Video games and me have a long history. For better or worse, I can remember enjoying the feel of a controller in my hand, especially in my pajamas on Thanksgiving morning. This year, my Thanksgiving virtual tradition has not only involved Fallout 4, but a new player called Zwift.
I don’t really need to recount the numerous perks and nuances of this program; there are plenty of other blogs that have done that already. So let me just give you a take from the busy average triathlete. First of all, getting the program working with my bike involved something like 2 brain cells. It was super easy thanks to the onscreen prompts. I have a Quarq Elsa powermeter. When it comes to running a game on a computer versus a glorified power meter (TrainerRoad), I have had no problem with smooth play on a 2 year old low end Lenovo laptop. This is not Crysis. Oh, and yes you can run TrainerRoad at the same time, but you need a separate ANT+ stick just for that program.
Lets get beyond the technical. This is the best thing I have ever found to simulate real riding. An engaging and evolving course, and yes with hills. Group chatter via texting. Drafting. Even better, you can customize your character with various bikes, outfits, and wheels, some of which you get as an unlock for various achievements (distances covered, best virtual chamois). You can even ride without a helmet if you want to authentically simulate being a complete dumb ass.
The latest great change has been the addition of workouts with plans. I am doing the 12 week FTP builder plan to get back into riding. Also, there is a great schedule of groups rides already. My only beef is that a lot of the start times are based out of Australia, so some of the rides start at like 0500.
So why do I love it, besides my panache for virtual fun? Basically because it makes me completely forget about riding on an indoor trainer. You know I also love TrainerRoad but honestly, those awesome workouts can be pure pain and suffering. With Zwift, I can focus on chasing down a group of guys or getting a PR on a hill rather the eight more minutes of the interval. In fact, on the flip side, it also makes me practice my pacing. Hard to stick to my pace plan when a group goes by.
So, if you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend you give it a spin during these cool months. I love it so much I even picked up a new smart trainer from Trisports. So long 11 year old Travel Tracy Century V that I bought for 150 at Performance Bicycle. Hello Tacx Neo! (Of note, there is 25% off on the Tax Neo until tomorrow!!)
PS: No, this post wasn’t solicited at all. I pay the regular membership fee. However, if Zwift wants to give me something, I’ll take a few power ups.