Riding Indoors: A Fundamental Rethink With Zwift
We’ve written about riding the trainer a few times here at Performance. One common theme that united all of those old posts was fighting the boredom and ennui that sets in after even just a few minutes. Sure, there are structured workout videos from Sufferfest and others that can give more life to your trainer ride, but at the end of the day you’re just kind of sitting there waiting for it to be over.
Last winter, that all changed for us. We started hearing about this “Zwift” thing that everyone was talking about. Since our bike is equipped with a power meter, we thought we’d give it a shot and signed up. It was fun, and it definitely made riding the trainer more interesting. But when we finally bit the (admittedly big) bullet and got a Wahoo Kickr, everything changed.
And we do mean everything.
We’ve been in this industry a long time, and we’ve seen a lot of so-called “game changers” come and go, but the combination of Zwift and a fully interactive trainer is the real deal. It has completely changed the way we ride, not just indoors but period.
1.It's Actually Fun
So the first and most important thing about riding Zwift on a smart trainer is that it’s just flat out fun. Not the “I guess I’ll just try and have fun” kind when you’re trying to make the best of something. This is real, actual fun. It’s kind of strangely thrilling to be in this virtual world with other riders, riding over vast mountain passes and hammering out flat time trial segments, all in your own living room (or in our case, that laundry room).
2.Free Of Distraction
One of the things we love most about Zwift is actually something we have a hard time articulating in words. Yes, with Zwift we’re sitting in a sweltering laundry room, looking at a computer screen. But there’s something about Zwift that gets at a fundamental aspect of riding a bike. It’s almost like it frees you from the thousand different distractions of riding on the road. There are no cars, no wind, no barking dogs or careless drivers. Zwift strips all that away, and distills the experience down to only the best aspects of road riding-- a sort of irreducible core that's easy to relate to and engage with. When we ride Zwift, we feel like we become our purest sense of ourselves as cyclists. It’s hard to explain, but we find that freed from the distractions of the road, we’re more focused and are able to ride harder for longer than out on the road.
We’re blessed to live in North Carolina, home to some of the most spectacular riding in the country. But just like anyone else, everyday life doesn’t allow us to spend every weekend in the Blue Ridge Mountains doing epic climbs. Which is why one of our favorite things about Zwift is the variability of the rides you can do. Even on the main course, Watopia, there are so many different options, from high mountain passes to flat time trial courses. That variability allows you to experience types of riding you might not normally get to, or pick the right route for you on a given day. And the smart trainer only makes that even better. It really is incredible how realistic riding up that leg-searing big mountain feels on the Wahoo Kickr.
4. Quick and Easy
Sometimes your life doesn’t sync up with your riding goals. After a long day at the office and all of life’s other commitments, there often isn’t a lot of time for riding outside. The great thing about Zwift is that the weather is always beautiful in Watopia, day or night, summer or winter. Since the service is global, there’s always someone out on the course, and group rides happen around the clock. No matter what type of riding you want to do, Zwift makes it easy to fit cycling into your life in a way that accommodates your schedule. Over the winter we pretty much just left our bike on the trainer for months at a time so it was always ready to go with minimal setup.
In fact, don’t tell anyone—but here’s a shameful secret: Zwift is so easy, we’ve even spent more than a few perfectly sunny Saturday afternoons doing two hour rides on Zwift, simply because leaving the bike on the trainer seemed easier than getting everything together for a ride outside.