For those of you, like me, biking indoors, I want to let you know about Zwift.  I’ve been Zwifting for just over a year now and I think’s great!

Zwift is a virtual community where people can bike and run with others all over the world.  The software is free, but there is a monthly subscription charge of $15.  You do not have to pay year round, as I was able to suspend mine from April-November and then picked it up right where I left off.

Zwift allows  you to just ride (or run), but also has structured workouts such as a progressive Olympic Triathlon plan or an FTE builder and more.  And for those of you who don’t know, FTE stand for Functional Threshold Power, I will address this a little later.  You can also participate in group rides and races and the races are structured by ability.  There’s a lot you can do and it’s a lot of fun.

The hardware you need is a bike, an indoor trainer, some type of computer/tablet/smart phone or even Apple TV.  You also need a speed/cadence meter, and/or a power meter and you can also add a heart rate monitor.  If you have a smart trainer, Zwift can do some amazing things with that, too.  If you want something cheaper, here is a great video for the cheapest way to get hooked up to Zwift.

And if you want to use IOS devices on the cheap, check this out.

One of the great things Zwift does, is if you go the cheap route, Zwift will give you rather accurate power numbers.  If you use a speed sensor, Zwift will prompt you to add which indoor trainer you are using and then, when you ride, it will give you your watts and you watts per kilogram (if you put your weight in, too).  With this information, you can start to learn all about biking with power.  You can take tests to figure out your FTP (Functional Threshold Power).  FTP is basically your highest average watts you can put out for 1 hour.  This information can be very valuable helping you with your training.

I’ve attached a picture of my set-up.  I’m using the Cycleops 2 fluid trainer (dumb trainer) with the Garmin Vector 2 power meter pedals and Garmin Heartrate monitor.  I also have a NPE Cable converter that converts ANT+ signals to Bluetooth with allows my Garmin devices to communicate to my iPad.  Also, my iPad is connected to my TV with HDMI cable and lighting port HDMI connecter.  And I also have a really powerful fan!  With this set up, I’m ready to ride.  Using my free Zwift Companion app and searching for Events, I found a 50K race starting at 2:30pm in the virtual course of Richmond, VA.  I choose to enter in group, “C” which is an intermediate level for people between 2.5 and 3.1 Watts per Kilogram.  This will actually be my first race on Zwift and it’s funny, but I’m a little nervous….But it will be fun!

I know I probably tossed around a lot of terminology here that not everyone understands.  If you’re interested and Zwift and have some questions, I will do my best to help.

I hope you will find this useful.

Ron P.