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Zwift KOMs are Ridiculous

Old 03-07-23, 11:20 AM
  #51  
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I just assumed that nobody would ever take Zwift KOMs even slightly seriously.
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Old 03-07-23, 11:24 AM
  #52  
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Originally Posted by spelger
the argument i have heard more than once is that if zwift were to flag those riders then those riders would stop using zwift and that means less $ for them. i don't know if this is what would pan out but i agree with you, it would not take much to week these folks out.
The counter argument are the other riders [i.e., your truly] whose first impression of Zwift are the ludicrous KOM numbers, who then dismiss Zwift as a non-serious toy game.
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Old 03-07-23, 11:50 AM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse
Yes, this is what I'm saying. They could at least make a minimum effort to flag the ridiculous speeds. Just look at the Strava leader board for the Hilly KOM Forward segment. Page after page of impossible 28+ mph speeds, all with sensible power numbers. A simple filter would flag those with "nobody can go that fast with that little power".
Right, that 28 mph on 153 watts does look suspicious. These get weeded out in Zwift once the rider exits the program, but Strava doesn't do this. So I tend to think this is a Strava issue, mostly, not so much a Zwift issue.
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Old 03-07-23, 11:52 AM
  #54  
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62
WRT 8 or 12 strain gages, you would only have to modify 2 or 3 since they are in pairs of 4 to form a wheatstone bridge. Adding the appropriate resistance in series to each bridge should get the cheater's job done. I've never disassembled, so, this could be all rubbish but I do know there are wires from the PT electronics into the shell where the strain gages are mounted. Many modern smart trainers do not use strain gages. In any case, few have the inclination or knowledge to monkey around at that level. I'm probably wrong and just not willing to mess around with one of my PT hubs, they are too valuable.
Yep. This is why I say that cheating is easy but non-detectable cheating is hard. Futzing with strain gages and piezo electronics is possible, but doing it in a way that wouldn't be detectable really depends on how clever and motivated a cheater is.
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Old 03-07-23, 12:09 PM
  #55  
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Originally Posted by RChung
Right, that 28 mph on 153 watts does look suspicious. These get weeded out in Zwift once the rider exits the program, but Strava doesn't do this. So I tend to think this is a Strava issue, mostly, not so much a Zwift issue.
Well, it's seems to me a Zwift issue, as the hokey results in Strava reflect poorly on Zwift.

It should not be so difficult for Zwift to filter out the junk before it releases ride data to Strava.
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Old 03-07-23, 12:10 PM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse
The counter argument are the other riders [i.e., your truly] whose first impression of Zwift are the ludicrous KOM numbers, who then dismiss Zwift as a non-serious toy game.
I can understand why one might get that impression. For me, Zwift is a valuable training tool. Not only does the simulation hold my interest, but it allows me to do training things that are much more difficult to do IRL. For example, if my intent is to do a 1 hour Zone 2 ride, I can do exactly that, with zero interruption from IRL things like traffic signals. The Tempus Fugit route is almost dead-flat, and perfect for when you want a controlled environment for targeted-effort training. That's just one example. I also get a lot of value from the interaction of riding with pace-bot groups. I've done a few races, but it wasn't really my thing. There have been times when I preferred to ride with a group on Zwift over riding solo IRL.

Let your needs dictate what Zwift is. Just because you can up your pace to draft a passing rider, go for a sprint/KOM, or use some of the more game-y features, doesn't mean you have to.
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Old 03-07-23, 12:45 PM
  #57  
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Originally Posted by rm -rf
Yes. I set it to around 25-35% on long climbs, and can sit and spin all the way up. With low watts, I'm still spinning instead of mashing slow cadences -- then my road speed can be down to 2 mph quite easily. Riders never fall over on Zwift.

Kickr trainer resistance is quite different from climbing in real life. It's continuous resistance all around the pedaling circle. Out on the road, there's way less resistance in parts of the pedal rotation, with momentum of the bike+rider carrying through that brief amount of time. On the trainer, these higher cadences are much easier on my knees.

The Kickr has improved my pedal stroke out on real roads, I think.
Thanks. I didn't realize pretty much any of that. My wife has some serious knee issues, so we dialed it down for her, but hadn't really paid attention to anything (apart from knee pain). It does make sense then that her knees might suffer more on a trainer, if they don't get the periodic momentary relief.
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Old 03-07-23, 02:00 PM
  #58  
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Originally Posted by RChung
Yep. This is why I say that cheating is easy but non-detectable cheating is hard. Futzing with strain gages and piezo electronics is possible, but doing it in a way that wouldn't be detectable really depends on how clever and motivated a cheater is.
but do you really need to mess around at that level? being a developer i can think if a much easier way to cheat. of course that assumes that the configuration is very similar to mine at home with respect to the wireless bits.
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Old 03-07-23, 02:03 PM
  #59  
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Originally Posted by terrymorse
Well, it's seems to me a Zwift issue, as the hokey results in Strava reflect poorly on Zwift.

