Indoor riding tips and tricks!
Cold weather is here and riding the trainer becomes more and more the best option, and in some cases, the only option.
There are many choices like Rouvy and RGT, but Zwift is the best. I admit I am a Zwift guy with 5 years on the platform and 900+ races so I am biased, that is where I spend my time and it is my recommendation for an online cycling program.
You get 7 days free before they charge you. After that it's $15 a month. This is the best money I have ever spent on bike racing. Working your way around the Zwift universe can be a bit daunting with so much to choose from. Just start off riding around, doing some recovery rides or jump in with riders going by until you get a feel for how it all works. Once you get comfortable, you can enter some races, or group rides. Every type of tempo and recovery ride is available or pick a workout from the massive Zwift library. Literally any kind of riding can be done. Some of the Zwift sponsored events can draw thousands of riders, which means you can always find people to ride with. There is a 'video game' aspect to it that some riders find difficult, but trust me, you get over that pretty quickly and learn you can train just as hard if not harder on Zwift than anywhere including IRL. The only exception to that would be pure endurance miles in the 4-5 hour range as 2 hours on Zwift is about max for most of us.
The good thing about Zwift is that it is 24-7. You can find something anytime, day or night. There are also many many groups and clubs on Zwift that offer any and all types of riding and racing, some use discord so you can talk to your teammates as you ride.
A quick search will bring up many online articles that provide all of the details for getting setup on Zwift like this one for more specifics:
Once you have your setup dialed in and you want to race here are some pointers:
Zwift categories are A+(5.0 W/KG average), A, B, C and D. You start as a D rider and move up the ranks. Nothing worse than picking some insane A+ race, getting blown out and discouraged about Zwift overall. Take your time. There is a huge difference in which type of race you choose, not only the category but the course. If you are training to race, find the terrain you are looking for which will help decide the type of workout you have in mind. A flat race is good for steady endurance work. If you are looking for interval work, Zwift racing offers options as well. The hilly races of course are much different. The extreme is Alpe du Zwift, which is a whopping 45 minutes of climbing.
An example of a recent race I did looked like this:
Start-30 second sprint
Next 5 minutes- 85% of FTP
At 6 minute mark- One sharp hill- 45 sec 125% of FTP
Next 10 minutes-75% of FTP
At the 21 minute mark- A 6 minute 7% climb. 100-110% of FTP
So that is 4 'known' intervals per lap. Throw in any random attacks you might have to respond to and you would come up with probably 10 intervals of different lengths per lap and the race was two laps. Ballpark, 20 intervals. Every race also finishes with a full gas sprint.
I use Zwift for a lot of my interval training, throw in tactics as well and you have a full plate of some pretty intense and valuable work.
All that being said, too much Zwift racing can lead to some burnout, so it should be used as part of your structured training and not the only source. It is very beneficial and can give you that fine edge to your racing as you move outside.