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How to improve your time trial in Zwift – GravelBikes.Online


This piece was made in partnership with Zwift.

A time trial is a race for the truth; a reflection of a rider’s abilities to push high watts for a sustained period of time.

And it lends itself perfectly to the power-oriented world of Zwift.

The software that has revolutionized cycling is essentially based on time trial-like performances, with users cycling around their Functional Power Threshold (FTP). If a climber is almost certain to triumph on Alpe d’Huez, a time trialist is much more likely to win on Alpe du Zwift.

That’s why Zwift is the perfect training ground for time trialists, the ideal environment to improve their FTP, to make them faster against the clock and to help them get even closer to consistent speeds by Filippo Ganna. Okay, maybe not the last part, but definitely the first two.

Filippo Ganna broke the UCI hours record in 2022 (Image by James Startt)

“Zwift is very useful for those trying to get better at time trials,” says ex-British pro Jon Mold, who now works as a coach.

His advice is for riders to take advantage of the hundreds of time trial-specific workouts on the platform to prepare, without being afraid to mix up sessions to target different areas.

Read more: Embrace the pain with high-intensity intervals

“You can have sessions where you repeat some very short intense efforts for one minute, followed by three minutes under your FTP. Rests aren’t easy, they’re hard! But they have to be done,” advises Mold.

“There’s a balance to be found when doing some things: you also have to work on your VO2 to make sure you can check your FTP without it blowing you up. Likewise, you can also go into Zone 2 and , then going full throttle for five minutes before returning to Zone 2. All of these things increase the level of performance.”

There are some generalizations we can make about time trials that can help us all in a race against seconds.

First, the shorter the TT, the more power you’ll want to push out; you’re much more likely to be able to roll above FTP for a 20-minute 10-mile time trial than with the same watts for a 50-mile effort.

(Image from Zwift)

Second, in a discipline that is all about pacing and managing energy reserves and power in the tank, a good rule of thumb is to start a time trial at around 90% FTP. As the time trial progresses, the effort is slowly increased before reaching 100% functional power. The last thing anyone wants is to overcook the first two thirds and be wrecked as the home stretch approaches.

Zwift helps novices and experienced timers immensely with the visible presence of power and heart rate data. It is possible to see your power figures at all times, making it much easier to drive with your target FTP percentage.

This helps when riding in outdoor conditions as your body is trained and knows what it feels like to ride slightly below, or above FTP. Think of it as conditioning: the more you do something, the more you get used to it to the point where it’s second nature.

Mould, however, suggests that Zwifters should run a few higher efforts to better replicate time trials on open roads.

“It can be easy to fall into the trap of being able to hold those watts perfectly on Zwift, but get out on the open road and what you think is a pan-plan course, actually has few drags and small drops,” he adds in 2018. Medal Commonwealth Road Race Silver.

“It means that your power is always changing. You can try to keep it close to what you want, but sometimes you’ll be forced to push the threshold to maintain speed, and then you’ll need a micro-rest. People can forget it, so overwork is essential.

(Zwift game image)

“These over-the-top sessions are also motivating because they break up the monotony of riding a time trial. You can sit on the power you need, but breaking it up with little digs and bursts keeps it fresh. Pepper some threshold stuff in there and it’ll help you a lot “.

Read more: How to become a better sprinter on Zwift

Whether it’s a local ’10’, ’25’ or even a longer distance that requires several hours in a time trial position, Zwift has runners covered with a variety of time trial courses.

The Tempus Fugit map in Watopia is for those preparing for flat TT courses, while its sister course, the Tick Tock, houses flat sections where it’s easier to maintain target power, but interspersed with some hills in the middle where the rider can practice a little above the threshold before recovering on the descent.

And for those who want a time trial to finish things off, look no further than the Bologna TT, which has a steep, half-length climb at the end of what is otherwise a flat course.

Follow the tips and a run of the truth will become a little more manageable and, dare we whisper it, enjoyable too.

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114 COMMENTS

    • Zwift offers a unique experience that complements outdoor riding, not replaces it. Its about variety, convenience, and connecting with a global community of cyclists. So why limit yourself to just one option? Embrace the freedom of choice and enjoy the best of both worlds. #VersatilityIsKey

    • No, they didnt mention eating ice cream during the time trial because its irrelevant and would only slow you down. Stick to the facts and stop searching for excuses to indulge in your ice cream cravings.

    • Time trials in Zwift can actually be a great way to challenge yourself and measure your progress. It adds a competitive element to the fun of riding. So, why not give it a try? You might surprise yourself and find a new level of enjoyment in the process.

