A candid chat with the esports great about how she got into cycling, her eracing story, and what separates her from the competition.
I appreciate the opportunity. Tell us a bit about yourself. What do you do? Where do you live? Family life, that sort of stuff.
I live in a small town 150km west of Stockholm. I, my wife and our cat share our house. I commute to work 14 hilly kilometers by bike unless it’s winter. I work checking hard metal quality, lots of measuring, and microscopy.
What is your cycling story? How did you get involved in virtual cycling and eSports? Tell us about your eSports team.
I started riding a bike when I decided to do “a Swedish classic”: Ski 90k bike 300k swim 3k, and run 30k. A couple of weeks before the run, I got runner’s knee and still made it through the run, but I haven’t been able to do longer runs since. Now it’s all bike.
What are your goals for the upcoming season, personally and for the team?
Our goals are still to have fun and execute our plan. Winning is fun but having a good race as a team is satisfying.
You have accomplished so much in eSports. What is it that sets you apart from other virtual cycling athletes?
I Don’t know, perhaps an ability to dig really deep—consistent training and planning my training.
You are considered one of, if not the best pure finishers in eSports. I want to take a deep dive into the topic of sprinting in virtual cycling. For a frame of reference, how tall are you, and approximately how much do you weigh in competition?
IRL, I would never contest a bunch sprint. I’d instead break away with a couple of riders. I never win the training sprints with the boys either. I do practice sprinting, inside and out, cause it’s fun and good for you overall.
I ride my first road bike on the trainer. It’s a -09 aluminum Scott Contessa. I’m not afraid to break anything. I’m about 162-63cm, and my weight varies between 50 and 54kg.
What is your Peak Power and 15-second Power on the road and virtually? What is your PB during a race? Why do you think they are different?
Road 843W inside 746w. Outside I can use more upper body, push and pull against my legs. That’s probably where I get the extra power. During a race, I rarely hit above numbers. Primes and general exhaustion bring the power down.
What is your go-to sprinting training workout, and when during the season do you focus on it? Do you do any specific off-the-bike training to improve your sprinting?
I like to do cadence work, no power goal, but really spinning. Off the bike, I try to hit the gym three times a week and, of course, the core work.
There are many theories on proper form for sprinting indoors? Some say it is more up and down than side to side. Some stress the upper body, seated, standing, that sort of thing. Describe what gives you the most power when sprinting indoors. How does this differ from on the road?
I haven’t figured that out yet 🙂 I do put out the highest power when standing.
Conflicting views on cadence and the ramp-up to the sprint also exist. Some feel you should drop to your heaviest gear and stomp, while others go for a high cadence spin-up. What do you do? Do you think it is dependent upon the type of trainer you use? Does the Zwift trainer's difficulty setting make a difference?
I think you have to learn your trainer. Stomping perhaps works for larger people. I need to spin, get on top of the gear.
Success in esports depends largely on making the selections. What is your strategy with respect to pre-race preparation and training? Do you train for a specific power profile when you move indoors? If yes, what areas do you stress, 30 seconds, 1 minute, 5 minutes? How does that differ from outdoor racing and training?
I prefer to do the short, like 30/15, then 4×4 indoors. Outdoors perhaps longer intervals. 15s-5m is the most important indoor. Some use racing for training motivation, but I like to hit my own workouts rather than racing. Follow my plan if possible.
How much do you factor in the gamification side of eSports? Is there a learning curve that you must master? How vital are power-ups and other things unique to virtual cycling?
Since Programmers create e-sport reality rather than real-world physics, you really need to learn the game. Equally important both for RR’s and TTT’s. Every change the programmers make, you need to practice. Depending on the course and finish, the PU lottery can have a huge impact.
Many finishers have a mental checklist that they go through approaching the finale of a race. Pack position, timing, distance, visual cues, and such. What items do you check off as you prepare to unleash the beast?
I try not to be off the back or front. Watch the distance count down and what other people are doing.
Do you believe that sprinting indoors is a skill that a racer can learn, or is it a matter of physical makeup and genetics? If yes, what did you do to perfect the craft? What tips would you give someone who wants to improve their virtual sprinting power and results?
You can’t win the race if you don’t make the front group. What are your training approach to endurance and sub-threshold work? What strategies do you use to conserve energy during the initial stages of a race? What do you do to smother the fire if you find yourself in the red early in a race?
That isn’t easy. I don’t put out excessive, unneeded power. And if there’s an opportunity to super tuck, I do it.
What do you consider to be the most challenging finish on Zwift? Why does it give you so much trouble?
Large pack sprints when you can see the finish arch from far are the most difficult for me.
It must be a ton of pressure to be the racer that everyone on the team depends upon to be there at the end and bring it home? Tell us a bit about that. How do you mentally approach a big race? Does a sprinter have to have a different mindset than a climber or breakaway specialist?
We always race as a team, and the only pressure is what I put on myself. For me, the racing isn’t as difficult or stressful as the administration.
Weight video upload and changing weight to closest decimal. Make sure about batteries, Garmin, HRM, and PM. The camera and zoom are working correctly, not having dropouts and uploading dual recording.
Race evening is challenging in that way. Preparing legs is easy.
In entertainment, the saying goes that actors want to be rock stars and rock stars want to be actors. What type of rider do you consider yourself? Do you ever wish you were a climber or a sprinter if you are the opposite? Are there any other sports you wish you were great at?
Tennis! I Play some doubles with the ladies, but I rarely shine.
Virtual cycling and eSports have come a long way in a short time. What do you envision eSports will be like in five years? What is your vision for the future of eSports? What do you feel it will take to get it there? What are the challenges that eSports faces in becoming recognized as a trusted competition venue?
I hope for more competition from the game producers. The live racing will probably kick off again soon, but not all people have the opportunity to pack their bikes up and fly to some venue. That’s what I believe is needed, live racing.
I would always rather go outside when the weather is nice here in Sweden.
Okay, I need a juicy exclusive. Tell us one of your virtual racing secrets. Something you haven’t told anyone else before that helps make you better than the rest. Please?!?
That’s my team and DS.
Thank You, Cecilia!
If you enjoyed this insight from Cecilia, you will want to hear what esports great Lionel Vujasin has to say in this interview recently posted on The ZOM!
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Semi-retired as owner and director of his private Orthopedic Physical Therapy practice after over 20 years, Chris is blessed with the freedom to pursue his passion for virtual cycling and writing. On a continual quest to give back to his bike for all the rewarding experiences and relationships it has provided him, he created a non-profit. Chris is committed to helping others with his bike through its work and the pages of his site.
In the summer of 2022, he rode 3,900 miles from San Francisco to New York to support the charity he founded, TheDIRTDadFund. His “Gain Cave” resides on the North Fork of Long Island, where he lives with his beautiful wife and is proud of his two independent children.
You will read him promoting his passion on the pages of Cycling Weekly, Cycling News, road.cc, Zwift Insider, Endurance.biz, and Bicycling. Chris is co-host of The Virtual Velo Podcast, too!