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Zwift virtual racing

Old 07-10-20, 08:58 PM
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vane171
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Zwift virtual racing

I watched virtual race on Virtual Joe Martin Stage Race on https://www.cyclingnews.com/ and I have few questions which the race moderators assume 'everybody knows'...

What do racers see on their TV or laptop or phone, is that what is shown for us on the webpage video of the race, or maybe it is the same except for a given racer, it keeps view on his own group that he currently rides in? That is not switching among various split groups?

Does everybody in the race know where everybody else is positioned, maybe including time loss or gain if somebody escaped the pack or fell behind it?

I take it, all of them have at least some streaming view device, that you couldn't ride blind with only something like cyclocomputer display to feed you numerical race data, right? Maybe you could race with just the rank chart displayed like you see in the video stream on the right side of the view?

When it is not time trial (with drafting 'switched off', does everybody in the pack get the same drafting easement, except for the one whose front wheel is deemed to be the first in the pack? I take it, there is no simulated side wind or any such finesses, because the Zwift is not that sophisticated (and likely no program could)? Probably not even the head wind is simulated? But if it was simulated, it would make you think twice to try to escape from the pack...

If your dog trips on the power cable and you get disconnected, you qualify as 'not finished the race'? Or you could correct the situation and it would put you in the race at the place where you lost contact and you could chase the field? Like if a rider crashes in real race?

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Old 07-10-20, 09:16 PM
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Already while watching some more, I came across the this view into the 'pain cave' where you see what the rider sees on his TV. Most of them probably don't have TV, just laptop I suppose. This is gonna cost many folks a bundle if this should catch on and Zwift stock should rise sky high. Wonder if this virtual racing mode will die off with the virus or will continue to live on. Probably it doesn't have many viewing fans since nobody is replying here?

If it should take off, we could have a new racer breed who would race only in virtual world. Go out for training rides but race only in virtual races. One big advantage over real outdoor racing is the assured absence of 'road rash', total safety and not just from virus.



Another question, how is it with coasting downhill? I've seen in the video occasional rider avatar stopping spinning pedals and wonder if that means the real rider did freewheel at that moment? But most kept pedaling all during downhill ride, unlike in real outdoor race.

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Old 07-11-20, 09:07 PM
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Cadence sensors will have the avatar in-game emulate the speed of the actual rider's legs - if they coast then the avatar stops spinning. Zwift tends to "brake" a little when no power is applied - this helps people who want to stop riding slow down (since there's no actual braking in-game). In early days there was no braking so you would just coast forever downhill for a bit, especially as road resistance was pretty minimal. Now, not so much, hence the pedaling.

Zwift racing is quite a bit different from outdoor racing so it's fun to see the pros adjust (who haven't been on the platform).

Full disclosure: I work at Zwift.
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Old 07-11-20, 09:51 PM
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This heyday of not just virtual training but even races on such a level as to make them interesting enough (read worthwhile) to stream to general public, could lead to some development, like in graphics and fluidity or motion and showing actual likeness on rider faces (cartoonized remake of actual submited photo) and who knows what else. Like with everything, it would take off if there is public interest in watching it. Hope Zwift will take the bull by the horns and invest to catch this surf wave of covid opportunity.

Originally Posted by evchon View Post
Cadence sensors will have the avatar in-game emulate the speed of the actual rider's legs - if they coast then the avatar stops spinning.
Great, I actually watched the cadence numerical readout and it did look like it agreed with the particular racer.

Also would like to see some beefing up of streaming servers, else why not allow us to watch in full screen, on that particular website anyway? Maybe graphics are not up to full screen size and higher quality stream is more expensive or maybe graphics are simply not there for that bigger size? Probably the quality that is OK for those taking part in a race is not quite good enough for viewers? Maybe Zwift should sponsor such efforts for that to take off.

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Old 07-11-20, 10:18 PM
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Originally Posted by vane171 View Post
This heyday of not just virtual training but even races on such a level as to make them interesting enough (read worthwhile) to stream to general public, could lead to some development, like in graphics and fluidity or motion and showing actual likeness on rider faces (cartoonized remake of actual submited photo) and who knows what else. Like with everything, it would take off if there is public interest in watching it. Hope Zwift will take the bull by the horns and invest to catch this surf wave of covid opportunity.


