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Just like in the real world where we all tend to gravitate towards a certain athletic alter-ego, virtual world is full of characters. Behind each avatar zooming around the various worlds in Zwift is an actual person, sweating away alone in some dark and dingy basement, or in some cases, a lit up disco-tripping pain cave with full mood lighting effects. We thought it might be fun to outline five of the most common characters we’ve encountered while pedaling in the virtual world. Which one are you?
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The Challenge Obsessed
Is your happiest day of the week when a new challenge is announced on Zwift? Do you eagerly drop all previously structured training sessions just so you can claim that extra bit of kit? If so, then you’re likely the Challenge Obsessed rider. You’re likely every coach’s nightmare and have been heard saying: “Do you mind if I drop that specific VO2 max session and instead join some random 30-minute group ride?” Challenges are met by you with a kind of reckless abandon; often the obsessed will jump on at all hours of the night/morning just to get the big tick to whatever stage they are hunting. Expect to find a Zwift garage bursting with all types of hats, glasses, jerseys, and custom bike paint jobs that were unlocked. And are these ever worn? Of course not! That’s not the point, though, the point is that they are there as a trophy cabinet of sorts. And at the pointy end of the Challenge Obsessed persona, we have the Super Challenge Obsessed. They’ll do eight weeks worth of workouts in eight days, ride every different length option when only one is required, and, of course, will always be posting about all of these accomplishments. #humblebrag
The Social Butterfly
If you arrive at least 30 minutes early for events just to maximize chat time, or have been dropped from the pack because you’re busy responding to messages, then you’re likely the Social Butterfly. This friendly and conversational rider will likely be a member of every single Zwift Facebook group, often giving encouraging comments and advice to newbies. Their ride style can only be described as “social pace,” entering any event with more than 30 people and an advertised pace of nothing more than 2.5 watts/kg. Likely the home setup of the social butterfly includes a good gaming keyboard so that they can quickly type messages, or for extra speed, have enabled dictation on their phone for talk-to-text while riding. The uber Social Butterfly takes it to the next level by joining (or even creating) a Discord channel. Now every ride can involve actual conversations with people from all around the world.
The Tech Geek
If you know optimal frame rates, use Zwiftalizer regularly, and/or have overclocked your PC just to get the ideal graphics, then you are the Tech Geek. The likelihood of this Zwifter experiencing a dropout during a ride is about as common as seeing the Titans T-Rex while going up Alpe du Zwift. Not only is your gaming PC dialed to absolute perfection but the peripheral devices are also pimped out to the max. LED mood lighting surrounds your 32” TV screens (or bigger), multiple monitors flank the main screen to show live-streaming stats, and all wires and cables are tucked neatly away to keep the setup as clean as possible. The ultimate Tech Geek will have coded a Bluetooth remote to perform vital functions in Zwift, like dropping a power up or quickly accessing the pairing screen. But hands down, the number one way to identify the Tech Geek is whether they have custom-built their own PC, from scratch, for the primary purpose of optimizing their Zwifting experience.
The Lone Ranger
Do you use Zwift only for solo workouts, have zero interest in the Companion app, and wonder why people are distracting themselves with any type of on-screen messaging? Then you, my friend, are the Lone Ranger. You can find this breed of Zwifter predominantly on the Tempus Fugit course, on a time-trial bike (but why do you need any type of draft benefit when riding alone?), and almost always doing a workout. Be warned: The Lone Ranger will often not be wearing socks and therefore the assumption is that they are likely from the triathlete-genus of the cyclist species. The loneliest of Lone Ranger won’t even be paying attention to the Zwift world in which they’re riding, opting instead to watch historical Kona footage while visualizing the watts they’re throwing down on the Queen K.
The Hardcore Racer
Are you addicted to Zwiftpower stats, review the ZRace predictor before all entered events, and have posted at least once on the Zwift Racing Facebook group about sandbagging? If so, all signs point to you being the Hardcore Racer. With the emergence of the Zwift Racing League, this type of Zwifter is growing season-to-season. Identified in-game by their custom team kit and brackets [insert your team name here] behind their name, this Zwifter is all about fastest bike selection and overanalysis of Team Time Trial strategy. The Hardcore Racer will subscribe to all relevant racing channels, e.g., Sherpa Dave, Si Bradeley, and Zwift Community Live, often chiming into live broadcasts with questions, tips, and tricks. The extreme Hardcore Racer will be seen multiple times each week throwing down big watts, making you wonder where they find the time and energy—and also pondering what their grocery bill must look like what with all the gels and beet juice it must take to remain at the top of their game.
Anna Russell is a prolific Zwifter with an avid eye for avatar fashion. She commentates and produces for Zwift and Zwift Community Live. You’ll find her on the virtual roads almost every day, clocking in the miles while her three young children sleep.