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51 | Ella Harris Pro Cyclist for Canyon SRAM racing and Zwift Academy winner

Ella Harris is a professional rider for UCI Women's WorldTeam Canyon-SRAM and a Zwift academy winner. She was a competitive child growing up, and have tried swimming, running, triathlon, and finally cycling when she joined a cycling club. Cycling inspired her.

When asked "when you got into cycling, were you always really good?" She responded with

"I always charge a little bit of potential in the bike. I rode a lot with old riders at home – masters, and they taught me all about cycling, and they made me really strong – mentally as well as physically. In junior riding, I was always get a top 5. I was always pushing for a podium, but podiums to me is never guaranteed. If I got a top 5, I’ll be happy. If I got a podium or top 3, I’ll be stoked."

She describes herself as a 'champ' because even if she is not always winning a game, she sees herself winning in her mind. Therefore and I quote "I am a champion". In the podcast, she was asked about what she felt to not be winning in the junior cycling league, and she responded with

"I have never really won anything before so it wasn’t that I knew what I was missing out on. Third place is great for me. My parents never put pressure on me, and I never put pressure on myself."

They tackled about her experience between juggling leaving school, studying in the university, and continue her cycling career. We knew that there was a huge amount of pressure for students finish a degree course after high school, which was amplified on student-athletes who have a professional sports career. It was either college-sport's career, just your college degree, or focusing fully on your professional career and dropping out of university.

Due to the current global situation, most competitions are suspended until further notice. With the pause in their official training sessions, Ella Harris' team continued their team session playing Zwift racing.

What is ZWIFT racing?

Just remember 4 words - interactive,

indoor cycling esports. You are competing with other bikers in real time on a virtual platform.

As seen in the picture, Zwift allows players to ride their stationary bicycles while navigating through virtual world maps available for the players to enjoy.

Harris also give us a couple of tips to remember or avoid in Zwift racing.

These are the following:

1. Know your capability and limits

You would not want to experience a 30 kilometers continuous, rigorous race that your body cannot handle because that would be an absolute nightmare.

2. Be prepared

All things you need should be within your arm’s reach. Place your laptop on a table where you can activate your power-ups and check your status. Positioned the fan where you can reach them if you needed to turn it on in the middle of the race.

Make sure that you have a water and towel ready in case you need them. Remember to eat at least an hour before the race.

3. Warm-up and be ready for a blasting start

Get your heart rate up and. just like in a real cycling race, you want to your body geared up to took off as soon as the timer starts. Getting dropped by the group in the first couple of minutes at the start will make catching up at a later part of the race harder.

4. Watch your stats

You can see where you placed in the competition on when, how, or if you can speed passed the rider in front of you, or if catching up to the lead biker is still possible if you can learn the meaning of the numbers on the screen (i.e. heart rate, w/kg, etc.)

5. Wind drafts can be a friend or foe

There is a draft effect. The main idea here is to take advantage of the wind drafts to conserve energy. Sprint frame in the game is a make or break situation. Look out for the visual cues of a draft.

6. Remember your power-ups

Power ups you can use are the following:

  • Drafting power-up - Increase in draft effects

  • Burrito power-up - Become undraftable, and can be used to make it harder for other to follow you

  • Cloaking power-up – Become invisible for 10 seconds, and is best used for attacking

  • Featherweight power-up – Reduces your weight by about 9 kilograms, which is good for climbing.

  • Aero power-up – Become more aerodynamic, which can increase your speed in sprints, and is what you want for a fast finish.

7. Explore using a group calling platform for your team

If you are racing as a team, want to have an edge, and have teammates from across the world, try using a mobile or pc video/voice calling platform (like Discord) for easy coordination between your teammates, and your team manager.


If you wanted to learn more, why not check these websites:

Listen to the episode HERE

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