If you were to ask a cyclist what the best part about indoor training is, their response would most likely be “When it’s over.” Cyclists from all walks of life reluctantly incorporate indoor cycling into their routines to help maintain their baseline fitness during the shorter days and nastier weather of winter.
However, things have changed since the launch of the incredibly popular fitness entertainment company called Zwift.
A truly unique indoor cycling experience
Zwift is an immersive, real time, multiplayer fitness entertainment destination that allows you to ride with anyone in the world from the comforts of your home via your computer. Zwift’s founders, who come from both cycling and computer-gaming backgrounds, have created a truly unique indoor cycling experience that’s interactive and social as well. Zwift also tracks all of the numbers you choose to follow in the real word including Power, Speed, Cadence, Heart Rate etc. Zwift has partnered with Strava so all of your virtual rides can “count” and be uploaded, where you get credit for stats including miles ridden, elevation, time, and segments. Your rides also unlock virtual “goodies”, from big name brands in the world of cycling. Things like these are why Zwift is being called the ‘gamification’ of cycling.
For those type-A competitive types, you can win sprint, King of the Mountain, and fastest lap jerseys in the game, which are genuinely motivating. You can also choose to just spin and enjoy the lifelike scenery which helps you forget the time and clock the miles. If you find yourself in need of recovery during our ride, you can grab someone's wheel and actually feel the draft! Zwift has also added an amazing workout mode that is still in Beta which features structured workouts & programs from famous practitioners like Peaks Coaching Group, Train Sharp Cycle Coaching and Marco Pinotti.
Ready, steady, Zwift!
It’s easy to get started on Zwift as it works with the majority of home trainers. In most cases all that’s required is a speed/cadence sensor on a bike (mounted to a trainer), which talks to a ANT+ USB stick inserted into a PC or Mac. Zwift will calculate your speed and power based (on data), from on your speed sensor & rider weight. It really is that simple, making it the affordable and accessible option for most cyclists.
Installing and setting up your Zwift account
What turbo trainers and sensors to use?
What indoor Zwift setup is right for you?
Experience Zwift with a SMART trainer
SMART trainers definitely make the Zwift experience more realistic as they automatically adjust the resistance to simulate the varying gradient of real world roads. So if you’re climbing it actually gets pretty hard, and if you’re descending you better get spinning if you want to keep your speed up.
At Wiggle we stock a wide range of recommended SMART trainers and accessories that are all Zwift compatible! One of our most popular trainers is the Wahoo KICKR. Wiggler Andrew Delahay tested it out and came away suitably impressed.
Zwift: A social experience
Once you try Zwift, you may even choose to ride indoors when otherwise you wouldn’t. It’s truly addicting and very social. It’s not uncommon to log on, find 500+ riders on the same course and other people to ride with. Group riding is fun and accurately simulates drafting effects of the real world, so it’s often a good tactic to find a wheel to suck! There are many Zwift events (group rides, training rides) to join, which cater to all rider abilities and time zones. Best of all you may bump into one of the many pro riders who use Zwift, such as Jens Voigt, Laurens Ten Dam, Ted King, Evelyn Stevens, and Lawson Craddock. Word of advice: Don’t try to keep up. They’re fast!
Take Zwift for a spin
If you have an indoor trainer and a relatively new computer (within the last few years) it’s easy to give Zwift a try - just sign up on their page.