We’re not going to be doing any group rides outside for the foreseeable future. And we’re going to miss those. But at least there’s Zwift! Even if you can’t share the road any more, you can at least get your group riding fix.
There are a few ways of riding together, but a calendar ride is the easiest way of getting your club or group to ride together: there’s loads of rides, of all different types, and they’re easy to join: You can see the list online and send people links. You’ve might have found, though, that staying with other riders in Zwift can be difficult, and with hundreds of riders in each ride it’s often hard to stay together. So here are our top tips for riding together on a Zwift calendar ride.
Make sure you pick a ride where you can ride in any jersey (some make everyone wear the same kit), and all agree on which jersey to wear: that’ll make it so much easier to keep track of your group. In the Zwift calendar you can click on the details link at the bottom to see if the ride will put you in a specific jersey.
Choose something distinctive, like, for instance, the road.cc kit. Check out this article for details of how to get the road.cc jersey. As well that, get everyone to wear a specific colour of helmet or cap so it’s easier to pick out your mates in a big group.
No matter what kind of an event it is, everyone tends to shoot off like a rocket at the start. With riders of different abilities – and even just because you joined the start pen at different times – it’s really easy to get split up. So, when the timer gets to zero, just wait. Give it a minute, and everyone will be up the road and you can ride together as a group. You’re not racing those other riders. You’ll catch loads of them up anyway. Of all the things you can do, this is the one that'll make riding together easiest.
The messaging system on Zwift is okay as far as it goes, but what you really need is to be able to chat to the other people in your group and tell them what’s going on. Discord is great for this: it’s a free download and you can run it on a laptop or a smartphone. It works best if you set up your group as ‘push to talk’ where you have to manually press a button to be heard- that means there won’t be loads of background noise and people talking over each other. You can run Discord on your phone, or your laptop if you can reach it while you’re riding. A pair of Bluetooth headphones with a built-in mic will help with the sound.
If you follow the last three tips then you should be able to stay together, but Zwift companion adds one extra feature that’s really useful.If you go to the map screen in-game you’ll see all the dots of other riders. Riders you follow will be in orange, so if you’ve followed all your club mates or group ride buddies you’ll be able to pick them out from the melee if you’ve lost them. Sometimes that’s not possible on the rider list on screen, as that only has the riders immediately around you. With the Companion map you can zoom out until you find your friends.
There’s nothing worse than following all this advice, getting going on the ride and smashing out some miles before realising you’ve forgotten to turn your fan on. Or fill your water bottle. Or the laptop charger’s in the other room, or your headphones are missing. Once you’re off the back of any ride on Zwift it’s a real slog to get back on again. So double check everything before you start!
Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.