15 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Riding on Zwift

15 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Riding on Zwift

Like any worthwhile endeavor, Zwift has a learning curve. Even experienced cyclists will find they have new equipment to set up and software settings to understand. Less experienced cyclists have even more to learn, as they must also wrap their minds around new training terms, group ride etiquette, and more.

Here’s our first in a series of posts with real tips from real Zwifters. Thanks to the Zwift Riders Facebook group for supplying their best tips!

Get a fan with a remote control or voice-activated start. Trust me.

Christina Json

We like wifi power strips which allow you to turn each socket on and off from a phone app. Here’s one we recommend.

How to use power ups in races.

Trevor Leavitt

PowerUps are fairly simple to use, once you understand the basics. And they can really help in races! Read our guide to powerups in Zwift >

How ERG mode works and what the spiral of death is.

Kimberly Ann Potter

ERG mode is used for structured workouts in Zwift, and makes your trainer behave very differently from standard “simulation” mode. Learn all about ERG (including the spiral of death) here >

Always always check for an update before you do a group ride or suffer maybe not being able to see chat, be sent on a completely different route from everyone else, or get kicked out of the ride.

Christina Json

Running an outdated version of Zwift can lead to unpredictable behavior. PC & Mac users typically get updates installed automatically, but iOS or Android users may want to check for updates just to be safe. Learn more about updating Zwift from this post on their blog >

How to turn off the blurry vision mode for workouts and turn on the power and heart rate graph.

Michael Flanagan

The blurry vision mode is under Menu>Settings>Workout Pain Effect. Power/HR graph can be enabled by hitting “G” on the keyboard, or clicking in the middle-bottom of your screen and clicking the graph icon.

To sign up for the Everest challenge right away. I rode for over a year with no challenge selected.

Greg Johnson

If we had a nickel for every time we’ve heard a Zwifter lamenting their lost elevation! Entering the Everest Challenge is smart, because completing that challenge is a necessary first step toward unlocking the Tron bike.

How to give out the mega-thumbs up in the Companion App. I rely on Zwift heavily for the social aspect, and that’s the easiest way possible to show support for other riders.

Kevin du Manoir

Share the love: read “Giving Multiple Ride Ons via Zwift Companion” for tips on hanging out those thumbs to many riders at once.

When to use aero tuck on downhills.

Tom Quinn

The supertuck is especially useful as a recovery tool in races, since Zwift treats those events differently than standard group rides or free riding. Read supertuck tips >

I wish I hadn’t taken so long to realize that I didn’t just have to start riding in Watopia or Guest Worlds without choosing one of the many available Route options. Guided exploring of where I go (and completing route badges) is so much more satisfying than just riding somewhat aimlessly as a noob. Select a Route and go!

Jeffrey Cory

Many new Zwifters don’t grasp the guest world setup and/or their ability to select a route. Poke around on the main join screen (the one you see just before beginning your activity) and learn how to select which world and route you’ll be riding!

Use 3 second average power.

Erik Wolfe

This option is under Menu>Power Display. It doesn’t change your power numbers at all (that’s up to your legs!) but displays your power averages across 3 seconds, instead of instantaneous numbers. This provides a more stable and useful number since instantaneous power will jump all over the place.

zwifthacks.com will show you if a ride has the fence, late join, and other super useful information.

Christina Json

There are actually several tools for browsing Zwift events and filtering/searching them to find just what you want. ZwiftHacks is one of our favorites, but read “6 Tools for Finding Your Perfect Zwift Event” for more tips!

I wish I had known how insanely corrosive sweat was.

Tobi Yarbrough

Yes! Read “Don’t Let Zwifting Damage Your Bike” for more info.

That you can’t outride a bad diet.

Jeff Cottrell

Preach it, Jeff. A personal trainer friend of ours likes to say, “Six-pack abs are made in the kitchen.” Further reading: Zwift for Weight Loss: Diet and Nutrition >

Always have a spare towel for sweat within reach for when you drop the first one.

Lisa Stranc Bliss

Oh, we’ve been there, and that’s the worst!

That a dumb trainer doesn’t give hill resistance.

Robert Mearns

It’s true–dumb trainers don’t do much of anything, really! Read “Smart Trainer vs Dumb Trainer – What’s the Difference?” for more info.

What About You?

What do you wish you’d known when you started Zwifting? Comment below, and we may include it in a follow-up post!

