eRacing Q&A: Team Power Dropouts

Q & A with Mike Swart, founder of Power Dropouts, the number 1 ranked eRacing team on Zwift on May 27th

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eRacing Q&A: Team Power Dropouts

Q & A with Mike Swart, founder of Power Dropouts, the number 1 ranked eRacing team on Zwift on May 27th

The team’s line-up includes the likes of former Canadian Pro, Brett Boniface; Current British UCI Continental Pro Andy Turner and current British National junior Time Trial champion, Tom Day. The team has been a huge hit with the Zwift Community Live channel due to their continual attempts to attack every race and make each one more exciting.

The goal has always been about having fun, racing hard from the gun and helping to progress the careers of our Pro and Junior riders. Becoming the number 1 ranked team is a by-product of this and an achievement we are all extremely proud of. Our aims for the future are to get an in-game kit designed, to be included in the invite only Pro-Am events and, most importantly, have more fun”.

Q: What are the essentials to have if you want to go Zwift?
Mike:  Zwift advertises that you can use almost anything to get started and while that is true, to be counted in races you’ll need a valid power source like a power meter or direct drive smart trainer and a heart rate monitor. ‘Wheel on’ smart trainers are notorious for over-reporting power numbers – so beware of trusting them too much. If you want to play in the top tier of Zwift racing, you’ll need to have two power meters and be prepared to back up your indoor numbers with outdoor efforts. It’s certainly not a perfect system, but it is the best the community can muster until manufacturers figure out how to make more accurate trainers.

Q: Why do you have to know how much you weigh and is that with all your clothing & shoes on?
Mike: Weighing in with your shoes on is a rookie mistake! Seriously though, Zwift uses rider weight (and height) to determine how fast your avatar moves through the world. Some folks take this very seriously. You can find whole groups full of half naked people stepping on a scale to validate their weight. Take our advice – Do not stress about this. Set your weight to something that’s on the top end of what you normally weigh and forget about it for a few weeks. Zwift is not worth developing an eating disorder for.

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Q: What is the best way to keep cool with e-racing?
Mike: Fans, fans, and more fans.

Q: What is a typical distance/length of race online?
Mike: It varies. Zwift HQ has been promoting shorter races recently that are about 20-30 minutes, or about 30 virtual km. While this may be more feasible for producing online coverage, We prefer longer races. Anything over an hour, or 50km is a going to be a good workout. If you’re into longer rides, there are a few notorious 100km races regularly on the calendar!

Q: What is an ideal warmup for an e-race?
Mike: Espresso and a short low intensity warm up.

Q: Can you slipstream in a peloton in an e-race?
Mike: Absolutely. It’s not the same as riding outside, but understanding the Zwift draft is essential for completing races. You’ll need to get acquainted with how much effort is required to “sit in” (about 1 w/Kg less) and how to watch other’s efforts to know when you’ll need to work. Be careful as the draft physics are seemingly all or nothing. At 5 meters, the draft breaks and you’re fully in the wind – going backwards fast.

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?
Mike: That depends on the race and your ability! Typically in Zwift, every hill is a sprint and the flats are high tempo. If the race goes up Box hill twice, expect to do two six minute maximum effort intervals. There are times that things slow down slightly but never to the extent that they would in a race on the road. The secret is to back off when when you can. There is no reason to be on the front of the pack when you could be spinning easier back in the draft.

Q: Is e-racing like an egame and does it have different levels or categories?
Mike: There are absolutely categories and it is important to know how they are organized. Currently, the categories are organized by your w/Kg ratio – which is your FTP (Functional Threshold Power, or the highest wattage that can be maintained for a full hour) divided by your weight. Each event may be different, but the general boundaries are
• A = 4.0 w/kg and above
• B = 3.2-3.9 w/kg
• C = 2.5-3.1 w/kg
• D = 2.4 w/kg and below

Make sure to be honest when joining an event about your ability! One of the largest complaints on Zwift is sandbaggers joining categories they do not belong in!

You can follow the team on Instagram: @powerdropouts

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