March 31, 2020

With all sports events cancelled and cyclists and triathletes increasingly confined indoors, Qatar Cycling and Triathlon Federation, supported by Rasen Adventure Shop and Qatar Olympic Committee, is turning to technology to keep the nation’s cyclists active, but safely indoors. From April, a series of challenges and races will be run on the Zwift virtual cycling platform. The events are intended to inform, encourage and support riders to discover Zwift and come together as a community – to do online what we can no longer do on the roads.

Rasen Adventure Shop and the other specialist retailers have seen unprecedented sales of so-called smart trainers since the Covid-19 crisis began. The cyclist’s own bicycle is mounted on the trainer which wirelessly transmits their efforts to software, translating them into speed, propelling an avatar around the virtual worlds of Zwift. What makes a smart trainer truly smart though is that the interaction is two-way; when riding uphill, the resistance of the trainer matches the toughness of the gradient and things get easier going downhill or on the flats. Some of the high-end trainers even replicate the feeling of riding over dirt roads and cobbles or alter the angle of the bike when tackling climbs and, with the computer or iOS/Android device hooked up to a big screen, it is easy to imagine yourself in the deserts, jungles, cities and alpine passes of Zwift – cycling through volcanoes, past dinosaurs or along the elevated sky-roads of a futuristic New York. Most crucially, Zwift is social. All the avatars around you are powered by real humans, not game generated and, with the current pandemic increasingly affecting cyclists worldwide, Zwift has already hit a peak of over 28,000 concurrent users.

But even with no shortage of people to ride with, cycling is always best with friends or rivals. The sight of a Qatar flagged rider on the road ahead of you is the best motivator to ride harder or pick up the messaging app to chat away the kilometers. The new initiative by QCTF seeks to encourage more of this by bringing new virtual cyclists from Qatar to the platform, introducing them to some features to fast-track their discovery of Zwift’s possibilities. In the weeks ahead we will congregate on group rides and training workouts. There will be a Rasen sponsored challenge to complete the most virtual kilometres. Ultimately there will be races too, to replace those lost to the effects of Covid-19. The success of the project will be measured by virtual cycling growing in Qatar throughout the hot summer months, even after restrictions have lifted.

Get involved

To get started with Zwift, you’ll need a smart trainer and a device capable of running the software. Optionally, another device can be used to run the Zwift Companion App which enhances the Zwift experience by adding messaging, access to events, and remote control over route choice. There is plenty of information on how to get started on www.zwift.com/get-zwifting and www.zwift.com/video/how-to-cycling

The QCTF events can be found on the events calendar and will be announced on social media.