Conquering Zwift’s Epic KOM Route: Your How-To Guide

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Written By James Quilter

Passionate cyclist and content creator

The Epic KOM route on Zwift is a daunting challenge that calls to every cyclist in the virtual world. It is a true test of stamina, tactics, and determination.

When compared to routes like Alpe du Zwift, it doesn’t look much on paper. But personally, I find it a real drag, especially if I’m doing the Radio Tower too.

Ready to take it on? Buckle up, because we’re about to dive into what it takes to conquer this beast.

Check out the Top Routes to Conquer in Watopia.

Understanding the Epic KOM Challenge

Now, you might be wondering, what exactly is the Epic KOM? Despite being less than Alpe du Zwift, it is a tough climb.

It’s known for its long, grueling climb that mimics the real-world effort of ascending a mountain. It’s not just about brute force; it’s a mental game where pacing and strategy come into play.

The climb itself stretches over 9.1 km with an average gradient of 4%, which might not sound terrifying, but don’t be fooled. The route has sections that ramp up to 10%, and that’s where the real test begins.

And there’s more…

Like the climb to the Radio Station, where the gradients are up there as the steepest of Zwift.

Understanding the course is crucial – where you can push the pace and where it’s wise to conserve energy.

Update: I actually find this one really hard. Especially, if I’m doing the full climb to the transmitter. Maybe because you think it’s less than half of Alpe du Zwift. It’s actually a real grind.

Preparing for the Ascent

Before tackling the Epic KOM, preparation is key. Here’s the deal: ensuring your setup is dialed in. A reliable turbo trainer and a stable internet connection are the baseline.

Your bike should be comfortable for the long haul, with gears calibrated for climbing.

Train with purpose, focusing on building your sustained power output and climbing efficiency.

Nutrition and hydration can’t be overlooked, even in a virtual setting. Have water and energy gels or bars within reach. You’ll thank yourself mid-climb when the virtual sun seems to be beating down just as hard as the real one would.

The Climb: Pacing and Technique

The climb is where the heart of the Epic KOM lies, and pacing is your golden ticket. Start too hard, and you’ll be seeing stars before the summit.

Too easy, and you’ll be watching your rivals disappear into the virtual distance. Find that sweet spot where you’re working hard but not redlining.

Technique matters, too. In the steeper sections, focus on maintaining a smooth pedal stroke. Stand up if you need to, but remember, on a turbo trainer, that changes the dynamic of your effort.

Keep an eye on your watts and heart rate, and listen to your body. It’s a fine balance between pushing your limits and blowing up.

Overcoming the Mental Battle

But wait, there’s more – the mental aspect. Climbing the Epic KOM can feel like an eternity, and your mind will try to convince you to quit. Break the climb into chunks, focus on reaching the next corner, the next banner. Use the Zwift companion app to give (and receive) kudos; those virtual thumbs-ups are surprisingly uplifting.

The Radio Tower: Recovery and Reflection

Reaching the top is an immense achievement, but the ride isn’t over.

There’s also the option to take on the Radio Tower. The climb here is relatively short, but it’s super steep.

Spin easy on the descent to help your legs recover. Or take a run at going over 100km on the descent and picking up an achievement badge. It’s just about the only place you’ll get it, due to the steepness and length of the run.

This is also the time to reflect on your performance. What worked? What didn’t? Each climb is a learning experience, and the Epic KOM is a masterclass in self-discovery.

Once you’re back on virtual flat ground, hydrate and refuel. Consider some light stretching or a cool-down ride to ward off stiffness. It’s essential to treat your body right after such an effort, even if it was in the digital realm.

Advanced Tips for Seasoned Climbers

If you’re a seasoned climber looking for that extra edge, it’s all about fine-tuning. Experiment with your cadence to find what’s most efficient for you. Some riders thrive on a high cadence, while others prefer the slow churn of a lower cadence.

Consider your in-game bike choice and wheelset. Zwift allows you to change equipment, and some options are better suited for climbing than others. Do your research and choose gear that complements your riding style and the challenge ahead.

FAQs: Your Questions Answered

Q: How often should I train on the Epic KOM? A: It depends on your goals and training schedule. It’s a demanding climb, so give your body time to recover between efforts. Once a week could be a good starting point, adjusting as you see fit.

Q: Is it better to climb seated or standing on a turbo trainer? A: Both have their place. Seated climbing is more energy-efficient, but standing can help relieve fatigue and engage different muscles