The tech focussed cycling community has become?entranced by?the biggest piece of technology to land?since Strava was developed 5 years ago, it is of course Zwift. The new online virtual world of cycling, which has revolutionised those dull turbo sessions into hours and hours of stimulating training sessions. Whether you are looking to build a base over the winter, improve your FTP, or just simply keep the legs ticking over during the colder months, Swift has the potential to see you motivated regardless of your?targets?and fitness level.
What is Zwift?
In simple terms, Zwift is a computer game “played” by riders via their turbo trainer/Watt Bike. You can complete virtual club runs, rides with mates and now, even complete training sessions. Think of Zwift as a much more advanced version of Garmin’s Virtual Training Partner.
How to get onto Zwift?
It can be pretty daunting working out what kit you need to get underway, but it is actually remarkably simple. To join Zwift you’ll need the following items to get yourself set up and ready to ride.
- A Turbo trainer: this can be one of several options either a standard “dumb” turbo trainer, a smart trainer (Kickr?or?Tacx Vortex Smart Trainer?are two of the more popular choices) or?a Watt bike. We’ve listed Pro’s & Con’s of each below.
Standard “Dumb” Turbo Trainer
Equipment Required: Ant+ Dongle, Speed & Cadence Sensor
- Most People will have one already/access to them without a financial outlay being required.
- Using your Speed/Cadence sensors on your bike will allow you to ride on Zwift.
- Can use your Powermeter & connect via the Ant + Dongle.
- Cheapest option.
- Resistance/realistic impressions of gradient changes won’t be felt (Smart trainers automatically vary resistance to match the course you are riding).
- Zwift is predicting your wattage based on the turbo’s power curve when using speed and cadence sensors.
- Not all Dumb trainer power curves are recognised via Zwift at this stage.
Equipment Required: Ant+ Dongle
Optional: Powermeter, Speed & Cadence Sensor
- Resistance changes are felt and experienced as the road goes up or down giving a very realistic feel.
- Alternative to purchasing a powermeter.
- Wide range of options and pricing from the?Tacx Vortex Smart Trainer?through to the?Kickr.
- Freewheeling is possible?without a loss of motion, simulating?a real life descent experience.
- Can still be cheap particularly if you need to buy a turbo trainer anyway.
- Can be more expensive than a powermeter if purchasing a high end trainer i.e.?Kicks.
- Calibration issues getting the trainer set up and therefore power measurements may not be 100% accurate.
- External power source is required for the Tacx options and Bushido trainers – not the Kickr.
Equipment Required: Ant+ Dongle
- Precise power measurements.
- No need to purchase training wheels, tyres or set your bike up on a trainer.
- Work at an optimum level with Trainer Road.
- Most expensive training option
- Gradient / Resistance changes aren’t felt – upto you to change your effort levels to simulate the gradients
- When you stop pedalling the power immediately stops and motion also ceases.
Deciding on which option to go with is your first port of call. Rob uses his Garmin speed and cadence sensor coupled with a dumb Cyclops Fluid Pro, while I use a Tacx Vortex Smart.
Once you have decided on your turbo set up there are a couple more steps, then you’ll be underway.
- You’ll need to purchase yourself an Ant + Dongle. This plugs into your USB drive and is the essential component to enable your sensors (be they powermeter/cadence/speed) or trainer to communicate with Swift. You can purchase them here?ANT+ USB key?and will set you back approximately ?15. For those with/using a Wattbike you will still need one to connect to Zwift.
- You can download the Zwift software here,?then you’ll be able to get onto the program and get riding.
- For those that use Trainer Road you will be able to do your workouts on Swift, but you’ll need to purchase an additional Ant + Dongle – one to talk to TrainerRoad and one to talk to Swift.
- When you log into Zwift your dongle will sense what sensors are in the immediate area i.e. cadence sensors, HR monitor, smart trainer or powermeter. This is where you select what connections you are going to use for the ride.
Le Domestique Tours and Zwift
Because we love Zwift so much?we are going to be doing 3/4 Zwift Rides each week (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and a Saturday morning social spin). To start with well be joining the scheduled group rides that take place on a Tuesday & Wednesday: these can be found on this?Zwift Calendar.?Thursday session will be a chain gang style ride injecting some fun and competition into proceedings! for these rides well be having ledom.cc included in our names so that everyone is able to recognise fellow riders, these rides always meet at the start / finish line & we recommend arriving approximately 5 minutes before hand. Well post updates about the rides on our Strava Group page along with our Twitter?and Facebook pages ? so that nobody misses out on a Zwift Ride.
The rides will be open to everyone with the aim of giving our guests another interactive way of doing their turbo sessions, while riding with fellow LDT guests and no doubt allowing for some competition in the times both on the rides and also on the leaderboards.
*Images have been submitted to us by an LDT guest and have been used with his full permission, while riding the Richmond Worlds 2015 circuit*