In recent months a name has sprung from nowhere and positioned itself at the forefront of the rapidly growing racing scene on Zwift. They call themselves KISS!
Who are KISS and who is behind it?
KISS was born out of a nighttime road race organized by ARCC (Alba Rosa Cycling Club) in the UK. The founder was having technical issues at the time and it seemed like the race was going to die. Wayne Elvin, Michael Ede and I (Glen Knight) took over to keep it alive. We kept the ARCC name for a few weeks in the hope that the original founder would pick it up again, but we eventually took the decision to create our own identity and create something unique.
So, tell us more about Michael, Wayne and yourself
I am from the Cotswolds in the UK.
I have a 9 year old son (who is dying to try Zwift) and 4 year old twins, so time is always a concern for me.
My wife runs on the treadmill while I’m on Zwift, although I notice her watching my screen with intrigue from time to time. Day-to-day, I'm an IT Consultant specializing in Microsoft Technologies. I can go into much more detail, but that's where I’d bore you to death.
Michael, he's our numbers guy. He's the one that does all the analysis and schedules the races. If we suspect some foul-play, he can get to the bottom of any accusations using statistics and referring to Strava. Nobody knows their statistics better than Michael.
Wayne was fundamental to getting KISS off the ground. Without him KISS wouldn’t exist and Michael and I would never have gotten involved. He seems to know a lot of people in the cycling community to try and is able to recruit some fantastic ambassadors for the race series, Chris Pritchard for example.
KISS - it seems like a bit of a random name. What’s behind it?
KISS stands for Keep It Simple Stupid. In real terms what it means is to keep racing simple.
It also has meaning from an organizational perspective: we don’t have rules we are unable to enforce (e.g. power-ups – we have no idea if people are using them so why have a rule saying you cannot?). Rules should be easy to follow, simple to explain and enforceable.
Tell us about KISS races
KISS events are short, fast, well-structured races. We try to keep them around the hour mark, although some are shorter and some slightly longer. We select a different course each week to try to mix it up. We also allow some of the more gamified features of Zwift that other races have banned. There are a few things that make our race series stand out:
- There are no complicated start procedures, you can simply turn up and race.
- Riders who ‘miscategorize’ themselves, e.g. racing as a C rider with an FTP of 3.5W/kg, are not eligible for a race victory. Such riders are automatically bumped up a category and included in that race’s standings. This ensures that the groups are fair and competitive.
- We investigate riders we think may have misconfigured setups. In most instances, working with them it is possible to resolve the issue and have them come back the following week.
- We are introducing jerseys for the fastest lap, KOM time and sprint. We will be introducing these to a number of races in all timezones. The idea is to introduce opportunities for all types of riders, much like in the Grand Tours. Not everyone is able to win the overall but they would still love to be recognized.
- We make quite a big thing of the results. We give lots of detail without being overwhelming and post write-ups to the KISS community group on Facebook to ensure everyone involved with KISS gets a mention.
Bike racing is often seen as very serious, whereas you guys come across as quite the opposite of this. Why’s that?
There is obviously a place for serious racing. However, racing can be fun & accessible and we are very serious about that. That's the main reason the 3 of us got involved in KISS.
We wanted to race but there weren't any races easily accessible to us. So we started a race that was accessible and it turns out lots of others were feeling the same way.
It seems like KISS is only getting started, so what’s next?
KISS is about making bike racing fun, accessible and as simple as possible. We will continue to look at ways of expanding our identity and working with community "elders" to bing KISS style events to other timezones. For example, We recently expanded into Asia and have announced KISS Down Under and a KISS Americas race on Thursday, so things are certainly getting busier for us.
An event called KISS Starter is now out and caters to those new to racing or those racing in our lower categories (on the boundaries of C & D). It is a shortened version of our main event. We see this as a way to entice the wider community into trying out racing in a low-pressure environment.
We also put on special events like the KISS Chase and KISS100 to add variety and hope to run more of these in the future to spice up our events calendar.
One of the key things for us is attention to detail. The KISS community can see this and it encourages them to get involved. This was evident with our logo designs and the kit design we've just gone through (did I mention we would like a KISS jersey in game?)
How has the Zwift community outside of KISS helped you guys move your events forward?
The community as a whole has been awesome in a number of ways: helping to design logos and jerseys with our in-house designer Carol Tower. Nathan Guerra from Vision Cycling does live commentary of our races and helps riders "feel like a pro for 60 minutes". Then there are Jonathan Lemon, James Hodges and René Rolighed, without whom we wouldn’t be able to produce our race reports and the data that goes into them. All in all, KISS wouldn’t be where it is today without the support of the wider Zwifting community and the racers who turn out for the events each week.
Describe Zwift in 5 words
Setting the bar for indoor cycling...alright, that's 6, but seriously, it's awesome. For many, it's a life changer.