Great, I actually watched the cadence numerical readout and it did look like it agreed with the particular racer.

Also would like to see some beefing up of streaming servers, else why not allow us to watch in full screen, on that particular website anyway? Maybe graphics are not up to full screen size and higher quality stream is more expensive or maybe graphics are simply not there for that bigger size? Probably the quality that is OK for those taking part in a race is not quite good enough for viewers? Maybe Zwift should sponsor such efforts for that to take off.
They're all on Youtube and on Vimeo so you can easily pop out there and watch in full-screen for sure. Graphics are pretty solid - we ride at work (well, when we went into the office) on 4k TVs. The fidelity tends to be "lower" because we support hosts of less powerful devices/computers. We stick to a particular style that translates well across resolutions and such IMO. Not sure why streaming is stuck at 1080p when I run it at 4k at home. I figure there are a host of issues there with streaming bandwidth as well.
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Old 07-17-20, 12:47 AM
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Thanks for the youtube tip, I started watching virtual TDF.

There is lots for improvement though. It seems that staying in the bunch or basically keeping your position relative to other riders is quite critical, unlike in the real life. Here things change way too fast, escapes out front as well as dropping through the peloton to be left behind. Those power ups (besides being poor graphics) make it into an un-serious game like pursuit, it devalues the effort that goes into it, bringing into it element of luck or how it is determined?

And the algorithm could use tuning up too, too much of side-wise hyper jumping or riders when they pass each other. Things like these wouldn't exactly make me eager to get onto it (the Zwift platform I mean). It all reminds me of early gaming days.

BTW, can people cheat? Like somebody else riding the bike in a particular race? When you register account, how do they know what sex I am? More to the point, can men pose as women and take part in their race? Is it compulsory that you should have active your monitor camera, so that they can check it is not you but your husband who rode the race? I read that HRMonitor is compulsory to be counted in the race, yet one woman in the virtual TDF didn't show her heart beat, it was at zero bpm, maybe collapsed rider.

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Old 07-18-20, 09:57 AM
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Originally Posted by vane171 View Post

BTW, can people cheat? Like somebody else riding the bike in a particular race? When you register account, how do they know what sex I am? More to the point, can men pose as women and take part in their race? Is it compulsory that you should have active your monitor camera, so that they can check it is not you but your husband who rode the race? I read that HRMonitor is compulsory to be counted in the race, yet one woman in the virtual TDF didn't show her heart beat, it was at zero bpm, maybe collapsed rider.
The easiest way for people to cheat is to simply lie about their weight. Basically the trainer registers that you are putting out some number of watts, and your speed in the game is a fairly simple calculation that involves the gradient of the course and your weight. Before covid, some races required participants to be at a central location where they would weigh-in prior to the race to prevent this. In the covid world, this is no longer really possible - for this reason, this race series is for charity, and doesn't count for any standings.

There are other ways to cheat as well. Another obvious possibility is just attaching an e-bike to the trainer. The Zwift game monitors the number of Watts/Kg that you put out, and if it is outside of some boundaries, it can throw you out of a race. Now professional racers can put out a lot more than an average rider, so they probably have that stuff turned off for these events. During the stage this morning, I was stunned to see some of the numbers that both the men and women were putting out - 7-8 W/Kg, in some cases, but they usually couldn't hold that for all that long.
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Old 07-18-20, 07:47 PM
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Thanks for comment on that. Not that I am really suspicious, in fact I tend to believe most (if not maybe all) play fair.

This W/Kg info I don't quite get, even if I understand the idea behind it, it makes it possible to compare power output among various riders.

I always thought individual riders in real races or training rides watch their total Watts output on their cyclocomputers (I guess they need to enter their weight in the computer when setting it up), which is typically in hundreds of Watts. Or maybe they have both values on their computer display? It would seem, one should only be interested in those W/Kg either way, on Zwift or real road racing.

I should really look it up on net, probably there is a whole science around it.

I recall article where a pro racer complained he was disconnected (or not counted in a race) when Zwift deemed his power output over their set limit.
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