Zwift Vs Road (longer slower rides)

Like to know experienced Zwift users with their thoughts on riding road against turbo. Many say there is no substitute for the road but then some of the Elites are using Zwift most of the year round. It does become a little mind numbing if you plan to do a 3 hr ride. Thoughts?
Most of my shorter rides are on Zwift, but really need to get my bike leg to the next step on the ladder say 22-23mph avg - currently at 21mph avg on Olympic Distance.

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Hi Aaron:

It all depend on what you prefer. If it is a nice day and you have save roads then why not, go out side and have fun.

With my schedule I have to train early morning before work, so I train on Zwift that way I know if anything go wrong I am already at home. I do my long rides on Zwift Thursdays 5am - 9am, we are a bunch of friends that do it at the same time so we chat on discord and that way time fly by.

It’s not road vs turbo. It’s whatever you prefer, which is more time efficient, which is more convenient, which is more practical, etc…

There are plenty of group rides of varying intensity on Zwift that will go ~3hrs (e.g., Asia 120km, 3R Endurance 100km) If that isn’t an option, then maybe create a Meetup and invite your friends to ride w/you.


I’ll echo the other guys.

It’s not one vs. the other. You can (and probably should) do both.

Zwift Pros:

  1. Can ride any time, day or night, safely and conveniently.

  2. Can achieve a level of targeted training (power, cadence) that is often really hard to do on the road (with traffic, distractions, debris). Done well, this gives you a hugely efficient return on your training time ‘investment’.

  3. There’s no ice and snow on the Zwift’s virtual roads.

Zwift Cons:

  1. I start to reach my ‘sitting on the trainer’ limit at about the 2-hour mark. I can go longer, but I generally don’t want to.

  2. Virtual superbike is not my real bike.

  3. There’s no wind in Zwift.

take 2 & 3 together, and my average speed in Zwift almost always exceeds 20 mph and is frequently in the neighborhood of 22-23 mph on flatter courses.

In the real world, on my real road bike, riding solo? With wind and hills and real roads? If I sustain an average of 19 mph or better? That’s a GREAT day for me, and it rarely happens. ~ 18 is more common.

I tell myself that Zwift isn’t completely unrealistic. That if I a had a flat-rolling route around an island where the winds were calm & the asphalt was pristine, and I had a Cervelo with lightweight carbon wheels and perfect positioning in the drops? I probably could go solo @ 22+ mph average over 60 - 90 minutes.

And my average zwift speed is a lot closer to reality on the climbier routes, so there’s that.

But… it’s easy to get an inflated sense of what’s possible if you don’t do at least some of your training outdoors to keep things in perspective.

Using Zwift regularly will make you faster outdoors though, there’s almost no question about it. So, do both!


Hi Aaron!
I have a five hour ride planned for Sunday and it’s looking like rain, plus I live on Long Island in New York and traffic is always a concern. So it might be an inside Zwift day for me with early seasons of Game Of Thrones (I’m looking for clues for this finale.) I think the longest Zwift ride I have done was six hours while training for Ironman Boulder.
The replies I’ve seen here are spot on with the pros and cons.
Best wishes for the season!


I train exclusively on Zwift and I think it’s a great alternative choice for triathletes. I did a sprint tri recently without any specific training and averaged 32km/hr on the bike without too much effort despite not having ridden outside for 12 months.
I will probably do some outside riding if I do another IM but will still do the vast majority on Zwift. I used to ride with a group of roadies which was fun but every ride involved near misses or road rage incidents which I really don’t need. It’s not my job, it’s a hobby.
I swim in open air pools or the ocean and do my long run every weekend in the national park so I feel I’m getting my fair share of outdoor time.


Blimey. That’s so sad that people don’t ride outside. I love Zwift for its efficiency and convenience but you can’t beat epic rides with your mates in the sunshine. And having laughs at the cake stop.

You don’t learn bike handling on Zwift or what kit you need for different weathers. My weekend rides are the highlight of the week. Scenery, adventures, getting out in nature - what’s not to love ?

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Like what David said above I do all my rides on zwift and only race on the road. I have done this for 3 seasons now. I ride about 260-320km a week atm, clocked up almost 40,000km on zwift.
I wouldn’t say my peak power has increased, but I can definitely hold higher watts for longer. I averaged 39km/hr in an Olympic tri last year, probably to fast for me but that was a 6min PB I think.
In my local triathlon my times on the bike and run have gotten faster the last few years, same course, like I said I can hold higher watts for longer with lower Heart rate.
In terms of long rides, I love hills, any climbing rides are great training and any Pretzel course is awesome for a long 3-5hour Ride, it doesn’t get to boring either as you have different hills to climb and different routes, in terms of long group rides I tend to avoid most as they turn into tempo sessions which aren’t great training.
I find riding indoors much safer and definitely am a stronger rider for it, which helps my runs too and yes I generally run outside, sometimes on the treadmill but only if it’s raining.


Can only second this approach. I live in a metro area and the only longer path without road crossings has to is shared with walkers, runners, children and recreational cyclists. Beyond the 15k it offers you have to go dual with American drivers for road space. So you can go out and spin your legs a little outside, but forget about structured workouts, intervals, prolonged time in the aero position…Zwift is way superior from a training perspective IMHO, especially if you can ERG mode along.

But as Darren said, it comes down to where you life and which routes you have available.