these last for 2-3 seconds at best.
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Old 08-17-21, 09:35 PM
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Originally Posted by scottfsmith View Post
One thing that took me awhile to understand is the KICKR is not a faithful simulation of hills. Look up bicycle "CIL" sometime and you will understand why. What CIL is in layman's terms is how easy it is to quickly change speed either up or down. CIL is high on downhill and low on uphill. The KICKR flywheel just gives one CIL, all it is changing is the resistance. The KICKR would need to vary the weight of the flywheel itself to change the CIL.

I noticed this difference not long after I got on the KICKR but only recently did I understand the physics behind it. One effect of the high CIL of the KICKR is hills are not real hills, they are just like mashing the highest gear on a flat. You will use different muscles for that as you can "pulse" your power on each stroke more if you have a high CIL (you can better maintain speed between strokes).

Anyway, beyond the power numbers perhaps being a bit off etc, this is one more thing that makes the Zwift experience with a KICKR different from an actual road.
That explains a lot!
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Old 08-18-21, 09:19 AM
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Originally Posted by spelger View Post
i tried it once. i put myself into my proper category based on my w/kg and all i saw was a sea butts soon after the start of the race. i was put off by that. two problems that i observed, first was that my w/kg level put me at the bottom of the category, second was that i am pretty sure all the others that entered the race *probably* should have been in the next higher category. i'll probably try again but put myself into the F category. do they even have an F?
Race selection is huge on this - so is ZwiftPower, though having the people who end up disqualified from results on ZwiftPower for being in the wrong category in the race definitely changes. Points races, especially where the points are actually awarded for fastest time on segments, are a good fight against this, as it's far easier to ignore the guys that go off the front, and packs tend to stick together between segments.

A lot of the really good races though, you need to get involved with a team, or at least go really far down the rabbit hole of community Zwift racing.

WTRL's weekly Team Time Trial is an amazing format, and they run the community divisions of the Zwift Racing League as well. There are definitely riders on the top edge of category in ZRL, but there are a huge number of divisions, most people should be able to get a decent race. They are private events so people who are supposed to be in them are the only ones with the links to register.

rsbob caloso & spelger - I'll send you a PM with a link to the club I'm involved with if you want to swing by and check things out. We're very much on the inclusive side over competitive - but if you're looking for a different vibe, I can probably recommend a different club to try.
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Old 08-25-21, 08:01 AM
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I think I had vaguely thought about CIL, but it's good to see someone thought it through. A manufacturer could simulate this with a motor, and there is at least one brand of smart trainer that uses a motor.
Maybe I'll add it to the list of features for my trainer bike, right after RealCrash
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Old 08-25-21, 11:28 AM
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For me, the whole point of Zwift is that it makes a super-boring trainer session into something fun. I laugh at all these cats fussing about how it's not close enough to real life. Get off the trainer and go outside, Big Biker 300FTP Dude, and embrace the very real cold air, rain and snow.
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Old 08-25-21, 11:55 AM
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Originally Posted by blacknbluebikes View Post
For me, the whole point of Zwift is that it makes a super-boring trainer session into something fun. I laugh at all these cats fussing about how it's not close enough to real life. Get off the trainer and go outside, Big Biker 300FTP Dude, and embrace the very real cold air, rain and snow.
Yes, and no. Yes to breaking up the monotony and not expecting TOO much. But, Zwift walks a fine line in terms of trying to cater to paying customers expecting to receive a realistic experience, with those that clearly do not care (cheats, hacks, or just don't care). I mean, there's dinosaurs and volcanoes. How real is that? It's not. It's a game.

You can improve the realism a lot by turning off the HUD and using your normal bike computer for HR and power display while riding in a "world hack" mode with less people. Or unplug internet after verifying your license and ride totally alone. But folks claim they're paying for more than that.

If I had suggestions on realism:
-max speed limits downhill and around downhill alpine corners
-max speeds on corners in general

One thing you can never totally get away from on realism is cheats. Weight cheats, power cheats, aero cheats, etc..... Folks will always cheat. You just have to pepper your angus and be fine with that in Zwift land.

The ratio of "Zwift heros" to "real world zeroes" is pretty funny when you show up to real road, cross, crits, time trials or even weeknight worlds. Zwift would have you believe everyone on the planet is 70kg and has a 300w ftp and can break an hour for a 40k TT.
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Old 08-26-21, 02:39 PM
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Originally Posted by burnthesheep View Post
.......
If I had suggestions on realism:
-max speed limits downhill and around downhill alpine corners
-max speeds on corners in general

One thing you can never totally get away from on realism is cheats. Weight cheats, power cheats, aero cheats, etc..... Folks will always cheat. You just have to pepper your angus and be fine with that in Zwift land.

The ratio of "Zwift heros" to "real world zeroes" is pretty funny when you show up to real road, cross, crits, time trials or even weeknight worlds. Zwift would have you believe everyone on the planet is 70kg and has a 300w ftp and can break an hour for a 40k TT.
On your suggestions - I don't know how or why downhill, or even corner speed limits would help. It's fun, and spending more time coasting downhill doesn't help anyone, I don't think. There's no 'skill' in the game to differentiate, so i actually prefer letting me keep the power on around the corner - makes it better training as you aren't coasting around corners, you keep pedaling.

I don't know about the 'Zwift heros' thing. I'm (actually, and it's heavier than I've been for most of my adult life) 76kg with an FTP a little under 300 - no idea what that means though, outside of the context of Zwift racing, which I really enjoy. I only road bike solo and ride to work, just picked up Zwift to keep in shape when I lost interest in running. I don't do the real life group road biking because the local club outreach I went with was pretty pretentious, so staying away from them. I race BMX with my kids instead. It's a hoot, and no one really cares whether you have the latest groupset or not. (I was told if I didn't have at least current 105 on my bike I shouldn't bother because I probably couldn't keep up) Not to mention the club charges more than the full year BMX to do a mandatory 'learn to group ride' course before I can even try a ride with them.
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