I've received some questions about how to organize a new Zwift group ride or race, so I thought I'd put together this guide based on my (admittedly limited) experience. Please leave any suggestions or comments below!
How to organize a Zwift group ride or race
At the time of writing (January 2016) there are no formal features in Zwift for organizing or hosting group rides or races, so what I suggest here are just the "best practices" that I've seen used by others. There have been plenty of hints dropped that Zwift is working on features to support group rides and races, so this could change at any time.
1. Pick a time and ride name
If your group ride or race is open to anyone around the world, think about time zone issues and when people might be available to participate, when they aren't sleeping or working. You may also want to pick a time when there isn't another event happening, as there is just one big "group chat" in the Zwift world currently, to reduce confusion. You can view the Zwift calendar here for any time zone and see what's already scheduled:
Zwift group rides & races calendar
And here's a handy World Clock Tool
for comparing time zones.
You should pick a name that isn't too long, and if you want riders to add the ride name to their in-game names, it should have a short, clear abbreviation (eg: Zwift Training Race or ZTR). The name should reflect the kind of event (race, group ride, training, etc)
The day & time you choose will determine what course you will be on - you can't pick your course, at least not yet. Here's the current calendar:
2. Determine the fitness level required
You should specify the required fitness level of participants in watts per kg (w/kg), which is shown in-game in the rider list on the right hand side of the screen if you're not familiar with that unit of measurement.
Nobody likes getting dropped, or being bored, so it's better to specify what's expected from the beginning.
If/when your event is popular enough, consider splitting it into A/B and C/D groups based on rider FTP.
2.0 W/kg is an effort level that almost any rider can maintain for an hour.
3. Pick your ride leader(s)
Leading a group ride or race isn't easy, but it can be very rewarding. Your leader should know how to use the group chat function well while riding (typing on a laptop while riding, if you have an appropriate desk setup, is much better than trying to use the mobile app). The leader should announce the start and post reminders about the start area, direction, and duration at 5 minutes, 2 minutes, 1 minute intervals. If you're hosting a popular race with split A/B and C/D (or more) categories, each group or combined group should have it's own leader, with staggered start times. It's a good idea to have the leader wear an unusual, brightly coloured kit (eg the Flouro 2 hot pink & blue jersey) for max visibility in the pack.
If you're hosting a group ride with a specified target power (eg: the TGIF ride at 2 W/kg) then having a leader with a smart trainer set in "Erg" mode to that specific power target makes things much more consistent as a reference for other riders, and also frees up the leader to manage the ride. If you're hosting a group ride with a no-drop policy, consider also having a "sweep" to help motivate and draft anyone that is struggling to avoid being dropped.
If you're hosting a race, keep in mind that controlling any neutralized sections will require almost constant reminders to those that are chomping at the bit to be first to the race start to stay behind the leader. Likewise, in group rides with target power, some more fit riders will go off the front and break the group up. If you want the group to stay together, it will take lots of group message reminders.
The leader should be fit enough to handle all these tasks while also riding!
4. Add your event to the Zwift Calendar on Teamup
Is your event a one-off or recurring? If it's a one-off and just between a few friends, then you probably don't need or want to promote it. However if it's a recurring event, or if you want to encourage more participation, you should add it to the Zwift Calendar on Teamup here:
Zwift Calendar on Teamup
* Note that anyone used to be able to add or modify events on Teamup, but it appears it's so popular now that you have to gain access to the calendar by joining the Facebook group Zwift Rides Calendar Access
and following their instructions.
You should include all of the info you've decided above, plus the following information in your event description (more info).
- Name of your ride or race
- Course, number of laps, start point, and direction
- Leader(s) names and kit
- The goal for each lap, if applicable
- Naming (eg ZTR-A) and jersey requirements (eg Basic 3), if applicable
- The neutral zone or start procedure, if applicable
- NEW: The profile of the ride (flat, hilly, follow the leader)
- Teamspeak address and channel, if applicable
It's a good idea to look at the information in the existing rides calendar to get an idea of what you should include.