Race Report: KISS Community League 1/8

As a part of Zwift’s big push into e-sports and making Zwift racing more of a “thing”, the Community League has started up alongside the Super League. Much like the Super League, the racing is top-quality and features some of the biggest Zwift names. Also much like Super League, we’re racing pros! Not nearly as many pros as KSL (an entirely pro league with two community teams as the exception), but still…some pros do show up. There are individual standings, but the main ranking for this league is based on the sum of the scores for a team’s top four riders in a race.

For this team style of racing, a few of us that frequent r/Zwift have thrown together a rag-tag team of underdogs. We may not have the resources that back some of the other Zwift teams, but we know how to race smart and love to smash ourselves. Should be a fun 8 weeks!

dropouts_teampic
Here’s four of us looking super cool as we struggle at 2w/kg in our team cool-down

That brings us to Valentine’s Day…the first of eight races in KCL. We raced one lap of the Everything Bagel route on the NYC map. This course features just about everything that NYC (on Zwift) has to offer: the KOM in both directions, all of the futuristic floating roads, and all of the ground roads. The only thing missing was one of the small climbs in one direction.

Before I get into a detailed race breakdown, overall the race went quite well for our team (Power Dropouts). Our climber-turned-sprinter had a last 300m surge to finish 3rd out of the 2nd group on the road (30th overall), two of us rolled in at the back of that group (50th and 51st), and two teammates rolled in with the next group on the road (62nd, 63rd). This puts us in 7th overall (out of 26 teams) a position we’re quite happy with! Though, as you’ll notice below, most of the teams fielded fewer than the 4 riders allowed.

KCL_week1

 

The Race!

Let’s get into it:

-30:00: Pick up a feather power-up in preparation for the climb

-20:00: Get into the pens extra early anticipating a crowd

-00:05: Wind-up that sprint for when the clock hits zero

00:30: Gosh there’s a ton of people here and we just keep hammering

03:00: The climb starts and we kick up from 5w/kg to 7w/kg+, the group is instantly blown apart by the big names

07:00: A teammate (Mike) and I come over the top of the reverse KOM climb together with the fourth group on the road. Our climber/sprinter (Oliver) has made it up into the second group on the road

12:00: Our group has swallowed the third group and Oliver has been spit out from the second group and is with us too. All of us are communicating over Discord so we know how much we’re hurting and where everyone is. We have one teammate who isn’t in the chat in our group and our big-watts rider (Hal) is chasing hard in the group behind.

16:00: The group is chugging along at a tempo/sweet-spot pace. Hal has made some huge pulls to bring himself back up to our group. At this point we’re lamenting how the race is only 1/3rd over.

20:45: Every little rise is a big kick up to 6-7w/kg. And the NYC course is constantly rolling so we’re constantly kicking. Oliver, Mike, Hal, and I are all riding quite impressively so far, saving a lot of energy hanging out near the back and then moving up in preparation for kicks.

25:30: We’re over halfway done at this point and the race heads back up onto the futuristic sky roads. We hit the front quite hard here to keep control of the group and so we can carry some momentum and slip back into the group sooner.

26:30: Scare #1: one of my pedals (PowerTap P1) disconnects from Zwift and I lose half of my wattage on a gentle gradient. I slide back through the group, but manage to hang on long enough for it to reconnect.

33:00: Time for climb #2, up the forward KOM. Oliver, Mike, and I are smartly situated near the front of the group. This climb is basically a staircase. Kick hard at 7w/kg for 30 sec, the cruise for 30 sec…repeat three times.

33:15: Unfortunately, my right pedals drops connection again and I slip down to the back of the group

36:00: Combo the power drop with some sub-optimal pacing on my part, I come over the top of the climb with a small group of 5 riders. Mike and Oliver have hung-on expertly to stick with the main pack over the top. Keep in mind, the leading bunch of 30 riders is still almost 2 minutes up the road.

44:00: 8 minutes of threshold chasing later, I make it back onto the main group. Meanwhile, they’ve been “recovering” at tempo pace. I couldn’t do much on the flats to reel them in, but every rise had me sprinting to close a few seconds at a time. We’re 2km out from the finish at this point. The race is a far cry from being over, but I’m thrilled to have made it back to my teammates after my earlier blunders.

45:40: 800m from the line and the attacks start flying. Mike kicks it off early with a big 10 sec sprint. Oliver surfs the wheels sticking in the top 15. I try to wind up the power again but I’ve started to mentally check-out after that big chase effort. I’m hanging on at the back of the pack…not the place to be for a big bunch sprint.

46:28: 300m from the line Oliver pops that aero power-up and winds up his newly discovered sprint. At this point, everyone in the top 10-15 have been in the orange numbers for the last 10 seconds or so…except Oliver.

46:43: Miraculously, Oliver has rocketed himself all the way from 15th wheel to 3rd wheel in the last 200m. I come in near the back of the pack a couple seconds behind Mike after managing a half-assed sprint to get around the Norwegian Zwift National Champion. Hal and our other teammate roll in a couple minutes later.

50:00: We all teleport back to Watopia for an easy cruise to cool-down. I struggle to keep my stomach in my stomach.

KCL_week1_individual
The final standings from the 2nd group on the road. The column on the far right is normalized power

Lessons Learned and Takeaways

A couple takeaways from this race:

  • Replace the batteries in your power meter (and actually use the Li-Ion ones as recommended…)
  • Communicate more on the climbs. The second time up the KOM I was quite confused where my teammates were. I didn’t even realize my power had dropped until looking at my data afterwards. Had I thought to ask what position they were in I would’ve known how far back I was. Instead I rode just below my limit to conserve energy when I could have chased harder and saved myself from all that later chasing
  • Keep up the good group riding! Between the two climbs we all rode quite well. It was cool to see good, smart coordination. Definitely saved a lot of energy there

 

A tough race, but a very fun race. Hopefully the high-quality racing continues. See you next Thursday for KCL Race #2!

Cheers and Ride On!

-Evan

3 thoughts on “Race Report: KISS Community League 1/8”

  1. One thing I’ve learned to do on those big group rides/races on climbs is look at the rider map and see if there is a big group behind or ahead of you. If it is behind I usually save energy and slow down since I know the big blob will catch the smaller group. Seems like you did a decent job in this race

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    1. Definitely a good tip! I’m usually 60/40 split between watching the avatars and the rider leaderboard, neither of which were particularly helpful once you get a group of 30+ riders strung out on a climb. Thinking back, most of that 2nd climb is a haze…but I know I definitely wasn’t watching the minimap

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  2. Haha can see how you would be in survival mode by then. I’m about the same avatar/leaderboard ratio. Definitely for the last couple km’s there is a lot of leaderboard watching

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