Zwift – Getting Started
Here’s all you need to know about getting started with Zwift. Long gone are the days of staring at a blank wall spinning your legs for a mind-numbing hour (if you even get that far). Introducing Zwift – a virtual reality cycling world. Join your mates for a spin or cycle with some new friends from overseas. Time passes quickly, create your own routes, race against yourself, the clock or your friends. How do you get started?
The equipment you need to get started for Zwift are quite similar for a normal indoor setup albeit with more tech heavy based equipment.
Let's start with the basics first. You need a bike, it doesn’t need to be fancy, but it must be in good working order. Grab a towel, perhaps a fan, water bottles and a pair of cycling shoes (or even trainers if you haven’t upgraded to them yet).
A smart trainer, is the only way you can really replicate the true outdoors feeling while riding on Zwift, why? Because a smart trainer will allow you to connect to the virtual world and route you're riding, it will change the resistance as you ride uphill or downhill giving you that added benefit.
To connect your smart trainer to Zwift you’ll need an ANT+ stick (you’ll find one for cheap enough online) you can plug this in to your laptop or computer and it will connect straight to your smart trainer (this is where the changing in resistance with the elevation comes in). Your Garmin/Polar or whatever sports device you are using will be able to connect to Zwift via Bluetooth along with any heart rate monitor you’re using.
You can use your laptop to connect Zwift up to the big screen, this really immerses the feeling of riding outdoors. However, if this is not possible your laptop/computer should do the trick. Downloading Zwift, choosing your rider and updating your details is really easy as soon as the app is downloaded.
Choose your Route
Once you’re connected and set-up it’s time to choose a course and start pedaling. Zwift offers users several different routes/courses to ride around, which is why it’s so appealing. You’ll never get bored as the team are constantly expanding the routes as time goes by. Zwift’s own map is called Watopia, this a made-up world where you can ride hills, descents, flats, through the jungle, up a volcano, there’s a lot of different turns to make. You can also ride through London and some of the countryside, a version of the 2015 World Championship route from Richmond, Virginia; Innsbruck, Austria, a route based on the 2018 UCI World Championships. You can also dive into the future and ride around Central Park, New York, in 2118. They are all unique, giving you a lot of options, hilly, flat, or undulating.
Zwift also offers you the chance to get into racing, if like many, you feel you’re not up to the standard of racing locally yet, why not try an online race? If you know your Functional Threshold Power (FTP) you’ll easily find a race suited to your standards online. A list of upcoming races can be found at zwiftpower.com
Zwift also offers you the chance to customise your rider, as you gain experience (by riding more kilometers) you can unlock better equipment, such as bikes, helmets, shoes, and even special jerseys. As you get better, you can also win KOM/QOM or even sprints throughout your ride, this will give you the chance the wear the polka dot/green sprint jersey until someone else comes along to beat you!