London's "Keith Hill After Party" route starts off flat, but finishes atop the longest climb on course. That's right, all the flat effort is just a lead-in to Keith Hill, the gut-busting steep backside of Leith Hill!
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 a useful power-up for the finish
What follows is a detailed look at key sections of this route from a racer's perspective. Top B Zwift racer Shawn McAfee has shared some tips for this course, so we know you'll enjoy this race recon. Remember Shawn's advice so you can achieve your best results when racing the Keith Hill After Party!
Lap Length: 22.6 miles // 36.4km
Elevation Gain Per Lap: 1420' // 433m
"The Keith Hill After Party is an ideal racing course with an uphill finish, 22.6 miles with a 1% average grade," explains Shawn. "Sounds easy until you realize that 721 of the 1420 feet of climbing is the final sprint up Keith Hill. The course is made for the climbers, but with a final flat finish, it will handsomely reward any sprinter who can stay with the front group on the climb."
#1: The Start
The start begins with a short uphill drag around 3%, then a small descent into the tunnel. Shawn offers these tips:
"Like all Zwift starts, come into the race fully warmed up and ready to embrace the cornucopia of agony and suffering. With a small uphill drag, the pace should be quite high."
#2: Northumberland Avenue
1.9 miles // 3.0km into lap
400m long, 5% average grade
The hard right turn away from the Thames is our signal that Northumberland Avenue has arrived. Shawn says, "This is a key section to attack, being one of the only elevation changes in the otherwise flat beginning sections. Ride aggressively and focus on pack positioning. Attacks on this section are almost guaranteed but only serve to drop unsuspecting riders from the draft."
#3: Picadilly Rise
14.4 miles // 23.2km into lap
.5 miles // .8km long, 1.5% average gradient
"Exiting the tunnels, a half mile drag of 2% awaits," explains Shawn. "Like Northumberland Avenue, this is a frequent attack catching anyone not aware of the false flat off guard. Stay in the front third of the group to prevent gaps and hold the wheel in front of you."
#4: Rollers Heading Toward Start Banner
16.9 miles // 27.2km into lap
.9 miles // 1.5km long, mixed gradient
Coming through the tunnel toward the start/finish banner, you are now traveling in the opposite direction you began. Be vigilant as the group hits the short ascent out of the tunnel and descends to the start banner. While you may not see any real attacks here, it's easy to get dropped off the back if you don't hold a wheel when the group surges uphill.
#5: Keith Hill Climb
19.4 miles // 31.2km into lap
2.7 miles // 4.4km long, 5% average gradient
This route's most important segment is, of course, the climb up Keith Hill. It is best to split this effort into two phases. The first phase averages 5% gradient and is .6 miles // 1km long, and Shawn gives us some solid advice:
"After exiting the subway station, the elevation quickly changes as you hit the base of Keith Hill. Phase 1 averages 5% but peaks up to 10% just before cresting and getting a short half-mile descent and flat before starting the much longer and much more daunting phase 2. Best advice through phase 1 is to hold on to position through this section. Keep things consistent and don’t burn all your matches. The short descent should provide an opportunity to make up any lost ground before the final climb."
The second phase is 1.4 miles // 2.3km long with an average gradient of 8%. This is the "climb proper", and as Shawn explains, "The final selections will be made on the steep sections of this climb." Here are his pointers for tackling this challenging final section:
"Immediately following the short descent, Phase 2 consists of one long 8% climb with two sections that peak at 12%. With only 2 miles remaining there is nothing holding you back. Don’t let an attack go, and cover everything. The first steep section starts quickly with a right-hand turn. The second steep section is moments later at the next turn in the road. Be aware and be ready to dig deep."
#6: The Finish
700m long, 1% average grade
Whoever made it up Keith Hill in front must now go all in for the false flat haul to the line. Shawn offers some encouragement:
"You have a half mile to push all the chips on the table for this final sprint. If you had the legs to stay with the front of the race, double down and empty the tank with whatever you have left. This finish is one for the climbers, but if a sprinter can hold wheels the reward is there for the taking."
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. Previously we looked at New York's Mighty Metropolitan. Be sure to read that post for more tips!