It should not be so difficult for Zwift to filter out the junk before it releases ride data to Strava.
its not just zwift. i'm not using it anymore but i recall taking some hair pin turns at well over 40 mph that in real life would have put me in an ambulance or a coffin. of everythign i've tried only RGT put on the brakes during the ride. even rouvy appears to have a top speed of something like 44.7mph.
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Old 03-07-23, 02:36 PM
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Originally Posted by spelger
but do you really need to mess around at that level? being a developer i can think if a much easier way to cheat. of course that assumes that the configuration is very similar to mine at home with respect to the wireless bits.
There *are* much easier ways to cheat -- what's hard is doing it in a way that's hard to detect. I don't want to reveal too much, but years ago (way before there was a Zwift) a guy who didn't believe me made several copies of a power meter data file and altered all but one of them (i.e., there was an original version and several altered versions) and sent them to me. It took a little bit of effort but not a lot to figure out which was the original unaltered file. I wouldn't want to do that for thousands or tens of thousands of files but if there was a suspicion about a particular user and someone was paying for my time, it could be done.
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Old 03-07-23, 02:54 PM
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Originally Posted by RChung
Right, that 28 mph on 153 watts does look suspicious. These get weeded out in Zwift once the rider exits the program, but Strava doesn't do this. So I tend to think this is a Strava issue, mostly, not so much a Zwift issue.
These results particularly caught my eye. Given that speed in Zwift is ostensibly a function of power output, rider mass and height, and imaginary incline, I can't see how it's possible to do that climb at 28.4 mph pushing 23w. For that matter, I don't see how it's possible to do that climb at 28.

I'm curious what the cheat is that allows SO MANY riders to ALL do it in 1:11 at 28.4 mph. According to Bike Calculator, a 100 lb rider on a 16 lb bike would have to put out 700w.
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Old 03-07-23, 03:44 PM
  #62  
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Zwift has 17 pages of rules that lay out all of the protocols for high level e-racing. I have no idea how we're 60 posts into this thread and people are still talking about how easy it is to cheat on Zwift without having any knowledge of how difficult it actually is.
  • Racers are required to submit power verification tests completed prior to the race, along with heart rate and cadence data.
  • Racers are required to register an eBioPassport account that tracks all of their power numbers over time, so any wild fluctuations would be easy to spot
  • Zwift and USA Cycling both have committees to monitor and analyze performance data during races, so anything inconsistent with a rider's previous efforts would immediately be flagged for review.
  • Racers are required to submit videos of weigh-ins/height measurement and power verification tests.
  • Racers are required to record power data with two different sources - direct drive trainers (from an approved list) as the primary source, and power meter as a verification/backup. Calibration of both has to be done on video as part of the power verification process.
  • All verification and race data is also all made public so anyone can look at this.
  • For Zwift races - smart trainer difficulty must be set to at least 50%.
  • Power verification data has to be submitted within 6 months of an event, and all equipment has to be verified 5 days prior to an event.
Here's an example of a post-race evaluation that resulted in a ban. This rider logged 4 minutes at 526 watts during a UCI world championship qualifying race, which is 8.5w/kg. The board flagged this as suspicious given that the numbers didn't match anything the rider had previously done, contacted the rider and (despite obvious suspicions) allowed the rider a chance to prove they could hit those numbers again. They could not. The board investigated further and concluded that the rider manipulated the data by deliberately disconnecting a data stream that allowed them to connect to a modified power meter.

Are Zwift riders cheating on KOM's and in unregulated races? Probably. The same happens with Strava KOM's. I see local segments near me all the time with KOM's that are clearly recorded from a car, or an e-bike, motorized scooter, etc. Using this to dismiss all e-racing as cheating would be no different than assuming PGA players are shaving strokes off their scorecards because your buddy uses a foot wedge and calls anything within 5ft of the hole a "gimme".
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Old 03-07-23, 03:50 PM
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Originally Posted by genejockey
These results particularly caught my eye. Given that speed in Zwift is ostensibly a function of power output, rider mass and height, and imaginary incline, I can't see how it's possible to do that climb at 28.4 mph pushing 23w. For that matter, I don't see how it's possible to do that climb at 28.

I'm curious what the cheat is that allows SO MANY riders to ALL do it in 1:11 at 28.4 mph. According to Bike Calculator, a 100 lb rider on a 16 lb bike would have to put out 700w.
Did you look at any of those rides? Is the entire ride suspicious or just that particular segment?
I'd put my money on a glitch/software malfunction of some kind, rather than malicious cheating. 4 of those happened in a 4 day period. All of them in 2021?

