E-Racing: Sharon Bird (Edinburgh)

Another look at E-Racing, this time from Sharon Bird, an e-racer for the Wahoo LeCol team who is based in the beautiful city of Edinburgh, Scotland and was third in the British champs in 2019

E-Racing: Sharon Bird (Edinburgh)

Another look at E-Racing, this time from Sharon Bird, an e-racer for the Wahoo LeCol team who is based in the beautiful city of Edinburgh, Scotland

Q: What are the essentials to have if you want to go Zwift racing?
– For training purposes – any type of turbo; For racing – Smart trainer which is calibrated each race, to ensure a level playing field
– Powercranks – when racing to confirm correct power output (dual Recording) – normally only necessary for the higher profile races
– HR monitor – training purposes = handy; racing – to be formally included in results, otherwise results don’t stand
– Laptop – windows or mac; if serious about racing, the bigger the screen the better so you can keep an eye on your rivals better and also the course/map of the course

Q: What is the best estimate as to what a set up for e-racing would cost minus the bike of course?
Sharon: – monthly subscription to Zwift = £10.50; Smart trainer, eg wahoo kickr = £1000; normal trainer = £150 – £500; heart monitor = £40

Q: Why do you have to know how much you weigh and is that with all your clothing & shoes on?
Sharon: – when taking part in the inaugural British Champs and Pro racing last year, we were required to weigh in before every race, in our kit. Without shoes and also to ensure scales were correctly calibrated. This is because the power to weight ratio (w/kg) is one of the biggest factors in Zwift racing. So for eg, those that ‘Weight dope’ and put a lower weight, will go faster up the climbs when putting out the same power as someone who is heavier. This year, height is also a factor and race participants are required to enter this.

Q:  What is the best way to keep cool with e-racing?
Sharon: the right kit and a fan with windows open!

Q: What is a typical distance/length of race online?
Sharon: Depends. These can range from a 15 min ‘crit race’ to 35 min, 1 hour and 3 hours. The choice of courses in Zwift are so broad that organisers can pick and choose how long or hilly they want for a race.

Q: What is an ideal warmup for an e-race?
Sharon: Personally, the shorter the race, the longer the warm up required. Last Saturday was a 35 min race, but I warmed up for an hour 30 mins easy spinning, 20 mins building intensity and 10 mins spinning. Every race starts at full gas for about two mins, so it’s important to have heart rate ready to take this!

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Q: Can you slipstream in a peloton in an e-race?
Sharon: Yes, very much so. It is a skill that is learnt the more you race. Most people look at their w/kg at the end of every race, to see how high they managed. However, it’s smarter to keep it lower by drafting and only use your ‘matches’ when you need to.

Q: How hard is the effort in an e-race – ie, on the limit the whole time or can you back off and if so, how much?
Sharon: Depends on length of race; 15 mins – 1 hour is pretty much full on the entire race. Three hours and you have a chance to draft more.

Q: Is e-racing like an egame and does it have different levels or categories?
Sharon: Yes; the more you ride/race etc, the more ‘levels’ you go up. This enables you to ‘buy’ better equipment like bikes and wheels.

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?
Sharon: knowing the course, drafting and using the power ups.

Q: Are the normal mass group rides on there like races (like sportives) or is it more steady.
Sharon: Depends; some are like sportives, some are intervals and some are steady. The description will explain.

Q: Can riders find training sessions on there to help them get started with e-training
Sharon: Yes; sufferfest have some

Q: Finally, do you find e-racing as much fun in a different way to normal racing?
Sharon: Yes; its totally different than real racing and that’s what some people don’t like. However, I love the competitiveness, the community and working hard.

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