Fancy dipping your toe into the virtual cycling world of Zwift, but not sure where to start? British pro triathlete and Ironman 70.3 World Champion 2016, Holly Lawrence, shares her top tips for getting started.
Credit: Sean Jefferson
Zwift is mentioned with such regularity by athletes on here that I’m starting to feel I’m missing out. Olympic gold medallist Amy Williams mentioned it in her interview, Ironman number two, Lucy Charles, raved about it, and you might remember I interviewed Zwift Academy winner and CANYON//SRAM pro rider, Tanja Erath last December. Plus, if you follow Zwift’s social channels you’ve probably spotted news of the new Specialized Zwift Tri Academy, which gives competitive age-groupers the chance to earn a place on the Ironman-specific Specialized Zwift Tri Team.
With a view to signing up to try Zwift myself (hello, Wattbike Atom), I enlisted the help of 27-year-old pro triathlete, Holly Lawrence, winner of multiple Ironman 70.3 triathlons (including the 2016 World Championship), and big Zwift fan herself, to give me the lowdown.
Check out Holly’s personal tips for successful ‘Zwifting’ below.
HOLLY’S TOP TIPS FOR USING ZWIFT
#1. Invest in a fan
Once you start riding you’d be surprised how sweaty and steamy you get, so having a decent fan is a must.
#2. Line up your drinks bottles
To avoid getting off once you’ve started your ride, have your bottles filled with all your hydration and nutrition needs ready and lined up next to you. Don’t be surprised if you get through more than you would out on the road because of the higher temperature and increased sweat rate – I always prepare more than I think I’ll need.
#3. Keep your phone next to you + signed into the Zwift app
Yes – even if you’ve got a sweet set-up with a computer or big screen. It’s still nice to have your phone logged in next to you, so you can interact with the people you’re riding with, write them a message, give encouragement or just a thumbs up and easily use the commands on the phone instead of a keyboard. It makes it that more personal being able to interact with everyone else riding, which is cool.
#4. Don’t forget your tunes
I still like to have some music playing in the background too while I’m riding, especially if it’s a hard workout.
#5. Connect your Training Peaks plan with Zwift
I absolutely love this feature. Not only can you save the workout directly from Zwift and automatically input into your training account, but Zwift will automatically load your scheduled Training Peaks workout ready for you, so you just select it and start riding. No more writing down your session on pieces of paper!
#6. Ride in ERG mode/ non-ERG mode
Depending on how you want to complete your session, you can select or un-select erg mode. Erg mode will automatically increase and decrease the resistance so you hit your session, which is great if you just don’t want to think about it. But if you want to control it yourself, you can un-select erg mode and do it manually with your gears. Zwift keeps you honest and tells you to increase or decrease the power so you hit your session.
This also applies to Zwift routes – if one day you want to ride solely on the flat but want the scenery of the virtual mountain routes, you can un-select erg mode in order to control the resistance (it takes the climbs out). But if you want the ‘real-feel’ ride, select erg mode and you’ll be grinding on those climbs and enjoying the descents! *This only works with a smart trainer.
Credit: Sean Jefferson
#7. Get social
I love to tell people when I’m riding on Zwift so others can join me. It’s like meeting in real life, but instead of being limited to riders where you live, you can ride with people all over the world.