Online cycling platform Zwift has upped the virtual training game by announcing a race series. Pro riders have set up their trainers and got their pixelated sweat going as they hit Watopia, Zwift’s virtual racetrack, to compete in the inaugural round of the Zwift KISS Super League. It marks a significant moment in the world of virtual riding, seeing some of the biggest names sweating themselves silly and giving fans of The Matrix proof that Morpheus was right all along.
The first men’s race was held in late January with 15 teams from around the world, including Team Wiggins-Le Col, Cofidis and Israel Cycling Academy, plugging in for the first of 10 rounds of virtual racing. The format sees four riders from each team taking part in at least eight races, winners accumulating points for their team along the way.
The first race was no easy ride with huge efforts needed just to stay in contention. The win was taken by Ian Bibby of Madison Genesis, beating among others Irish national champion Conor Dunne (Israel Cycling Academy) in the process.
With six races completed, each on a different virtual course, Madison Genesis currently top the table having won four rounds so far.
The women’s league kicked off on 19 February, and it was Danish rider Louise Houbak (of the Zwift All Stars, a team handpicked from the Zwift community) who was the victor in the first of eight rounds, beating some big name riders including Brit Alice Barnes (Canyon-SRAM) and Canadian track star Simone Boilard of Team Twenty20.
Turbo charge your training
Zwift has really raised the bar for indoor training. Gone are the days when riders were forced to watch re-runs of Friends to take their minds off the pain – turbo training today can be immersive and, dare we say it, fun. There are plenty of apps out there to optimise indoor training, from structured training platforms like TrainingPeaks to the virtual riding of Zwift and VirtuGO. The one consistent element that you’re going to need in order to get involved is a ‘smart trainer’.
Smart trainers use ANT+ connectivity to talk to the computer so that your effort is transformed into forward motion in the virtual world. The communication is two-way: as the virtual course goes uphill, so the resistance on the trainer increases, and there’s even benefit to be found from drafting other riders in virtual group rides.
At the Bike Factory we’ve got a great range of smart trainers and they needn’t cost the earth. The Elite Qubo smart trainer has eight levels of resistance and even comes with a free six-month subscription to Elite’s ‘My Training’ app. A level up would be the CycleOps M2 which is capable of replicating any workout thrown its way, operating up to 1500 watts and a 15% climbing grade. We’d recommend using a specific training tyre on these types of trainer, durable enough for the rigours of turbo resistance so that your normal road tyre is saved for the real world.
For increased stability, a ‘direct mount’ trainer steps things up a level. By removing your rear wheel and mounting the bike directly onto the unit, you’re able to really put the power down and keep up with the fast guys in Watopia. And how about recreating the real feel of going uphill with the Wahoo KICKR Climb? Ride the mountain without leaving your own front room.
We have a huge range of indoor trainers on our website and in store. Take a look – it’s time to enter The Matrix.