Zwift Fearless Women's Team Championships - Reflections

Hello All! I know many of you raced in yesterday’s Fearless Women’s Team Championships. I would like to share my reflections after yesterday’s race as it might help you reflect about your own races.

I did the 50-mile distance in the A group with 2 other teammates. They are outstanding racers IRL - both hold Colorado State Championship titles and placed in the top 5 at US Nationals (road). Among the three of us, one is a Climber (she won last year’s Mount Evan’s Hill Climb, the highest paved road in the United States, starting at an altitude of 7,540 feet (2,298 meters) and terminating at 14,130 feet (4,306 meters)), and the other two are Puncheurs.

Knowing how Zwift racing works, I knew a 50-mile flat race would be tough for us, as this type of race favours those who are more steady riders and can put down consistent amounts of high power for a long period of time. So even though my team mates are amazing racers, this was going to be different for them. Riders who are not like that can manage a flat race in Zwift better if it is a shorter distance. The Zwift races that would be more suitable to me and my two team mates are those with climbs and more rollers/punchy terrain.

I knew all of this before signing up, but I wanted to support the event and I love to see so many women come together!!

The race started off hard but not too hard, and I was in the front group for a while and then the second (chase) group with my team mates. But then one of them had a glitch and dropped from the race. In the process of texting with her to help her see if she could get back in, I dropped myself from the chase group. At that point, I knew we would be DQ’d (you needed to have 3 teammates finish to count in results), so I stopped working hard and just rode the rest of the distance cheering other riders on, and being bored out of my mind.

At this point you might be asking yourself why I gave up on the race. Well, I did not have the right mindset from the start. First, I did not like the idea of doing a 50-mile race in Zwift, because it becomes an endurance event, and I do not enjoy long Zwift events. I can do a 50, 60, 100 mile race IRL no problem, but in Zwift I simply do not enjoy it. I was hoping to race in B (shorter distance) but the silly w/kg FTP rule for categories put me in A (that’s another discussion altogether and I will start doing the AGES races from now on as I love the idea of age groups).

Second, I kept thinking to myself how I was sort of wasting a day of training because all I was doing is ride tempo for 2hs, and how that is only going to make me fatigued without any meaningful stimulus for growth (I know, this is where being a coach is a detriment- I was picturing my power graph in my head!!!), and how I’d rather be doing hard intervals, and how my legs were going to be tired for no reason, and how I still had strength training to do a few hours later, bla bla bla… lots of negative mental talk!!

Here is my power graph. The red line is the equivalent of about 90% of FTP and the top line is my threshold. As you can see, I spent very little time at or above threshold, even when I was in the front group at the start.

That is because of the way Zwift works… it is a discipline in and on itself, and very different than any other discipline of racing such as road, crit, cyclocross, mountain, track, etc.

So please keep this in mind as you reflect on your own Zwift races. It is not a reflection of how you would perform on a race outdoors.

Of course, you can use these races to challenge yourself, have fun with friends, train endurance, and even compare your previous performances with future ones. But keep in mind that they do not define you, and they are also not the same as training.

At the end, as I went to Strava and saw the overwhelming support that all the women gave one another, it made me see the other side of it, the non-training side, which is the community and encouragement that come from these events - and that is AWESOME!!!


Congrats to all who raced yesterday!
The A distance looked to be brutal, I know they try to make it so each group is challenged but it becomes an endurance event at that distance. Back in the D’s we just had the 2 laps but it still made for a long race. 4 laps would have taken me 2:30-3 hours. I know with the cryogen race series there was a lot of discussion about what everyone felt was an appropriate race length and most people agreed that 1:15-1:30 was a sweet spot. I’ve done a few of the longer distances and they honestly sucked. It’s just riding to finish at that point.
Personally I shot for the sprint points and then pushed to see how far I could hold the higher watts. Finally got dropped on the climbs where my weight is a disadvantage (and my quads were looking for a breather). If you lose the draft in Zwift it’s almost impossible to make it up. Titans grove rolls on the reverse so it’s also harder to pick up speed unlike the other more straight downhills. Usually this is where I can make up some ground but couldn’t yesterday.
Going into the race I knew the hills would be where I would have trouble keeping the pack. Perhaps had I not pushed so much on the flats I would have had more power for the climb but I did set PR’s each lap. Once I got dropped I ended up trading positions with another racer until I finally dropped her on the final climb. I knew we weren’t going to catch the pack and I settled into a steadier Z4 pace with a lower HR.
Overall I set a few power record averages, especially across the board on Zwift power. Probably should have managed my effort a bit better. I tend to break the races down into segments and set a goal for each (ie sprint, hold Z4 on the flats, punch the hilltops, etc) that are not position but effort/wattage based. It’s more of how I race my Tri’s IRL. I’ll also sign up and do a Zwift race to work on my race execution plan, keeping to my plan despite what’s going on around me.
I agree that the camaraderie is a major reason I do these races. Plus it fills a need for a lot of us in that we don’t have local races that are accessible (the few mtb races here are way above my ability and the road races have disappeared). It’s fantastic to see so many women of all abilities racing.


