What is Zwift? Zwift is an on-line platform that takes gamification to cycle training in a fully immersive way. If you need either distraction or motivation when training on the turbo, this is the place to come.
How does it work? You can register online at zwift.com and everyone gets a free 7 days to fully evaluate the system. After the 7 days trial, you will be required to pay a subscription if you wish to continue to use the platform – price is 10USD per month and is paid monthly. Once registered, you have a number of options for how you might want to access the platform, for example the software runs on a Windows PC, Apple Mac or on some versions of iPhone or iPad. Choice may depend on your turbo trainer, of which there are two basic types – Smart or Classic. Smart trainers “interact” with the software of Zwift so that when terrain changes the resistance is automatically altered on the trainer making it almost like real life. Classic trainers – which don’t interact – can still be used but will take readings from your bike’s sensors (cadence and speed) and calculate power output based on a few parameters.
Full explanations of options available are here: https://zwift.com/get-started
What now? So, now you’ve decided what you need to use equipment wise and have your account created it’s time to get started. With Zwift you can ride on your own, take part in a workout, or join a group ride. There are many group rides and races to take part in. One of the best ways to discover what is available is to download the Zwift Mobile Connect app that works on both Android and iOS. Explore the events and look for the ones you like. Here you will find details of the Slipstreamers sessions that have been registered with Zwift to take place every Wednesday at 19:20. When you find the session you want click on that session to see the detail, and then click the orange plus icon to add the event to your Zwift calendar.
Joining the event. Now you have the event selected it’s time to start. Give yourself time, at least 20 minutes, before the event to check that your equipment is set up and working. Remember that your sensors, networks and applications need to be talking to each other. Make sure you have easy access to your towel and plenty of fluid to sip for at least an hour – if indoors a 1 full litre may be required. A fan is also a good idea to help keep you cool.
Join the application and start riding, just spinning at first. The application will transport you to the ride start area when you have about 4 minutes to go to the start of the event. In the holding area, your coach will broadcast information about the ride and who will be helping to manage the race – this is text based, so you must be able to see your screen! Non-members may also join, and we recommend that the duration and wattage will be suitable for youth, junior and women riders – although everyone is welcome to join us. The ride itself will consist of a ramped warm up, ramped intervals, sprints and power efforts and possibly a mini race. The success depends on riders following instructions – remember – on a professional team if you cannot follow instruction you may be asked to leave. If you want to do your own thing, then please do, but not in this session.
What if I need help? The best time to ask questions about the ride is when you are in the holding area. During the ride, the leader has to ride and type and the same time, so messages are usually short. There are group message options in the app where you can comment or ask questions, but you will be riding too so not easy. Technical questions are best handled outside the ride – use our twitter channel with the #zwift tag and we will try and answer. When riding, the leader has a gold chevron as a beacon – try and stay as close to the leader as possible. If you do get dropped – “sweeps” may drop back and help to pace you back on to the group. Generally there will be ample opportunity to regroup within the ride.
A few tips:
- if you find this ride too easy, select yourself a TT bike. It’s the same ride but you will not get the benefit of the draft within the game.
- when sprinting, to get a personal best, draft riders as long as you can before launching your last 200m attack
- watch your watts! It will be in watts per kilogram, so if the lead says 1.5w soft pedal to relax and recover
- the max effort is you max effort. Don’t worry about anyone else’s – just aim to improve your score!
If you have any questions about getting started, please see Dave or Royce at the club.