OK, so we know that pedaling away on our indoor trainer can get a wee bit boring now and again. We might be able to enjoy a few tunes on our iPod or watch a great movie now and again, but there’s nothing really like being out on the open road, racing with friends, with the wind whistling past our ears…and then there’s the constantly changing scenery a gorgeous Spring day brings…oh yes!
For those of you feeling the boredom, you’ll be delighted to hear that the new kid on the block, virtual training, is fast becoming a game changer in the world of indoor training!
There are a number of companies that have created some stunning virtual cycling training worlds out there, but we’re going to take a look at Zwift, a startup which has really caught our attention because it has taken on the video gaming world and applied it to indoor training.
The Zwift Virtual Training Software is in a state of continuous development and being improved on by its creators solely with indoor training in mind. They are constantly releasing new versions and providing support for new trainers and environments, and it looks to us as though pretty soon they could be taking on the world…some have even described it as Strava meets World of Warcraft!
All you need is a trainer (take your pick), a wireless connection, an ANT+ device (USB2), and a free download of the Zwift software, which is suitable for PC and Mac.
The beta version features a four-mile training course where bikers can encounter obstacles like mountain climbs and other riders, while to make the virtual ride more exciting, there are competitions that will award you jerseys for the fastest lap, mountain climbs to seize the King of the Mountain title, and the natural competing with other riders.
Entering this virtual world while training will surely provide some inspiration, giving you all the excitement of an outdoor ride and competition. The guys at Zwift also have some pretty interesting plans for the future, with the ability to take part in “virtual” Tour stages of the world’s biggest races, something which the average cyclist would never be able to do in real-life.
You can also get your cycling friends to play with you to banish the boredom from those solitary winter training sessions; ride with your friends in the virtual world while the biking trails and lanes outside are slippery or blanketed with snow! And if your friends aren’t up for it, you can befriend new biking pals on Zwift, as it’s designed as a multiplayer online training tool with a chat function.
I know this development is a real boost to many of you cycling fans out there. We’re already registered with Zwift but have yet to try them out. As soon as we do, we’ll report back here. In the meantime, get yourselves signed up too and try it out (just so you know the demand these guys are facing – 10,000 people signed up for the beta in the first THREE days!)! And let us know how it goes!