EDIT: I didn't check all of them, but the first handful seem to be from group meetup rides. I've seen some weird stuff happen with "ruberbanded" groups on Zwift, which is designed to keep a group together regardless of how slow the slowest rider is. It's entirely possible that riders fell behind a lead rider and got pulled up this hill at a ridiculous pace as they system banded everyone back together. This probably gets weeded out of Zwift data, but not Strava. Regardless, none of this looks like malicious cheating to get a KOM. https://www.strava.com/segments/12109030

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Old 03-07-23, 04:03 PM
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Originally Posted by genejockey
These results particularly caught my eye. Given that speed in Zwift is ostensibly a function of power output, rider mass and height, and imaginary incline, I can't see how it's possible to do that climb at 28.4 mph pushing 23w. For that matter, I don't see how it's possible to do that climb at 28.

I'm curious what the cheat is that allows SO MANY riders to ALL do it in 1:11 at 28.4 mph. According to Bike Calculator, a 100 lb rider on a 16 lb bike would have to put out 700w.
its probably 23.4 so just a rounding issue.

heck, just noticed the first guy came across dead. not bad.
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Old 03-07-23, 04:12 PM
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Originally Posted by msu2001la
Did you look at any of those rides? Is the entire ride suspicious or just that particular segment?
I'd put my money on a glitch/software malfunction of some kind, rather than malicious cheating. 4 of those happened in a 4 day period. All of them in 2021?

EDIT: I didn't check all of them, but the first handful seem to be from group meetup rides. I've seen some weird stuff happen with "ruberbanded" groups on Zwift, which is designed to keep a group together regardless of how slow the slowest rider is. It's entirely possible that riders fell behind a lead rider and got pulled up this hill at a ridiculous pace as they system banded everyone back together. This probably gets weeded out of Zwift data, but not Strava. Regardless, none of this looks like malicious cheating to get a KOM. https://www.strava.com/segments/12109030
The top 15 - all 1:11 at 28.4mph - were all scored within a single period of 18 days in February and March of 2021. A number of them seem to be "paired", that is, the first 2 were both on February 27, the next 2 were March 2.
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Old 03-07-23, 04:13 PM
  #66  
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Originally Posted by spelger
its probably 23.4 so just a rounding issue.

heck, just noticed the first guy came across dead. not bad.
Yeah. Normally I don't feel dead till AFTER I cross the line.
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Old 03-07-23, 05:24 PM
  #67  
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Originally Posted by msu2001la
Zwift has 17 pages of rules that lay out all of the protocols for high level e-racing. I have no idea how we're 60 posts into this thread and people are still talking about how easy it is to cheat on Zwift without having any knowledge of how difficult it actually is.
  • Racers are required to submit power verification tests completed prior to the race, along with heart rate and cadence data.
  • Racers are required to register an eBioPassport account that tracks all of their power numbers over time, so any wild fluctuations would be easy to spot
  • Zwift and USA Cycling both have committees to monitor and analyze performance data during races, so anything inconsistent with a rider's previous efforts would immediately be flagged for review.
  • Racers are required to submit videos of weigh-ins/height measurement and power verification tests.
  • Racers are required to record power data with two different sources - direct drive trainers (from an approved list) as the primary source, and power meter as a verification/backup. Calibration of both has to be done on video as part of the power verification process.
  • All verification and race data is also all made public so anyone can look at this.
  • For Zwift races - smart trainer difficulty must be set to at least 50%.
  • Power verification data has to be submitted within 6 months of an event, and all equipment has to be verified 5 days prior to an event.
Here's an example of a post-race evaluation that resulted in a ban. This rider logged 4 minutes at 526 watts during a UCI world championship qualifying race, which is 8.5w/kg. The board flagged this as suspicious given that the numbers didn't match anything the rider had previously done, contacted the rider and (despite obvious suspicions) allowed the rider a chance to prove they could hit those numbers again. They could not. The board investigated further and concluded that the rider manipulated the data by deliberately disconnecting a data stream that allowed them to connect to a modified power meter.

Are Zwift riders cheating on KOM's and in unregulated races? Probably. The same happens with Strava KOM's. I see local segments near me all the time with KOM's that are clearly recorded from a car, or an e-bike, motorized scooter, etc. Using this to dismiss all e-racing as cheating would be no different than assuming PGA players are shaving strokes off their scorecards because your buddy uses a foot wedge and calls anything within 5ft of the hole a "gimme".
The thing is, if Eddy Hoole hadn't gotten greedy and used his cheating setup to hold 8 for 5 minutes, he would have gotten away with it. He'd apparently been getting away with it at the highest stage of Zwift racing for up to a couple years at that point. ZRL Premier League and international events and whatnot. If he'd just held 6 and been part of the bunch sprint at the end, no one would have looked close enough to detect it even if he'd one. The one thing that all the bans have in common (except that dude who had a bot earn him the Tron for an early international competition, all the people who've been caught have been caught for doing humanly impossible numbers (another ZADA report said something like, "she would have had to have put out VO2max numbers no human woman has before or since"). People who just cheat enough to be at/near the front at the end get away with it because, as RChung says, it's too much work to catch them.

