I started riding an indoor turbo trainer and riding with the Zwift program just before the start of the new year. It was one of my resolutions to get fitter for the summer biking season. I am planning to report on my progress on all my resolutions at the end of the month. For now, I just want to write about one aspect of Zwift.
My trainer is controlled by the Zwift program. It is a so-called “smart trainer”. When I am going uphill, the trainer makes it hard to pedal. When I am going downhill, it kind of simulates high speeds by having me race past slower (probably lighter) people as gravity combines with my enthusiastic pedaling. Going downhill is a lot of fun, but it doesn’t burn calories really. Besides, I have achieved some fantastic speeds outside on my road bike going down some really steep slopes. Going uphill, usually at 12 or more percent inclines is where I burn the calories, develop muscles, and test my cardiovascular fitness.
I am a decent climber but last year the added weight really slowed me down. Currently, there are some long climbs on Zwift which are really kicking my ass. The good thing is that I don’t stop (as I see a number of people doing) and just gear down and keep pedaling. Sometimes it seems like I am going nowhere, but it seems like that in real life sometimes too. Sometimes it takes a really long time to summit, but again real life is like that too.
Today, having ridden the course a few times, I knew when to expect the big climb to start. Actually, this wasn’t a bad one. It was only about 4 or 5 minutes at 8%. Being prepared for it, I decided that this was the day I attack the climb and use the momentum I had built up to get me part of the way up the hill. As soon as the pitch changed I was out of my seat hammering the hard gears. Instead of slowing down I kept my pace. I passed some people who I wouldn’t have the last time I raced up the course. While I couldn’t sustain it for the whole climb and eventually got back into my seat for some dogged rotations, for a few minutes it was glorious.
I had never stood up on the pedals while Zwifting. I knew it was possible, but like anything on the bike, until you do it, it can be daunting. However, once you do it, it becomes much easier. Getting out of the seat, and out of my comfort zone to put some energy into my workout was great. In fact, it was Today’s Perfect Moment.