We are most certainly living in some unprecedented times currently as we deal with the Covid-19 World pandemic. Here in South Africa we have been under one of the strictest ‘Lockdowns’ in the world whereby for the past eight weeks we have had to stay at home and only been allowed to go out basically to buy ‘essential goods.’
For the first five weeks of ‘Lockdown’ we weren’t even allowed to go outside to run, cycle or walk our dogs so we have had to adapt and find/discover new ways of training indoors. Thankfully I managed to arrange a Tacx indoor smart trainer just before ‘Lockdown’ started, which has honestly been a life saver as an avid cyclist.
So what is a smart indoor trainer? I am currently using the Tacx Flux S Smart trainer which is a direct drive trainer that is able to connect to various training apps via ANT+/Bluetooth such as Zwift, Tacx Training App or TrainerRoad to name a few. By connecting the trainer to one of these apps you are able to control the trainer’s resistance and virtually replicate riding outdoors whilst indoors.
There are two types of smart trainers on the market namely direct drive smart trainers and wheel-on smart trainers. The direct drive smart trainer basically replaces your back wheel of your bike. You remove your back wheel of your bike and place the drive chain onto a cassette on the smart trainer. These trainers are usually more powerful and accurate but a bit more expensive than wheel-on trainers. Wheel-on smart trainers are as the name suggests a smart trainer that requires you to mount your bike onto the trainer by clamping it on by the rear axle of the back wheel. For more info on smart trainers I would suggest you check out Bike radar and Bicycling.com‘s helpful guides.
So what are the best cycling apps? To make your indoor training sessions more engaging there are numerous different cycling apps you can sign up to such as Zwift, Tacx Training App, Rouvy and TrainerRoad to name a few.
I am no expert on all the cycling apps out there so I would suggest you check out DC Rainmaker’s thorough review of the top cycling apps. However, I will provide insight into the two apps I have got to know during lockdown, which is the Tacx Training App and Zwift.
The Tacx Training app is best known for its library of high-quality films of routes from around the world such as the Alpes that you can ride whilst indoors which is pretty cool. You can also upload a gpx route that you have previously ridden outdoors and ride that indoors. There is also the option to do various ERG mode workouts and training plans which is all possible with a premium subscription.
I had previously heard about Zwift but didn’t really know what all the hype was about this app. The app is basically like a virtual interactive cycling (and running) game that allows you to ride and race with fellow zwifters in-real time around the world. There are also various different routes and worlds you can ride all with varying route profiles and you can setup meetups with your riding mates.
During the past few weeks there have been numerous cycling lockdown challenges such as the Nissan Trailseeker 130km virtual ride and Cullinan2Tonteldoos 260km Challenge. All of these challenges I have completed with friends riding virtually on Zwift, which has been a lot of fun. To keep everyone motivated along the way we communicate with each other via Whatsapp or the Discord app. Some highlights of riding on Zwift so far include summiting Alpe du Zwift, completing the Uber-Pretzel route; completing a 100-miles (160km) on an indoor ride and riding 260km over three days. I have definitely become a big fan of Zwift and the world of Watopia.
Although we are now allowed to cycle outdoors, albeit only between 6-9am, I have decided to incorporate a lot more indoor training into the mix. And as it is getting colder here in the mornings with winter on its way indoor training on my Tacx sounds like the perfect substitute.
I hope to maybe see some of you riding on Zwift in the world of Watopia soon – Ride On!