We’re approaching a quarter of the 21st century, so by now we’ve all just accepted that socializing is something you do online, right?
Well, we’re glad everyone is on the same page.
Whether it’s meeting your significant other or finding social events to attend in a new city, the digital age has transformed the way we socialize, and cycling is no different.
Thanks to Zwift, it’s now easier than ever to meet other cyclists, go for rides with them and chat to your heart’s content about why you’re not at 100% today.
Thanks in large part to the explosion of group travel, Zwift allows users to travel with current or new friends in a variety of ways and in a mix of virtual locations; Two decades ago it might have seemed incongruous to be talking at your screen or texting all in the name of socializing, but many Zwifers will attest to the platform’s social benefits.
“It’s a great opportunity to meet people,” says coach Ben Thomas. “You can still do a Sunday club race, but log into Zwift and in this condensed world there are more people riding, many of whom are from the other side of the world, that you wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to to ride with
“It’s great to meet new people, and if you have a friend in another country it means you can go with them. Being able to chat and travel with other people makes the time go by much faster and has the same benefits as a standard group trip.”
Covid-induced lockdowns saw more people than ever logging into Zwift for their social success. Although we are now largely in unrestricted times, the legacy of the shutdowns is that these same people still roam their virtual worlds on a regular basis.
“We all did it just to interact with people during Covid,” says trainer Ian Jenner. “It was great to be able to ask some mates if they wanted to go up the Alpe du Zwift tomorrow, or just find who else was online if you fancy a quick lap or a blast.
“That social element of Zwift has remained post-Covid. It’s a huge positive, and for a beginner cyclist it can really help them.
“A newbie can be nervous about joining a cycling club or doing things with other cyclists, thinking they may not have the gear or equipment they want, or that they’re not good enough. But join a social ride on Zwift and you’re in the comfort of your own home, essentially looking at a PC screen like you would if you were playing a computer game. It removes those barriers to feeling involved.”
The best way to socialize on Zwift is to join or create a group ride. There are hundreds on the platform every day, some of which have hundreds and hundreds of riders. Occasionally, pros and teams even create open group events where users can travel and chat alongside the best in the business.
If you want to prioritize chat and gossip, it’s best to join a less demanding trip; think one that will be based mostly around zone 2. It’s possible to join a race or workout for social reasons, but be aware that the level (and quality?) of banter won’t be as high given the intensity of the session.
Important tip: If you want to establish a regular network of Zwift friends, join the same group ride consistently, this way your strange avatar will become familiar.
Once you’re in the group, download the free Zwift Companion app and start chatting with other Zwifters, either by typing a message or using the voice-to-text feature.
To further enhance the level of interaction, many Zwifters set up a video call on WhatsApp, Messenger or Discord which allows for a much more natural and fluid conversation, as well as giving each rider a chance to show their sweaty side. If you don’t want to participate in video calls, specific groups in channels allow users to send text or audio messages.
In addition to being the original hub for communication, Zwift Companion is also essential for finding new events and clubs to join and other users, using the Find Zwifters feature.
Through the app you can also give Ride Ons, which is a notification of encouragement to another user. It’s the digital equivalent of patting a fellow rider on the shoulder or applauding them for their turn at the front.
Convinced that Zwift is synonymous with socializing? Of course you are.