We’re excited to celebrate the 2019 UCI Road World Championships by bringing a taste of Yorkshire to Zwift with an all-new course. The real-life Harrogate Loop gets the Zwift treatment, and now, everybody in the community has the chance to take on this year’s championship course.
Though rewarding, creating Yorkshire also had its challenges! There’s definitely a distinction between making an all-new map from scratch (e.g. Watopia) and recreating something from real life. All the fun little details? The twists? The turns? You have to make sure they all match the actual location. Or you may just get called out! Luckily, our team was up to the task.
Zwift’s Art Director, Tony Yruegas, gives us the lowdown on Yorkshire. Many courses here at Zwift have been developed under his creative direction and this homage is no different. The new Yorkshire course is our vision of road cycling at the most prestigious level brought to life.
ZWIFT HQ: Hi, Tony! So first off, how long have you worked for Zwift?
Tony Yruegas: I started working at Zwift back in August 2014. Zwift was a small wooden office in Long Beach, and everybody shared a mini-fridge with a freezer that needed some serious defrosting. Good times.
ZHQ: What are the course details?
TY: We’ve created 5 distinct routes, including the exact Harrogate Circuit and a special, event-only sixth route. Long time Zwifter and Zwift Caster Simon Schofield was born and raised in Harrogate, and as a keen cyclist, was able to help us imagine the deep cycling culture in Yorkshire and inspire routes that reflect local culture.
Here is a breakdown of all routes:
- 2019 UCI WORLD HARROGATE CIRCUIT
The official circuit of the 2019 UCI World Championships. The Elite Women will complete 3 laps of this course after riding to Harrogate from Bradford. The Elite Men will ride it 7 times after riding from Leeds. How many laps do you have in your legs?
Distance: 13.8 km // 8.6 mi
Elevation: 245 m // 804 ft
A clockwise trip around the northern, flatter part of the Harrogate Circuit. This route hits the shorter, faster sprint portion.
Distance: 10.7 km // 6.6 mi
Elevation: 204 m // 669.3 ft
- QUEEN’S HIGHWAY
A counterclockwise trip around the northern, flatter part of the Harrogate Circuit. This is where you put the hammer down and hit the sprints.
Distance: 5.7 km // 3.5 mi
Elevation: 82 m // 269 ft
- TOUR OF TEWIT WELL
Ride the southern part of the Harrogate Circuit in reverse. Lots of hills await you here. You may need some of the Tewit Well's famed restorative waters after tackling this route.
Distance: 10.7 km // 6.6 mi
Elevation: 204 m // 669.3 ft
- ROYAL PUMP ROOM 8
Tackle every challenging section of the undulating Harrogate Circuit in both directions. It will take more than a sip of Yorkshire's chalybeate waters to refresh your legs after this.
Distance: 27.5 km // 17.1 mi
Elevation: 490 m // 1,607.6 ft
- Harrogate Circuit Reverse - Events Only
Take the official circuit of the 2019 UCI World Championships. Now put it in reverse.
Distance: 13.7 km // 8.5 mi
Elevation: 245 m // 803.8 ft
ZHQ: How similar is Yorkshire compared to the real-life course? How is it different?
TY: We’ve replicated the actual road from top to bottom. By importing GPX data, we’ve secured the most accurate numbers in terms of elevation, grades, distance. We’ve tried to keep the course visually accurate as well, but took some liberties with famous landmarks and their placements. Why? To keep it fresh, unique, and fun!
ZHQ: What can you tell us about the process of building a map inspired by real-life locations?
TY: Like all maps, it started with research. A few UK Watopians rolled out to recon both the course as well as various other parts of Yorkshire. They took photos and videos. Anything that could offer insight into the vibe of the setting we hoped to recreate.
As this was happening, the art team divided the map and started researching more to find interesting waypoints throughout the course.
Then we started creating 3D assets. Monuments, buildings, benches, gnomes, etc. Our artists continued to build out their respective areas, adding life to downtown and suburban areas as well as the countryside and distant forests. Months of theming and prop placement helped create a unique vibe for Yorkshire, one with a human touch.
ZHQ: What makes it look and feel like Yorkshire?
TY: The architecture and layout of the city are very different from anything we’ve made previously, so it was definitely a challenge. We dug through lots of videos, pictures, and personal anecdotes from Watopians who have lived or visited there. Then for the countryside, we pulled inspiration from all over Yorkshire—Buttertubs to Fountain Abbey and more to help create a fun, interesting experience.
ZHQ: What’s going to make us want to jump on Zwift and check it out?
YT: Other than the fact that it’s an all-new course with six new routes to check out, it’s also a near-recreation of the final Harrogate Loop for this year’s Championship races. Anybody looking to get a piece of Yorkshire needs to try this course out. Also, we have virtual sheep. Check it out.
ZHQ: Why are you personally excited about this?
TY: Harrogate/Yorkshire is a place with considerable history, and we’ve managed to create a unique visual feeling for both the city and countryside. You’ll see nods to various places in Yorkshire all throughout the course. Since we’ve done European UCI courses a few times before, the main goal here was to try and make it distinct. This particular challenge made the process fun, and it’s why I’m excited for the launch!
ZHQ: What are some fun nuggets we should keep our eyes peeled for?
TY: The Zwift Jr. Van, definitely. For those who don’t know, it’s our very own branded vehicle that follows us to every event, all over the world. We’re also including the Zwift Draft House, a stylish pop-up also located in real-life Harrogate, created through a partnership with Cold Bath Brewing Co. During race week, this space will be a hub for all things Yorkshire for fans and pro cyclists alike. Both of these additions give a little more flavor to a map inspired by an actual place.
ZHQ: Thanks for your time, Tony!
TY: My pleasure. Ride On!
ZHQ: Zwifters, like what you hear? We do, too. Check out the course video below and get in on the Yorkshire action today!