I imagine anyone who follows cycling blogs has stumbled across Zwift by now. I started using it in late summer when it was still free (at the beginning of December it moved to a $10.00 U.S. / month model), and I'm still using it now. If you've never heard of it - it's one of these "gaming the workout" products. You ride your bike on your trainer in your house, with sensors recording the power you're producing, your power (your watts really) get sent to your character in the Zwift "game", and basically... the power you produce on your trainer is what powers your character on the course.
Here's what I like and don't like about Zwift.
- whenever I use Zwift, there are at least a few hundred other people from around the world racing on that course, so it is great riding with so many other people. There's also the ability to chat / text with people near you on the course, but I'm usually pedaling too hard to really consider doing that.
- because it actually makes indoor training fun, I've logged way more miles than I would have otherwise as summer ended and fall weather began here in Canada.
- this is a weird one... but I have never thrown away a pair of cycling shorts... even the ones that have big rips and tears in various places. So, I don't use these ragged ones outside in the real world... but on my bike in my basement? Hey why not? So old favourites that have been retired are now back!
- $10.00 / month (actually more like $14.00 right now in Canada). Could be worse... this is basically the Netflix model... and hell... if I did some math based on "money spent" & "calories burned" it'd be well worth it.
Two things here, one a minor quirk because of the trainer I'm using, and from what I gather in the Zwift forums, is extremely rare.
- I'm using a CycleOps Trainer from around 2004... so an old model. When you use a "dumb" trainer like this one you need to have a speed sensor on your bike to pick up the speed (I'm using this set from MEC, plus a heart-rate monitor). Anyway, Zwift and my particular trainer aren't the best of friends, and when I ride, I'm going slower in the game than I actually should be.
- Although there are very energetic folks who organize group rides on Zwift (search Zwift on facebook and you'll come across several groups), the timing never really works out for me, so I log onto Zwift and just start riding by myself, and more often than not, I'm in a no-man's land, riding alone, too slow to keep up with the folks who blow past me, but too fast to ride with the (few) people that I pass. So, riding solo is a bit of a drag, but still, it's totally worth it.
There are tons of videos on YouTube about Zwift if you want to learn more.