Ten Ways That Zwift Racing is Exactly Like Real-Life Road Racing and Not At All

My first race was in 2016. If only I knew then what I know now. I spoke to a variety of indoor specialists at every level of the journey. Here's what they had to say.

Chris in Zwift indoor cycling gym

It’s taken over 500 races to realize that Zwift is exactly like real-life road racing and not at all. An amateur in every sense of the word, the lure of New England’s hilly stage races was irresistible and exhilarating. 

For decades the lust for competition and pursuit of the perfect race marched a campaign up and down America’s East Coast. Racing meant the road with its wide-open expanses, wooded canopies, and anticipating horizons. 

When the change of seasons forced the driven indoors, it was on to the turbo. The passion for fitness maintenance and off-season performance gains made it an accepted necessity. Droning away for hours was commonplace, perfectly content with the rudimentary resistance variation of any “high-tech” device. 

Cyclist Zach Nehr
Photo: Zach Nehr

Non-cycling friends shook their heads, and the traditionalists acknowledged with guarded approval. As time passed, distant voices formed a new pack of racers. The group grew to question my sanity with the boldness of numbers resonating behind a cause. They were called virtual cyclists.

Five years and over 500 races later, a virtual cycling denial evolved from accepted evil to a preferred passion. Now they’re called “Indoor Specialists,” and I’m proud to be one of them. 

They ride outside the confines of the doctrinal norms of roadside barriers. To know from the experience of success and failure, trial and error, that Zwift is exactly like real-life road racing and not at all. 

My first Zwift race was in 2016. If only I knew then what I know now? To share the work, Indoor Specialists at every level of the journey have lent a wheel, including a few who have forgotten more than I’ll ever know. Hear what they had to say.

Exactly Like Real Racing, Not Road Racing

black and white image of zwift bike avatars

Ten ways that Zwift is exactly like real-life road racing and not at all.

  • Strategy and Tactics
  • Teams
  • Drafting
  • Course Selection and In-Game Equipment
  • Convenience and Cost
Zwift timetrial image taken from above
Photo: TLBVelo photography
  • Technology
  • Assessing the Competition
  • Cheating
  • Innovation
  • World Championships
The author racing bike indoors

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Servio McRib
Servio McRib
11 months ago

This is good stuff.

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