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Four years of Zwift

Old 12-22-20, 05:06 AM
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jpescatore
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Four years of Zwift

Zwift sent me a "Four Year Anniversary" email and starting up Zwift says I've done 8,100 miles, so averaging about 2,000 miles per year on Zwift. Using a Wahoo Kickr SNAP and my 1996 Trek 520 as a dedicated indoor bike. Ran Zwift on different platforms for a while, a few years ago moved to Apple TV and that has been the best.

Before Zwift, I averaged about 2,000 miles per year riding outdoors and over the winter did 2-3 45 minute spin classes per week. I'm not a racer or KOM seeker - long, hilly rides, some group rides, some multi-day light touring on the good years (even in 2020, pre pandemic!).

After Zwift, I'm averaging closer to 4,000 miles per year outdoors plus the 2,000 on Zwift - but essentially zero spin classes (put the gym on suspension during the pandemic anyway.) By next winter, some form of normal should be back and I'll probably go back to occasionally spin classes after working out at the gym.

The miles on Zwift are kinda inflated, as my average speeds there are higher than in real life for several reasons. The 2K miles per year is averaging 20 mph on Zwift and IRL I average between 16 and 17mph, so will derate those Zwift miles down to 1,600 or so. But, Zwifting over the winter kept me in shape and actually increased my outdoor riding mileage, as well.

The first year I turned Zwift off after the winter, but then a rainy stretch convinced me to start it up again and since then I've pretty much used it at least two or three times per month over the summer - some of that has decreased my outdoor riding, as Zwift does makes it easier to not get all "kitted" up to go out in marginal weather!

Tried Rouvy and few other alternatives, all had benefits but the variety of what I can do on Zwift has kept me there. Over many years I tried different ways of biking in the basement - Zwift has been the first one to lower the boredom level enough to stick. I'm still having a blast.
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Old 12-31-20, 12:03 AM
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Originally Posted by jpescatore View Post
Over many years I tried different ways of biking in the basement - Zwift has been the first one to lower the boredom level enough to stick. I'm still having a blast.
Yup. Agree. But I wasn't hooked right away. at first, it was still just that boring thing I did in the basement to keep from losing all my fitness in the winter, but still sort of hating it. After about 3 years, I get more out of it. I've learned what kind of rides and goals work for me on Zwift, and I can put in good efforts and even some longer rides - well, up to 2 hours or so. If you find your niche, it an be quite social, too - in the same weird post-modern way that other online activities (bf) can be social.
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Old 12-31-20, 07:18 AM
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Agree about the social aspect - most of my road rides are solo anyway, but I do the occasional club group ride outside, one or two per month.

On Zwift, there is a large variety of group rides. I've found that the Australian SAS club has rides that go at about the right pace for me and the ride leaders and riders chatter on the Zwift text messaging is very entertaining - really makes the minutes fly by. There are also several regular group workouts that are just slightly above my comfort level that I try to do when my schedule works - the "rubber band" effect on group training rides makes it interesting.

A friend of mine who lives in another state and I occasionally do private meetup rides where you can turn that rubber band on, and even though he is much slower than I am, it keeps us together on the screen - and gives me a really good workout!
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Old 12-31-20, 08:59 AM
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Out of curiosity, I looked at my Zwift account to see when I signed-up... 2015 NOV 30 I can't believe I've been on Zwift for over 4 years as well... it seems like I just started using it last year. On nice feature about Zwift is that you can "pause" your subscription which stops the auto renewal process for when you know you'll likely be riding outside more. I should've used that this summer as I paid for Zwift all summer and didn't ride it once

I recently purchased a new Saris H3 trainer which came with coupons to try other training applications. I'm using a 3 month BKOOL coupon right now and a BKOOK subscription is $5/month less than Zwift. The BKOOL experience is decent and it has the option of riding with actual video footage for some routes rather than virtual worlds, but the platform has the same issue all non-Zwift competitors have: No riders. I'm always riding by myself which gets rather boring to me. The one advantage it does have is that if you have .gpx data from a route you ride in real life, you can upload that data and virtually ride the route. I think that'd be a pretty slick benefit if you were preparing for a group ride.
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Old 12-31-20, 09:28 AM
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Originally Posted by PoorInRichfield View Post
Out of curiosity, I looked at my Zwift account to see when I signed-up... 2015 NOV 30 I can't believe I've been on Zwift for over 4 years as well... it seems like I just started using it last year. On nice feature about Zwift is that you can "pause" your subscription which stops the auto renewal process for when you know you'll likely be riding outside more. I should've used that this summer as I paid for Zwift all summer and didn't ride it once