About The Author

Eric Schlange

Eric runs Zwift Insider in his spare time when he isn't on the bike or managing various business interests. He lives in Northern California with his beautiful wife, two kids and dog. Follow on Strava

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1 year ago

Don’t wait till 30 seconds before a race starts to jump on zwift and hope that everything will work (It won’t and you’ll miss the start!)

Laura Young
Laura Young (@laura-young-9191)
1 year ago

That the way to get to the screen where you can select missions is to hit skip at the pairing screen that pops up automatically. Once you pair you go ride and you can’t get to that screen.

David Cooper
David Cooper
1 year ago
Reply to  Laura Young

What system are you using Zwift on? Using the Windows desktop version, I let my devices pair automatically at that pop up first screen, then hit OK, and it takes me to the main screen where I can select a world and mission. Has always worked that way. I have never used it on iOS or AppleTV though.

Alan Jolly
Alan Jolly
1 year ago

As far as Zwift running goes. Always run using workout, learn how to create them too. You get double xp points in workouts. Also make sure you use Km not miles

Paul Mason
1 year ago

Thanks Eric – super useful as always. My twopenneth:

1. The Zwift training plans are written by serious coaches who know their stuff. Use them and see the improvement.

2. Register with ZwiftPower early, whether you race or not. They provide you with data for group rides, not only races.

3. You can go harder than you think.

Paul Prince
Paul Prince (@paul-prince)
1 year ago

Trying to tick all the routes has given me a new motivation, and appreciation, for Zwift. I rode through the volcano yesterday. Who knew that existed?

1 year ago

Unless you’re in contention for a win, don’t kill yourself trying to stay with the leaders at the start of a race. Chances are you’ll form a group with similar ability riders – you can then pick off all those who went way too deep.

Ryosuke Kato
Ryosuke Kato
1 year ago

“How to turn off the blurry vision”

Best thing I read your article. I really appreciate it!

David McKinley
David McKinley (@djmckinley)
1 year ago

As soon as you get everything paired up and ready to go, you are going to need to go to the bathroom, just like racing in real life.

Martin Buerkle
Martin Buerkle (@hairamst)
1 year ago

Before I knew about Zwift I bought the 2020 Trek Domane SL 5 which I absolutely love, however it has 32mm tires and on-wheel trainers only seem to go to 29. Will or has someone made one yet, I just am not a fan of taking my wheel on and off, ugh lazy I know. Suggestions?

Tim Schneider
Tim Schneider (@tasmobile)
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Buerkle

You don’t want to use the same wheel on the trainer and the road so just get a smaller tire for the trainer.

1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Buerkle

“29” is refering to the wheel size, which is equivalent to 700c, which is what your Domane has. 32mm is the width of the tires that came on your Domane. You can totally ride a wheel on trainer with 32mm wide tires

Robert C
Robert C
1 year ago

– Not to expect any logic in the user interface.
– Never to hit “GO” before being sure that I’d picked the right world/route (you’ll have to exit the app otherwise).
– Always to open Zwift with loads of time to spare before an event starts (something *will* go wrong, you *will* have to restart Zwift).
– To set the app in English language mode (other languages sound like instruction manuals from China)

bill k
bill k
1 year ago

Sign up for any missions as soon as they appear. Don’t do what I do and wait a week or two thinking “I don’t want to focus on that this month”. If you get close from your normal riding you can still take a shot at the mission badge later.

steven F O'Mara
steven F O'Mara
1 year ago

how do I join an event? Can’t seem to make it start. I can ride Watopia but when I sign up for an event it starts without me even though I’m pedeling. I’m a Zwift newbie so please forgive the ignorant inquiry

Nick Humby
Nick Humby (@nickhumby)
1 year ago

Eric, with around 30,000 Zwifters on the system fairly frequently these days there is a lot of new users. The ones I know are all really confused about the way Zwift work and I usually point them straight to your website. What are your thoughts on doing an updated new to zwift post that keeps it real simple for those who probably resisted going with zwift before but are jumping on now. Thanks. Meant to mention it to you after the DFS ride this morning when we were riding round but I’m really hopeless at text and ride lol

philip major
philip major
8 months ago

Can someone please tell me, as a newbie to Zwift, what the little red circle with a number in it is that sits top right of my Zwift app on my desktop, it’s like a message icon on Microsoft outlook but if I have messages, where are they?

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