In December I realized that predictions of a hard winter were coming true. Further I realized that this meant little cycling for me, with snow everywhere. Yes I’ve ridden in the snow in the past, but this isn’t road riding, this is riding a trail. Unlike the old concrete trails I used to ride, this trail is dirt. So where there is no snow and ice, there will be mud. Maybe I’m getting soft? Anyway, I was left to figure out how to actually stay in shape.
Fast forward to now, we just had (another) snow storm and it’s the middle of April. Meanwhile, I’m in darn good shape, as thin as I’ve been in the last 5 years, and still haven’t touched the trail bike.
I know what you are thinking: “You’re taking some kind of pill”.
Well in a way, you are right!
Because Zwift is some kind of pill.
Back to December again, I must have seen an ad somewhere, or a review, because I decided to bite the bullet and buy a good trainer. A little shopping around and I quickly settled on the Wahoo Kickr Snap, which runs around $600. The reason I settled on this one is durability, and good syncing with Zwift, which I also decided to try.
Setting Up Zwift And Wahoo Kickr Snap
Setting up the trainer was quick, and I mounted a small TV in front of the bike/trainer so I could hook up to Zwift and have it streaming in front of me. Rather than spend another $150 or so on Apple TV, I decided to put up with the inconvenience of carrying a laptop with me when I go to workout. So far, carrying the laptop has been worth saving $150. But maybe at some point I will upgrade for a little extra convenience.
I start the Zwift app on the laptop, and then go through the setup process, which is (not to quote any advertisement I’ve seen) quick and easy. The first time you ride you will have to calibrate the trainer/bike, it takes a 10 minute ride to do so, which warms up the wheel/roller, and another minute to complete the calibration. You’re supposed to calibrate weekly which has been fine. It ensures better accuracy with the power numbers.
Anyway, when I first started riding on Zwift, I decided to just ride, which was OK, but I find the constant “close the gap” warnings a bit annoying. When someone passes you or when you come up behind someone, if you are just riding, Zwift tells you to “close the gap”.
Anyway I really hit my stride when I started doing workouts, and there are a few workouts that are less than an hour, such as Jon’s Short Mix, Jon’s Mix, and Emily’s Short Mix, and a couple others. In my situation I pretty much stick to the short workouts, for time saving reasons.
The workouts are great. Again at first, I had to learn that everything is based on the FTP, or Functional Threshold of Power, and mine was set a little high for me, so I lowered it to, I think around 220. Workouts are still challenging, but not so much that I have to quit halfway through (which I did frequently at first when my FTP was too high).
I’ve never ridden with a power meter, so tracking power is a new thing for me. I have to say, I like it. There is no better measure of work performed on the bike, than power output. At first, I found it a bit stressful, since I was out of shape, and wanted to do more than I could. But with an increase in fitness, along with a more reasonable expectation of what I can do, it’s gotten really enjoyable. I normally don’t spend more than 45 minutes on the bike right now, and that works for me. I usually ride 3 times a week, though I want to do more than that.
Summary and Rating
Overall I will rate the trainer and Zwift with the same score, a solid 9.5. Once in a while I lose bluetooth connection, but very rarely. And some of the annoyances of being online in a community while riding (rather than out on the road) are overcome by Zwift’s strengths. Overall, I’m super impressed with both the Wahoo Kickr Snap and Zwift. And I’m really looking forward to taking my winter FITNESS (!) outside soon! No winter fat this year!!