Zwift can be a daunting place for first-timers in this new world of virtual cycling. There are so many unwritten, unspoken things – like who are those people on flashing blue-colored bikes and how to do I get one?
But the longer you spend in Zwift’s magical worlds, the more accustomed to these things you become. And before long, you are the proud owner of your own flashy blue bike, that we all casually call the ‘Tron bike.’
For many, myself included, I remember my early days on Zwift, partly because it wasn’t that long ago but also partly because I remember being overwhelmed by the many kilometres or miles of roads that laid ahead of me. I didn’t know where they all went. Then I learned that these roads formed routes that could be ridden and once ridden, a route badge was awarded for the achievement. Some of these routes were short and some were long, notably the Über Pretzel at 128km, but all routes once completed resulted in a badge and experience points, which facilitate faster levelling up and access to better and different bikes.
Then I learned there were badges awarded not for completing a route but undertaking certain challenges, such as cycling the Alpe Du Zwift, 5 times. I loved collecting badges and I still love collecting badges.
Then I came across a group ride on a Sunday morning (CET) whose sole purpose was to undertake rides to collect all these badges. They were L’Equipe Provence and ran the L’Equipe Provence Badge Hunters Series. These were my people.
Who are L’Equipe Provence?
L’Equipe Provence is a group of friends who banded together to explore the world by bicycle. In the summer of 2015 they set off for a week-long cycling tour to one of the most beautiful places in the world: the Provence region in the South of France. That’s where L’Equipe Provence was born (L’Equipe being the French word for “team”).
The team stay connected and enjoys meeting up weekly on Zwift between their next rendezvous in Provence. To put it simply, they love cycling, including collecting route badges.
As they state themselves “We share two goals: stacking badges and having fun! It’s going to be a blast. Whether this is your first time badge hunting or you just want to tap into the contagious enthusiasm from like-minded Zwifters to help get you through a 100km ride, you’re in the right place.”
Due to the success of the series, the number of rides has expanded and now they will offer the chance to collect those badges on a Saturday morning (CET) and evening (CET) as well a Sunday morning (CET) and evening (CET).
The full schedule for their upcoming events are as follows:
March 6th: New York, Everything Bagel (34km / 544m) +690XP
Their first Saturday Hunt brings us to the bright lights and steep ramps of New York in search of the perfect bagel and badge. Never flat, but always fun, this route explores every inch of pavement of the New York world.
March 7th: Watopia, On Fire! Achievement Badge (107km / 530m) +6,000XP
Things are going to get hot! This Sunday hunt will test your legs and equilibrium. We will embark on 25 dizzying laps of the Volcano Circuit and collect up to five badges, a new jersey unlock, and up to 6,000XP for newer riders!
March 13th: Watopia, Muir and the Mountain (39km / 910m) +680XP
Venturing deep into the wild forest roads of Titans Grove before climbing skyward to the KQOM Radio Tower, this is one of the most beautiful routes in Watopia, watch out for dinosaurs and Jarvis the Bear. Stick with the group as we begin our blistering descent of the Epic KOM for a chance to bag the 100KPH achievement badge!
March 14th: Watopia, Quatch Quest (47km / 1700m) +920XP
Keep your eyes peeled and your legs spinning. A day for the mountain goats as we ascend the legendary Alpe du Zwift! Whether this is your first or 25th time up this switchback laden climb, you will have a shot at spotting the elusive Yeti wandering around the frozen terrain. Grab a picture but refrain from feeding him—we will need all of the snacks for this ride.
March 20th: London, The London Pretzel (56km / 580m) +1100XP
Pretzel week starts with a stop in jolly old London town. Use the group draft early and often because this is a tale of two rides. The first part is flat with a few risers sprinkled in. The second half of our ride will take us into the Surrey Hills where Fox and Box Hill will put our teamwork to a proper test.
March 21th: Watopia, The Pretzel (73km / 1361m) +1440XP
The classic. This route was once the longest in all of Watopia. Long before the Uber Pretzel and Mega Pretzel, the original Pretzel was king. Just because it is the shortest of the three in Watopia, do not be deceived by its length: this route is notoriously difficult. We begin straight away on the Epic KOM before winding our way around to take it on again in reverse. With four KOM climbs to tackle, this will be one salty ride.
March 27th: France, Petit Boucle (61km / 483m) +1220XP
Bienvenue aux chasseurs! We begin this weekend on home French roads. This is some of the newest tarmac on Zwift, and was developed for the Virtual Tour de France in 2020. Enjoy the rolling roads past fields of lavender and rosé vineyards as far as the eye can see. You can also spot Mont Saint-Michel in the distance and climb over Pont du Gard. Meanwhile, our Giant of Provence–Mont Ventop–inspired by Mont Ventoux, invites us to dance up the slopes.
March 28th : Watopia, Four Horsemen (90km / 2110m) +1780XP
The final quest. The Four Horsemen route badge will put your mind and body to the ultimate test. Luckily, you have the team with you! Take each leg-sapping climb one at a time and settle in for a ride to remember. The Alpe du Zwift awaits us in the final. Keep fighting until you bag one of the most challenging trophy badges to call your own.
See the series schedule and sign up online at zwift.com/events/series/lequipe-provence-badge-hunters-series
How the Rides Work
These rides have a leader (beacon) who sets the pace – see event details for information about your leaders and sweepers. Please follow the leader’s pacing instructions.
Feeling strong? Take some big pulls or offer to help the sweepers. All rides will be between 2.5–3.2 w/kg.
All rides are in doubledraft mode, and allow late join.
Complete any of the Badge Hunter rides to unlock the L’Equipe Provence kit in Zwift!