I am by no means a Zwift convert, riding outdoors whenever possible. However my 3000+ lifetime KM’s on Zwift, despite every attempt to avoid it, speak for the utility of this platform and value added to the field of indoor training. It provides a safe place to pedal when it’s too dark outside, a warm, dry place to pedal when the rain or snow makes outdoor riding dangerous or when the world finds itself in the grip of a pandemic and the importance of staying inside becomes a number 1 global priority. Given we find ourselves in the latter situation, Zwift has enjoyed an unexpected surge in popularity and use. Whilst other indoor training platforms are available, Zwift seems to offer the most entertaining way of training indoors and provides us here at G!RO a new way to ride with our awesome community whilst we all do our bit to stay home!
Before this lockdown period, I’ve used Zwift mainly for post work sessions in the deepest winter, when it’s cold, wet and pitch black outside. Open up the windows, whack on your fan and do 1-2 hours of high quality training! It’s the perfect way to stay sharp during the winter when working full time - clearly something I’ve done more than I realised. I plug in my workout files into the workout builder and enable ERG mode. Having a smart trainer means Zwift will talk to the smart trainer so that the trainer holds you at the power number needed to do the interval. Fairly straightforward and very functional and similar to many of the other indoor training software out there. What makes Zwift unique is the variety of worlds and routes; both fictional on the island of ‘Watopia’ and recreations of real-world locations including some of our local haunts in London and Surrey, and riding with other people all around the world - virtually. You can ride along with your mates, or strangers, wherever you are in the world and sprint for signs and race up climbs just like the real world… There’s even the option of joining organised Zwift races; brutally hard, fast and short efforts made even more difficult by rife ‘Zwift doping’. A whole other blog.
Since we sadly closed the doors to G!RO, we’ve been busy looking for ways to provide positivity in these difficult times! We quickly got our heads round the slightly strange way to organise group rides and devised a handy GUIDE on how to get involved in the fun at home (not quite as simple as publishing an invite link). The feature we are utilising is the Zwift meetup and allows you to ride with a maximum of 50 people at the same time from the comfort of your own home! Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as rocking up at the cafe for a pre-ride coffee then rolling out with the crew… However, it does provide the only way to #RideWithMates for now so it’s worth following our guide to get your head around things as well.
With social riding an important element on all our shop rides, it was important that these meetups were as easy to keep together as possible - luckily Zwift have a ‘rubber-banding’ feature just for this! With this enabled we were excited to get into our first group ride! We had 14 people sign up and all were waiting at the start line eager to get pedalling and test out this meetup feature! In game you can communicate with everyone in the meetup using a little instant messenger that's built in, and so long as everyone keeps pedalling it keeps you all in a group together. Unfortunately, it was not this simple for a few of us. The connection between Zwift and my trainer dropped out just before we started and didn’t recover until I quit and started again - so that was me out of my own group ride haha… Technology ayy! It looked like a few others had similar issues, not pedalling or connected as the flag dropped and the start was missed so our 14 quickly became a smaller group! However most of the crew were successful in getting started and enjoyed a nice pedal through Watopia with mates. According to Tom it ran very smoothly despite the pace being high and everyone getting a bit more of a workout than intended.
With 4 more meetups since the first, I’ve been slowly working out the teething problems and the various nuances Zwift throws at us and sampling some of the non-fictional worlds, we even managed a pootle round a local Surrey Hills route, virtually!! Crazy huh?! A few of us regulars on there have still yet to fully trust the ‘no drop’ feature, with us braving various levels of testing it - dropping back and not pedalling until we get too scared we’ll get left behind as the feature ceases to work. We definitely get a few who join quite late or don’t pedal as the flag drops and quickly find themselves gapped and unable to catch back up as once the group rolls, it starts moving very quickly and a heck of a lot quicker than a solo rider as Zwift still has aerodynamics and wind resistance at play. We have another one tonight, and numbers have been slowly growing, we now have 24 people signed up to tonight's ride and you still have time to join the fun - just hit the link to find out how to join!
It’s been awesome having so many of you join us this past week, despite it being a bit of a wrestle with technology at times as Zwift remains quite a new technology and certainly doesn’t provide the perfect platform however it lets us #RideWithMates for now, which is awesome for the community and certainly a morale boost vs plain old solo turbo time! So if you haven’t yet, hit the link and get involved in our upcoming rides - the big boss Jordan Addison, and resident anti Zwift protester, has even promised to get online if we fill up the 50 limit on a meetup, so it’s worth jumping online just to make that happen!! Stay tuned for more updates as we host more rides online for the duration of this lockdown period.