CLC2018 Ride 3: Do you even Zwift?

To add a little variation to my CLC rides, I decided to throw a virtual one into the mix! My virtual cycling software of choice is Zwift and so far I’ve pedalled over 7000 virtual kilometres on the platform.

For those who are unaware, Zwift is a virtual cycling program that allows you to “ride” with other people around the world on one of (currently) three virtual maps – London UK, Richmond USA and their own creation, Watopia. These three maps currently rotate on a daily schedule, but the ability to choose is coming soon. To recreate your speed (somewhat) accurately, the software takes your power output (from a smart trainer or powermeter), your height and weight and calculates your speed from that, taking into account the gradient of the virtual road. On a smart turbo trainer the resistance also increases or decreases as you head uphill or downhill. All very clever and technical.

Virtually ride, race and train in real time with people all over the world.

Bombing through a virtual London on a large Zwift group ride!

Before Zwift, I used to train on a basic turbo trainer with nothing more than a powermeter reading, stopwatch and some motivational heavy metal music to keep me going. Zwift has totally transformed that – now indoor training is no longer such a chore. In fact Zwift makes it borderline fun! It’s so easy, I just load up the laptop, get on my Tacx NEO and pedal.

Once you’re logged in, you can then choose to do a structured workout, join a group ride, join a race or simply just ride. The group rides are great as it gives you extra motivation to stay with the bunch – just like in real life – and just like in real life you go faster for the same effort when virtual drafting! The races are BRUTAL! I have never pushed myself so hard as in when virtual racing on Zwift, it is insane.

Counting down to all hell breaking loose at the start of a Zwift race.

The graphics are pretty damn great too, but not fantastic. This is on purpose though as most people who train using Zwift do not also own high end gaming computers, so limiting the graphics opens up the platform to more users. I do however have a pretty good machine and can run Zwift in 1080p HD quality, which is ace! It can be quite immersive!

As an added gaming aspect to Zwift, there are sprint and KOM segments that reward you with jerseys if you are the fasted person that hour! Also the more you ride the more points you accumulate and as we all know, points mean prizes! As you progress through the levels, you unlock clothing, bikes and upgrades that you can customise your rider with. Some are just for show (helmets, jerseys) and some make a speed difference (bikes, wheels). I’ve reached the current top level so have unlocked most items! Hopefully added levels above 25 are coming soon.

The more you ride, the more you unlock!

My virtual rider looks almost as professional on a bike as I do in real life! 😉

Zwift rides have real-world GPS logging data, so you can upload them to Strava.

Today’s ride was just a bit of a “recovery spin” after my 130km road ride yesterday. I chose to free ride around Watopia to gently stretch the legs. Zwift is actually great for recovery rides as I find it hard not to push too hard when I try to do active recovery outdoors. Virtual distance was 45km going nowhere in my garage, hehehe! Afterwards the wife and I went into town and indulged ourselves at a favourite local independent cafe to fulfil the “supporting the local economy” part of the challenge. After all what is a ride – even a virtual one – without coffee and cake? Happy Easter!

The sound of a perfectly lubed chain whirring through a fresh drivetrain, slick summer tyres humming across the blacktop as you spin, otherwise silently over country roads early in the morning.

7 response to "CLC2018 Ride 3: Do you even Zwift?"

  1. By: Suzanne Posted: April 2, 2018

    That was a great introduction to virtual cycling software! I had no idea that it was so sophisticated. Bad weather is certainly no excuse for not getting a ride in!

    • By: tempocyclist Posted: April 4, 2018

      It’s incredible the technology these days. Zwift is the biggest player on the scene, but there are other companies that have real life footage of famous routes you can ride on your trainer (although you can’t ride with or race other people in real time). No excuses for not keeping fit through the winter now! Still no comparison to outside in the fresh air though.

  2. By: Lednar De Nalloh Posted: April 3, 2018

    Not quite the real thing, can you cycle Mars? You’ve pulled a Zwifty.

  3. By: Kathleen Jones Posted: April 5, 2018

    Richmond?!! I find that hard to believe. Are they based there? Well, there are hills in Richmond as well as very flat land since it’s right on San Francisco Bay. If you do another virtual ride, I’d love to see some of the scenery on a Richmond ride.

    Been enjoying all your posts. Glad you’ve joined us.

    -Yr Goddess

    • By: tempocyclist Posted: April 7, 2018

      I think it is Richmond, Virginia. Not really sure. It’s modelled on the 2015 UCI Road Race course. That course doesn’t come up very often on the Zwift course rotation calendar so I haven’t ridden it much.

  4. By: Bikerdockeith Posted: April 8, 2018

    Richmond VA was the site of the 2015 UCI road championships. How did you do vs. Peter Sagan? Me, I’m far too old to race the likes of him. Heck, I’m far too old to race anybody except maybe in the 40 meter sprint for the last bar stool. I’ll be watching the Paris Roubaix this afternoon, though, safely installed on my couch with a cold one. Maybe Zwift will let you ride along!

    • By: tempocyclist Posted: April 8, 2018

      Well my Tacx NEO turbo trainer can simulate road surfaces, including cobbles (not even joking) so at some point down the line I wouldn’t be surprised if they did release “cobbled classics” style virtual routes!

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