Is it getting warmer, or is the Volcano playing tricks with your mind? Watopia's Volcano Circuit winds in and out of the Volcano each lap, often on 8-10 lap crit races. Although it's a mostly-flat route, lumps and bumps here become springboards for attacks on every lap. So mind your position in the pack and don't let yourself fall off the back and out of the draft!
Remember these top tips for Zwift racing (most apply outside as well!)
- Warm up because the start is a hard effort
- Use the draft to conserve energy whenever possible
- Attack every punchy climb to avoid being dropped
- Know the route so you can pace yourself, move to the front before important climbs, etc
- Save a useful powerup for the finish
What follows is a detailed look at the key sections of the Volcano Circuit route from top women's racer Jenn Real. She's raced this route against some of the best riders in the world, so follow her tips in order to get your best result on race day.
Length: 2.5 miles // 4.1km
Elevation Gain: 67' // 20m
#1: The Start
Make sure you're nicely warmed up before the race begins, because your race will start hard and fast, and an early selection will be made within the first 2 minutes.
Jennifer says, "The course turns right out of the pens and heads up a short climb right away towards The Esses before turning right and heading over to the Volcano. So be ready for that first little climb right away. There is a downhill right after that first right turn so you can’t let a gap form before the turn!"
#2: Up to the Start
Head through the glass bridge, which is flat and usually pretty calm, then turn left onto the Volcano Circuit. Soon enough you will head into the Volcano and under the banner, which is when lap one starts. (There's a lap counter just after the banner, in case you need it!)
Don't be shy about using a powerup if needed, since you will get a new one on each lap of this short circuit.
#3: Two-Tier Kicker
0.3 miles // 500m
Down the ramp and out of the Volcano gives you a chance at some recovery before hitting the key attack point on this circuit.
"Breaks often happen here and it can be easy to get dropped if you aren’t paying attention," Jennifer warns. "It has a 4-5% gradient climb followed by a short flat section, then a very short climb followed by a downhill. Make sure to be well-positioned towards the front of the group when this climb starts. If you get dropped on the first part of the two-tier, give it your all to get back on before the downhill and flat section in the Volcano. Use a powerup if you need to!"
#5: The Finish
The Volcano Circuit finish is tricky, as varying gradients and turns make it difficult to gauge distance and time to the banner. Knowing your abilities and practicing the final meters of the circuit will provide helpful.
Jennifer explains, "This is a slightly uphill sprint, so if you get caught off guard it can be hard to get your speed up. Note that the course is flat right before the Volcano entrance, one tactic is to try to go long here to get your speed up on the flat and catch your opponents off guard. If you don’t want to go that long, wait until the road flattens out in the Volcano to launch your sprint (that is, if someone else didn’t launch already!)"
What's the most useful powerup for this finish? Jennifer says, "Of course, the aero powerup is always the best, but a feather could be helpful here too."
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.