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Gamers will be accustomed with its basic gamified mechanics, and cyclists will accept its abstruse training side. But to call Zwift “gamified” and leave it at that is an injustice. Sure, Zwift has common elements we know of online games, as I’ve mentioned, but it is far more. It’s a basic world unto itself.

It’s developed such a strong association that it has its own e-racing leagues, civic champions, and Zwift is even advancement for it to become an Olympic sport.

Into the basic world

All Zwift rides happen in a basic Zwift world. Some are representations of real world locations like London, Innsbruck, and the most recent world championship course in Yorkshire. But there is also Zwift’s own unique world, known as Watopia. 

As you ride around these worlds, Zwift tells your smart trainer to access the acuteness based on what happens in game. When the road points skyward, the trainer’s attrition will access to carbon how that same acclivity would feel in real life. When you descend, the trainer simulates the freewheel effect of benumbed downhill.

Zwift, gaming, perspective, interface
Credit: Zwift
Zwift’s gaming interface where delayed time, heart rate, power, and intervals are all displayed right where you need them.

What’s more, using the Zwift accompaniment app alongside the main affairs you can do agreeable things like “ring” your bike bell to let other in-game athlete’s know you’re coming. Or wave your hand to riders going the adverse direction.

Speaking of which, there are all the other “Zwifters” in-game that accommodate a acceptable aberration from one’s own pains and remind me that I’m not alone. A solitary, aching acquaintance is shared online, sometimes with actual friends, and in doing so, the whole thing becomes less tortuous. In this case, it’s way more carrot and way less stick.

Of course, it’s not absolutely doing these things, it’s your in game avatar, but these mechanics accommodate a affiliation amid the real and basic worlds you abide while “Zwifting.” 

Zwift, avatar
My self-created Zwift character, the affinity is uncanny

When all of these things come calm I find I am being drawn into the basic world and am able to focus on the ride and ignore stimuli from the real world. Seeing your avatar acknowledge to the concrete effort you’re putting in — and activity that effort yourself first hand while riding on the smart trainer — bridges the gap amid what is real and what is not.

In gaming terms, I can’t think of an adapted way of anecdotic it. First person doesn’t seem apt, because it’s not a absolutely first person perspective. Third person doesn’t feel right either, because as a Zwifter you physically “feel” and acquaintance the world through the smart trainer. Perhaps it’s a second-person perspective? A blend of real and basic that confuses the senses into assertive you are on an actual bike ride when you’re not. Second-person angle games are a rarity.

alpe du
Credit: Zwift
Zwift Alpe du Zwift abundance climb, pixels over punctures? It’s the winter choice

A acting for winter

These are just my antecedent impressions, but I’ll be honest, my old-school masochist views on indoor training have abundantly led me to abolish Zwift until now. I’ve often admired it as “non-essential” and expensive. I have always tried to ride alfresco as much as I can, because it is just so much more agreeable and time passes much quicker than old-school turbo sessions.

After riding on Zwift for a little over a week, I’m alteration my mind, though. Don’t belittle how big of a deal this is. 

Perhaps the best bit though, is that I haven’t had to clean my bike.

On a smart trainer in Zwift, the pain and adversity of training are still experienced, if not more so than old “dumb trainers.” The Tacx Neo 2 I’m using has a peak attrition of over 2,000 watts, which is just about enough for even Olympic level track sprinters.

But with the accession of immersing yourself in Zwift’s basic world, the boredom and the acute staring into space, apprehensive what led you to sit on a anchored bike for hours on end, is concise and softened. So much so, that Zwift provides more than just a distraction, it’s an all-round agreeable experience. 

One that’s so convincing, I might not bother riding alfresco this winter at all.

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Published November 28, 2019 — 15:14 UTC

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