Is it time you joined the thrilling world of online bike racing?

In the ever-evolving landscape of cycling, technology continues to revolutionize the way we ride, train, and, more recently, even how we compete. The rise of online bike racing platforms like Zwift, Rouvy, MyWhoosh and FulGaz offers cyclists a virtual arena to test their mettle, push their limits, and experience the thrill of competition from the comfort of their own home—or pain cave. In fact, cycling’s governing body, the UCI, now runs a virtual cycling World Championships, while e-racing platforms can attract hundreds of participants per race and even run virtual multi-day tours.

So should you be diving into the world of online bike racing? What are the benefits, the potential pitfalls and, if you decide to get involved, what do you need to successfully participate?

Pedal power 

If you’re looking for an intense workout with a side of adrenaline, online bike racing provides that challenge and excitement. For many cyclists, it’s much easier to tackle super hard intervals when racing others, with every pedal stroke bringing you closer to victory. 

In fact, with the competitive juices flowing, you may well find yourself pushing harder than ever before, which can drive your performance and FTP to new heights.

As any coach will tell you, the secret to real performance gains is consistency. Online racing offers an ideal platform for building repeatability and endurance, pushing you to develop the ability to sustain high levels of effort over extended intervals. With each race, you’ll find yourself getting stronger, fitter, and more resilient – before you sign up to go again next week.

Endless options

One of the greatest appeals of online bike racing is the sheer variety it offers. Whether you prefer short sprints or epic endurance challenges, flat crits or hilly wars of attrition, there’s a race for every taste and ability. Choose your course, select your level of competition, and dive into the action. 

Unless you’re lucky enough to live in one of cycling’s hot beds like Mallorca, Girona or the Cote d’Azur, your local rides are unlikely to offer up such diversity of landscape and challenges.

Equally, many of us have less (or irregular at best) access to traditional training-style races like club time trials or criteriums that riders use to get A-race ready. Online racing bridges this gap, offering a convenient alternative for honing race intensity and strategy on whichever day and time slot fits the bill. Whether you’re preparing for a big event or simply seeking to sharpen your skills, e-racing provides a realistic and engaging experience without the long commute.

Safely pushing your boundaries

In the pursuit of improvement, it’s essential you occasionally test your limits. With online racing, you can push yourself to the brink in a safe and controlled environment. If you find yourself hitting the red zone, there’s no need to worry about onrushing traffic, toppling exhaustedly off your bike or even getting home afterwards. It’s a valuable opportunity to learn just how far you can go without risking injury.

That doesn’t mean that there aren’t some downsides to online racing. While the fitness benefits are undeniable (Wout van Aert recently logged a 11km ride on Zwift as he recovers from injury), it can’t replace the handling skills and pack dynamics of real-life racing, so it’s still important to fine-tune those skills before you dive into your main events for the year.

Also, it’s important to approach online with some caution. Some riders can get a little addicted to the thrill of online racing and, understandably, prefer to race then suffer through structured intervals. However, online racing can’t completely replace structured training as it lacks the measured and controlled bouts of intensity and recovery. Plus, racing is racing and, just as racing outside too often could lead to overtraining or burnout, the same is true of too much online racing.

Finding a balance is key. Maybe start by replacing a weekly threshold session with an online race; make the days before and after that weekly race into easy or recovery days, and keep the structured sessions in for the rest of the week. And be sure to listen to your body and incorporate additional rest and recovery if required.

DC Rainmaker on the TrueBike

Gearing up

So, now you’re ready to add some online racing to your schedule, what do you need for a quality racing experience?

  • A smart bike or smart trainer with excellent connectivity – you don’t want your connection dropping out during a group sprint for the finish line. The virtual gearing offered by the TrueBike and TrueTrainer are also great for e-racing, allowing you to select the perfect gearing based on the course profile.
  • You’ll need a phone, tablet or smart TV to run the racing platform on, with bigger screens obviously offering a more immersive racing experience.
  • Next up, you’re going to need two important metrics: your FTP and your weight. With this, platforms like Zwift can automatically slot you into a race category based on your watts per kilo, which helps to keep the playing field even.
  • The easiest way to get started is to visit or download the Zwift Companion app, and click in Events. There you’ll find a huge range of upcoming events – you can narrow down the options using the filter. Choose a race, and you can also choose to receive a reminder before the race starts. Then you just need to be on Zwift a little before the race starts and you’ll be invited to join the race from there.Once familiar with one-off Zwift racing, there are racing teams, leagues, tours and series to explore too.
  • Crank a couple of fans up to ‘high’ and have a towel nearby – things are likely to get very sweaty. Make sure you can grab your drink and any sports nutrition you need easily during the race.
  • Take a cue from spinning studios – a high-energy playlist will help keep motivation levels sky high throughout. 

So there you have it. You should now be ready to saddle up, clip in, and experience the thrill of online bike racing. Whichever platform you choose, the only limit is your imagination… and maybe your FTP. Happy racing!