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Old 03-07-23, 05:26 PM
  #68  
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Originally Posted by msu2001la
Zwift has 17 pages of rules that lay out all of the protocols for high level e-racing. I have no idea how we're 60 posts into this thread and people are still talking about how easy it is to cheat on Zwift without having any knowledge of how difficult it actually is.
  • Racers are required to submit power verification tests completed prior to the race, along with heart rate and cadence data.
  • Racers are required to register an eBioPassport account that tracks all of their power numbers over time, so any wild fluctuations would be easy to spot
  • Zwift and USA Cycling both have committees to monitor and analyze performance data during races, so anything inconsistent with a rider's previous efforts would immediately be flagged for review.
  • Racers are required to submit videos of weigh-ins/height measurement and power verification tests.
  • Racers are required to record power data with two different sources - direct drive trainers (from an approved list) as the primary source, and power meter as a verification/backup. Calibration of both has to be done on video as part of the power verification process.
  • All verification and race data is also all made public so anyone can look at this.
  • For Zwift races - smart trainer difficulty must be set to at least 50%.
  • Power verification data has to be submitted within 6 months of an event, and all equipment has to be verified 5 days prior to an event.
That seems like a lot of trouble. It might be easier to just show up for a real race.
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Old 03-07-23, 05:30 PM
  #69  
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Originally Posted by Koyote
That seems like a lot of trouble. It might be easier to just show up for a real race.
The chances of getting taken out in a crash are way less in your living room. Probably.
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Old 03-07-23, 05:39 PM
  #70  
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Originally Posted by Eric F
The chances of getting taken out in a crash are way less in your living room. Probably.
Agreed. But thatís part of racing, in my book. Along with a bunch of other things that you donít find on Zwift.
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Old 03-07-23, 05:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Koyote
Agreed. But thatís part of racing, in my book. Along with a bunch of other things that you donít find on Zwift.
It's just different racing. Hell, they have e-sports F1 racing. Apparently, it's kind of a big deal.
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Old 03-07-23, 05:54 PM
  #72  
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Originally Posted by Koyote
Agreed. But thatís part of racing, in my book. Along with a bunch of other things that you donít find on Zwift.
I'm too old to trust my bones to other people's bikehandling skills. But, yeah - it's a completely different animal from actual racing. Good exercise, and fun, though.
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Old 03-07-23, 07:05 PM
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Originally Posted by genejockey
These results particularly caught my eye. Given that speed in Zwift is ostensibly a function of power output, rider mass and height, and imaginary incline, I can't see how it's possible to do that climb at 28.4 mph pushing 23w. For that matter, I don't see how it's possible to do that climb at 28.

I'm curious what the cheat is that allows SO MANY riders to ALL do it in 1:11 at 28.4 mph. According to Bike Calculator, a 100 lb rider on a 16 lb bike would have to put out 700w.
I believe it was a Zwift software bug allowing those super high speeds in some specific scenarios. I donít know the details, but Iíve heard people discuss it before. I presume the bug was fixed long ago, but it borked up the Strava KOMs. I never experienced it first hand.
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Old 03-07-23, 10:34 PM
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only thing the zwift kom's are good for is I know on my best day I'm going to do them in about twice the time.
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Old 03-08-23, 10:45 AM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski
I believe it was a Zwift software bug allowing those super high speeds in some specific scenarios. I donít know the details, but Iíve heard people discuss it before. I presume the bug was fixed long ago, but it borked up the Strava KOMs. I never experienced it first hand.
I mentioned it above, but all of these KOM times appear to be from rubber banded group rides. This feature allows all riders in a group to stay together, regardless of speed. So someone riding at very low power can be pulled along (and conversely someone riding at high power is held back).
I've done a few of these, and there are definitely times where slower riders who fall behind and get gapped will suddenly get a big "push" from the software to catch them back up. It seems entirely plausible that these Strava KOM's were recorded during one of these situations.
Zwift probably filters this out and doesn't record it as a KOM in their software, but Strava didn't catch it. I don't see any new ones, so my guess is that this has been "fixed" or the rubber band feature is less abrupt than it used to be.

To be clear, I don't actually think there's anything malicious going on here. Calling this "cheating" is a massive stretch.
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