Using cycling apps like Zwift not only make your workout time more engaging but can also make you a better cyclist.
Zwift is an impressively robust virtual cycling platform that is popular amongst recreational and competitive cyclists alike.
In addition to training with Zwift and joining virtual group rides, one of the best features of the Zwift is the ability to race other riders and flex your competitive muscles.
Even if you are a beginner or a recreational rider just looking to stay in shape over the winter months, Zwift racing can be a valuable training tool to boost your fitness – and can be great fun too!
In this article, we will discuss the Zwift Racing League (ZRL), and how to get started with WTRL Racing. We’ll be covering:
- What Is WTRL Racing On Zwift, And What Is The Zwift Racing League?
- How to Get Started With Zwift Racing League
- Zwift Categories/Divisions
- Equipment Requirements to Compete in Zwift WTRL Racing
- How to Find a Race On ZRL
Ready to learn all about Zwift Racing League?
Let’s get started!
What Is WTRL Racing On Zwift, And What Is The Zwift Racing League?
WTRL stands for World Tactical Racing League. WTRL is a high-caliber cycling organization that has partnered with Zwift to put on the Zwift Racing League.
The Zwift Racing League organizes virtual cycling races on the Zwift platform for cyclists of all abilities, from beginners to professional riders. It’s one of the racing opportunities on the Zwift platform.
The Zwift Racing League events are offered on both regional and global levels, depending on the event.
In this way, WTRL Zwift Racing League events are designed to give riders the opportunity to race on a smaller or large scale, from amateur to professional levels. Riders can join teams based on their ability levels and location, and there is also a Premier Division for elite riders.
There are four racing seasons each year, with one race per week offered in different time zones.
How to Get Started With Zwift Racing League
There are a few preliminary steps to complete before you can actually get started racing on Zwift, whether WTRL Zwift Racing League events or other Zwift races.
Firstly, you will ideally either need a smart trainer or a smart bike that is capable of supporting the Zwift platform.
This can be surprisingly costly, but you won’t be able to get the full immersive experience during Zwift Racing League events on a regular indoor bike trainer.
If you have a regular bike trainer rather than a smart trainer, you will have to use a power meter in order to participate in Zwift racing events, and you won’t be eligible for Zwift Premier League Racing.
Moreover, with a “dumb” trainer and power meter, you will miss out on the “real feel” of riding each course because the trainer will not automatically adjust the resistance to simulate various gradients along the bike route – as is the case when using a smart trainer.
This will detract from the immersive nature of the experience of using Zwift, and will ultimately make your workout easier (and less rewarding). With that said, you can consider your budget and priorities and determine what will work best for you.
Once you have the right gear, if you don’t yet have a Zwift account, you’ll need to sign up.
If you register for a Zwift account online, you can get started with a free 7-day trial, but then you will be subjected to the monthly subscription fees of $14.99 or £12.99 if you don’t cancel your account by the end of the free trial.
Once you have an account, you are free to do any of the training rides or races, so you should familiarize yourself with how to use the Zwift app and get your legs in gear for Zwift racing with some solid training rides.
Then you’re ready to race!
Once it’s actually time for a Zwift racing event, you’ll want to make sure you fully prepare your Zwift setup wherever your bike is located for the race. Once the race begins, seemingly little adjustments like hopping off the bike to adjust your fan or refill your water bottle will have major implications.
You can get dropped by the pack of virtual cyclists you’re riding within mere seconds of time out of the saddle or easy pedaling to fix something about your setup.
For this reason, prepare your space with the water or sports drinks you may want in your water bottles, and make sure they are in reach, have any additional fueling you may need at the ready, get your fan positioned properly to keep you cool, drake a towel on your handlebars, gear up whatever music or audio you like, etc.
Although not mandatory, signing up for a ZwiftPower account will allow you to be included in the official race results for any Zwift race. After you sign up, link your ZwiftPower account to your normal profile by navigating to the connections page of Zwift profile on my.zwift.com.
You also need to sign up for WTRL races directly on their site.
Zwift Racing League Categories/Divisions
In much the same way that many real-life, in-person bike races have different categories of riders, Zwift races are organized into categories so that racers can compete with other riders of a similar ability.
There are four Zwift categories for racing.
Your category is determined by your fitness level, or more specifically your watts per kilogram (w/kg) score on your Functional Threshold Power (FTP) tests, rather than the number of points you have accrued from previous races.
The higher the race category (closer to letter A), the stronger and fitter the riders.
The Zwift Racing League categories are determined as follows:
- Division A Men: At least 4.0 w/kg FTP and a minimum of 250W FTP
- Division A Women: At least 3.7 w/kg FTP
- Division B Men: 3.2-3.99 w/kg on your FTP and a minimum of 200W FTP
- Division B Women: 3.20 – 3.69 w/kg on your FTP
- Division C Men: 2.5 – 3.19 w/kg on your FTP and minimum of 150W FTP
- Division C Women: 2.5 – 3.19 w/kg on your FTP
- Division D Men: Below 2.49 w/kg on your FTP
- Division D Women: Below 2.49 w/kg on your FTP
Equipment Requirements to Compete in Zwift WTRL Races
There are different eligibility requirements depending on the category in the Zwift Racing Leagues. The higher category, the stricter the equipment requirements to compete.
With Premier League Zwift racing, you must use a smart trainer that is accurate within +/- 2%.
Zwift Racing League Division A
Riders are required to transmit power data directly to Zwift either through a smart turbo trainer, a smart bike, or with a classic “dumb” trainer hooked up with a separate power meter.
You will need a heart rate monitor and will have to calibrate your smart trainer prior to every race.
Additionally, Zwift may request a video that verifies the height and weight and team members in any division in the 24-hour window around the race.
Zwift Racing League Division B, C, and D
Riders are welcome to use a smart turbo trainer, smart bike, or with a classic trainer with a separate power meter, as well as Zpower.
However, riders on Zpower only are eligible to receive half the points they score in an event. Additionally, Zpower riders can comprise no more than 40% of a team for a TTT.
How to Find a Race On ZRL
All of the races on Zwift are classified as events, so you can find Zwift races on the Events page once you’re on the platform or you can use the Zwift Companion app and navigate to Events. It tends to be a more user-friendly experience to use the Zwift Companion app to find races.
On the Events page, you can filter the full list of events by type of race and category.
Scan the list of races and read the descriptions, paying particular attention to the rules because different races will have slightly different rules. If you violate the rules, you will be disqualified, so it’s important to check before the start of the event.
When you find a race that piques your interest, you can enter the race by pressing the “+” icon next to your Zwift WTRL category (A, B, C, D).
To find WTRL Zwift Racing League events specifically, filter the races by WTRL or sign up on the WTRL site here.
Zwift Racing League events are a fantastic way to push yourself as a rider and give your training some direction and structure. Even if you’re a beginner, you can sign up for Category D racing and take on other newbies.