Race Recon: Watopia Jungle Circuit

Race Recon: Watopia Jungle Circuit

ON June 18, 2019 by Zwift

When used for races and other events, the Jungle Circuit begins in downtown Watopia. But you’ll soon find yourself in a dense jungle, surrounded by lush vegetation, wildlife, and Mayan ruins! Take in the beautiful jungle valley views and wave hello to the sloth. The climb to the jungle is the most challenging portion, and those who make the front group will continue to battle for the podium over a lap and a half of the Jungle Circuit. 

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. Strong B racer Jason Stern has generously shared some pointers, so we know you’ll enjoy this quick tour full of useful tips for top results when racing the Jungle Circuit.

Lap Length: 12.5 miles // 20.2km
Elevation Gain Per Lap: 640′ // 195m

#1: The Start

Be warmed up and ready for a hard effort at the beginning. The start is flat, and usually fairly tame as riders know the groups will split up on the climbs. Sit in the draft and conserve for the effort to come.

#2: Ramp Out of Tunnel

300m, 6% grade

The group will hammer its way out of the ocean tunnel, so be ready for a hard effort. No need to attack here, just hold a wheel and maintain your group position. There is a dirt section as you exit the tunnel–be careful not to lose the group in the clouds of dust!

#3: Climb to the Windmills

1.9 miles // 3km
3.3% average gradient

Jason says, “Before the jungle circuit even begins, the front pack will likely be decided on the climb to the jungle circuit.”

The steepest climb of this route happens just after you turn off of Ocean Boulevard and cross the dock where the seaplanes are moored. The initial steep section isn’t long, but with gradients hitting 15% or more, riders with high power to weight are smart to put in attacks. Need help up? Engage that feather powerUp!

There is little rest after the steep section, with climbing continuing across the bridge, all the way to the windmills. Grab a wheel as you cross the bridge to take advantage of the draft since the rest of this climb is flat enough to make drafting still a major factor.

#4: Jungle Circuit Climb

1.7 miles // 2.7km
2.3% average gradient

Once you crest the climb to the windmills it’s a nice downhill to the entrance of the Jungle Circuit. Jason explains, “Once in the Jungle Circuit, it is basically half uphill and half downhill. The goal is to conserve as much energy on the downhill and to dig as deep as you can on the uphill to the big wooden rope bridge.”

The first half of the Jungle Circuit you hit will be downhill, so continue to conserve and rest up for the uphill effort.

The climb up through the ruins is not steep, so drafting remains a major factor. Riders already at their limit often get dropped here, so play it smart and attack if you’re feeling strong. This climb is last key section for attacks before the finish.


#5: The Finish

500m long, mostly flat

This finish is a challenging one for several reasons. Jason says, “The sprint finish is deceiving because it is after a long downhill. Once you enter the caves under the waterfall, it’s important to begin sprinting. There is a false flat uphill and a blind finish banner beyond a right turn. The trickiest part is timing the banner because of the small uphill and right turn with no visibility.”

This is one of those finishes where a pre-ride really helps you get the feel for things. If you aren’t familiar with the route, simply try to hold a position 2-3 bikes from the front, then give it all you’ve got when the time is right.

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 Big Loop. Be sure to read that post for more tips!