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Zwift rolls out Innsbruck course to everyone: All the details

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Earlier this morning Zwift lit up their newest course, the UCI Innsbruck World Championships, in Innsbruck, Austria.  This course has been known since earlier this summer, with more details spilled at Eurobike last month – including the exact routes that would be modeled in Zwift.  I even went out and did a ride on the real-life route, just for the heck of it.

Since then I’ve had a couple of days to ride the new Zwift Innsbruck course, and overall I like it.  It certainly beats the previous UCI World Championship course modeled in Zwift – Richmond, so definitely glad to have more options.  Albeit, still no option to change worlds as we see fit.

In any event, this post covers the new map including the various routes on it.  But if you want the quick jam-packed video version of it, then just simply start here (I also have a very non-quick 55-minute version too down below further in the post, for those with extraneous time on their hands).

With all my video editing skills depleted, it’s time to talk routes.

The Routes:

There are essentially five routes available, but all of these routes take place on what is a figure-8 course that is split between two portions: City and mountain.  One loop for each, intersecting at the base of the mountain.  On the overall course map below, you can easily see the two distinctive loops:

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Within the city portion, which totals 5.5mi/8.9km, it’s mostly flat, save for a solid 8% grade hill lasting about 400m or so towards the back of town– just long enough to easily breakup races being held solely within the city portion.  The city portion also has a single short sprint (that can be approached from either direction) on it as well, lasting .2mi in length.

Meanwhile, the mountain portion is painfully simple: One side up, one side down. As you leave town you’ve got a binary choice: Left or right. Go left and it’s a longer climb at 4.6mi/7.4km but a tiny bit more shallow (average grade is 5%), whereas if you go right it’s steeper (7%), but the climbing pain is over in less distance (3.6mi/5.8km). No matter which selection you make, the grade is all up to the summit, with gradients often stretching into the lower double-digits, and virtually never any less than 2-3%. Meanwhile, the descents are quick and windy.

Zwift has broken this out into the aforementioned five predefined courses (as always, you can control your own route too).  They are:

2018 UCI Worlds Course Short Lap: This is essentially the main route, and is the full figure-8 once.
Achterbahn: This is the complete figure-8, along with a second helping of the climb, doing each climb side once for fun.
Innsbruckring: This is the city portion, inclusive of the short 400m or so climb at 8%
Lutscher: This is the city portion plus two climbs (but only one descent). You end at the top.
Lutscher CCW (Counter-clock-wise): Same as the previous one, but just with the steeper climbs instead (still twice).

This course is obviously modeled after the upcoming UCI Worlds Championship event to be held in September in said city.  Of course, Zwift is no stranger to UCI courses.  Everyone knows the existing UCI Richmond course is in Zwift, so this is essentially copying that model.  In the case of the Innsbruck course, it wouldn’t make sense to replicate the entire set of courses.  There are different courses for men and women, and some of these routes start a long way out of town, as seen here on the Men’s Elite course:

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However, all bits of all the race variants include the ‘Olympic Loop’, which is a bit that goes through town and then up a large hill and back.  Everything in Blue is what Zwift is doing.

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This specifically is the Women’s Elite Road Race, minus the red part coming from out of town.  That first part isn’t included in the Zwift course because…well…it’d probably be boring as a one-way effort.  Also, as an aside, the crazy-steep section on the Men’s Elite course isn’t included either – thus, just the Women’s Elite course seen above in blue. I’ve linked it here.

As you can see throughout the video, Zwift included some major landmarks along the way, but also took a number of liberties as well with the scenery.  The exact route/road though from a terrain standpoint should be identical to the real thing.

Riding it:

I’ve had a chance to ride the route a few days now, and overall it’s pretty solid. Having ridden the mountain portion of the route in real-life, it replicates much of that very well, especially the views and the feeling of the forests at the top.  Same goes for passing some of the smaller villages and typical Austrian style buildings.

Of course being Zwift, it’s a bit more polished than real life.  The reality of that mountainside is plenty of non-picturesque buildings, sketchy gas stations, and other non-scenic elements.  But certainly most people aim to dive into Zwift to get away from all that, and Zwift has done exactly that.

Assuming you’re doing a blend of city and mountain portions, you’ll start off near the UCI Worlds Course start/finish line.  About .2 miles in front of it actually, so you can get a few pedal strokes in before it’s time to start cookin’.  You’ll likely see what I believe to be the first train in Zwift, which cruises on some overhead tracks past you:

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After that point you’ve still got another mile or so until you hit the base of the climbs.  It’s at this point that you’d select either to go left or right.  Left is slightly shallower but longer, and right is slightly steeper but shorter. It’ll be painful either way.

