Zwift, my journey, my weight and my fitness.
Just thought i’d write a little piece for anyone considering Zwift as their winter training option.
I borrowed a turbo, speed sensor etc 6 weeks ago from a couple of mates and joined Zwift. I wasn’t exactly sold on it before hand, but i wanted and felt i needed to get in more riding time, so what did i have to lose.
I started the journey and weighed in at 16st 7lb on the 1st Oct. In October i logged in 600km of riding, about 150 of that was outdoors, but the remainder was logged in a virtual environment.
I also got involved in Zwift racing, which being a bloke, pushes you harder, faster, further than you’d ever think. Along with Stravaing myself against mates times who i felt were somewhere in my fitness levels, this again gave me a push at times when needed.
But it wasn’t just the mates, it was the Zwift world, the actual figures on screen, the current Watts, the W/Kg and the HR data, it showed me where i can push, where i need to back off and quite importantly, where my strengths and weaknesses lie in cycling.
It’s also FUN.. fun staying ahead of random rider XYZ, or trying to catch rider ABC…. you don’t know them, thy don’t exist, but who cares, they’re competition and fun.
I now sit here exactly 1 stone lighter than i started 6 weeks ago, along with faster, stronger, i’ve done a Gorrick race and finished higher than i ever thought i could or would..
Just wanted to say, don’t rule it out, it may be virtual, but damn it’s effective.Posted 3 years ago
Interesting, it’s something I’ve been debating buying (inc a decent smart turbo). Thing is though did you try using a turbo or rollers in the past and if so how did you get on? My concern is zwift is something that benefits someone that is already motivated enough to indoor train rather than motivate someone that can’t stand conventional turbo trainingPosted 3 years ago
I’d done it before yes, but my threshold was about 25 mins ! Last night i knocked out 1hour 6 mins and it felt like 20 mins. The difference is the terrain, the changes in hills, the people to chase etc. I have a semi-smart turbo, so it doesn’t do resistance as it should, it extrapolates the information, so when you get a hill it simply lowers your speed based upon power, weight, watts etc… But in some ways that works well for me as it seems i’m more a TT type of rider rather than a Contador sprint slow sprint slow type of rider.Posted 3 years ago
I got into the turbo a couple of years ago when a shoulder injury prevented riding outdoors…I was surprised how motivated I was when following videos/program. Initially started on Sufferfest.
Thing that has kept me at it is the noticeable improvement for when I’m proper riding outside. I’m way way fitter on my bike having used the turbo, that I ever was. The turbo is easy to fit in around family commitments. In winter I tend to have 2 sessions a week on the turbo and one proper ride outside (either night ride or weekend ride). The training aids (swift, sufferfest, trainerroad are surprisingly motivational)..Posted 3 years ago
Interesting. My “real” riding is getting increasingly erratic as winter and kids pre Christmas activities ramp up, although my lowest mileage months are July and August when end of term stuff and summer holidays stop me getting out as much, bizarrely. Wondering about an indoor routine to keep more consistency through the year, so keen to hear of other real world experiences.Posted 3 years ago
The great thing for me is that i’m often getting free time at random times, 6am, or 8pm, it means i can just jump in the garage, turn on the music and batter the pedals for an hour. theres no faff of lights, getting fully wintered up, riding, then washing mud off me and the bike, drying, cleaning it and then heading in for a shower. Just 1 hour, boom, done, showered… .finished.
I have a mate who posts on here who has lent me some of his bits and he rarely rides outdoors these days…. but when he does, he flies on the trails as he’s just fitter and quicker nowdays from Zwifting.Posted 3 years ago
@FuzzyWuzzy: I see it the other way. Zwift might be entertaining enough to encourage people who wouldnt normally turbo to do so. People that already have turbo motivation likely don’t need any additional motivation to push themselves.Posted 3 years ago
I have to wait for zwift to come to ios devices before i can participate but looking forward to it as i need that motivation. Sadly my 4yr old icore 3 windows 10 laptop doesnt have the right graphics driver to run zwift so i have spent a year waiting for ios compatibility. I am guessing the graphics on zwift must be pretty complex that even my not so old and fully up to date intel graphics were not enough to run it.Posted 3 years ago
Well done weeksy,thats some improvement in little over a month.
From a performance perspective and obviously you have to take all of this into context of real world and not etc, but my output has gone from
2.1W/kg to 2.6W/kg over the time for a 40 mins average. Mine was quite easy to work out as at around 100kg it was whatever my Watts were, i started struggling to hold 220w, but now i can hold 260w for the ride… Part of that comes from knowing your body, but at 260w i’m sitting around 165bpm which is my sweet spot. If i go over 173bpm then i instantly lose everything once i’ve peaked (usually 4-5 mins of that)
What this taught me last week with Gorrick race was where i can push a bit, where i can ease a bit and where i can hold a straight speed and didn’t think i could.
