To pen the greatly overused phrase, ‘winter is coming’ because, well, winter is definitely coming (here in Europe anyway) and this means it’s a time of change for our usual riding habits.
While the cold, dark, and wet months generally mean we get to enjoy the odd night ride, for most of us it means going into hibernation, making use of the local gym and getting reacquainted with the turbo trainer and rollers.
If the very idea of turbo training fills you with a sense of dread that sends you packing for a pillow fort stocked with enough chocolate to see you through until spring, then why not consider giving Zwift a try?
If you’ve not yet heard of Zwift we can assure you that despite the somewhat mysterious name, this interactive smart training platform could see you happily clocking up your indoor miles rather than simply slogging away to the droning whir of the turbo trainer and listening to the same old playlist you’ve begrudgingly put on to summon the motivation to train.
But could Zwift change that, can it make indoor training a more enjoyable experience? Here’s all you need to know if you want to give it a try.
What is Zwift?
Zwift is an immersive and entertaining platform designed to make sitting indoor training a lot more enjoyable. You can use Zwift as an important training tool, a way to blow off some steam and have some fun.
Zwift is a downloadable software designed to be used with turbo trainers, smart trainers or rollers which can then be used in conjunction with a heart rate monitor, speed and cadence sensors or a power meter (via ANT+ or Bluetooth). You can find a list of supported trainers and hardware here.
If immersing yourself in a virtual world full of other cyclists, multiple maps, group rides and riding activities from the comfort of your own home sounds like something you could get behind when the long night arrives (sorry non-GoT fans) here’s what you’ll need to get started.
What you need to get started with Zwift
- You’ll need to head to the Zwift website and download the software (available on MAC and PC) or download via the App Store and then create an account. There's also a free seven day trial before signing up for a monthly subscription - cancelable at any time.
- Pay £12.99 a month for a subscription – There’s no contract and you can cancel at any time, it’s like a healthy Netflix account. You even get a free seven-day trial.
- Have a PC, Mac or iOS compatible device (iPhone or iPad) and also Apple TV
- Choose your turbo training weapon of choice
- ANT+ or Bluetooth smart trainer, power meter OR speed/cadence sensor
- A receiver for the ANT+ or Bluetooth
- Things like water, a towel and a fan may also be a good option
What can you do on Zwift?
To begin with, you will be able to create your own avatar using details such as your height, weight and gender before choosing your bike and a jersey which ties into the game element allowing you to unlock more options by completing challenges and gaining achievements.
Once everything is set up and you’re ready to ride you can dive into the virtual world and discover the three different maps with multiple routes; Watopia, London and Richmond courses (these get shuffled about so you don’t ride the same maps all the time).
After you’ve chosen your ride you can either ride solo, join a group ride or work, choose a preset workout (or design your own!) or dive right on into a race or event.
What else do you need to know?
The most immersive home experience can be had using a PC and high definition television, however, you don’t need the latest technological supercomputer to run Zwift. The interactive training platform is fully operative on iOS supported devices. This means that if you have an iPhone or iPad, you can join the many Zwift riders who choose to use these handy devices. Just remember that your equipment will need to be Bluetooth compatible or you will need an ANT+ dongle.
Other useful features on Zwift include being able to link your Strava directly to your Zwift account to upload your rides. There are a number of user-generated Strava segments throughout the world as well as official segments in the game. There’s also the option to set yourself training goals, follow people (as well as being able to ride and communicate with them) via the Zwift mobile link app to communicate easily in a game and take part in virtual Fondos to get some more serious miles in.
There are a number of user-generated Strava segments throughout the world as well as official segments in the programme. There’s also the option to set yourself training goals, follow people (as well as being able to ride and communicate with them) via the Zwift mobile link app to communicate easily in a game and take part in virtual Fondos to get some more serious miles in.
If you need a way to bring some fun to your training whilst still getting in a decent workout then Zwift could be the perfect tool to give you a boost this winter - and beyond!
So what are you waiting for, the virtual world is your oyster!
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