Online Cycling

Online Cycling with the Southborough and District Wheelers Wasps

Please see file downloads at the bottom of the page for guides, reports and results including our recent Online Club Champs which you can watch a replay of here 
 
Click here for the latest online events that the club are actively participating in 
 
The Southborough and District Wheelers have an active online cycling community which has grown significantly amidst poor outdoor riding weather and recent lockdowns.
 
In early 2020, the lockdown limits on outdoor group cycling led to our regular Sunday group rides going online via the Zwift platform. As the numbers grew, so did the appetite for racing and the advent of the British Cycling South East (BCSE) interclub competition led to the formation of the SDW Wasps - our online cycling community for group riding, training, racing and a lot of banter. Our racing catered for men, women and youth at all levels and before long we had over 60 of us competing in the twice a week BCSE race series. In our first race series we competed against over 50 clubs and took a very credible 3rd place behind The Kingston Wheelers and Clapham Chasers.
 
Our second series saw us take it to the bigger clubs from the start, clinching the overall series victory in the final Team Time Trial beating the Clapham Chasers by the finest of margins.
 
Since then we've enjoyed virtual e'tape Tours of France, one off races against a French and Italian Zwift racing team, Team Time Trial events and are now have 8 teams of 6 competing in the Zwift Racing League alongside 10,000 other participants from across the globe. We've had Youth riders claim the Category D Team Title in the Veganuary Zwift series and at the time of writing, SDW are in a podium spot in the London Lockdown series featuring over 1,000 riders from South East BC Clubs. 
 
Many of us also ride and race on the RGT platform which provides a different flavour of racing and enables us to ride local SDW real life routes that we can upload for training, group rides and races. In January 2021 an SDW team competed in the inaugural RGT Tour du Monde series - a 12 stage GC Individual and Team race over 16 days including iconic routs such as the Alto D'Angrilu and culminating on ascending the Telegraph and Galibier on the final day. The team placed 4th overall on debut with David Bagge taking an amazing top 15 individual GC finish amidst some very esteemed company. Look out for a dedicated SDW Friday Night Friendly RGT race series in Feb/March.
 
In November 2020, the club held it's first ever Online Club Championships with over 40 riders competing across categories on Zwift. Keith Henderson narrowly took the Category A and overall Club Championship win from Neil Harris and Keith Brown. James Currie, Tim Bottoms and 8 yr old Ollie Fussell took the Category B, C and D titles respectively with Ed Bowyer our highest placed Youth Rider. Congratulations to all. 
 
 
 


 

So as a club member, how can I get involved?

 

  1. Throughout Winter months and Lockdowns, look out for club ride events being posted on the main SDW Club Facebook and the SDW Wasps eRacing Nest Facebook groups. This will include ad-hoc rides plus regular Sunday morning rides - typically starting between 7:30am and 9am
     
  2. If you are interested in racing, then join the SDW Wasps eRacing Nest Facebook group and ask to be added to our active Zwift and RGT Chat messenger groups
     
  3. Otherwise, contact Simon Miller for further information

 

What do I need to get involved?
 

  • Platform: Most of our club activities at this point are on Zwift and RGT. RGT is free for the core features allowing you to free-ride, train, race and join other's events. Zwift is chargeable however check your BC membership rewards for occasional Zwift new joiner offers. If you are looking for an alternative to Zwift or RGT then other great platforms where you might find Wheelers include Rouvy, BKool, Sufferfest, TrainerRoad and FulGaz 

  • Bike: You will of course need an indoor bike set-up be that a turbo trainer, a static bike (e.g Wattbike) or rollers. Zwift will allow you to use a standard "dumb" trainer or rollers with regular speed and cadence sensors. But for RGT and to get the full Zwift experience and be eligible for all race results, then you will ideally need a "smart trainer" that has an in-built power meter. Alternatively, you can add external power meters (cranks, pedals or other) to your dumb trainer set-up however a smart trainer that changes resistance enables you to properly compete and experience the gradients in the course. Popular models include Wahoo Kickrs, Tacx Neos and Saris H3s but there are an increasing number of models to suit budgets. DC Rainmaker and ZwiftInsider provide good trainer reviews and comparisons.

