by Daniel “Jammers” Jamrozik
The 2023 Cycling Esports World Championship Qualifiers through the eyes of Team USA and Restart Racing’s elite eracer Daniel “Jammers” Jamrozik.
Do you ever have the feeling that some people think on a different plane than you do? Despite how deep you think you dive, that individual’s pool is deeper than yours.
That’s what I thought when I first read this report from Daniel “Jammers” Jamrozik. Truthfully, it wasn’t the first thing. My immediate thought was, “This is long. There’s a lot of stuff here. Who’s going to want to read this?”
The answer was clear as I sifted through the insightful detail, patient perspective, and analytical award that Jammers presented.
Who’s going to want to read this? The person interested in what goes through the mind of a cerebral athlete when no detail is too small, or nuance overlooked. The bike racer seeking a tactical edge and the mental matches it takes to get it.
Ever wonder what’s going on inside the brain of an elite athlete whose most extraordinary talent may be what he does before he clips into the pedals? Read this, and you will find that it’s as interesting as the thought-by-thought calculations of the race itself. And that’s fascinating.
I broke it down like this. Part One: Pre-Race—More Than 8 Hours Before the Race Start. Part Two: Race Day—Less Than 8 Hours Before the Race. Part Three: The Race!
Here's Part Two of "The Anatomy of a Race From the Mind of the Aerospace Engineer of Esports—Daniel "Jammers" Jamrozik
Greetings! I hope you all enjoyed the race coverage from broadcasters, media, and racers alike. This is my synopsis of how the UCI Cycling Esports Men’s Continental Americas Qualifiers unfolded.
Race Day–Less Than 8 Hours Before the Start
Nutrition, Hydration, and Filming
Zwift Continental Qualification races are considered A-tier, priority-level races in the virtual racing realm. The opportunity comes once a year. Approaching the day was not wildly different compared to a lower training load/stress score (TSS) day or training race day.
Yes — I did prepare a larger supply of race nutrition in varied dosages/serving sizes in case I were to race all three courses. I had my usual hydration prepped the day before, and all I had to do was retrieve it from the refrigerator. The other notable addition was the use of video recording devices.
I felt annoyed setting up for filming. It meant packing the filming devices for storage afterward because they’re in a high foot-traffic spot in my ‘pain cave’ room.
Fun fact: I am not a good videographer, nor have an incredible passion for it. You may even sense awkward characteristics; this is from my high school days! Google “Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig Interview,” and I bet I look tame.
I am pretty diligent about maintaining up-to-date firmware and software for all of my hardware:
Wahoo Element BOLT v1 head unit, power2max power meter, Apple TV operating system (OS), Zwift client for Apple TV, Zwift companion and Android OS and security updates for my phone, Discord, Zoom, and any OS updates on my laptop. I was especially aware of checking everything that morning.
I substituted in a reserved, fresh battery for the everyday-use one in my Wahoo Tickr heart rate monitor (HRM) and opted for a different, irregularly used chest strap. I further inspected the power2max battery levels via the phone app and charged my earbud headset, used to Discord during the race. I topped off my laptop and phone battery levels, but that’s a daily habit.
Aside, always be sure you have sufficient battery levels in your head unit. I know 20% juice remaining in my BOLT implies 0.2*15 = 3 theoretical, at-best, hours remaining for a brand-new device.
It would be the same time I commence checks on my virtual avatar and equipment, most notably bike selection. The organizers neutralized all bikes for the race. However, I still believed in the ‘intangible’ quality of stealth.
I opted for an all-black bike, or close to it, using the Scott Addict RC in a darker paint scheme with Enve 7.8s. The goal was to match my bike to the color of virtual asphalt. When racers hovered around their physical limit and were cross-eyed, they may not see me get away.
I confess that my selection was limited to the high-performing frame and wheel combinations in my garage, as examined by Zwift Insider. I don’t dare clutter my inventory with useless equipment for the looks.
Two Hours To Go
I am not superstitious. It might be over a decade ago now that I practiced sports-related rituals. I occasionally surveyed the Men’s Europe and Africa Qualifiers. Particularly the finish of race one and portions of race 2. I also listened to Nathan Guerra and Dave Towle broadcast the race while I did some side work, tuning in to the visuals when they raised their voices. Restart teammates gave us their well wishes before we set off for the start line.
Under two hours before the start, it’s time to weigh in and trigger the beginnings of an adrenaline rush. Then proceed to eat a carbohydrate-dominant food source. Call it a snack, if you will, as timing this right is essential from the standpoint of gastrointestinal (GI) troubles and priming the blood sugar levels for peak energy output.
Today is performance day, so don’t even dare think about rationing caloric energy intake following the weigh-in! It certainly applies to high volume or weekly TSS, where I’m burning over 14,000kJ from the bike alone.
Don’t track “Calories” or “kilocalories” when you have a legitimate reporting power meter. Kilojoules (kJ) is your go-to; it is assumed (accepted) as a 1:1 ratio to Cal/kcal burned. There’s significant science behind that, and I suggest researching if you are curious.
Warm Up—One Hour To Go
Onto warming up! It’s about one hour to go. I hopped onto my Kestrel Talon SL road bike, attached to my Tacx Neo 2T, to loosen the legs. It’s my default setup when not racing. Something has to accept daily wear and tear, and I salvaged the Kestrel, stripped of any groupset when purchased, for about a couple hundred U.S. dollars, used.
The Neo 2T once upon a time was my sole smart trainer until 2021. I grew incredibly furious about its power reporting relative to my competition, so I have owned multiple brands since. The Neo family has fewer mechanical moving parts than every other drive-belt smart trainer, which was one incentive for my high-volume training.
At 35 to 40 minutes to go, I switched to my 2018 Specialized Allez Sprint and Wahoo Kickr v5. I simultaneously restarted my Apple TV and started my Wahoo head unit for dual recording. Cue a small dose of sugar consumed. Then a little fiddling around with the rider camera setup.
My palms were overwhelmingly sweaty by this point. That is rare.
Despite 36 racers on the start list — a relatively small field — it’s a habit for me to “join event” the moment the warm-up pens open. I turn the fan on when my body temperature rises. I judge based on feeling the brink of sweating.
Anywhere between 1 to 5 minutes to go is when I unweight my Shimano R8000 pedals — preferably get off the bike — and calibrate/zero–offset my power meter. This buffer time allows me a last resort to ensure everything is performing flawlessly. Minimize the device pairing and disable ANT+ or BTLE communication from unused devices. Get Discord booted up and remind JP Leclerc of the tactics to begin the race.
Quite often enough, the tactics at the start of the race get adjusted because each racer statistically presents a variety of different strategies. It’s about being vigilant and possessing razor-sharp execution and decision-making abilities. You need knowledge of your physical limits, competition physiology, or overall game mechanics.
With that in mind, it’s finally racing time!
Next Up! Part Three: The Race!
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, and Bicycling. Chris is co-host of The Virtual Velo Podcast, too!