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Running continuously (even through the summer months), I’m now running a small virtual group ride round the island of Watopia, for myself and several of my cycling buddies in my Meetup cycling group. 

Eh- What? 

2    zwift-flat

Seriously…now that the dark hours and crap weather are upon us, we can apply Velominati Rule No. 5 and get out there in the cold and wet …or we can man up and hit the turbo’s indoors …!

Except that cycling indoors can be very VERY boring…

No ..seriously ..it really is….

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Like a lot of other things in life, computers and electronics can now help us out with a bit of indoor turbo cycling that turns out to be a bit like immersing yourself into a video game…

Using the Eurobike award winning online cycling platform called Zwift , turbo’ing indoors has actually turned out to be quite fun. Graphics are good and you can chat (aka text) with literally hundreds of real cyclists from all around the world as you cycle –

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Being a bit of a geek , I was an early adopter during the BETA testing and I can honestly say I’m loving it… so much so that I’ve started to really encourage others to give it a go…

Check it out at www.zwift.com

There is obviously a cost factor to the equipment required to get online, but it can be less than you might think, if you’ve already got a turbo trainer and a home PC / mac / Ipad (soon*).

There are three basic levels of set-up that you can go for :-

  1. Basic
  2. Flexible
  3. Premium

The clever people from GCN have put together a nice video that explains it quite nicely before I get into the nitty gritty of  the techncallities:-

THINGS YOU WILL NEED:-
1. A bike

wiggle-road-bike-road-bikes-black-1wgmy16r7048uk0001-1
2. A Trainer – Turbo or Rollers.

bkool-pro-trainer
3. An ANT+ compatible speed and cadence sensor OR an ANT+ compatible power meter OR a “smart “trainer that has the sensors or power meter built in..

bkool-ant-plus-usb-stick-lowres
4. An ANT+ USB dongle, which needs to be plugged into your PC/ MAC or IPAD
5. An internet connection
6. A Zwift account – DO NOT FEAR – Zwift allow you to try it out FREE for 14 days or 50km (which ever runs out soonest) before you need to put any money down . If you do take the plunge, it’s £8 a month but you DON’T have to front up credit card detail or money to have a go on the free try. So go on – give it a go!)

I confess to being quite hooked already …and saw benefits in my Caledonia Etape early in the year from having a weekly go in Zwift during the winter.

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I’m happy to provide advice on equipment , make suggestions etc as I just love to help people get involved.

Drop me a message if you need a hand after checking out the following links :-

http://zwift.com/what-is-it/

http://www.bikeradar.com/gear/category/accessories/training-software/product/review-zwift-zwift-49225/

In terms of equipment, any turbo trainer will do, as long as you can change the resistance of the trainer whilst on the bike, to help simulate the uphill sections.

The fancier more expensive trainers can connect to zwift directly using an ANT+ connection to your computer and an internet connection for your computer to interact with th eZwift world. The cool thing with a smart trainer is that it will automatically adjust the resistance to suit the virtual terrain your going through.

I have one of these – a B-kool Pro, and I confess to loving it, as its so easy to set-up and dismantle.

bkool-pro-trainer

If you use a basic or dumb trainer you’ll need a speed or speed/cadence sensor to allow the computer to know what you’re doing on your bike and act accordingly.

For a Speed cadence sensor, I’d recommend the following Garmin Speed cadence sensors, as you don’t have to line up fiddly magnets on wheels to make them work :- http://www.wiggle.co.uk/garmin-speed-cadence-sensor/?lang=en&curr=GBP&dest=1&sku=5360660283&ci_src=18615224&ci_sku=5360660283uk&utm_source=google&utm_term&utm_campaign=UK_PLA_Accessories&utm_medium=base&utm_content=s31UFlp58_dc|pcrid|67090793462|pkw||pmt||prd|5360660283uk

garmin-speed-cadence-sensor-gps-cycle-computers-black-010-12104-00-0

but there are cheaper ones out there…for around the £25 mark.

The cheapest fully functioning USB ANT+ dongle I have found is on Amazon for £10! :-http://www.amazon.co.uk/douself%C2%AE-Black-Garmin-Forerunner-011-02209-00/dp/B00T7C2DWA/ref=sr_1_5?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1426166473&sr=1-5&keywords=ant%2B

51cw4yfu4fl-_sl1000_

The Zwift programme is really good at helping you during set-up and it really is quite simples….

See the Zwift link above ….and the links below:-

Road CC’s How to get started on ZWIFT

Getting started with Zwift – A tour through the program menu and screen functions

Zwift for beginners ( a bit dated – there’s now a Richmond and a London track)

Getting the most out of Zwift.

Hope to see you there!!

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Cycling in a virtual world

2 thoughts on “Cycling in a virtual world

  1. I’m lucky enough to have a power meter so the only thing I needed to buy to get Zwifting was the ANT+ dongle, although I also bought a USB extension cable to move it closer to the rear wheel. I am already addicted to the world of Zwift. So it’s been cheap so far, but may cost me much more if I end up upgrading to a faster PC and high tech trainer for a more awesome, high definition experience!

    Like

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