We all know the Zwift tagline: “Fast is Fun.” But what if you aren’t very fast? Shouldn’t you be invited to the party?
If you’re reading this chances are you have heard the tagline “Fast is Fun.” But what if you aren’t very fast? Shouldn’t you be invited to the party? In this post, we will call attention to one of the many ways Zwift can be more inclusive and create an exciting new feature for riders of any level: a revamped post-race experience.
From Ultra Trail Runner to Fully Immersed Zwifter
I got into Zwift about two years ago as a way to cross-train when the Texas heat was too blistering to get my usual trail running fix. I have been an active ultra and trail runner for about ten years. When the pandemic hit, and parks shut down, I immersed myself into Zwift.
One area where I felt some grief was around the post-race experience. In the trail scene, the finish line of a race is a magical place of camaraderie and support. It’s not uncommon for the 1st place finisher to stick around for hours.
The Finish Line is a Magical Place
Friends and family hang out and compare war stories from the event. Race directors come up with silly prizes and share stories that commemorate the efforts of all who took part. While virtual platforms cannot replace all of this, there are a few areas where I know virtual platforms can make improvements because I’ve seen it happen in similar online experiences:
Imagining a Magical Zwift Post-Race Experience
So what if we imagined and visualized a Zwift post-race experience that has the same magic of a trail race finish? Come along with me here for a bit as we explore a few what-if scenarios.
There are three key areas where that in-person race magic comes to light that I want to focus on:
That post-event high, when finishers congregate to celebrate and converse about their experience with other participants, regardless of placement.
The fun and exciting ways directors show various types of recognition for participants of all levels, from the usual top placements to the “Dead F***ing Last” award or “Most Bloody” award.
The days following an event, when participants re-live and share the challenges they overcame via social media, race photos, and videos.
When you finish a race, you’re immediately dropped back into the non-event instance of the world, instantly cut off from any remaining riders still competing. How can you continue to cheer for them? How can you connect with others who just suffered with you?
Too often, we take our kudos and congrats to Discord or Strava, which is a disjointed experience, and not everyone is on these platforms. Zwift already has a decent chat system in place.
What if we could maintain our connection to the race for a bit longer so that it’s easier to show some love and support for others? Imagine a section of the post-race screen housing something like this:
On the topic of showing some love, what if a rewards system allowed participants to show appreciation for riders who didn’t finish on the podium? One of the great things you see in trail running and gravel cycling events is different awards that make the event more exciting and rewarding for participants of all levels.
Cycling can often focus a bit too much on numbers and individual performance. Perhaps Zwift can enable a more festive and supportive post-race culture by allowing participants to hand out a few exciting rewards to others.
And while we’re at it, you can take it a step further and make this a new sort of leveling system, further contributing toward a supportive post-race experience. Maybe something like this:
Example of three voting categories.
Example showing how to vote for someone who “Dug deep” in the race.
There’s a reason every big race hires photographers. People love to re-live their experiences. People also appreciate social media and having fresh content that reflects those moments when we’re at our best.
While Zwift events may not be a huge deal compared to your first marathon or Fondo, what if you could capture some of those key moments where you dug deep or executed the perfect power-up and share those with others? Maybe something like this:
Shareable highlights of key moments from your race.
Up to this point, we’ve looked into three key areas of improvement for the post-race experience: Banter, the awards, and the memories. Now let’s imagine how to bring it all together in an appealing user interface. It would also open the door for some other, less-socially oriented, post-event improvements to things like event stats, PRs, and goal progress.
Zwift is well on the journey toward becoming more inclusive and social on the events side and the consistent dedication is worthy of acknowledgment. I’m excited to see where they take things. I suggest these ideas to inspire and help us imagine an even more inclusive and social platform.
What are some ideas you have? What do you think is working well, and how can these platforms do better?
Your Thoughts and Suggestions?
Would you like to see an enhanced post-event experience? What suggestions do you have to make it better for everyone involved? Comment below! Your fellow virtual cyclists want to know.
For more great Zwift-related stories and interesting virtual cycling information check out the Community page of The ZOM!