  • Apps: For Zwift you will need the Zwift game app on your tablet, mac, PC or phone.  The Zwift Companion phone/tablet app is a must to accompany you from your mobile while riding. From here you can also easily sign up to events and follow and message other riders. Note you must have the app on the same network as your main Zwift platfrom app for them to work alongside each other while riding. Within the app, search SDW to find fellow club Zwifters.

    For RGT you will need two apps, the game app on your phone or tablet plus a screen app on your diplay device ie PC, Mac or Apple TV.See this RGT getting started guide for more info.

    For many events we also use the Discord app to enable us to communicate to each other during rides - an essential in Team Time Trial races. Join the main SDW Discord channel here and check the SDW Wasps eRacing Nest Facebook group for the relevant SDW Discord sub-channel  for your event. 

  • Screen: PC, Mac, ipad and AppleTV are your options with bluetooth or ANT+ connections. Alternatively, for Zwift, some use a phone as a screen and cast to a TV.  Refer to the Get Started and How to guides and videos on the Zwift and RGT websites to review minimum hardware requirement specifications. We also have some RGT guides uploaded to the files section of the SDW Wasps eRacing Nest Facebook group and see the RGT resources document at the foot of this page.

  • Wi-fi and Sensor Connectivity: All of these platforms do require relatively fast, strong and stable wi-fi and depending on your own set-up and provider, may require a bit of bespoke configuration to get it all working nicely for you. Similarly, Bluetooth or Ant+ interference can cause sensor issues. If you are experiencing buffering, drop-outs or crashes then do check the troubleshooting guides on the platform websites, the RGT resources documents below or reach out to any of us on the chat rooms to share our experiences. 

  • ZwiftPower: If taking part in Zwift racing leagues, you will need a ZwiftPower profile and category. You gain your ZwiftPower category (A, B, C or D) by competing in at least 3 events in the last 90 days with your category determined by your 20min w/kg efforts in those events. Once you have joined ZwiftPower, go to the Teams sections and search SDW to join our club team.  This is a helpful How To Guide to getting set-up for racing with ZwiftPower

  • Tags and Kit: For Zwift, it's helpful to add the tag SDW to your surname in your Zwift Profile (and this should feed through to ZwiftPower also). When in a racing team there may sometimes be extra tag requirements shared with you for each race. As a club we have adopted the Basic Kit 2 in the Zwift Kit Store which somewhat resembles a black and yellow Wasp. For RGT we tend to add the SDW tag simply for fellow club rider identification and for now we have adopted the HotChillee kit.

  • Other: Fans, towels, sweatbands and lots of fluids are highly recommended, together with a well stocked fridge of beer for that post-ride reward and suffer selfie. 

 

 

 

Resources:
 

  • GP Llama - a great independent review guide with lots of how to guides and test videos across platforms 
  • ZwiftInsider - the go to bible for all things Zwift. Follow them on Facebook too for weekly event updates and more 
  • ZwiftCast - a regular podcast on all things Zwift 
  • Zwift Community - follow this Facebook Page for links to live streaming of professional and community race events
  • Zwift Hacks - alongside the Zwift Companion App, a great resource for searching and signing up to events
  • Zwift Hub - a helpful tool to track your progress against Zwift's courses and badges 
  • British Cycling South East Zwift Community - home of the BCSE leagues and us good local club banter
  • WTRL - Organisers of the Zwift Racing League and Thursday Team Time Trial series. Check-in here for upcoming events and latest Wasp results and see the document below for top tips on TTTs
  • RGT - See the RGT Resources document at the foot of this page for lots of resources- from community engagement in their Facebook groups to troubleshooting steps
  • RGT Magic Roads - See the RGT Magic Roads document at the foot of this page to learn more about downloading or creating your own Magic Roads in RGT (requires premium membership)
 

Common Questions:

  • How do Zwift meet-up club ride events work? Organisers can invite up to 100 of their followers. So the first thing to do is make sure you are following the organiser who posts the event on the club Facebook page with SDW in your tag so they know who to invite. You will receive an invite in the Zwift Companion App and need to accept this.

    Events are typically either open rides where riders can break from or drop from the organiser or ride together events where no matter your power you will neither break or drop from the organiser as long as you keep peddling. Both of these formats allow for late joiners. A race results option is also sometimes used which doesn't allow for late joiners so pay attention to the ride description. Ride organisers choose the course and distance or time for the event.

