by Ryan Brown
With COVID-19 restricting many aspects of everyday life, outdoor activity has also been difficult during the lockdown, especially cycling.
As restrictions have seen limits to group sizes and to travelling distances, Ayr Roads Cycling Club have turned to the online platform Zwift, allowing them to continue on with their popular group rides.
Zwift is a virtual cycling app that allows you to spin along with your cycling buddies from the comfort of your own home through the use of an indoor trainer.
Chairman of Ayr Roads, Scott Knox, spoke of how important these indoor rides have been for the club after a difficult year.
He said: “Some members have understandably been less keen on attending group rides so Zwift has been hugely important in allowing members to stay in touch and still ride together.
“This has been a fantastic piece of technology which has allowed us to enjoy each others’ company without meeting in person.”
At the club’s recent annual general meeting, Gordon Fields was named member of the year, after being instrumental in organising these online rides.
For him and the rest of the club, such events have helped with the mental health of everyone when you can’t just go outside and ride your bike with your pals.
“Zwift riding has been really important to me personally for both my physical and mental wellbeing, especially through the COVID-19 period,” added Gordon.
“We’ve done social rides, training rides and internal club races throughout the year which has been fantastic.
“For some members, we have taken the next step and got involved in competitive racing online – a whole new world of pain for me, good pain that is!”
And it’s not just on a local scale where Zwift has gripped the sport of cycling as the company has seen a massive rise in uptake across the world, so much so that indoor cycling equipment has been hard to get your hands on.
Chris Snook from Zwift added: “The total accounts created on Zwift since we launched, now exceeds 2.8 million.
“As you would expect, COVID-19 has further accelerated the growth of indoor cycling and at-home fitness more generally which saw steep growth during the first lockdown period in Europe with the only limiting factor on growth being hardware availability.
“In May, the industry sold out of the hardware you need to use to connect to Zwift. The industry is still struggling to keep up with demand.”
Those lucky enough to have the equipment at home now have the added bonus of riding indoors over the cold winter months when the outdoors is no longer so appealing.