Many people in the UK and around the world are facing the gloomy prospect of not being able to ride with their friends over the coming weeks.
On Tuesday (March 16), the British government advised that we should avoid all “non-essential” travel, avoid gatherings and crowded places and work from home where possible.
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The cycling world has responded by suspending many planned events and club runs, with British Cycling stopping all its riding activities and cycling clubs around the country also stopping their regular rides and races.
But even when facing a crisis, exercise and socialising are an essential part of day-to-day life, so how can you keep the legs moving and stay in contact with friends during a lockdown?
Thankfully we can all now share our rides in the virtual training world Zwift, an online platform that lets you ride, train, race and chat from the comfort of your own home.
We looked into the best way to set up a Zwift group ride to help you stay in touch with your riding partners.
There are a number of ways meet up with friends on Zwift: You can agree to meet at a certain point on a course at a certain time (make sure you all choose the same route), you can use the Ride With feature to join someone riding when you log into Zwift, you can join an organised event, or you can create a MeetUp.
Zwift PR manager Chris Snook told Cycling Weekly: “As you’d imagine, requests for official events being added to Zwift are through the roof. However, there is another way for groups of friends or even clubs to connect with one another and still enjoy their group rides. Better still, it allows them to have private chats.”
“We launched the Zwift MeetUps feature a while back, which allows Zwifters to arrange their own rides from within the Zwift companion app. All you need to do is select the course, distance, and time you want the event to start, and then you are free to invite friends to join you for the ride. In order to join, or be invited to the ride, you need to be following each other on Zwift.”
You need to be following any riders you want to start a meetup with – you can do this by choosing “Find Zwifters” in the Zwift Companion app menu and searching the name of the person you want to friend.
To start a meetup, you need to find the profile of riders you want to ride with in the Zwift Companion app and tap ‘Create MeetUp’, or visit the Events page, tap the MeetUp icon and click create.
Choose from the options of a ride or run meetup, and set a date and time. You will then be given a choice between the Watopia map or whichever alternative world is scheduled for that day
Then choose your route, set a total distance or time, and invite anyone else you want to join.
You will also be able to “Customise Your MeetUp”, either by choosing “none” for a normal ride or “Keep Everyone Together” to keep your group whole throughout the ride, regardless of everyone’s power output. Hit send to create the meetup.
To answer a meetup invitation, you’ll be sent a notification in the game which or on the home screen of the Zwift Companion app – click “Going” or “Not Going.”
Then when it’s time for your ride, log into Zwift before the start (you can’t join late so make sure you’re on time), then Zwift will notify you a few minutes before it starts to take you to the starting point.
When the timer hits zero, it’s time to ride.
While you’re in the meetup, you’ll still see everyone on the course, but the names of your riding companions will be highlighted in green in the rider list.
Leaderboards will be filtered to show only those in the meetup with you, so you can all contest leader’s jerseys, and when you chat, you’ll only see each other’s messages.
A few important notes from Zwift:
You can only invite people to a Meetup if they’re following you.
The maximum number of followers you can invite is 50.
You can schedule a meetup up to seven days ahead of time.