    • Time trials in Zwift offer a unique and controlled environment for training and competition. They allow riders to focus on specific efforts, track progress, and connect with a global community of cyclists. Its not about replacing outdoor riding, but rather complementing it. #BestOfBothWorlds

    • Time trials in Zwift offer a controlled environment, accurate data, and a chance to compete with riders from around the world. While outdoor riding is great, Zwift provides a unique experience that complements and enhances real-life cycling. Its about embracing both worlds, not pitting them against each other. #bestofbothworlds

    • Well, good for you! But not everyone has the luxury of perfect weather or safe roads to ride on. Zwift offers a convenient and engaging indoor cycling experience that simulates real-world conditions. So while you enjoy your outdoor rides, let others enjoy the benefits of Zwift. #DifferentStrokesForDifferentFolks

    • Some of us cant always ride outside due to various reasons like weather, safety, or time constraints. Zwift allows us to still enjoy the thrill of time trials and compete with others from the comfort of our homes. Its about choice, so lets respect that. #TeamZwift

    • Riding outside is great, but Zwift time trials offer a different kind of challenge and competition. Its about pushing your limits and comparing yourself to others worldwide. Embrace the diversity of cycling experiences and let others enjoy what motivates them. #DifferentStrokesForDifferentFolks

    • Zwift offers a unique experience that cant be replicated outdoors. Its not about replacing outdoor riding, but enhancing it. With Zwift, you can connect with cyclists worldwide, challenge yourself, and train efficiently regardless of weather or time constraints. Dont knock it till you try it. #bestofbothworlds

    • Time trials offer a unique challenge that can enhance cycling skills and provide a sense of accomplishment. While riding outdoors is certainly enjoyable, dont dismiss the benefits of structured training and the thrill of pushing your limits against the clock. #TeamTimeTrials

    • Zwift isnt about replacing outdoor riding, its about enhancing indoor training. It offers a variety of workouts, virtual races, and a community of cyclists. So while #RealBikersUnite, lets not dismiss the benefits and fun that Zwift brings to the table.

    • Zwift time trials offer a unique experience for cyclists, regardless of weather or location limitations. Its not about replacing real-world rides, but rather complementing them. So why not embrace both and enjoy the best of both worlds? #EmbraceTechnology #GetOutside

    • Are you serious? The whole point of a time trial is to push your limits and improve your performance. If youre more interested in virtual scenery than getting better, maybe you should stick to a sightseeing app instead of Zwift.

    • Sure, riding in the great outdoors is exhilarating, no doubt. But lets not dismiss the benefits of a Zwift time trial. It offers a controlled environment for focused training, competition with riders worldwide, and data-driven performance analysis. Its all about choice and maximizing your cycling experience. #OptionsMatter

    • Virtual cycling is just a pathetic substitute for the real thing. Why waste time on a screen when you could be out in the fresh air, challenging yourself on actual roads? Get off your virtual high horse and experience the thrill of real time trials.

  1. Who needs a time trial when you can just ride at your own pace and enjoy the virtual scenery? #ChillRidersUnite

    • Sure, riding outside can be great, but Zwift offers a unique experience. It allows you to ride anytime, regardless of weather conditions. Plus, it offers structured workouts, virtual races, and a supportive community. Its not about replacing outdoor rides, but enhancing the overall cycling experience. #BestofBothWorlds

    • Zwift may not be for everyone, but it offers a unique experience for cyclists. It allows us to ride with people from around the world, rain or shine. So, while you enjoy the real roads, dont dismiss the joy of virtual cycling. Its all about personal preference, my friend!

    • Sure, riding your bike outside is great, but Zwift offers a unique experience that cant be replicated outdoors. It connects cyclists worldwide, offers structured training, and allows you to ride in any weather. Its all about choice and finding what works best for you. #OptionsForAll

    • I get it, theres something magical about riding outdoors. But for those of us who cant always hit the open road, Zwift provides a fun and convenient alternative. Its about embracing technology to enhance our cycling experience. #TeamVirtualAdventures

    • Time trials in Zwift are not just about leisurely rides. They offer a thrilling challenge for those seeking to push their limits and compete against others. Different strokes for different folks, but dont dismiss the exhilaration and sense of accomplishment it brings to many riders.

    • Sorry, but I have to disagree. Time trials are a crucial aspect of Zwift for competitive riders who want to push their limits and track progress. It adds a sense of challenge and motivation. Lets respect different preferences and embrace the diverse experiences Zwift offers.

    • While outdoor cycling certainly has its merits, Zwift offers a unique and immersive experience that can enhance training and connect cyclists worldwide. Its about embracing the best of both worlds, so lets respect each others preferences and keep riding, whether indoors or outdoors.

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