I rode on the same team as Vivian in the Ds and I didn’t do what I wanted to do. They took off really hard . I went for a QOM and blasted a big PB but ran out of gas and struggled to finish. I wanted to just quit a number of times but my teammates were riding awesomely all around and inspired me to drive on. I was able to pick off some people at the end.

I need to work on getting out fast and fueling better. I did a suboptimal job fueling on an IRL39 mile fondo in October with >1.8 K of climbing and came in on an empty tank there too. I “thought” I was fitter than the result by the workouts I as doing. I’m not quite sure what to think at the moment.


Those starts are no joke. Especially with such a flat course to start with. Congrats on the PB! It’s a deceptively tough course as it mixes pretty much a flat and fast TT with a climb. I was started to feel a bit flat so I ate a gel and had some tailwind.

And before you get down on yourself, you just said you were able to pick off people at the end. So while your endurance might not be where you think it should be right now you finished and finished strong. We all have good races and so so races. The thing is you put yourself out there and did the best you could at that particular time.


I raced in Cat B so had to do 3 laps. My race goal was to finish in the top 20. I was super excited that I finished in the top 10! Fueling and hydration were spot on. I love racing long distances even on Zwift, endurance is my wheelhouse. I knew the rollers were going to be tough because I get tired faster when my power goes up and down. So I made sure I sat in on the long flat section and got plenty of rest. I was pleased with how well I did in the rollers. I knew I had to stay towards the front of the group or I would get dropped. That almost happened on the second lap but I managed a hard minute surge with a couple other ladies and we caught back on to the group.

I did get dropped from the lead pack on the third lap right after the QOM. The Bs got mixed in with some As and things got confusing and we all got strung out and the group split and I was on the wrong side of the split. There were three others with me and we made a brief surge effort that dropped one of the women and with only three of us there was no way we were going to catch the larger group. So we stuck together until the end.

I made a stupid mistake at the end. I expected the two women with me to sprint to the finish. It’s a long sprint and sprinting is not my strength so I kept waiting for one of the other two to go, planning to jump on her wheel. But no one was making a move and I got so confused and thought maybe I had the finish line wrong so I just kept along at tempo. Until it dawned on me that the finish really was fast approaching and they just weren’t going to sprint. So I cranked it but we were only about 200 feet from the line and by then it was too late. Doh! I could have come in one place higher if my brain had been working properly.

But overall, really happy with how it all went. I enjoyed racing with such a huge group. I don’t get to do many races with so many women in my cat in them and it makes for a whole different dynamic that was super fun.

Today I am taking a “Gail Day” :grin:


Congratulations on the PB @franklim! And big kudos to you for keeping on even when you wanted to quit. That takes mental grit.

Well done @vivian.a.workman on the power records!

Such a bummer @Coach_Theia about your teammate. But well done finishing anyway in spite of everything. When you know nothing your team does is going to matter it is so hard to continue especially on such a long race.

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I too rode the race yesterday. I was so concerned about my breathing and all that I was getting anxious. Waking up every 2 hours the night before. I did some yoga, took my inhaler. Hydrated all day. I got my fuel and drinks. Opted for all water and shots of pure maple syrup and a date when I was getting hungry.

My goals were to finish in 1 hour 15. Suck as much wheel as I possiblly could and to hold on to a group. I didn’t want to TT it alone. Our two Vixen teams were together for a bit, then we got separated. I managed to stay with my teammate or two and my IRL teammate up until the 2nd climb. we had a good group but the ZSun team had some tactics going and were not sharing pulls or so it seemed. We just let them ride and then two took off up the climb. I stayed with the third one and we seemed to be working together a bit. My other teammate dropped back. On the last of the rollers I caught onto a lone C from my team and we worked together and got to another group of 2. It was nice to be working with someone and feeding off their energy.
I got a PR up the first climb but not the second. I think we all PR’d on the second sprint. I tried to kick it on the last sprint as best I could.
I liked the course. I like the rollers and I rode the course so many times as it is one of my favorites, that I felt as if I had some muscle memory for it. And the climbs are not as bad as they used to be. This training is working.
I did stand and changed gears. I worked on pedaling consistent. Trying to be badass and couragous.
My other goal was to be in the top 50%. I came in 5th on ZP! I was so happy! I think in the end I could have pushed harder but I was so afraid of my breathing issues. BUT I felt good going in. Had a smoothie before the race and one after. I felt fairly recovered today and did a sprint in Watopia and got a new power record!