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Right before you make the turn you’ll go under the highway, which includes actual moving cars – another first I believe in Zwift.  The traffic on this highway in real-life is definitely a part of riding in that area, so it’d have been an odd choice to omit it.  Albeit, there’s no sound of the highway as there is in real life (which is quite loud).

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After this it’s all climbing all the time! You’ll simply work your way up the hill to the peak.  There are various groups of crowds cheering for you, along with plenty of mountain views. Here’s a small gallery as you climb up:

Almost immediately after passing the finishing banner, you’ll see this monumental thing:

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I can assure you – that does not exist in real-life….at least not in this spot! It does however exist about 12 miles away at the Swarovski theme park. Meanwhile, in real-life at the top of the course, you just make a casual right-hand turn in the middle of a field:

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After this it’s a steep descent back to town.  In Zwift-land I clocked speeds upwards of 50MPH without too much effort.

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In real life, I got stuck behind a bus:

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You will see some iconic structures on the way down, including the ski jump off to your left side:

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Ultimately though you’ll be happy you aren’t climbing.  Just remember though – the pros have to do the climb seven times during the event. Yes, seven.

You’ll hit the same highway underpass round-about junction as before, and this time you’ll head through town, which is largely pretty flat for a few miles:

It’s in the far back edge of town, nestled up against the ‘other mountains’, that you get treated to a short 8% climb, lasting about 400m, but that doesn’t take into account the shallow climb that started about 400m prior to that.

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The top includes a near 180° turn back on itself for a quick descent:

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About 1-2 minutes later you’ll hit the only sprint line in town, which is a short 0.2mi long.

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After which it’s 1-2 miles on the flats till you’re back at the starting line:

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Wanna watch my entire ride (chain-drop and all)? No problem, here you go – 55 minutes of…me riding. Hey, at least it’s in beautiful 4K!

Ultimately, all you need to know about this course is that it’s a figure-8 with two parts: Mountain and city.  The mountain part hurts, the city part is pleasantly flat.

Wrap-up:

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Of course, Innsbruck won’t be the last new course we see this year.  In the next couple of months Zwift will also release their planned NYC course, for which they’ve been pretty slim on details.  The real question everyone keeps asking though is when we’ll be able to select from different worlds (aside from the ‘Zwift World Hack’ anyway). In my ideal world we’d be able to choose from perhaps 2 courses on any given day.  That offers a good blend of ensuring plenty of people, while also ensuring I don’t have to ride Richmond or London again (unless they somehow occur the same day, which means the Zwift gods really hate us).

As for Innsbruck though, I feel like it’s a great weeknight course.  As you saw, it took me about 55 minutes to do the full loop at a non-crazy effort/pace. Just sorta cruising along enjoying it.  I could certainly do it faster with more pain if I wanted a harder workout.  But it keeps things at under an hour for the full normal loop, or if you wanted more pain you could do some of the other variants including double-hill repeats and such.  Or not.

Ultimately, this is all good stuff in my opinion.  I don’t really have any complaints here – it all works just fine and is a welcome addition to my weekly repertoire.

With that – thanks for reading!

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38 Comments

  1. Steve W

    Innsbruckring looks like a very good option for Zwift running. Watopia running can get a tad bit tedious.

  2. Paul Crow

    Spot on review again Ray. Many thanks.

  3. Matthew

    Nice explanation of the route, look forward to spinning up on it later.

  4. Fabio

    Ray, just an idea but…don’t you think that maybe watopia could be always avaiable and the other worlds could respect a schedule? I mean…watopia is the biggest world and the only one who lets folks to perform different kind of rides. If i want to climb, or go flat or simply ride for 100 miles watopia is the only wolrd that have all this stuff.

    I’m used to ride long sometimes (even in summer) and i don’t wanna think how could be riding 100km on richmond or even NY.

    Since now events are ‘world free’ with this kind of schedule event ‘population’ should stay high

    • Stefan

      You can easily change worlds. There are tools (e.g. Zwift map) or you just add a line of code in the local config file. Just finished riding AdZ

    • Ed L

      There is no way to hack the Apple TV or iOS versions to change worlds. Many of us already know you can do it on Mac and Windows clients. It’s about time changing worlds stopped being a hack and a feature that was supported in all client versions.

    • Fwiw, you can do it on iOS, it’s just more cumbersome: link to zwiftinsider.com

      But that said – I totally agree, it needs to stop being a hack.

