Compared to actually riding outdoors, indoor bicycle trainers are boring. With riders typically exercising in isolation, there’s no real incentive to push themselves.
Enter Zwift, a London, UK-based startup looking to change that and turn indoor bicycle training into a massive multiplayer online game (MMOG) that allows real-world cyclists to ride with or race against one another in 3D computer-generated online environments. In other words, it’s like World of Warcraft for bicycle riders.
The Zwift platform can simultaneously accommodate tens of thousands of worldwide users within a single map.To get started, riders need an ANT+ cadence/speed sensor and an ANT+ dongle, which some “serious cyclists” already own anyway. They’ll also need a relatively current desktop computer or laptop.
From here, riders are free to join group rides or races with the avatars of other real-world users in a variety of virtual locations, with ANT+ hardware providing readings that reflect on one’s advancement in the race.
What’s more, if a rider is using one of those “smart trainer” on which the level of resistance can be electronically controlled, Zwift will vary the amount of resistance in order to replicate on-screen variables like hills, winds and drafting of other riders.
The Zwift platform can simultaneously accommodate tens of thousands of worldwide users within a single map. The company plans to have more than 10 maps created next year, with special riding events, such as Gran Fondos, licensed races and charity rides taking place at each location on various dates.
Zwift is now live in public beta, which is open to 1,000 users wishing to try it out. It’s scheduled to officially launch in early 2015, with memberships costing $10 a month.