Zwift is an online game designed for turbo trainers. Download the (currently) free software to your computer and use an ANT+ dongle to transfer heart rate, cadence and power data (depending on your devices) to the game. Currently it requires a desk-top or lap-top running either Windows or Mac but an ipad version is planned.
Create an avatar of yourself and then ride a virtual course, competing against other riders or just against yourself. As you pass other riders (or they pass you) the game shows how far they are in front or behind, thus encouraging you to speed up and pass them. Achieving certain goals unlocks ‘prizes’ – a new bike, upgraded wheels, clothing for your avatar, etc. Once finished upload the data to Strava or other platforms and wait for the kudos.
It works best with a ‘smart’ trainer such as Wahoo’s Kickr as this will adjust the resistance automatically to the terrain you’re riding on in the game, but can be used with a standard trainer or rollers.
It is remarkably addictive and there is already a worldwide community of Zwift obsessives – distance records are being set, KOMs competed for and organised rides take place with riders from around the globe. There is also a number of pros who are using it for training – the other evening I was on it and the great Jens Voigt popped up to beat me up a climb!
Currently there are 2 courses – an island called Watopia and a road circuit – actually the 2015 World’s course in Richmond, Virginia – but more are planned. There is also a linked phone app which enables texting while riding (not easy when you’re trying to sprint) thus enabling communication with other riders.
For anyone who finds riding the turbo boring or soul destroying (and often both), Zwift makes it fun and interesting. A number of Old Ports – Julian, Joe, Kevin, John, Dave C – already use it; why not give it a try and join an Old Ports club run on the turbo?