Welcome to the world of Zwift! Zwift is essentially a video game that keeps you fit. Watopia is a virtual world and is one of the 8 worlds Zwift has created and the only one which is not based on a real-world place. The other “worlds” you get to ride in are London, Paris, New York, Yorkshire, Richmond (CA), France, and Innsbruck.
As the winter months of 2020 loomed, I started to investigate my indoor cycling options. I had tried a turbo trainer before, but I was always bored within 5 minutes and found it to be more torturous than fun. With some help and advice, I bought a Turbo Trainer, connected to the Zwift app via my iPad, the Zwift Companion app via my phone and have not looked back since! A friend warned me that it is addictive. I did not believe him, I should have!
You must not expect real world graphics. Zwift decided to have a graphics style that works to get people riding and not to look like the real world. What it gives you is many ways to keep you motivated and to keep you riding. There are badges to be collected for every route you complete and “drops” to be collected for every mile you ride and “Ride on” you receive. “Drops” are the currency of Zwift which allows you to “buy” virtual bikes and wheels.
There is a route to cater for every need, the shortest at 1.9 miles to the longest at 107.9 miles. There are hilly routes and flat routes, there are workouts, races and group rides that are free to join. You can ride with professionals; you can create a meetup and ride with friends. Most people are super friendly and will give you a “Ride on” – like the real-world nod or wave at a passing cyclist! In August 2020, they added Pace Partners. These are Bots that ride at a consistent pace on a particular route. You can join the bot who rides closest to your pace and see if you can keep up. And if you want the experience of being able to talk to anyone in a group ride (if it is advertised as having “discord”) you download the “discord” app to your phone and you can have a good old natter with your fellow riders.
Zwift is not the only indoor training option out there, but it is possibly the one with the greatest community. I have read so many testimonials on various Zwift Facebook groups I follow where people share how the Zwift community and the motivation, they get from Zwift Group Rides, races, and workouts has helped them during the emotional turmoil of lockdown or how they have got back to fitness after illness or injury or even found fitness for the first time in their lives! It is also accessible to people with varying disabilities. Zwift must be doing something right because as of November 2020, they had grown their subscriber base by 270%. At popular times there can be around 28000 riders riding at the same time!
Now my quandary is do I keep my Zwift account going through the summer? – it’s so convenient to pop into the garage for an hour – or should I pause it and restart again in November?