End Of #REDJanuary | My Take On Zwift

It’s February people, which means an end to #REDJanuary for this year. I complete every ride through January on the trainer as I simply don’t have the kit, nor the desire, to go outside on the bike when it’s cold, by cold I mean lower than 5 deg C. I’m simply not equipped to ride in temperatures lower than that.

Out of the 31 days of January I managed to ride on 29 of them. Two less than I aimed for, but still more than I imagined I would complete. A lot of people who have done #REDJanuary have raised money for the UK Charity Mind. It’s kind of what #REDJanuary was for, but I didn’t pursue any fundraising, purely on the basis that I thought I would have given up a week into January. But here we are with nearly every day completed.

I set out with a goal of riding 310 miles through January which would mean riding 10 miles per day on average. In the end, I managed a shade over 280 miles. Considering from June to December 2018 I only rode 196 miles I thought this was really good going. I’ve done more miles in a month than in 6 months last year.

Yes, I am a little gutted I didn’t manage to ride every single day, but what I have achieved is still really good. From someone who hates exercise to someone who managed to ride most days in a month is a big change for me. It also goes to show I’ve found something I am enjoying.

Now, how did I ride all those miles on a trainer? Surely staring at a wall or something is boring when riding the bike. Yes, I imagine it is boring, but I wasn’t staring at a wall. I was using my PC with the Smart Trainer and subscribed to Zwift.

What is Zwift?

Zwift is kind of like an online game. Only instead of sitting still working your thumbs on a controller, you’re cycling on your normal bike like hell. Your Turo Trainer connects to your PC, MAC, iPhone or iPad (Android still in Beta testing) and works with the program. When online, you’re online with thousands from across the globe. See others in my images taken from Zwift on my blog? They’re real people also riding in Zwift.

For me, it provided some entertainment and a sense of social connection while riding indoors from my study. It kept me engaged with what I was doing and I’ve even gone as far as creating some of my own workouts.

In Zwift you can simply ride the world/route you’re in, or you can ride to specific workouts. Workouts give you structured power targets to hit for set lengths of time, which is brilliant for training. Free riding allows you to explore the virtual world. If you have a Smart Trainer, then expect it to get harder uphill as Zwift controls the trainer to add more resistance.

Does it cost?

You have to pay to subscribe to Zwift. It’s ¬£12.99 per month, but you’re not tied into any length of contract or anything. So you can pay for November, December, January and February. But as soon as you want to start getting outside on a regular basis again you simply cancel the subscription. Likewise, come the end of the year again you can reactivate your subscription and not lose out on anything.

Me completing a workout, picture was taken using the ‘drone camera’

Motivation in game

in order to keep you motivated to keep cycling on Zwift, there are in-game perks. You are awarded badges for things like your first metric 100 ride, your first 100-mile ride, riding for 14 days straight etc. What does it for me though is the levelling system. the more you ride, the more you level up. Each level up comes with some sort of unlock. Whether it be a new pack of jerseys, a new hat or a new bike, I am always riding to that next unlock. I’m currently level 9 but I am aiming to get to level 13 as soon a possible as that unlocks the first semi-decent bike in the game.

There are also scheduled group rides and events fairly frequently in Zwift. From riding a workout together in a large group to racing up a mountain known as Alp du Zwift, there is something for everyone which keeps the social aspect alive. I’ve done a group ride and a couple of ‘races’ from the Tour of London series, all I enjoyed riding with others at the same time.

#REDJanuary done, what’s next?

I couldn’t have got as far in #REDJanuary as I did if it wasn’t for Zwift and the trainer. There is no way I would have gone ou doors at 5am when doing the early rides. Plus with the bike already set up in the study, it is so easy to just hop on and hop off when I could.

But moving into February I will keep pedalling. I won’t be going for it every day like January, but I will be getting on as often as I can. I’m really enjoying being on the bike (indoors or out) and as long as I enjoy it I will use it. Especially with the health benefits, it brings too.

There is a cycling challenge happening at work for a charity that we’re fundraising for, so I will likely get involved with that. It’s only for a week later in February, but it’s still something with a target to set in and aim for.

But for now, you’ll probably see me going on the bike 3 or 4 times a week when I can fit it in. It will be nice to spend some evenings with the wife again.

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