— Original story posted by Philippe Tremblay at Canadian Cycling Magazine

Let’s face it, training over the winter is tough. Winter is cold, snowy, wet and windy.

But, training indoors doesn’t have to be as depressing as the weather. Zwift, the social training app drops you into a digital world where you can ride alongside your friends, professionals and riders from around the world. It gamifies your training experience, giving you achievements to chase and provides you with a variety of bike workouts to do over the winter to increase your Functional Threshold Power (FTP), endurance and explosiveness.

Zwift provides users with power data, the sense of movement in a digital environment and allows you to ride with your friends year-round. For just $18.99 a month, you can stay motivated all winter and return to triathlons next season in better shape than last.

1) Train with power at a low cost

Buying a power meter can be expensive. With Zwift, you can train with power by merely using a speed sensor and selecting one of the classic trainers in the application’s library. Using the estimated trainer resistance, weight, speed, cadence and in-game terrain, Zwift can provide you with an estimation of your power output so you can get the most out of your training. It’s called zPower and while not a replacement for a power meter it’s a useful training tool that comes at no extra cost.

Related: Can I Zwift with this?

2) Make your time on the trainer more engaging

Some like to stay old school, they zone into an effort and stare at their hands. Just because “they” do it this way doesn’t mean you have to. By getting on Zwift, your pain cave will no longer be so lonely. Jump on a course map, join a friend for a ride, or do your own workout and hundreds of riders to chase, this virtual peloton will give you a much more rewarding indoor training experience.

3) Unlock achievements and new places to ride

Remember playing video games as a kid? What kept you coming back for more? It was likely the achievements and a sense of accomplishment. Zwift has those same features.

Related: Zwift unveils new NYC map

As of right now, you can ride Watopia, Richmond, Va., New York City, Innsbruck and London. The course you ride depends on the app’s schedule. There’s also a volcano climb and Mayan jungle island that you can unlock by reaching Level 10. Not only will these new places refresh your experience, but the quest for these routes will motivate you to keep levelling up so you can get to where all the cool kids are riding.

4) Get new jerseys and bikes for free

Want new wheels, a fresh new look or a new bike? Unlocking these things are all possible on Zwift by doing challenges, using promo codes and more. If you want the Tron Bike that glows in the dark, ride 50,000 m after selecting the Everest challenge and voila, it’s yours to ride. You can pursue N+1 with digital bikes and not worry about storage. You can also ride in numerous different kits rocking a fresh set of threads without having to pull out your credit card.

5) Log more kilometres

Achievements, fitness goals and riding with your friends are all great ways to get motivated to ride more. All these features help to get you invested into your indoor training in a way you couldn’t just sitting unplugged on your trainer. Not only will you be reaching your fitness goals quicker than ever, but you’ll also be spending more time in the saddle getting fitter. Each achievement, each new kit and all the digital kilometres you are racking up will be good for your morale and keep you motivated to get back into the saddle. When it comes to pedalling and getting fitter, that certainly isn’t a bad thing.

6) Save money

If you have already decided you need to stay fitter this winter and lower your bike split for next season, you may be considering spin classes. Zwift is $18.99 a month and you can use it whenever you want for however long you’d like. You can input your own workouts or use Zwift’s built-in training programs. Then on your own schedule, you can get riding. If you are worried about not being as motivated and not being accountable to a coach, Zwift will sync your rides into Strava and you’ll be doing it alongside your friends who can hold you to the workouts you’ve committed too.

7) Ride with your friends all winter

Your long-weekend group rides don’t need to stop this winter. You can move them indoors onto one of the Zwift routes. You can chat with your friends while getting in the training that will have other riders in your club wondering how you got so fit for spring. Either using your computer keyboard or the Zwift Mobile Link App, you can chat with fellow riders. Using this feature, you can send private messages to your friends or messages to everyone in a particular range during the ride.

8) Race whenever you want

Scared to race in a peloton in real life? On Zwift, you don’t have to worry about that.

With a nearly endless list of rides to join, you can compete all winter, whether to gauge your fitness or just for fun. Everyday there are hundreds of rides you can join. You’ll have no trouble finding a pack that challenges you. From structured workouts, easy social rides, and challenging fondos—there is a ride for you.

With realistic drafting dynamics, you can stay hidden in the pack or push the pace at the front. While you can get dropped in the digital world of Zwift, you don’t have to let that stop you from trying a ride that’s a little above your ability.

9) Ride with celebrities and people around the world

On Zwift, you’ll find triathlon clubs and pros from all over the world riding around just like you. When the weather is poor, there are an increasing number of professional cyclists and triathletes who get on Zwift – you may even see Lionel Sanders blowing by you.

Related: Zwift ride with triathlon legends

10) Get fitter than ever before your early season goals

The entire reason for Zwift is to get you riding more. Living in Canada, you may have never thought it would be possible to put in so much quality training in the dead of winter. Zwift makes that not only possible, but enjoyable. A happy and motivated indoor-riding experience will see you hitting your early season goals with more training in your legs helping you to achieve your goals. There are no more excuses for having a slow start to your season.

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