Thoughts from a new Zwifter's first three weeks

Hello all! I guess what I’m about to type is for the benefit of fellow newbies and people interested in Zwifting, primarily. But anyone else may want to comment too.

After a failed attempt at using a Wahoo cadence and speed sensor on an exercise bike, which was akin to bolting legs on a dolphin. I bit the bullet and ordered a basic bike from Halfords - thank you, users, who replied to my thread - as it helped inform my decision. I also picked up a mint condition second-hand Tacx Flow from eBay.

Here’s a few thoughts about how I’ve found Zwift so far:

Info out there that says Zwift is hard for beginners is accurate. I’m a former grayhound-speed 10k runner, former because I developed acid reflux last year, which I’m still recovering from. If I run faster than a certain speed, I get debilitating stomach pain and have to stop. Mercifully, I don’t feel this on a bike - probably owed to there being less movement/lower impact.

I’ve a fair bit of weight on, but I’m not what I would call unfit. Still, I’ve turned off the trainers smart capabilities to just enjoy whizzing around for the time being. Changing gears does feel like something I’ll do properly down the line, but for now I’m focusing on achiving ‘the gains’ in my legs and upping my average wattage slowly over time.

I’m doing around 70 miniutes each evening, which roughly spans 30 - 35k each ride. By far, I enjoy the flat routes - as somebody who has always ran outside, I like seeing the scenery whizz past. I’ve invested quite heavily in Zwift - with my fitness banking on it, I bought a 55-inch 4K TV, a gaming PC (also for VR), and a tall TV stand. It’s about a metre from my face, and it’s glorious. The immersion is fantastic. But I just don’t get a kick out of changing to the lowest gear and taking 10 minutes climibing a single stretch of a mountain. Perhaps this will change over time.

I’ve had concerns about my low wattage since starting, going so far as to blame it on the trainer. I can hold 145 for a period before dropping back down to about 110. The ‘basic’ bike I bought has 8 gears, and I get around 235 in the highest when going absolutely flat out. I can’t understand how riders get 800. Is that because their bikes have more gears? A better trainer (perhaps direct drive?). I’ve pumped up my tire to 110PSI and calibrated according to the Taxc utility app.

Thankfully, I’m not too bothered about racing, or group rides. Maybe in the future, but for now I’m enjoying tootling around Watopia and getting mini PBs on splits, unlocking new kit, reading what people say in the chat and upping my FTP, etc. All the fluffy stuff.

I’m really enjoying Zwift, but I get the impression that it’s not particularly geared for people like me who aren’t concerned about ‘realism’ and would probably be happy powering Mario Kart than taking 20 minutes to climb a mountain. (I do, however, recognise the achievement that must be felt after undertaking such a feat.)

So long as it continues allowing me to get fitter without any stomach pain, an hour each evening, it’s doing the job that my treadmill can no longer do. Anything else that comes in time will be a bonus!


In my opinion, the best way to describe Zwift is that it is a game that some cyclist wish was more accurate, including me.

But for now it’s a game…enjoy your tootling as I do and ride on! :+1:

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When you say you have turned off all the smart capabilities do you mean you paired it as a power source not a controllable? Or do mean you’ve turned the trainer off at the wall and you are using it as a classic trainer?

What cadence are you doing when you are going flat out in the highest/hardest gear?

Hi Ben - I’ve just turned the trainer difficulty to 0%. Just looked and my max cadence for the last ride was 803, with average 87. Max speed was 68.7 (going downhill) and 28.5 kph average. Max power. was 182w and average 107, which seems quite low. I mean, it could just be my fitness. I’ve never cycled before until three weeks ago (except as a kid, obviously) so my legs do need to get stronger. When I up into the top 2 gears, the watts shoot up - I just can’t maintain it so I have to bring the gears down to the third-highest, which is comfortable for long stretches (but watts dips to about 105 ish).

Ok. I wouldn’t be concerned that the numbers are low then if you are very new to it.

There is no wrong way to Zwift so just keep doing what is giving you a smile.

In terms of why people slog out for 10/20/60 mins on a climb… I guess the majority on Zwift are cyclists in the first instance. They therefore have a kind of weird satisfaction of climbing big hills/ mountains. Climbing in Zwift will either be to keep their legs tuned for real world climbing efforts or as a substitute to the real thing. There really is nothing like getting to the top of a hill/ mountain and looking down at where you started knowing that you alone powered your way up the road.

Not being a runner (not since quitting football 8 years ago) i would expect something similar in your sport but personally i can’t get my head round running any distance for fun [the only reason i run is if i have a puncture!].

Ride On!