Although Travis Samuel spent several years racing outdoors with Continental teams like Silber and Toronto Hustle, the 29-year-old is a bit of an expert when it comes to riding inside. In April 2020, as part of The Crush Covid campaign organized by Samuel’s team Toronto Hustle, he rode 1,008 km in 24 hours, smashing the world record. The event was created to raise funds for healthcare workers at a Toronto hospital. Many riders participated in teams, taking turns riding on Zwift for 24 hours straight. A few cyclists, including Samuel, rode the entire 24-hour event solo.
But he also knows a thing or two about Zwift races, which, thankfully, are far shorter.
The joy of racing from home
“Zwift racing is a lot of fun; it’s a whole different but similar discipline that I believe is amazing in getting people into cycling, to continue riding during the winter, or bring people together as a community. Being able to race and ride with people globally is really motivating to stay fit and ride so much through the winter. It’s been quite fun to see the competitive community continue to develop seriousness for esports and push the line of technology through smart trainers. With the computer systems running Zwift with advanced micro/graphic chips, gamer level RAAM, high-speed WIFI, or hardwired internet to get that extra micro-connections, and videoed weigh-ins,” he says. “For me, depending on the level of the race, I may just use my iPad and phone with the companion app, or I may go all out with my laptop, iPad, phone with the companion app, discord, Zwift power, and the Zwift insider course.”
No matter which category you’re in, Zwift races can start off pretty fast, so it’s key to have your body primed and ready to go. If the event is 20 minutes, he likes to do at least a 20-minute warm-up with one of the robo-pacers. “Then, 15 minutes afterward, so that means it makes it really easy to do a 1:45 to 2-hour ride,” he says. “Hydration-wise, I will have water for most of my rides, but if I know it’s going to be a harder effort or a 2+ hour ride, I’ll have a drink mix in both my bottles. I’m a fan of using Skratch Labs hydration, myself.”
When the whistle blows
Samuel is strategic with his efforts, especially at the beginning.
“For the start of races, I try to limit the hard acceleration effort start as much as I can. I’ll tend to do a 400-500-watt effort as soon as the banner drops and then judge the effort based…