I can imagine some/all of that sounds a bit nerdy, but it’s not in the real world, it’s a little bit of thought to get the most out of my rides.Posted 3 years ago
Exactly what I wanted to hear. I have a Zwift based new years resolution planned.Posted 3 years ago
It is well known that you get the best improvements of fitness on a turbo as it is a completely controllable environment. Plus when you are out on the bike it is surprising just how much time you spend coasting and not pedalling (especially MTBing) something you can’t really do on a turbo.Posted 3 years ago
agree totally with that… 1 hour on the turbo is 1 solid hour of pedal, 1 solid hour of set performance.. there’s no cruisng , no resting, no easing… just power and tonnes of sweat.Posted 3 years ago
I signed up to Zwift at the start of the year. I have found it very good so far and very immersive as turbo training goes. I prefer to do races/events on there, compared to the option of just riding around. The race I did last night had about 250 people in, a real mix of fitness, but I am sure everyone had a hard work out. The fact that I am ‘competing’ against other people makes it more motivating than say TrainerRoad or Sufferfest. I try to do two events a week. I am in a team who race on there, and we often chat during races which helps with team work and motivation.
Strangely the races are more like an mtb or CX race in that you need a super fast start to try and get in a good group, after a while the pace tends to settle down a bit.
Like some of the comments above I found it much more time efficient than going out on the bike. At the moment with work and family commitments I would struggle to get much time on the bike, but I am able to get a quality workout in a short space of time.Posted 3 years ago
Can someone recommend a good smart turbo please? I was considering a Wahoo KICKR SNAP, any experiences?Posted 3 years ago
Crispy, 2 of the lads have them and they’re ace. Admittedly i think 1 is experiencing some power spike issues after a recent firmware change, but overall, they’re very happy.Posted 3 years ago
Early Xmas present for me then cheers 🙂Posted 3 years ago
While Zwifting on virtual roads, can you compete against real road Strava times? 😆
Congrats on the weight loss, I’ve lost a similar amount since mid summer and feel so much better for it.Posted 3 years ago
Nice little report, there. Thanks!
How does it work then? Is it like trainerroad?
What sort of turbo would I need to do this? I’ve got an turbo trainer that must be 6-7 years old. Can’t even remember what make or model it is. It’s got manual resistance twiddler, but that’s about it.
I’ve got a speed sensor doo-da for my Garmin….Posted 3 years ago
While Zwifting on virtual roads, can you compete against real road Strava times
No, but the virtual road is the same from a Strava perspective. Your strava times and distances still compete, compare and log as actual distancesPosted 3 years ago
Roter Stern – Member
It is well known that you get the best improvements of fitness on a turbo as it is a completely controllable environment. Plus when you are out on the bike it is surprising just how much time you spend coasting and not pedalling (especially MTBing) something you can’t really do on a turbo.
You want to get yourself a fixie, no free periods on one of those especially if you live somewhere hilly 😆Posted 3 years ago
Old turbos work on a sensor, cadence perspective, using a power curve, they have lots of calibrated ones you can use, e.g Tacx on power 3… .gives XYZ and you can then use that and expect it to be close enough.
I used a completely ‘dumb’ trainer for the first 5 days, but that’s a 20 year old one and the bearings/resistance were not working correctly, i still got a decent figure/workout from it though… but it was properly crap. If it’s dumb but working well, i can’t see an issue. Me and a mate are curently waiting for a speed/cadence sensor from China so we can set his up 🙂
At the end of the day it’s not all about it being exact… it’s about you beating yourself and that’s not going to change if using the same turbo/settings, it’s a bonus racing others, but not the be all and end all. Of course, you don’t know if theirs is exactly correct either, it’s just you against him.. who’s ‘real’ and who’s not, doesn’t come into play in some ways.
Interesting as I’m Zwift curious. I took a little look last year but ultimately stuck with Trainer Road because I was just riding around in Zwift chasing riders or trying not to be caught like you say but it wasn’t structured at all.
With Trainer Road I have a very structured plan and stick to it and that makes me think I’m getting the most I can out of turbo time which I don’t exactly enjoy. For me turbo is January until the clocks change purely to emerge in Spring with a little more fitness than I would have had.
This year I think I will look again at Zwift, maybe turboing can be more engagingPosted 3 years ago
Cheers, weeksy 😀
I’ll have to see exactly what my trainer is. I’ve remembered it’s a Tacx, but can’t remember the model. As you say though, an approximation should be good enough & it is only for comparing my own efforts.
Thanks for the links.
What sort of internet connection speed do you need for this to work well? We’ve got pretty slow internet, which becomes even worse in the garage!Posted 3 years ago
I was a true Zwift cynic… I ripped my mates apart over it, the nerdiness of it all, the bemusement about ‘racing’, “how can it be a real race”, but it is a real race, it’s as real as you want/need it to be.
