By: Sean Condon
So you’ve got yourself a trainer and signed up for Zwift but you’ve been too nervous to log-on for your first ride. Or maybe you’ve pedaled a few digital miles but are looking for some tips?
Well, let’s take a trip back to your childhood and relearn your ABCs!
A - Air (Circulation)
One thing you’ll pick up on pretty quick is that riding inside is H-O-T! I mean it can get sauna-like, which is great if you’re Richard Simmons Sweatin’ to the Oldies, but otherwise, not so much so. Invest in a fan. Or six. Trust me, of all the things that are going to make you comfortable, this tops the list!
B - Bidon
That’s fancy French speak for water bottle! Circling back to the sauna observation, you’re going to dehydrate like it’s going out of style. Many riders (myself included) tend not to drink enough even when out on the real road. Don’t make that mistake inside, especially if you have a team car (i.e. a significant other), who doesn’t mind bringing you refills. Also make sure to have a towel handy. You’re gonna need it.
C - Companion App
While you can’t use it to order post-ride pizza, the Zwift companion app packs a powerful punch! With it you can give ride on’s, choose which road to take, activate powerups, and message your friends. Think of it as your Zwift remote control, albeit less likely to be lost under the couch cushions.
D - Drafting
Just like in the real world, drafting actually helps. Tucking in behind a digital rider will give you all of the benefits of cozying up behind your mate on your club ride: you’ll expend less energy while going faster, giving you a bit of a breather in some cases, and if you’re in a big pack, it’s even better! Zwift will give you clues if you’re in a draft up near the top of your screen and in the body position of your avatar.
E - Eating
Much like hydration, this can be something that is easily forgotten while pedaling in your living room. While most Zwift rides are an hour or less where energy replenishment isn’t so crucial, if you’re going longer for endurance work, have some snacks within reach. This is the PERFECT time to try out new bars, gel, or other sports energy snacks to see how your body reacts to them under work.
F - (Be) Friendly
To be completely honest, one of my favorite things about Zwift is that it lets you be social (especially in times of COVID where group rides and events are/were verboten). Unless you’re training for le Tour, it’s okay to let your hair down a bit! Share some ride on’s (those blue thumbs that feed our souls), send some messages (dad jokes are universally welcomed), join some events (where you can earn some new digital threads). F also stands for FUN, as in make sure to have some!
K - Kit
Homemade jean shorts just don’t cut it, even in the confines of your own home. The right cycling shorts make all the difference, and I’m guessing because you’re reading this you know where to get them! A base layer up top works great since you don’t need back pockets. Digitally speaking, make sure to play around with your avatar, too, adjusting not only your physical features, but also your in-game kit. As you clock more miles and participate in events, you’ll have more threads to pick from in your online “garage’!
M - Motivation
Let’s be honest, riding inside just isn’t the same as getting out for real miles, so motivation is clutch. This can take many different forms; for me, it’s music. Trying to sprint to Nora Jones’ Come Away With Me just doesn't cut it. Trust me, I had a spin instructor try it one time. For others, it could be a poster of the Cannibal’s (i.e. the greatest cyclist of all time, i.e. Eddy Merckx) grim visage or a wall full of race number bibs posted around your trainer. Whatever it is, pump yourself up!
R - Routes
There are dozens and dozens of routes in Zwift to pick from; pick one that suits your ability or your goal. Just looking to get comfortable on the bike? Recovering from an injury? Looking for an easy rest day activity? Look for a flatter route. Gearing up for a hilly ride coming up in the spring? Choose a climby route that will push you a bit more.
W - Workouts
A lesser known (and used) aspect of Zwift is the ability to access workouts of various intensities and focuses. Sometimes just getting (virtually) out and pedaling willy-nilly isn’t going to help you achieve the goals you’ve set for yourself, in which case, structured workouts might be a better option for you.
Eliel will be offering social rides throughout the winter - we hope you’ll consider joining us for some miles! Click here for the Eliel Zwift group ride schedule, and click here for some secrets to maximize indoor performance!