I recently purchased a new Saris H3 trainer which came with coupons to try other training applications. I'm using a 3 month BKOOL coupon right now and a BKOOK subscription is $5/month less than Zwift. The BKOOL experience is decent and it has the option of riding with actual video footage for some routes rather than virtual worlds, but the platform has the same issue all non-Zwift competitors have: No riders. I'm always riding by myself which gets rather boring to me. The one advantage it does have is that if you have .gpx data from a route you ride in real life, you can upload that data and virtually ride the route. I think that'd be a pretty slick benefit if you were preparing for a group ride.
I have a couple of friends who like BKOOL b/c they upload real-life rides and recrreate them on the trainer. But as you say, only Zwift has the mass of people. And for me, that matters.
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Old 12-31-20, 09:31 AM
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[QUOTE=jpescatore;21856193]Agree about the social aspect - most of my road rides are solo anyway, but I do the occasional club group ride outside, one or two per month.

On Zwift, there is a large variety of group rides. I've found that the Australian SAS club has rides that go at about the right pace for me and the ride leaders and riders chatter on the Zwift text messaging is very entertaining - really makes the minutes fly by. There are also several regular group workouts that are just slightly above my comfort level that I try to do when my schedule works - the "rubber band" effect on group training rides makes it interesting.

A friend of mine who lives in another state and I occasionally do private meetup rides where you can turn that rubber band on, and even though he is much slower than I am, it keeps us together on the screen - and gives me a really good workout![/QUOTE

I find the group rides to be a mixed bag. Dad jokes and facts about bacon bore me. Some ride leaders spend all their energy trying to help the people who have been dropped, and then yell at people for riding ahead when those people are actually riding at the advertised pace. Some group rides are pretty good though.

And the races are great (though hard).
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Old 01-01-21, 02:10 PM
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When I started my Zwift experience 14 months ago I had no real expectation that I would like it or dislike it, all I knew was that anything had to be better than riding an exercise bike staring at the wall or the TV. Quickly I found that the platform has something for everyone, actually there are many somethings for everyone. It is true that I put in the time and effort but the rider named Thomas15 that went into last winter as a very novice rider came out of that winter a much improved rider.


I rode quite a bit last spring-fall outside, joined a club and in general started to feel comfortable on a bicycle. I rode my trainer some during the warm weather season but not a whole lot. In the last several months I have transitioned back to the trainer and Zwift. A few things are different now, I now have a wheel-on smart trainer (used a supported fluid trainer last year) and I'm in a 12 week workout program. First year I didn't do any workouts at all.


Just as a mental exercise I looked at all of the other virtual platforms for comparison. It is true that some are less expensive and offer interesting features. But for $16/ month Zwift offers a lot if you avail yourself to it. I finished the last day 2020, my last ride of the year by leveling up to level 36. 14 months to level 36 I think that's not too bad. My total miles inside and outside for the year is 6300. Never in a thousand years did I ever think I would spend that much time on a bicycle in one year.


Last summer people that I had ridden with the year before went out of their way to tell me that my riding had come a long way. I intend to have a similar experience next spring, Lord willing. Given the cost in physical discomfort I know I would have to pay if I went dormant over the winter, i gladly send Zwift a check for $16 every month.
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Old 01-04-21, 07:07 AM
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The first two years on Zwift, in January I began 12 week training efforts aimed at local club and charity century rides in April and May. I only loosely stuck to the training plan, but I was in best shape of my bicycling life in April.

In 2020, covid derailed all those rides so last year I just did group rides, solo rides and the occasional race.

I'm going to be optimistic about 2021 and will be doing more of the training rides and custom workouts I created from the "Time Crunched Cyclist" book. If some level of normalcy is slow to arrive, at least I will be in very good shape for April/May Zwift rides!
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Old 01-17-21, 01:37 PM
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Thank you for posting all this. I am very new to Zwift and am perhaps behind the surge of people setting up venues thanks to covid. I'm impressed so far, but still have several weeks of my 30 day trial remaining. I'm sort of having a "where has this been all my life" moment -- so much better than spinning at the gym to youtube videos.
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Old 01-17-21, 03:06 PM
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Same here, keep the winter boredom down. Really helps. I am on year 5 but I am only a winter Zwifter. Just over 5K miles for me.
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