New York's "Astoria Line 8" route covers all the ground-level roads of Central Park. This includes the crucial short climbs up Harlem Hill and the uphill finish on Cat's Paw Hill.
While it doesn't include the tougher KOM sections found on the elevated road above the tarmac, this course is constantly rolling. That means vigilance is required throughout your race, as power levels and pack speeds will fluctuate constantly.
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 useful powerups and deploy them strategically
What follows is a detailed breakdown of the Astoria Line 8 route from London-based racer Miles Askew. Follow his tips to get your best result on race day!
"For me, this course is all about racing smart and conserving as much energy as possible for the short uphill sections that really sap the legs," Miles says. "There are not many landmarks on this course, so knowing the distance markers for each short climb and subsequent rest opportunities is vital to success. Breakaways can form on any of the short uphills on this course, so I make sure that I am on the right side of gaps, even if they don’t come to anything.”
#1: The Start
As with any race, a solid warmup is crucial before you head to the pens. Get that out of the way, then join the pens and wait for the clock to hit zero.
Start smart, because there's plenty of racing yet to happen up the road. Miles explains, "It’s slightly uphill in the first kilometer, nothing too steep, but one of the more challenging starts in Zwift racing. There is plenty of draft available when you are in a group, so I try to sit in the wheels and save my legs for the more challenging sections of the course coming up."
#2: Start of Northern Loop
400 meters, 4.7% average gradient
The first proper bit of climbing happens as you turn right onto the northern loop of the course. Pitching up to 8% along its 400-meter length, this is the first place riders will put in digs to force selections in a race.
For Miles, this climb is all about managing your position and speed so you can recover quickly on the descent which follows. "I focus on making sure I don’t get distanced here and getting back up to speed quickly once I reach the crest. The sooner that I can get my speed back up, the sooner I can get into the super-tuck position in order to get a few seconds of recovery."
#3: End of Northern Loop
400 meters, 4.6% average gradient
Recovery after the first climb is crucial because its twin is just up the road! Miles explains, "If things have gone to plan, I have saved enough energy up to this point to stay in the pack on this 400m climb. This is always the more challenging climb for me as it comes so soon after the first climb and pitches up to 10% for a brief while."
The pack will often get strung out and even broken up on this climb, and those gaps can open wider on the draggy climbs which are just up the road. For the next few kilometers after leaving the northern loop you'll want to pay close attention to any riders ahead, making judgment calls on the wisdom of chasing down attacks.
230 meters, 0% average gradient
If your race includes sprint points, you'll want to set yourself up well for this medium-length flat sprint.
The road kicks up a bit just after the sprint banner, and riders will often attack here on the final lap. You may need to choose between contesting the sprint and attacking the kicker. Do you have a longer (10-15 seconds) kick with high watts, or a strong, short (5-10 seconds) kick at high watts per kilo? And which powerup do you have? Choose your strategy wisely!
#6: The Finish
300 meters, 4.3% average gradient
"The 300-meter climb to the banner is always challenging," Miles says. "Hitting the front too soon here can prove costly, so I try to wait until the gradient pitches up towards 7% before putting everything that I have got left into my sprint."
This is a great place to use a Feather powerup, but a Draft Boost or Aero Boost will also prove useful. The most common mistake on this finish is going too early, as Miles said. Most race winners surf the wheels then go all in when it feels like perhaps they've waited just a bit too long. But waiters are winners, because this finish is uphill and always drags out longer than you expect!
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.