I loved reading all these race reports and @Coach_Theia that just sucks about your teammate. I did think that 4 laps of that course is insane. As a D rider it felt good to not have all the upper cats flying by you over and over as that just feels demoralizing that you will never be that fast! I don’t know the answer.
I like the Zwift races because I race with new people all the time. IRL, I psych myself out when lining up. And also watching mixed field women’s races where the cat5 girls have the same number of lapss to ride as the cat1, I see that as unfair. (Also adding that cat 5 men rie 5 laps and the 3/4’s ride 10).
The Zwift races also make me feel safe. I’m not going to crash. And if I’m the last one in, I don’t feel horrible. Always wished I had found IRL racing when I was younger, but then, there weren’t many women involved in it then.
Everyone who raced you should be super proud for putting yourself out there and pushing yourself. Try different races, shorter, longer and see what you like. I do this for fun. And if anyone ever wants to join a race on Zwift and wants company, put a shout out, we don’t have to be teammates to support each other. Being badass is not only for our fit and festive month!


5th place @gosimrr! Woo hoo! :tada:

Wow, so many awesome performances - well done ladies :clap:


WOW ladies!! You all did awesome!! I don’t have the courage (yet) to even try this kind of race. I realized that I don’t know everyone’s Zwift name, just your 360 Velo names, so I apologize for not giving a comment or Zwift Ride on to everyone. We need to make a list for your next races or follow each other on Zwift too. I did post a couple of comments and I had to laugh, the Nathan guy read mine both times. Perhaps because I was cheering on Coach, Catrina and Laura.

I get bored after about 75-90 min on Zwift so those of you that rode the A and B group i don’t know how you did it. All of you deserve a ‘Gail’ day today!!!


I agree! It would be nice to cheer and follow each other. This group is so supportive.


Fantastic job to all! I enjoyed watching the livestream and trying to catch glimpses of ladies I knew :slightly_smiling_face: I did a TT on Friday and Team Race on Saturday myself. Zwift racing is an oddity and entity all of it’s own, this is true. I focus on the way it pushes me past my comfort zone, which I am still struggling to exceed. My team race was 40 miles long, 3 laps on loop half flat and half rollers/hills. I got dropped by a few groups on the first lap, until I landed with a smaller group of guys that I was able to hang with on the last 2 laps. It was the first event that I felt “in the race zone” again. Focusing on power changes over the rollers was actually fun!! But I did miss the environment of the womens’ race, I was one of only 2 women who did my race. The support that explodes on Strava and elsewhere after one of those events is truly magical! :grinning:


Done and dusted!

Late summer i decided enough with always starting at scratch and ending up at the same level just before IRL race season start and then back to old level in fall. Now its time to level up! For me it meant A level racer and i though this event would be a good race goal. Then I messed up and got my self overtrained, sick several rounds so from september till now i have only had 5-6 weeks of good training. I basically at the same level ftp as August…

I had a vision of not letting go of the front pack, and I wanted a sprint finish… i did a great first lap, my strategies worked but then i started to feel ill. I also had a very odd high heart rate, all the way fromt the morning, stress levels were high. I think its because of PMS… i actually got an all time high HR in this race :open_mouth:
Anyway i lost the pack on the second round and on the third I actually threw a little bit up in my towel so just wanted to quit, especially since I lost the possibility to place where I wanted, but a teamie picked me up mentally and i found some extra energy and managed to get up that hill once more. A pack came from behind and i joined them to the end. It was a sprint finish and I won it, even though I didnt have a power up.

I didnt feel good after the race. Sad that I didnt meet my expectations, but I know this is a wrong mindset so today I wrote a post in my teams facebook group what should be the focus; how tasks were solved during the race, what we learned and what we are proud off, that sometimes drown in the result list. I got a wonderful response, all these beautiful stories and reflections from other racers, it was a great therapy for me to read it all and to figure out what I was proud of.

I have now concluded, the overall finish is one thing but i take these things with me:

  • I have a great start engine
  • I can do bigger efforts than ever, my top end is so much better than last year. My power curve in last years race showed a max of 300 watts for 15 seconds, this year 500! My 5 minutes are also 50 watts better. And this is after the troublesome fall.
  • Long races on Zwift are boring indeed, give me short and punchy :smiley:

Zwift is what it is, and I enjoy it. Ive enjoyed racing a little bit too much in the past but now I feel more balanced, training with this group and getting better top end is so fun! I cant wait to execute more in shorter zwift races and IRL races in a few months. Bring it!

