The Zwift "Indoor Specialist" is the new breed of cyclist that embraces an exclusive passion for virtual cycling. My bike has ridden across the US for the right to represent.
Writing this piece was fun and reminded me of the life-changing experiences of where my bike took me. The perspective guided my Zwift “indoor specialist” evolution.
It was also a stark indication of the deep division between the traditional “old-guard” stalwart in the purist defense of riding only to be pursued outdoors—or it’s not cycling.
The initial Cycling Weekly Facebook post received engagement from over 1,000 individuals and almost 350 comments. A day later, the publication reposted it to the tune of more than 80 comments and over 200 likes.
A hotly contested debate in the paved path of bike riding land challenges the belief that virtual cycling is indeed cycling. Fear spreads like a contagion through C+ cafe group rides of the emergence of hibernating basement dwellers void of balance-sensing stimuli.
Comments like “Sad!” and “Shame!” sprinkled between many versions of “Boring” and personal favorite, “Oh dear, what a nincompoop!” give a glimpse into the entrenched beliefs of some traditionalists.
Or worse, the ones that “tell me you didn’t read the article without telling me” make it difficult to justify the time to scroll down.
Thank you to Cycling Weekly for the opportunity to share my passion for Zwift virtual cycling and esports. If you don’t think the struggle is real, head to the Cycling Weekly Facebook group and check out some of the comments.
But please take a moment to read the piece published by Cycling Weekly before you sound off. I’d feel better about it. Here’s an excerpt!
My bike has raced up the rock to the top of Mt. Washington. It’s ridden in the shadow of massive glaciers along the Beartooth highway. It viewed five states from the summit of Pike’s Peak and took the Golden Gate Bridge across San Francisco Bay. It ascended Yosemite’s 60-mile Tioga Pass.
My bike rode between bison along Yellowstone’s roads in the American Serengeti. It braved the crosswinds of Trail Ridge Road to take in the scarce beauty of America’s alpine tundra. It’s seen the awe-inspiring grandeur of the Grand Canyon and nudged the line of too many hilly New England stage races to recall.
For years it logged over 15,000 training miles for the opportunity and many at a considerable rate of speed. Each year it arrived at the line with its racer’s wallet lighter and more streamlined, teeth chattering from the cold and with more road rash and emergency department visits. All after driving hundreds of miles and tens of hours for the privilege.
Despite my rig’s rich experiences and depth of perspective, the places my bike doesn’t travel to conjure the most consternation from my casual cycling friends and taut traditionalists.
My bike’s rear wheel felt the Pacific’s wet chill off the California coast. Sixty days and some 4,000-odd miles later, its front rim experienced the rush of the Atlantic.
My bike has gone to many places and seen many things. More than enough for its navigator to identify as an avid cyclist, or dare I say, an amateur bike racer.
Then why the wry glances and disbelieving interrogation from my fellow velo-luddites?
It’s the sober truth—a confession that needs no intervention. For over five years, I’ve identified as an indoor specialist—the new breed of cyclist that embraces an exclusive passion for virtual cycling. I’m not the only one, whether for climate, comfort, convenience, cost, competition, or community.
My platform of choice is Zwift. I’ve chosen to ride over 55,500 miles and climb almost 1.7 million feet in a total elapsed time nearing 100 trips around the sun. I’m a Level 60 Zwifter, and it marks the third time I’ve level-maxed out, and if history stands, I’ll remain there for a few more years. The accumulating stats are almost staggering to me, but they’re not unusual or extraordinary.
The most prolific male has ridden over 286,000 km and the female 216,500 km on Zwift. At last count, there were thirty over 150,000 km. Not all indoor miles, I’m sure, but most, and why?
Semi-retired as owner and director of his private Orthopedic Physical Therapy practice after over 20 years, Chris is blessed with the freedom to pursue his passion for virtual cycling and writing. On a continual quest to give back to his bike for all the rewarding experiences and relationships it has provided him, he created a non-profit. Chris is committed to helping others with his bike through its work and the pages of his site.
In the summer of 2022, he rode 3,900 miles from San Francisco to New York to support the charity he founded, TheDIRTDadFund. His “Gain Cave” resides on the North Fork of Long Island, where he lives with his beautiful wife and is proud of his two independent children.
You will read him promoting his passion on the pages of Cycling Weekly, Cycling News, road.cc, Zwift Insider, Endurance.biz, and Bicycling. Chris is co-host of The Virtual Velo Podcast, too!
Chris, never knew you lived on the North Fork. Hope to see you on the road sometime!
That would be great, Skip!