Alpe du Zwift

Like many Canadians, Cameron Childs of Calgary rides inside over the year’s cold months. On March 29, like he often does over the winter, Childs rode for just over an hour on Zwift tackling the newly released Alpe du Zwift. The 12 km virtual climb mimics the 21 famous hairpin turns of Alpe d’Huez in France. After his ride, Childs uploaded the file to Strava calling the ride Watopia “Tour of Fire and Ice” and found out he had captured the KOM on the climb. That got the attention of the Strava and Zwift communities who took to the comments thread in force.

Childs who ascended the virtual climb in a time of 36:06 doesn’t train with a power meter instead relying on Zwift’s algorimth to allow him to move through the virtual training world. The algorimth relies on a calculation that takes into account the resistance on the rollers he uses and wheel speed. Childs also uses a heart rate monitor. The setup is much less accurate but more affordable than a complete smart trainer or power setup. Childs just wanted to do a bit of training in the virtual world and instead drew the ire of an online cycling community who took his virtual accomplishment perhaps a bit too seriously.

RELATED: Can I Zwift with this?

“What’s your FTP?” one of the first commenters asked before another told Childs to get a new setup because the power numbers he was generating were off. Another said if he could hold the power required to ascent the virtual climb so quickly he should contact a professional team for a contract.

Childs, seemingly surprised by the attention the ride was getting commented in his defence. “Basically I just try to hold the rollers spinning the back wheel at a little over 50 kph for an hour? It’s nothing about lies, guys, and Zwift is just a game,” he wrote. “You’re taking it far too seriously, like many cyclists out there, and it ruins the fun of it. And I have no desire to “turn pro” but I do want to be the best person I can be.”

Childs explanation wasn’t enough and hundreds of Strava and Zwift users flocked to the comments section to call him out for cheating. “This is a bit of a joke” one wrote while another said, “I’m embarrassed for you.” The post attracted 158 comments and 80 kudos as of Wednesday afternoon. “Its a game not real life move on,” one person suggested to the hoards of angry users.

While many of the comments were in exasperation at the virtual time, one user just suggested everyone should focus on their own training. “Everyone’s setup is different. Pay attention to your own goals and time and you will all be fine. Or… go do a real OUTDOOR race so that you can accurately assess your level against REAL people in REAL life – not computers and error-prone setups.”

Childs for his part was just trying to ride his bike, “I appreciate your input. I never thought that my workout the other morning would generate such controversy! I don’t believe I’m a world-class athlete, and I’m not trying to cheat anything or anybody.”

Childs Strava result remains with him currently sitting fourth overall on Alpe du Zwift.

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  • Man just use those people using Zpower as fuel to get stronger. When I race those people I think to myself “if they were racing me in real life they’d be in a world of hurt 3 Laps back” and just keep pushing to beat everyone…

  • Cameron Childs says:

    Hi Philippe!

    Thanks for the positive article! I really hit a sore spot that day. I have a Misuro B+ on my rollers for power, but I doubt it is much more accurate than zPower. At any rate, I think a Stages is in my future if I’m going to continue online! Thanks again – btw, Great Magazine. Love the Canadian focus.


  • Terry Burt says:

    Seems like a lot of people need to get a life, or maybe come out of their basement from time to time. Zwift is a training tool and game. Who cares if someone did the climb in 36mins. Even if his set up is out of whack a little bit, the guy is still an impressive rider.

  • Keevin says:

    He is still on the leaderboard in 3rd place. He wasn’t taken off as the article reads.

  • Léo Gagné says:

    Interesting… When Alpe du Zwift was released last spring, I made it with my Tacx Vortex Smart setup, which was calibrated (spindown) a few days ago, the same week. I climbed it within an hour, something like 56 minutes. I was quite proud of me! Hey! Under the hour for such a high climb, man, I’ll start believing my friends, I am a climber! But something always came back to my mind: the Tacx’s precision is around 5%, usually in favour of the cyclist. So, I took this value for what it is: an approximation, a tool for training, but certainly not something for which to compare me against other riders. I remember that 3 years ago, my setup was an Elite Arion Mag 3-roller base with no power meter at all and all I had to determine my FTP was the low-resolution graphic published by Elite (power versus speed for each resistance setting): 379 W !!! Of course, it was completely ridiculous, since I only weight 60 kg… So when people asked me “what’s your FTP?” I always answered “379 potatoes… or carrots!” and then I explained why I considered this number as a very personal tool for training: this value worths nothing when comparing with other people because the conditions are not identical, not even similar. Now I train on an Elite Direto, with a claimed precision of better than 2.5% and, trust me, my “real” FTP is much lower than that… (234 W for now, but getting better and better everyday!) But yet, this is still a personal value, for my own personal training, based on my personal setup. Nothing to be used for any comparison with other cyclists around. Yesterday, I made the fastest “tour of jungle” of the moment (I wore the jungle shirt for 10 minutes before another player got it…) and then, I climbed the Alpe du Zwift: 57’46”, 4th place! Cool !!! Cool… for me! Cool for the result I got. Cool because I made it under an hour. Next time I’ll do it, I will compare my result with this one and see if I get any better or not, if the moment of the day I do it has an influence, etc. But never I’ll compare with another one’s time, because this person didn’t make it with my setup. It is that simple: compare apples with apples, oranges with oranges. Both are fruits, but they are not the same! 😉

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