Race Recon: Watopia The Magnificent 8

Race Recon: Watopia The Magnificent 8

ON March 3, 2020 by Zwift

The Magnificent 8 is a mostly-flat route covering a variety of Watopian landscapes including portions of our original Hilly route, the Fuego Flats desert, and the magma-lit road through the Volcano. With the route’s most substantial climb coming in the first 1/3 of the route, expect a big pack finish.

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 with racing tips included to help you get your best race result.

Length: 18 miles // 28.6km
Elevation Gain: 463′ // 131m

#1: The Start

Zwift races always start with 1-2 minutes of hard effort. This is especially true on The Magnificent 8 for two reasons: riders won’t be saving themselves for a long climb, and the route begins with a short uphill ramp! So make sure you enter the start pens nicely warmed up and are ready for a hard effort as soon as the clock hits zero.

Many riders will be dropped before the first right turn toward the Volcano. Do your best to make the front group, then sit in and catch your breath after the initial push.

#2: Dirt Climb + Waterfall Rollers

0.6 miles // 1km, ~2% grade

The land bridge away from the Volcano takes you onto a gravel road that snakes up to the Italian Villas. You’ll see the biggest attacks of the race so far here, so try to start the climb near the front of your group. Riders further back in large groups may struggle with reduced visibility in the dust – riding near the front helps avoid this, and gives you space to drift back in the pack while remaining in contact.

The road levels out for just a bit after the gravel, but quickly tilts upward again for a short set of climbing rollers as you pass the waterfall. Try to save your legs for the upcoming KOM section while maintaining a good position in your group. Surf the wheels after the rollers and recover for the climb just up the road.

#3: Reverse Hilly KOM

1.6 miles // 2.7km, 1.8% average grade

You’ve arrived at the biggest climb of The Magnificent 8! This is where the strongest climbers will push to split the group, while other riders will just try to stay in contact. Regardless of your strengths and weaknesses, be ready to push hard and ride smart on this climb.

Attacking climbers usually push especially hard on the initial section, since it is the steepest. Then they’ll keep pushing in order to grow any gaps and consolidate a new leader group. Other riders should do their best to hold the wheels of strong climbers, maintain momentum, and deploy any useful powerups at just the right time.

#4: Rise to the Desert

900 meters, ~1.5% grade

The road tilts up after you turn off of Ocean Boulevard toward Fuego Flats. It’s not a true climb, but it’s steeper than a false flat. As such, power levels in your group will ramp up, and everyone will need to work harder to hold their position in the pack!

With another arch just 4km down the road, this may be a smart place to use a powerup if you’ve got a feather, draft boost, or aero helmet and need a few seconds of relief.

#5: Rise Out of Saddle Springs

0.9 miles // 1.5km. ~2% grade

After the long, flat desert the race winds through the Googie-style architecture of Saddle Springs. As you exit town the road rises – expect attacks! Riders can easily split a sleeping group here, so try to stay near the front of the pack and keep your power up over the rise until you’re descending through the redwoods.

#6: Up from the Ocean

200 meters, ~3% grade

This ramp out of the tunnel will always be attacked, most of all on the final lap. Some riders may attempt a long break beginning here, but those attacks are usually brought back.

With only 1.5km to the finish, if one or more riders rolls the dice and attacks up this climb, everyone has to gamble. The attacking riders are gambling that they’ll be able to gap the group and stay away until the finish. Riders trying to conserve and sit in the main pack are gambling that someone else in the group will pull them back to the breakaway. And riders trying to close the gap to the breakaway – well, they’re suffering for the benefit of the group or a teammate, and hoping they’ll still have something left for the finish once the attackers are caught!

#7: The Finish

Since this is a flat route, the final podium will almost certainly be decided with an all-out pack sprint. Use your aero helmet powerup, time it just right and you may come out with the win.

Riding with a team? Read Justin Wagner’s strategy for finishing Watopia Flat Reverse, which has the same ending as The Magnificent 8.

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. Looking for more? See our complete list of Zwift Race Recons.