E-Racing Q&A: Gavin Dempster

Third in the British E-Racing championship in 2019, Gavin Dempster knows E-Racing well and rides for one of the top ranked teams on Zwift, ‘Saris + The Pro’s Closet’

E-Racing Q&A: Gavin Dempster

Third in the British E-Racing championship in 2019, Gavin Dempster knows E-Racing well and rides for one of the top ranked teams on Zwift, ‘Saris + The Pro’s Closet’
https://www.saristheproscloset.com/ Gavin raced in the three live finals including the British E-Racing Champs last year (finishing 4th on the day, 3rd after Cam Jeffers DQ) and he won the European eCrit final in 2018.

Short film Zwift shot with Gavin at home

Gavin says “It has been brilliant all the attention that eracing has been getting recently. Lots of people are seeing the positives of racing indoors, how much fun it is and how high the level of racing on Zwift is. I’ve been doing it since 2015! It’s crazy being able to win prize money in big pro am races from the downstairs toilet!”

Q: What are the essentials you have for Zwift?
Gavin: The minimum you need would be any turbo trainer, a power meter and an HR monitor. Then you need a device to run the game; any phone, tablet or laptop will work. The best experience will be with a direct drive (wheel-off) smart trainer, a dedicated gaming PC and a big screen monitor or TV.

Q: Why do you have to know how much you weigh and is that with all your clothing & shoes on?
Gavin: The weight you enter into the game is used by the game to calculate your watt/kg which determines your speed. Zwift’s eracing rules state that your in game weight should include bib shorts, a jersey and socks.

Q: What is the best way to keep cool with e-racing?
Gavin: The most powerful fan you can find, preferably more than one pointing at you from different angles. Ice packs and iced towels are another great way to keep cool.

Q: What is a typical distance/length of race online?
Gavin: Most races are around 30 – 50 minutes. There are shorter races of around 20 minutes and longer races up to 2 and a half hours!

Q: What is an ideal warmup for an e-race?
Gavin: I usually jump in the pen 30 minutes before the race and just spin easy with a couple of short, sharp sprints. A long warm up is essential, the starts are crazy fast.

Q: Can you slipstream in a peloton in an e-race?
Gavin: Yes, and it is a practised skill to ride efficiently in the bunch.

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Q: How hard is the effort in an e-race?
Gavin: It depends on the race. The course and the length of the race will determine the speed. Shorter races tend to be flat out and even in the longer races where the pace can be a little slower, you will not get much recovery. This is a big difference to outdoor racing. You can’t freewheel in a bunch on the flat so you’ll always be on the pedals. This makes it excellent training as you get very good at recovering at a high pace.

Q: Is e-racing like an egame and does it have different levels or categories?
Gavin: There are levels in game. You gain experience points by riding kilometres or completing workouts. As you level up, you will unlock in game bikes, wheels and kit. There are also racing categories, A to D that are determined by your threshold w/kg.

Q: What is it about e-racing that is hard for pros even to get up to speed on straight away – what are the skills?
Gavin: The pros struggle with the drafting in game. It takes time and practice to learn how to ride efficiently. They waste a lot of energy in races! Course knowledge is also important. Regular Zwift racers will know the courses inside out and they will know how each course is raced and where to make the efforts and where to sit in.

Q: Are the normal mass group rides on there like races (like sportives) or is it more steady?
Gavin: There are well organised group rides on Zwift for riders of all abilities and they can be excellent training and great fun. When you sign up to a ride, you will see an advertised average pace in w/kg.

Q: Can riders find training sessions on there to help them get started with e-training
Gavin: Yes, there are lots of workouts in the game that will help prepare you for eracing. The group rides and group training sessions are an excellent way to learn the drafting in game.

Q: Finally, do you find e-racing as much fun in a different way to normal racing?
Gavin: Eracing can be just as much fun as outdoor racing, it is never going to replace normal racing, it is just a new discipline of cycling. The convenience of being able to compete without even leaving your house, at a time that suits you, is a big draw for many.

Thank you Gavin for that insight and good luck for future E-races …

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