Interactive app changes the “game” of indoor cycling.
Think that cycling is only a sport for a chosen few? New interactive, subscription-based indoor training applications like Zwift show how riding a bike is anybody’s game. Zwift emerged from the world of gaming as a way to train indoors without the usual boredom that comes from stomping out miles of pace riding or endless intervals.
To escape the monotony, Zwift has created a virtual world for riders to connect with several thousand other cyclists around the world to compete in races, to participate in gran fondos, to ride with a local team or club – even if there’s snow on the ground, or just go for a social ride. If you’re new to the concept of either gaming and/or training, you are not alone, here’s how to get started with Zwift training programmes.
First you’ll need
There are four basic items you’ll need to get riding:
- A bicycle trainer or rollers. Smart Trainers can transmit speed and power data to Zwift, but you can also connect to Zwift using a trainer with an ANT+ or BLE power meter or speed and cadence sensor.
- A bike.
- A PC or Mac computer, an Android or iOS device or Apple TV.
- A bridge/receiver for the ANT+/BLE signal.
Trainers and Sensors:
- Smart trainer
A smart trainer transmits power data and has the ability to change the resistance based on the course. As you go up and down hills in Zwift, you'll be able to feel those changes on your bike.
- A power meter + any trainer/rollers
A power meter can be the most accurate way to measure your efforts. With Zwift, a power meter also allows you to ride any trainer - including rollers.
- Classic trainer + speed sensor
"zPower" is Zwift’s name for a supported classic trainer + speed sensor setup. With this setup, Zwift can calculate your output in watts (i.e. power) based on the speed of your rear wheel.
- Indoor Bike
Some indoor bikes have built-in sensors that transmit power. If you have one of these, you don't need any other sensors.
Here's where the fun starts
Once you’re set up and connected, you’re ready to take to the (virtual) open road. You can hop on your bike, choose a route, and go explore, or you can join a social ride from one of the hundreds of rides published to Zwift’s “Events” page. Or strike out on your own and invite your friends on a private ride that you’ve organized.
Zwift fondos are challenge events that cover long distances with lots of climbing. Fondo events take place throughout the year.
Training programmes on Zwift
Zwift offers more than 1000 workouts to choose from, and/or a selection of Training Plans to enroll in. The Training Plans will help keep you on track and stay committed to a specific goal.
Group Workouts are unique to Zwift and bring structured training to a group environment. Studies have shown that people are more motivated when they are training in groups. Whether you’re pedaling at 100 or at 400 watts, Group Workouts are kept in a group by Zwift’s gaming element, so everyone stays together for a more social experience.
Virtual racing takes place throughout every day and doesn’t require a race license, timing chip, or race number. Racers choose a race category based on their watts per kg power output, so there’s a race that suits nearly every ability.
More recently Zwift has entered into the world of esports. The KISS Super League has brought professional cycling teams together to race on the Zwift platform for the first time.
If you are a card-carrying member of British Cycling, you could even win a national title without leaving your living room. Zwift has partnered with British Cycling to host the very first British Cycling eRacing National Championships. Any British Cycling member is eligible to compete for the prize.
Zwift has been changing the game of cycling so fast that new features are getting introduced all the time. This is good news no matter if you are new to Zwift or not because training should be fun, it’s all part of the game.