Thursday, December 10, 2015

Zwift On-Line Cycling Game

I rode my first Zwift ride this week. I chose to ride the 1 hour and 13 minute Functional Threshold Power (FTP) test ride. This is the longer of two options for the Zwift FTP test. I had already setup a Zwift account, downloaded the App and setup my profile a week ago so all I needed to do was login, verify that my heart-rate monitor and speed/cadence sensors were paired, select my ride and start pedaling.

The slightly blurry images below were taken with my cellphone during the ride.  I haven't figured out the hot-keys yet where I can screen capture in one easy stroke. What's not shown in these images is the total number of other riders on the course. In this case I was riding the Richmond UCI World Championship Course. The other course is Watopia which I haven't seen yet. Those riders near me are listed in the column on the right. I'm listed in the middle of the column in blue. Each listing includes the rider's name, their position in seconds either in front of or behind me, their current watts-to-kilograms ratio (w/kg), and the number of miles completed so-far during this training session. In the left column are listed the sequence of stages for my FTP test from top to bottom. The warm-up stages are on top and the cool-down stage is on the bottom. Each stage lists a duration in second or minutes and a recommended power output in watts. The current stage and statistics are displayed at the top-center of the display.

The Warm-up
 The FTP test includes a long warm-up process, FTP test, and cool-down.

The Cooldown
Before I started online or virtual training about a month ago with CycleOps Virtual Training I calculated my FTP at 190 watts. CycleOps upped my FTP to 192 before I took the CycleOps FTP test. The subsequent CycleOps FTP test put my FTP at 214 watts. Now that I've completed the Zwift FTP test my calculated power is 231 watts.  My power zones are charted in one of the two charts below. Which one is correct I don't know. I'm thinking it's the second one.

Watts per Kg is 3.4 or "B" Group for Zwift Races
Watts per Kg is 3.59 or still the "B" Group for Zwift Races
Once setup Zwift automatically sent my ride data to Strava after I completed my ride.

It looks like I'm going in the right direction but maybe I should get off the bike and run more.

What's overwhelmingly apparent is that there is a vibrant online community developing around this game. Users have taken it upon themselves to recommend features and fixes, and yes, there seem to be a few bugs. Overall however, my first experience was a positive one. I've got some learning to do regarding rides, how to join and what to do once I'm in a group but I'm sure it will all come to me. It's as easy as riding a bike.  Right?

Here are a few online Zwift resources. The Chris Pritchard YouTube channel has several informative videos that I found helpful as a first time Zwift user. The Zwift Riders FaceBook group page has a Pinned Post at the top of the page. Click See More and you'll find links to other resources on the web. The FaceBook page itself is a great resource. Ask a question and you're guaranteed to get several replies. Blogger James Gill has created an expansive unofficial online Zwift manual on his blog TitaniumGeek. Riders can also use the teamup calendar to find out about upcoming organized virtual group rides and races. More information about racing can be found on Virtual Online Cycling. Lastly, there's the Zwift website and the Zwift Support page.

Then there are the peripheral add-ons or enhancements that include applications that use the Zwift data to its fullest for data junkies and communication applications like teamspeak which helps riders to stay connected.

So, how much does it cost to play? I registered for the free trial but after my first ride I ponied up the $10 per month fee. Fortunately, I can cancel anytime but I think I'll get my money's worth over the next few months.

I took my second ride two days later in Watopia. It was a blast but hard as hell.

That's about it - RIDE ON!

Thanks for reading.

Update (12/12/15): Apparently my FTP was 229 after all. I found my FTP results in my profile. Double click the left arrow, click the profile edit button below your name, and there's the User Profile page.

I used the calculator on the British Cycling website to calculate my power zones and w/Kg.