Zwifters: 10 Things To Remember When You Ride Outside

Zwifters: 10 Things To Remember When You Ride Outside

As Zwifters in the northern hemisphere head outdoors to enjoy sunlight, flesh-and-blood riding buddies, and requisite café stops, we want to provide some IRL tips and tricks to boost your IRL performance. Ready? Let’s dive in!

#1: Unclip

While falling over at the stop sign in a rite of passage for every roadie, it’s not something any of us wants to do. Especially with automobile drivers watching.

You’ve grown used to your bike being held upright (they don’t call it a “trainer for nothing, right?) – but it will fall over if you stop moving in meatspace.

Unclip one foot as you come to a stop. Place that foot on the ground. Leave the trackstands to the pros.

#2: You Have Brakes. Use Them.

Did you know your bike has brakes? Yes, those levers on the handlebars aren’t just for shifting. Pull them inward and your bike will slow down or even stop. It’s like an IRL “hit the ‘A’ key’ hack!

You may have grown accustomed to the idea of flying around hairpin turns at 70kph, but in the real world that’s a bad idea.

#3: Bring Supplies

Depending on where you ride in the vast expanse of the great outdoors (just how big is this map, anyway), supplies may be hard to come by. You can’t simply climb off the trainer and head to the kitchen for a bite to eat or a bidon refill.

Plan your ride, consider your fueling, and carry what you need. Including a spare tube, perhaps! Speaking of tubes…

#4: Air Up

Your front tire slowly dropping to 30psi since October didn’t affect bike handling in Zwift (you can still fly around hairpin turns at 70kph!), but take that floppy rubber out on the road and you’ll get a pinch flat or even crash.

Time to find your pump and give it a go. Bonus: it’s an arm workout! Pace yourself – you’re a cyclist.

#5: Don’t Be An Exhibitionist

Wear a jersey, you disgusting animal! There are children about.

#6: Be Friendly

If you don’t wave or return a Ride On in Zwift, nobody really notices. But if you don’t return a wave in meatspace, you’re just a tool. Don’t be that cyclist. Be friendly! You’re representing all of us.

#7: Grab the KOM

Taking the KOM on Zwift Strava segments is a forgotten dream for all but the very strongest among us – and even those gifted beasts have to contend with zPower flyers and “keep together Meetup” silliness.

But take heart! As you head outdoors, some of those KOMs may actually be attainable. Chase one. Just mind the wind direction. Which leads us to…

#8: Mind the Wind

The only breezes on Zwift are those from your fan, but outside real breezes are blowing. Don’t let a killer headwind destroy your Strava KOM attempt, and be careful that gusts don’t blow you sideways while descending on those deep-dished racing wheels.

#9: Weight Doper? Not out here.

If you’ve been Zwifting with a falsely-low weight, you’re in for a rude awakening. That 10kg you advantageously “lost” over the winter has returned with a vengeance!

It would have slowed your Alpe du Zwift climb by 7.5 minutes, and you’ll find the outdoor effect to be very similar. Yep. It’s about to get real.

#10: Height Doper?

See above. There’s no hiding outside, so you’d better work on that aero position. Tuck the head. Slam that stem!

What About You?

Got more tips for Zwifters turned IRL riders? Share them below!

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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MATHEW M ROSE
MATHEW M ROSE (@matrose617)
12 days ago

Remember your lights (and remember to charge them)! I took the lights off my bike to keep them free from trainer sweat and almost got caught out around dusk without illumination.

Shaun
Shaun
12 days ago

Remember to switch on and be road aware. I once spent 2 months just riding Zwift (broken collarbone) and I found myself not concentrating on other road users on my first few outside rides.

Christopher Schwenker
Super Member
Christopher Schwenker (@cschwenker)
12 days ago

Don’t forget your lid!

Bianca Fernandez
Bianca Fernandez (@bianca-fdez)
12 days ago

Spare inner tubes and toolkit to change tires (oh the outdoor glamour…) and wear a helmet!! no matter how short or slow the ride

Mike Tighe
Mike Tighe (@mbdtighe)
12 days ago

Charge your bike computer. And try to ride straight in a peloton – haven’t ridden IRL for a couple of weeks and I nearly took out two ride buddies by not paying attention (looking at cows, lol)….

Tea Dale
Tea Dale
12 days ago

Loved this.. thank you 🙂

Kim S
Kim S
12 days ago

Look out for road hazards (potholes, debris, etc.). No such thing in Zwift but a BIG deal in real life.

Dennis Zimmermann
Dennis Zimmermann
12 days ago

And don’t forget the cars!
Got hit by one today. Luckily only the bike has bigger damages :/

IanS
IanS
12 days ago

If you catch a bunch of other riders, remember to go ROUND them, don’t just barge through the middle.

Evan
Evan
12 days ago

Green light means go, red light mean stop, right?

Alex222
Alex222 (@alexharris222_2)
12 days ago

Trying to do intervals outside is far more challenging, damn those traffic lights and downhill sections

Jonathan
Jonathan
12 days ago

Good piece! In a similar vein, my club launched a VR app for use in outdoor rides back in the beginning of April. https://www.nohobikeclub.org/2021/04/01/ncc-releases-virtual-reality-app-for-tuesday-time-trial-hillclimb-races/

David Heard
David Heard
12 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Oh wow. Great article Jonathan. I’m just a bit concerned the Oculus Rift is a bit blocky, not very aero. Might wait for a lighter, sleeker version before we try this for our regular club road races, can’t afford to sacrifice 2W.

Jonathan
Jonathan
10 days ago
Reply to  David Heard

Thanks David. We’re working on support for Google Glass, which is a lot more aero.

Bill K
Bill K
11 days ago

And don’t forget your sunscreen!

Juergen
Juergen
11 days ago

Don’t forget to lift the inner leg in tight turns…
It took me some time to NOT do this when I started zwifting.

Daniel
Daniel
11 days ago

Can I add a plea for IRL cyclists to wear high-vis yellow? Anything else is camouflage…

Tim Schneider
Tim Schneider (@tasmobile)
3 days ago
Reply to  Daniel

How does a plea for fellow cyclists to be safety conscious garner down votes?

Mia Wallace
Mia Wallace
11 days ago

There’s no way to hide by setting a hill’s difficulty to less than 100%.

Martijn
Martijn
11 days ago

Remember that you now have to decide which route you take. I had to do some u turns, on my first outdoor ride this year:)

Tim Perkin
Tim Perkin (@tperkin)
11 days ago

Number 5 – brilliant! How many times do we get too hot and fully unzip the jersey – won’t be doing that outside.

David Cooper
David Cooper
10 days ago
Reply to  Tim Perkin

Wear a base layer underneath …

CouchTo1200K
CouchTo1200K
11 days ago

I don’t see “outside” on the guest world schedule. Is that a FutureWorks project? It sounds annoying.

Keith McC
Keith McC
10 days ago

😂 if only my wife had read the first tip before heading out yesterday………

Matt
Matt
10 days ago

Riding through an active volcano is actually quite dangerous!

A J Gemperline
A J Gemperline (@ajgemperline)
8 days ago

You can’t fly through intersections anymore. There are pesky things called cars, pedestrians and other bicyclists that you might hit and get hurt. If you don’t hit anything there is something called a police car that they don’t have in Zwift. Police cars like to pull people over.

Greg S
Greg S
2 days ago
Reply to  A J Gemperline

In other words, IRL you are not a ghost. It is considered poor etiquette to try to ride through others at an intersection.

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