  • How do I enter my first Zwift race? Use the Zwift Companion App to browse through events and pick one that suits you in terms of distance, climbing and format (details on the format are in the event description). Then choose the Category you feel comfortable with based on your anticipated w/kg (FTP/weight). Not sure - then start off in D or C and see how you get on. E cat is for women only but women can enter any other cat if they choose. If you enjoy your first races then set-up a ZwiftPower account (see above) and start to get ready for some competitive racing. 

  • Why are the race result in the Zwift app different to ZwiftPower? ZwiftPower is used for official results and filters out those that are racing in incorrect categories or with dodgey data. Although all people in league racing will have a ZwiftPower profile, not all Zwifters do. So you can often find your final ZwiftPower results many places higher than those on Zwift itself. Note: ZwiftPower can take a few hours to update as data gets synched and placings validated.

  • I'm not up for racing but can I still ride with other Wheelers? No problems - our online club rides and other ad-hoc rides cater for this and there's always someone up for a free-ride. Just post a message on either of the Facebook pages above. Zwift and RGT also have regular group rides and training programmes you can take part in at any time. Use the RGT App or Zwift companion app to browse the events for group rides, free rides or select a training programme.

  • Does trainer difficulty setting (Zwift) or slope setting (RGT) make a difference? In short No - it is effectively virtual gearing and just down to your preference. If you have a narrow cassette range or prefer to avoid too many gear changes on a lumpy route, a lower setting will reduce the range of gradient and resistance. But watts are watts and it won't affect your in game performance which is still based on your absolute power output irrespective of setting.  For Zwift, there is lots of info on ZwiftInsider and here's a good GP LLama video to learn more.

  • Can't we have our own SDW custom club kit? For RGT we do (see image below) which can be selected from the Equipment store in the RGT app. For Zwift this is not something currently made openly available but it is rumoured to possibly be part of a new and upcoming club features release that will also provide extra functionality for organising club events. 

  • Does it matter what bike and wheels I select? InZwift, yes - you can buy (using your earned virtual Drops currency) or earn (according to your achievement levels) upgraded bikes and wheels with some better for climbing, rolling or flats. Full tests and comparisons are on this ZwiftInsider page. For RGT, no - they are all the same weight and speed spec.

  • What can I expect from my first race? Pain and a whole lot of fun. Race tactics apply just as in real life as well as getting to grips with the gaming aspect of the platform. Search ZwiftInsider for basic and advanced Zwift racing tips and see the RGT resources document below for RGT guides

  • What is WTRL?  WTRL is an official race organiser that run both the Zwift Racing League and the WTRL TTT Leagues. The latter is an excellent and addictive format that takes part on Thursday nights and we regularly enter teams for this. Look out for team invites on our SDW Wasps Racing Facebook group as well as guide in the documents below on how to sign-up and compete in a Zwift TTT.

  • How does RGT differ to Zwift? That's a huge question but the biggest thing is that RGT has very different riding and racing dynamics that aim to be a bit more realistic of real life riding e.g. the braking, cornering and drafting. See this great blog on RGT Physics to learn more and join one of the regular Lou's Drafting Clinic group ride events to practice, learn and master the dynamics - it's great once you know how. 

    The graphics are also quite different. However, do note that graphics on the RGT Real Road routes are superior to the more basic graphics on the community created Magic Road routes (also be sure to test the different graphics definition settings in the app to get the full experience). 

    RGT also has more flexibility for premium members to create their own events and own Magic Road routes (see the Magic Roads document below). The event creation allows for quite a bit of creativity from creating scratch, TT, omnium and elimination races, with or without drafting and with or without bots racing against you with power ranges you can define. So even in your own solo event or training ride, there is always a target you can set up the road to beat.

    RGT is also a lot younger as a platform and smaller as a community (but growing quickly). That does mean some limitations or occasional glitches on the platform but these are usually quickly resolved with a very responsive support team and a very engaged and positive community through the RGT Facebook User group. 

    We think both platforms are great but different and we look forward to hosting SDW events across them to appeal to people's preferences and to take full advantage of all the features they both offer. 
     

The SDW Wasps in Team Time Trial Action