Paceline Podcast 118

Paceline Podcast 118

Patrick is just back from several days in Ketchum, Idaho, where he attended a new media event called CrankTank. There were presentations by a number of exhibitors on everything from socks to ebikes. He details a few of the items that caught his fancy while there.

You’ve probably heard of Zwift, the virtual riding environment application that pairs with a smart trainer and gives you something to focus on as you do a trainer workout. Well Zwift has moved beyond solo riding into group riding and even racing. Well, there’s a new company called Cycligent Physical Esports that has created a race series called the CVR World Cup using Zwift as the course platform. Racers who accumulate enough points over the course of the season go to an arena with their trainers to race and the competition is broadcast on a big screen complete with color commentary. Selene spoke with one of the founders, Hunter Allen, who is best known for his work with Training Peaks.

Rather than excerpt Selene’s interview with Hunter Allen, we’ve included the entire interview here, so this episode runs a bit longer than usual.



The Paceline is also supported by Eliel Cycling. Crafted in California, the Eliel brand combines the latest technology with cycling tradition to deliver an experience that is authentically California. View their retail gear and custom program at


Show links:

Cycligent’s CVR World Cup

The Comeback

Specialized Stumpjumper

Topical Edge

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  1. Clayton

    Regarding the virtual racing, how does the software take into account riders with different power profiles? Hunter spoke heavily of W/kg as being the primary metric, but there are many times where having a higher absolute power would be more beneficial. Speaking for myself, I wouldn’t likely be able to keep up with a climber because I will always be heavier (I’m 185 lbs), but my absolute power is higher than most of my friends who are lighter than me.

    1. Ted

      Zwift determines your virtual speed based on watts/kg, along with grade and other factors such as aerodynamics, even drafting effect. So big guys that have more absolute power but a lower power/weight ratio (watts/kg) do well on the flats and smaller folks with higher watts/kg will be the climbers, just like in the real world. Your weight is entered into the application when you set up your profile…

      And as soon as people figured this out, they started “z-doping”, cheating by entering a lower body weight than reality. Having the race at a common location, where I’m sure they weight people in and enter true body weight, along with calibrated trainers (another way to “z-dope” takes care of all of that.

      So the race is basically a watts/kg competition, and depending on the hills in the course they pick, watts/kg or absolute watts will be key.

    2. Selene

      Hi Clayton! You’re correct, larger riders often can produce more absolute power, so they don’t really pay a time penalty until you hit the hills, where a lighter rider who doesn’t need to produce as much power for their weight often has the advantage. For the races Hunter explains the rules this way:

      “At the actual live events the riders have to weigh in on a certified scale before their race. Cycle-ops provides the Hammer smart trainer (which is equipped with a power meter) and each of them is calibrated before each event, by the Cycle-ops lead product manager/engineer.

      W/kg is always a challenge in cycling, so just like in the real world, a heavier rider could be at a disadvantage if their w/kg ratio is lower than others.

      For the “Training” program, we group riders into different categories of similar w/kg ratios, so you would be competing against riders in a similar w/kg ratio as yourself.
      In the League, it’s competing against the best in the world, so a pro at 6 w/kg will have quite an advantage. 😉 “

  2. James

    While I have no issues with the Zwift racing (to each their own) as long as we don’t call it “bike racing”, I found it interesting / humorous to hear Patrick’s take on it. All I could think of when he was discussing it was that if my memory is correct, last year there was the idea of the fastest descenders competition at the Giro and Patrick’s position was that the downhills were still part of the race and if we just want to have a W/kg competition, we can just line up the trainers. Looks like that is exactly what we have now!

    1. Author

      You bring up a really interesting point. Someone can say “bike racing” and five people may hear five different things, right? We’ve got track racing, mountain bike racing, road racing and plenty of other disciplines like cyclocross. And even within track and road racing we have different disciplines. Riders who win crits aren’t likely going to be the victors grand tours and a duo who wins the Madison would be racing against each other in the match sprint. All of these things count as bike racing, and while I like the skills aspect of bike racing, Zwift adds an interesting component to all this. I like that our sport can be so incredibly diverse and still be called the same sport, whereas there’s really only one football (the American one with helmets), one basketball and one baseball. Again, cycling wins for interesting.

  3. James

    Each definition of racing I look up has movement related to it, “toward a goal”, “engage in a contest of speed” etc. I’ll agree they are competing and I can understand and respect that, but I have a hard time with “race”. It seems to me to be the equivalent of a dyno test for motors, where they are each competing to see who can develop the highest horsepower / torque engine, but I think it falls short of “racing”. That said, if it is what they want to do and they are getting off the sofa to do it, more power to them!

    1. Author

      I don’t want this to devolve into a debate about what is or is not racing, but neither “toward a goal” or “engage in a contest of speed” demand movement. They depend on definitions. Defined broadly enough, one can be stationary and achieve either.

  4. Selene

    I think it’s still “racing” but in my mind “bike racing” involves skill, handling, tactics, and elements, so it should be qualified as “virtual bike racing” in my opinion. I think we probably all agree more than we disagree here!

  5. Tominalbany

    I’m thinking that the purses can be higher because the overhead costs are practically nil. No cavalcade of cars. No road closures. No public safety requirement. No nothing!

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