They’re still WAY more nerdy than me, one of the lads was watching me race the other night (which i won in Cat D through default of people being DQ’d), he was passing on advice via the chat function of when to ease, when to attack and how to ensure i never finished the race with too high a W/KG figure, max was 2.49 (with a .1 allowance) and i finished with 2.53, which meant my result stood. Now personally, i can’t cope with watching others race, or watching Zwiftcasts etc, or running commentary, yes really… people do full race commentary, like Eurosport for nerds LOL.
But as you can clearly see, i’m an advocate of Zwift as a training mechanism.Posted 3 years ago
What sort of internet connection speed do you need for this to work well? We’ve got pretty slow internet, which becomes even worse in the garage!
Sorry mate, no idea… we’ve got super BT BB which is quick, so it’s not an issue for me, so not something i’ve needed to look into.Posted 3 years ago
Weeksy where have you ordered your sensor from? I am looking at getting one but £50 for the garmin one seems excessive.Posted 3 years ago
Does anyone know of a cheaper alternative (has to be bluetooth i think sccording to zwift)? Looking at a dual mode one as well so it can connect to garmin edge 25
Smart or not it’s all a bit of an approximation Stumpy01. I upgraded from a ‘dumb’ trainer to a smart trainer and it is nice that the resistance changes for me but really it’s not essential to benefit from Zwift or others. I went for a fairly basic smart trainer, Tacx Bushido Smart.Posted 3 years ago
I’ve gone for Ant+ as that’s what mine has been so i kinda ‘know’ what i need. I also bought the Sunnoto Ant+ that a lot of STWers have previosuly bought from Amazon.Posted 3 years ago
Weeksy – that looks like it is dual mode so could be just what i am after,thanks.Posted 3 years ago
LEt you know once it arrives matey 🙂 i’d expect i should have it anytime in the next week, but it’s exactly the same configuration as my borrowed Garmin one i have fitted to my bike and worked with my previous dumb trainer.Posted 3 years ago
Good going, mate. And impressive weightloss…..I bet you notice that on the hills.
I second the turbo thing…..I just used to ride the club ride and then it all tailed off once children came along. I got a turbo this spring (and trainer road) and the improvements you see are quite remarkable. I did try zwift but I have a Cyclops Fluid so would consider it more with a smart trainer.Posted 3 years ago
You do have to be a certain type of person to go into a garage or whatnot and smash it out on the bike attached to a machine. I can see why it’s not for everyone. But if you do want to grind your riding buddy into the dust…..
I think I have used Zwift with a broadband speed of as low as 3Mbps, and it has worked fine. It doesn’t transfer loads of information, and the processing is done on your local machine. What is important is a stable connection, as if the signal drops other riders with vanish from your screeen.
You can test to see if Zwift works on your computer with your broadband speed before commiting to buy anything extra. Install the software, and choose ‘Just Watch’ to see if everything works okay.Posted 3 years ago
I bet you notice that on the hills.
Hard to quantify at the moment really. I’m now getting almost back to the weight/fitness i feel is my ‘fighting weight’ so at the moment, everything i do i compare to my 2013 peak times on Strava. Which in some ways isn’t very fair on myself. But my current fitness/weight is certainly better than it was.
I’ve far from given up on the trails, i was at BPW last week, Gorrick last weekend and Swinley this coming weekend. So anyone reading, don’t think it’s one or the other, it can still of course be a combination of both.
I’ve just booked a weeks with Biking Anadalucia for June next year, which is where this little kick-start in training first came from, i want to be at my best for a weeks trail riding, as strong, light, fast and fit as possible to get the most out of them.Posted 3 years ago
This seems awfully cheap for a smart trainer, did i miss something in the description?Posted 3 years ago
I bought this garmin ant+ key. No packaging but seems genuine and turned up in 2-3 days.Posted 3 years ago
Wow, that’s cheap. If i’d seen that i’d have got that for sure.Posted 3 years ago
Seems the adventure will continue today as there’s a KISS America race at 11am, i’m WFH and due a lunch hour so i’ll be jumping on and giving it a whirl.Posted 3 years ago
zwift has a list of turbos that are compatible with zwift on there website, maybe worth checking before splashing the cash, mine isn’t listed but still going to give it a try,Posted 3 years ago
Sorry, don’t know how to do quotes but Blader1611 & Weeksy, it looks like that trainer doesn’t actually control power, it only communicates output speed etcPosted 3 years ago
My old Tacx wasn’t on the list, so we just picked one of the random Tacx ones as compatibility, it honestly wasn’t a million miles out.
Connect,Posted 3 years ago
Agree totally. The ‘smart’ in the name is very misleading.
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