Race Recon: London Loop Reverse

Race Recon: London Loop Reverse

ON May 10, 2019 by Zwift

The London Loop Reverse route may begin in the heart of London, but you’ll quickly cross Tower Bridge and jet through the Underground tunnels, finding yourself in Surrey Hills. The Fox Hill climb that follows will test your limits, then it’s a fast descent of Box Hill and a fast, rolling ride along the Thames to the downhill finish. Hold onto your helmets, because this route never lets up, lap after lap!

Remember these top tips for Zwift racing (most apply outside as well!)

  1. Warm up because the start is a hard effort
  2. Use the draft to conserve energy whenever possible
  3. Attack every punchy climb to avoid being dropped
  4. Know the route so you can pace yourself, move to the front before important climbs, etc
  5. Save a useful powerup for the finish

What follows is a detailed look at key sections of this route from a racer’s perspective. Top A racer Lionel Vujasin has generously shared some pointers, so we know you’ll enjoy this quick tour full of useful tips for top results when racing London Loop Reverse.

Lap Length: 9.2 miles // 14.9km
Elevation Gain Per Lap: 722′ // 220m

Here’s how Lionel introduces London Loop Reverse:

This course is just relentless! You go straight into Fox Hill and from there it’s go big or go home. This climb is steep enough to make a selection and let the stronger riders break away from the pack. Don’t expect things to slow down in the downhill as it’s all about maintaining the gap before heading back to the finish line for the final 5k along the Thames.

#1: The Start

Be warmed up and ready to throw down some watts at the beginning, since all Zwift races start with at least a minute or two of hard effort. Don’t burn yourself out early, though–Fox Hill is coming soon enough, and this is where you’ll want to really push it.

Lionel advises, “Position is key when you enter the Underground station, things are going to heat up quickly so take your breathe and be ready for Fox Hill!”

#2: Fox Hill

1.5 miles // 2.4km, 4.3% gradient

Being steep and long enough to break up the group and create the selection, Fox Hill dictates how the rest of the race unfolds.

Lionel explains how this climb feels for every racer: “From now on it’s all about committing to the effort, there is no place to hide on Fox Hill. It is steep and pretty constant all the way to the top.”

While some riders will struggle just to hang in the pack, others will be strong enough to push the pace. If that’s you, Lionel shares a smart tip: If you are strong, it’s time to put pressure on your competitors but keep in mind if you want to go solo you need to split the group in pieces. You don’t want a group to chase you down Box Hill!”

#3: False Flat at the Top

0.5 miles // 0.8km
1% average gradient

There’s a stretch of false flat before and after the actual banner, and it’s here where riders barely off the front have a choice to make. Lionel explains, “It’s time to make a decision before the downhill. Stay in a group and try to recover or keep pushing to grow the gap before the downhill?”

This is a strategic decision for sure. If you’re stranded alone and not feeling strong, waiting for the group may be the best choice. But if you’re feeling good or working well with a small group off the front, consider pushing hard over the top and keeping that gap alive.

#4: Box Hill Descent

1.9 miles // 3.1km, -4.4% average gradient

Grab a bit of recovery on the long descent if you can, but don’t lose the draft because it’s tough to rejoin a hard-charging group on a fast descent if you’re working along.

Lionel says, “Depends on your situation, but keeping the speed is key here. You will play with a mix of little surges and the supertuck position. Once again, here a group can easily bridge to a solo rider so don’t waste your energy.”

#5: Underground Exit

~50 meters long, 15% gradient

Stay vigilant as you ride through the Underground tunnel and head to Trafalgar Square. Lionel helpfully warns us, “Back in the Underground, be careful and carry speed to climb the escalator. This section always stretches the group, then the following Lambeth bridge and the road to Trafalgar Square are false flats so it’s a dangerous zone!” 

#6: Along the Thames to the Finish

1.8 miles // 2.9 km, slightly rolling gradient

If this is your final lap, be ready for power numbers to spike as the group hits the rollers heading into the finish. Lionel says, “You are at 3km to go. If you are solo or in a small group off the front, it’s likely going to be a full-on TT effort to conserve or bridge the gap!”

Want to try a long attack? Lionel has been known to pull these off. He says, “Even though you are along the Thames the road isn’t flat, and you can find some 5%+ sections where a sneaky move can be victorious.”

#7: The Finish

300m long, -3% gradient

Zwift finishes come down to timing, powerups, and what you’ve got left in the tank. London Loop Reverse finishes on a rare downhill sprint, so speeds will be high, making the aero helmet powerup even more effective as it reduces aerodynamic drag.

Once you exit the tunnel you’ll be less than 1km from the finish. In a group and fancying a long attack? Hit the rise after the tunnel with all you’ve got, using a feather powerup if you’ve got one. Once you begin the descent with ~300 meters to go it’s downhill to the finish, so fire off an aero powerup if you’ve got it and max out your 20-second power for a hard sprint to the line. Good luck!

We hope you’ve enjoyed this Race Recon. The goal of this series is to explain the features that make each Zwift route uniquely challenging for racers. Previously we looked at Watopia’s Road to Ruins. Be sure to read that post for more tips!