Ps: Love hearing all of the stories you guys have to share about the race!


First of all, congratulations to every one of you who raced…and a special cheer to my amazing teammates who are also working with Theia! I honestly can’t imagine racing the A distance, because to me long distances on a trainer are totally unlike long distances outdoors. There is very little relief, and even if terrain changes, it doesn’t emulate similar changes outdoors where gravity, wind, and honestly true stimulation of nature makes a big difference! That said, I’m new to Zwift racing and would never have the nerve at my age to race outside so my excitement level was high and the incredible energy around THIS race was beyond belief! I am not sophisticated enough yet to have a real strategy, but I think just wise enough to know when to conserve a little energy and when to let it rip. I’m more of a climber (not the fastest), so wanted to save a little for the KOM. I was spurred on by seeing my teammate @franklim absolutely crush the first climb. It’s clear, as others have noted, that Zwift races start INCREDIBLY fast and it’s important to be very well warmed up so you can almost treat the start like a sprint to the line. From there, a little prayer that the pace settles at a level you can hang with and benefit from some draft. I very quickly lost the first D group and spent much of the race alone or with only a couple of others, but felt from that point I stayed within myself and managed my energy pretty well. I’m not very good at understanding Zwift Power, but am pretty sure I averaged my highest watts in a race of this distance yet felt super good and not spent at the end…which might signal an ability to push a bit harder in future. As @Coach_Theia ended with, the fabulous support from so many of the racers was the huge uplift in this event and I am SO glad I did it! But most of all, throughout the race, I realized that I was channeling things practiced in workouts; that was quite amazing. When I’d think something wasn’t possible, I’d remind myself that YES, you’ve done this and felt this before, and survived. So happy to feel progress, and kudos to all of you, including Theia, who hung in there. :heart_eyes:


I had a great time racing yesterday. I’m definitely very inexperienced when it comes to zwift racing (this was my first zwift race of the year and 4th zwift race ever) and even though I have been on zwift 3 years I don’t really know the routes. The majority of the time I do workouts so I don’t really pay attention to the course.
For the race, I tried to more or less study the course but honestly once the race started I didn’t remember anything! My goal was to have fun and to try to hang to the front group as long as I could. I was with the C group and I couldn’t believe how fast the race started. I kept telling myself to keep pushing hard and that soon the pace will slow down… I was able to hang with the first group until we hit the rollers where I got dropped. I wasted so much energy trying to get back… then I found a small group of 3 and rode with them for a few minutes but I saw that the next big group was catching up to us with much less effort (much lower watts per kilo than what we were doing) so I decided to wait and give myself a short breather. Once the group caught up I rode with them until the next set of rollers where again I was dropped immediately… I didn’t understand why… I was riding at the same watts per kilo but couldn’t hang on… I did try to go hard to get back but by then my legs were dead… my quads were screaming… I tried changing cadences as well as standing for a bit to se if that would help but nothing made my legs feel better. Ended up riding the last bit by myself, the riders behind were a bit too far to wait but at that point I didn’t have anything left on my legs so I just cruised to the finish at an easy pace.
I know I gave it my all (even though my power output was lower than what I wanted) but the best thing was racing with so many badass women and loved being part of a team where we all supported each other!
I had restless legs syndrome the rest of the day so I know I pushed myself to the limit. I haven’t had a Gail day in a while and I’m dying for one… it’s just too hard for me to rest when the snow is soooo good for skiing…


Thanks all for sharing your reflections on the race. I have started looking at the race files of those who I coach 1:1, and am seeing some interesting things that will shed some light on how some of you were feeling during and after the race. I will share those observations without naming names, but just to contribute considerations that might benefit all. Stay tuned!


Hurrah! I love everything that can be explained by facts and figures. I dont mind if you share mine at all!

I also don’t mind being named, and thank you for helping us understand our performances better!

I believe that one the the biggest downsides of racing in Zwift is that if you lose the draft even if for seconds, and get dropped, it is almost impossible to catch up. That is (again) not the case IRL. I got dropped before in road races due to mechanicals or by losing the group and was able to get back in the game. Once there is a gap in Zwift, it’s over. And knowing that also causes us to “pull the parachute” - it’s a shift in mindset that translates into physical performance.


It’s that darn double draft! Before that you could actually bridge if the lead group wasn’t too big. Maybe we can start a protest movement to bring back the old draft :wink: