It’s that time of year when indoor cycling suddenly gets a lot more appealing, and just in time for all those people dusting down Zwift or looking to get into it for the first time, there’s a new course expansion to the original Watopia virtual world.
It’s called the Mayan jungle and provides 10km+ of new roads with three new routes to choose from. I fired up Zwift at lunchtime yesterday and went for a ride to see what it’s like.
There are three ways to ride the new expansion, the Big Loop (42.8km), Road to Ruins (30.1km) or the Jungle Circuit (19.9km).
I opted for the latter and headed towards the jungle and rode three laps of the new circuit. To get there you have to ride up the first couple of hairpins of the reverse Epic KOM climb, before diverting off to the right onto a road that meanders through the countryside before you eventually get to the right turn that signals the jungle loop.
The actual jungle loop is 7.9km long and begins with a descent towards the halfway point, where the lap timer is before you begin a gradual climb. The gradients aren’t tough, it’s a fast and undulating route and you can stay on top of the power. It’s quite a quick but challenging ride. My first lap took about 12 and a half minutes but there’ll be lots of speedy people that will obliterate that time.
What really impresses about the expansion is the level of scenery detail. It’s stunning and very immersive. There are huge waterfalls in the distance, and Mayan temples closer up. Dirt roads kick up plumes of dust; where’s the gravel bike Zwift? There’s even a wooden rope bridge. It’s all a bit Indiana Jones.
Zwift explains it as: "It’s several miles of fast, rolling terrain through a fantastical world of ancient Mexico with lush graphics and terrain both above and below ground."
Oh, I should add, you need to be a level 10 or higher rider on Zwift. There is a way around this restriction, you can ride with a friend or take part in an event that uses the new route. For solo rides, well you're just going to have to rack up the miles to unlock the expansion. I guess it’s to encourage people to spend more time on Zwift. Is this the start of a new phase of route expansion for Zwift in order to grow its community? We can only wait and see.
Right, see you in the jungle...
David worked on the road.cc tech team from 2012-2020. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds, and you can now find him over on his own YouTube channel David Arthur - Just Ride Bikes.