Zwift has announced new and improved features for mountain bikers, off-road cyclists and crit racers with a suite of new training plans, six new off-road bikes and a new course called Crit City that’s designed specifically for criterium racing.
Designed to meet the specific demands of off-road events, where power outputs and pedalling techniques can differ massively to the road, the two new training plans join Zwift’s Gravel Grinder plan (which has been on the platform for a while now) to increase Zwift’s offering of off-road specific plans to three, with a fourth coming soon.
New Zwift off-road training plans
Pebble Pounder: Gravel / Beginner / 6 weeks
Aimed at beginner cyclists and made up of three rides per week of around 30 to 50 minutes, the Pebble Pounder features plenty of sweet-spot (around 90 to 95 per cent of FTP) and VO2 max work, as well as a focus on pedalling at lower cadences.
According to Zwift, this is a great introductory plan for anyone who’s new to cycling or structured training.
Gravel Grinder: Gravel / Intermediate / 7 to 12 weeks
If you’re a keen cyclist with a foundation of fitness already in place, Zwift says the Gravel Grinder is a great plan to build up to your first big gravel race or event.
Gearing, traction and cadence all play a part in this plan, and there’s even an expectation you’ll do some of the plan outside – as Zwift says: “some dirt skills require that you actually ride on the dirt”.
Dirt Destroyer: MTB / Intermediate / 6 weeks
Designed by Matt Rowe of Rowe & King Cycle Coaching, Zwift says the Dirt Destroyer plan will challenge your capacity to keep putting out the power at low cadences as well as your ability to repeat big surges in power with limited recovery.
Lasting for six weeks, Zwift says the workouts range from 45 to 90 minutes and there are three to five workouts per week, including an unstructured ride that you should perform outside on your mountain bike to help develop your technical skills.
Singletrack Slayer: MTB / Advanced / 10 weeks
Details of the Singletrack Slayer plan are yet to be formally announced, but considering it’s aimed at advanced level cyclists, we expect it will be hard!
New off-road bikes in Zwift
To complement the new training plans, Zwift has also added six new off-road bikes to its Drop Shop. You’ll need to have earned a fair amount of Drops (in-game credit) to unlock some of them though.
There are two gravel bikes, the Cervélo Áspero and Canyon Grail, Canyon’s Inflite CX bike and three mountain bikes: the Specialized Epic, Scott Spark and Canyon Lux.
All of the off-road bikes have different in-game physics and rolling resistances to road bikes, which means choosing the right bike for the various terrains within the Zwift worlds will have even more significance than before.
New Crit City course in Zwift
If you’ve never raced a criterium (short circuit races), Zwift’s new event-only course might be the perfect way to get a flavour of the effort required and, for those with the legs, take a little bit of glory at the same time.
The twisty circuit is just 1.9km long and includes a benign-sounding 26ft of elevation, but don’t be fooled, an (in)famous Texan cyclist once said: “sometimes you’re the hammer, and sometimes you’re the nail”, and if you turn up to an event on this course short of form, you’ll almost certainly end up as a nail.
For those able to pause chewing their handlebars and have a look around, Zwift says there are a few interesting sights surrounding the new course. A graffiti mural inspired by the landscape of Watopia (Zwift’s primary and original world) adorns one of the buildings, for example.
It’s an event-only course, so unlike other guest maps, such as Yorkshire, it can only be ridden by joining an event on the course. If you’re not quite ready to race, you can get a good look at the course by watching the live broadcast of events on the platform.