    • PaulM

      Does that require a jailbroken device? If not, thanks for the heads up. Didn’t know that was possible in iOS.

    • Nope. I have it set up on my iPad, non-jailbroken.

      It’s just a bit cumbersome cause you have to use iTunes and a cable to your phone to drop in the file. Technically easy, just annoying.

    • Mightymarmite

      Simpler way for me is to just change the system date to one that the featured course was on (on a Mac at least) Does this not work on mobile devices ?

  5. Alberto

    Do you know of any plans to discriminate between run and bike courses?

  6. TB

    The monument does exist.
    It’s the entrance to the Swarovski Kristallwelten in Wattens, AT. Just 12 miles outside of Innsbruck.
    It’s a museum by the worlds largest producer of crystal.

  7. Carl

    The monster at the top of the hill looks like the creature Bill Paxton was transformed into at the end of ‘Weird Science’. Is there a Kelly LeBrock Easter Egg on the course?

  8. Brett Shell Blankner

    Now they just need to make it so you can pick whatever world when you start. And also street turn gateways that allow you to ride right from one world into the next without stopping. Imagine taking a turn down a street and then the screen starts to swirl like a black hole the world choices come up. Pick one and boom, you’re in that new world now.

  9. Chris

    Did you ride it with the Kickr Climb? How was it? Where’s the review, very excited about it!!

    • Yup. Rode it with CLIMB, definitely notice the steep descents! Climb review is my next review, got a bit buried trying to get out Suunto 9 and other posts this week.

    • MAGNUS

      I rode the course yesterday on the Climb (first actual ride with it) and it was definitely interesting. I really dig it… Except for when I was at 13% for several minutes.

  10. Picko

    You can choose to ride any route on any course at any time – unofficially – using zwift preferences. Super useful, especially if you’re going for the Tron bike (keep hitting the alpe)!

  11. chris

    Has anybody ever rode any virtual and real course at same time (running zwift on mobile app)? How do times compare?

    • I was surprised, my times up the climb were almost exactly identical (the first attempt, sans-mechanical). In fact, I was actually able to start the real-life video during my first ride, and it was always within about 100m of my actual place (since my pacing varied a bit between attempts). I didn’t expect that at all.

      I haven’t compared power levels between them though to see exactly where they were.

    • Eli

      With the climb to get the bike position the same? What is the trainer difficulty set to in zwift?

    • Russell

      The trainer difficulty setting doesn’t matter really, does it – watts are watts. You’re not in danger of running out of gears anywhere on the climb, put it that way.

    • My trainer difficulty setting is 100%.

  12. WC

    Thanks for the review Ray! Is there a place I can go to grab the music that you used for the long video?

  13. Niko

    Hey Ray – thx for the review, I’d loved to get a trainer & zwift over the winter. I just got a new carbon bike and I read all these “rumors” about you should not ride a carbon bike on trainers.
    Do you have any concerns about that? Have you noticed any problems with hard efforts out of the saddle?

    • No issues/concerns at all – at least not any realistic ones.

      At the end of the day, if there was any real issue there, then we wouldn’t see pro riders on sponsored frames at the start of every Tour de France stage atop trainers with carbon bikes. 🙂

  14. David Tucker

    Very excited for some new courses! Glad to know that I’m not the only person who drops a chain on the trainer sometimes too. (I’ve even gotten flat tires…) I’m always happy for some more variation and Zwift makes it harder and harder to justify keeping my Rouvy account. I’m surprised you’re so harsh on London though. The course has gotten pretty decent I think, especially out of the city. Richmond sucks though.

  15. Scott Hainline

    What bike and wheels did you chose to use on this course?

  16. Ian S

    I think I’m getting Zwift fatigue, rode the course this am and was a bit meh….

    I like watopia, Richmond is painful and London is fine now they’ve added Surrey hills. But my ultimate problem is that I’m using Zwift for indoor training so really want interval, easy, interval, easy, repeat…..which I guess is maybe why I like watopia and trainerroad.

    Someone needs to offer a consolidation payment plan where I can pay one subscription and alternate between trainerroad, sufferfest, Zwift and tacx 🤔

    • Dave

      To me the Innsbruck climb is very similar to the original Zwift Mountain climb in terms of grade and length. I was not overwhelmed with it although it is a way to pack in some good training into less than an hour (I am not disciplined enough to do structured workouts). I like Zwift but I decided to keep my Rouvy account as well because there are times I just want something different.

      Ian S, I like you idea of one fee for all trainers approach!

  17. Jon

    Why such Richmond h8? London is far worse.