Having officially joined Zwift in early December and doing a quick 5 minute test ride, I was looking forward on the impact that it would have on my training. While riding outside is what makes riding a bicycle so enjoyable, New York winters make it very difficult to ride, not only due to the cold weather but also due to the shorter days.
After that initial test ride, I was excited to start riding thanks to Zwift.
Living in an older building requires a bit more planning to get the trainer setup to avoid annoying the neighbors. A yoga mat and a few layers of foam mats seem to do the job to reduce the vibrations from the Elite Turbo Muin to tolerable levels. After I had the trainer and bike setup, I turned on the fan, launched Zwift and immediately recognized the Turbo Muin. After putting on the KTM bibs, the Garmin HR Monitor and lacing my cycling shoes, I jumped on the bike ready to immerse myself in the Zwift experience.
As I start turning the pedals, the system crashed without any warning. Not the way I wanted to start, but things happen right? I start Zwift again, start riding and another crash. Was it a problem with Zwift or was it my computer? After a few more tries, I gave up on that session and proceeded to email Zwift to figure out what the problem was.
I was surprised at how great Zwift’s support was, not only were they quick to respond but they worked with me to figure out the issue. In just a few days we had the issue resolved, which ended up being solved by installing a new driver from NVIDIA.
A few days of unusual warm weather had me riding outside. The holidays and other life events put Zwift in the background.
That changed on Tuesday, January 17, when I finally told myself that I would start riding Zwift. Considering that GFNY NYC is fast approaching and with my goal of finishing under 7 hours, it was time to start really training in order to meet that goal. So just like last time, I laid down the yoga mat and the few layers of foam mats. Placed the Turbo Muin trainer on top, took the rear wheel off and mounted the KTM on the trainer. After setting up the fan and starting Zwift, I changed into my KTM Ambassador uniform, buckled the Garmin HR Monitor and laced my new Giro Empire ACC shoes. Filled my water bottle with Science In Sport GO Hydro tablets and I was ready to go! Making sure that Zwift was still running, I jumped on the saddle and started pedaling. Right away, the trainer was recognized and I proceeded to ride.
Previous Indoor Riding Experiences
In the past, riding indoors never worked out for me. The monotony of just pedaling without moving or a clear sense of what I was doing made time pass by so slowly that I was ready to rip my eyeballs out. After I heard about Zwift, I was a bit skeptical about it at first. As time passed and Zwift continued to grow, attending Zwift’s Tour allowed to me to experience Zwift first hand. I was sold!
I knew Zwift would make it easier to ride indoors, but I wasn’t sure of how much of an impact it would really have and if that initial reaction of excitement and “gotta have it” feeling would last.
The First Minutes
The first few minutes involved warming up and spinning at a higher cadence to test out if all was running properly. With the muscles warmed up and the system running properly, it was time to switch gears and start putting out a bit more watts. The “Close the Gap” signs helped to push myself a little, increase my efforts to then fall back. While my intention was to ride for about 30-40 minutes, as I was about to finish riding, I saw the finish line flag at the top of the mountain and I couldn’t stop until I crossed it!
Reactions After the First Ride & Overall Impressions
One of the biggest differences I noticed compared to riding outside was the actual effort involved with riding indoors. Since there is no coasting or rolling on my trainer, you’re forced to pedal at all times to continue moving. This results in a much productive and efficient ride, especially since there is no time wasted at red lights or intersections.
As RCUK puts it:
“Zwift has rapidly become a byword for indoor cycling, revitalizing a concept until recently considered deeply unappealing by almost all by the most dedicated athlete.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself. Zwift has made me look forward to indoor workouts, unlike last year when the indoor trainer was only used to collect dust. The social aspect of Zwift is what makes it appealing, not only to compete against other people but just being able to ride with them even if you’re just riding around Watopia. You know that other people are suffering with you, encouragement is shared and Zwift entices you to ride to unlock kits and bicycles. The different modes give you the ability to find the type of ride you want to do, whether it is to compete in a race, participate in a group ride, select a workout to have a structured ride or ride on your own without guidance.
In the next few days, I will share with you my experience with the FTP Test on Zwift as well as my first group ride experience.
What do you think of Zwift? Has it changed the way you train?