Training Tool or Video game?

(Mike Wood) #1


I’m a semi serious club rider from the UK who covers around 200km a week, I am 47 years old and have a good grasp of technology and have a lot of previous gaming history.

I downloaded Zwift after seeing it on The Cycle Show in the UK and thought wow that will cure my turbo training boredom.

I have been using Zwift for the last couple of nights and I have to say I am hooked. Initially I went out to smash the KOM, smash the sprint and smash the lap record, which with a lot of wattage, sweat and grunting I managed to do.

Last night I approached it the same way for the initial ride then had a rest and thought about how I really wanted to use Zwift.

  1. I need a training tool rather than an instant gratification video game
  2. I need something I can hook up to and ride with like minded individuals.
  3. I need to compliment my regular real world rides.

There are however elements of Zwift that detract from this and are pure arcade game. The boosts stand out in particular and are very arcade car racing in style so that begs the question are they really necessary in a VR training tool?

I learnt the subtleties of drafting last night which once mastered changed the whole experience. I drafted a rider for a lap then swapped places and dragged him round the island before peeling off to attack the sprint, great realism and very rewarding. I appreciate the ‘feel’ is limited to your trainer and I have a basic setup with a Cycleops Fluid2 trainer so I get no resistance feedback but if approached from a ‘real’ ride mentality it is spot on.

However I have to return to the boosts… these are really not necessary and confuses who you are actually aiming this at. Is it an arcade game or is it a serious training tool? Perhaps you should have the option to ride ‘Arcade’ or ‘Realistic’ to widen your target audience.
I see me using this as a winter training setup to compliment my few chances to actually get on the road in the wet and windy UK weather and I expect this will be the case for the majority of your users.

Arcade games have there place but how many gamers have a serious trainer, GPS system, cadence sensor and the actual space required to use Zwift?
I avoid saying ‘to play Zwift’ as I really do not see the development of the software as a gaming platform.

Hope that helps in your development and I can only say I am impressed so far at how well the software has been realised.

Mike W

(Jon Mayfield) #2

Zwift is not aiming to be a “simulation” of real riding, we are aiming to be something that make your indoor miles less dull, and make indoor riding a reasonable option more of the time.  

If that means you want to hop on and do intervals and have Zwift help guide you through those, cool.   If you want to jump on and join a social group ride, do that.   If you want to just get on and try to hammer all the segments for jerseys, you can do that too.  It is what you make of it.  I don’t see how powerups affect anybodies ability to get on there and train.   

Riding indoors can be so much more than just structured training, and we’ll be pushing that envelope while also adding more serious training features.  We will not be taking one path or the other, we’ll be taking both.


(Madeleine Kraus) #3

Hi Mike,

I understand what you are saying, but disagree with the pure arcade game notion.

From my perspective (a former masters racer in the USA) the boosts are a small but appealing part of the activity. In my racing days I regularly beat men in the TT not because I could lay down more watts but because I have a far more aerodynamic position on the bike. So the aero boost is, for me, a gaming nod to the real world fact that I can speed up without pedaling harder.

The prize of Zwift is fitness, the fun of Zwift is rolling around an obscure island in the Pacific looking for others who are wearing your club’s kit or have a nation flag you’ve never seen before, and the future of Zwift is (I hope) far more than a training tool.

Hope to see you on Watopia !



(Mike Wood) #4

Jon & Madeleine,


Thanks for the feedback.

To follow up my initial post I have to say that I agree with both of your replies and after a few more days on Zwift I do appreciate the depth of the software and that the choice is entirely up to the rider how they approach each session.

I had my first real world ride today after 3 nights using Zwift and immediately felt the beneft. My fitness / stamina was much improved and the short sprint intervals we put in were less draining. Whether this is a direct result of the extra saddle time on Zwift or a mental thing I’m not sure.
After our 125k ride which included some steep sharp hills and some long rolling descents plus a few sprint segmants and long endurance sections my fellow riders stopped at my house so I could show them the setup.
During the RW ride today I discussed my findings and experiences with them, one was very enthusiastic whilst the other was quite derogetory about it.
After setting my bike up, starting the PC and Zwift plus the phone app I showed them how it works. I managed the sprint segment and grabbed the green jersey whilst burning several hundred more calories and sweating a whole lot more.
Both were very impressed and realised the potential benefit in adding fitness without being mind numbingly boring. Both had a go and both left smiling and chatting about Zwift.
Two more converts I think and certainly two more to add to the Zwift roster.

I will be very intersted to see how much more the software develops and getting stuck into a few more courses. I understand the UCI Richmond course is lined up for Zwift which should be really intersting to pitch myself against a known entity and time data.

In the meantime I plan on doing many more kilometres on Zwift and grabbing a few jerseys along the way.
Hopefully I’ll see you on there Madeleine and say hi.

Mike W. 

(Andrew Williams) #5

I have 7000km on Zwift.


It is what you make of it.  Everything Jon said is possible on Zwift.


If I want to do intervals, I can do them based on the terrain of the course.  If I want to work on my sprint, I can do so in either direction.  If I want to ride socially, I do.


The powerups never bothered me (I was here when they were first invented, back then the aero helmet was a little jet plane and the burrito worked) but there were lots of complaints along similar lines.


Ultimately, they don’t affect the experience much, but I can understand when everything is still new, it might seem to do so.  After many months however, what keeps me coming back to Zwift is pretty much exactly what Jon said: It makes things more interesting.