WORLD XCO CHAMPS BOUND CYCLISTS’ ZWIFT EXPERIENCE
Some of South Africa’s top talented young riders have gone digital in their training and racing to stay sharp and reach their goals. Zwift is undoubtedly the most popular digital cycling platform, and for good reason. Zwift is a multiplayer online cycling and running physical training program that enables users to interact, train and compete in a virtual world. Training and racing in New York, London or even Japan – are all a click of a button away – not to mention Watopia (Zwift’s own world) and the majestic Alpe’ d Zwift.
Thanks to Zwift and Ride2Live up to 20 development riders have been granted access to the Zwift platform since 2020. Two of these cyclists, Unathi Nxumalo, 19 and Matthew Scott, 18, have just qualified to represent South Africa at the upcoming World XCO Championships in Trentino, Italy. Ride2Live caught up with them to learn more about their experience.
“My cycling has improved since I started using Zwift,” says Unathi. “I’m fitter and my power has improved. It is no longer hard to do climbs outside.”
This fierce competitor, who is hoping to raise enough funds for the upcoming world champs has done 503km on Zwift in the past 30 days with an elevation of 6 363 metres. He has competed in races such as Team Italy Specialissima, Crit Race and Hill Climb Battle. He is from Hammarsdale, KZN and now resides in Hilton, riding for Absolute Motion. Unathi rode for team Ride2Live at this year’s Sani2C and his success there surely played a part in his selection.
Absolute Motion teammate Scott, of Merrivale, KZN, is loving Zwift and only recently joined the program, with the help of Ride2Live and Zwift.
“So far I am finding this Zwifting experience to be a blast and just cannot get enough of it!” he says.
“I like that it has made it still possible to race given our current circumstances in South Africa. I love the fact that when racing you are required to have strategy and it always keeps your mind working on how you can make it to that finish line in the most efficient way possible.”
Ride2Live has been impressed by the numbers Matt has been putting out on Zwift – obviously largely due to the excellent systems of HP coach Johann Wykerd at Absolute Motion.
The talented youngster says his preparation for XCO World Championships is going well. In the past 30 days, he has completed 446km on Zwift with 11 135m elevation.
Matt, 65kg, and Unathi, 62kg, have done endurance and sprint rides on Zwift. Looking at Unathi’s 1h 36min spin, he cranked 3.6w/kg average while Scott achieved 3.2w/kg average in a 1h 45min session. Looking at some sprint/Crit racing their numbers are equally impressive – Unathi managing 252 watts average for a 30min crit, equating to nearly 4,9w/kg average peaking at 642watts; a massive 12,3 w/kg . In turn Matt recently averaged 317watts for 26min ride; that is an incredible 4,9w/kg average; with a peak of7 82 watts or 12 w/kg
According to Coach, Johann Wykerd, during the challenging time in KZN recently “Times are hard, but the training continues, thanks to Zwift” . He also indicated that the access to Zwift allows him to push Matt and Unathi just that bit harder during the World Champs prep including doing some “hard-core” crit racing.
Matt and Unathi are still raising funds for their World Champs Trip. You can donate to their cause by paying directly into their team account: Absolute Motion, Nedbank, Account no. 1137825324, Ref: Matt & Unathi 2021 World Champs.
If you want to support in any other way please email us at email@example.com.
Meanwhile, Ekurhuleni Cycling Club members Kamogelo Mosola, 20, and Thabiso Mokoena, 23, are hitting their straps on Zwift too.
“It’s quite fun and challenging,” says Kamogelo from Gauteng. “I like that it keeps me company and it enhances my pain tolerance.
Even though he loves riding international routes he remains proudly South African at heart.
“It would be nice if Zwift could add some local routes such as Suikerbosrand route, 94.7 and more one day.
Thabiso from East Rand is adapting too and has completed over 500km already.
“At first when I started, it felt difficult and painful as I was not used to indoor training, but after sometime as I had no choice but to improve my performance, I started enjoying Zwift and found it amazing and inspiring too.
“I like that you have to apply the same method you use while riding outdoors, but you have to do it in a different way as in going all out and enjoying the backgrounds too.”
Thabiso has done the Friday Freight Train, La Petit Fondo, ZZK Racing and EVO CC Sprint Race Series on Zwift.
Ride2Live cannot thank Zwift enough for their support to SA’s cycling development and are sure their initiative will bear fruit in years to come!
Find out more about Zwift at www.zwift.com
FEBRUARY 2021 – CYCLING DEVELOPMENT GOES VIRTUAL WITH THE HELP OF ZWIFT AND RIDE2LIVE
February 2021: Ride2Live is excited to announce that Zwift is investing in 25 high performing South African development cyclists by providing identified cyclists with access to the Zwift training platform. This is a major step to allow accessibility for South Africa’s top performing development cyclists to this growing world-wide trend and showcase their skills on an international stage.
Ride2Live is South Africa’s only dedicated cycling development platform. Through their network, including with the National Cycling Academy Forum (NCAF), they work with more than 30 rural and township based academies around South Africa. Ride2Live’s core focus is to provide exposure to the deserving development cyclists, academies and initiatives in order to attract these kind of sponsorships, but they have also grown to become directly involved with gear, equipment and kit collections, donations and distribution via partner cycling stores. In 2020 alone more than 10 academies (approximately 200 development cyclists, received donations via Ride2Live).
Zwift is the indoor training phenomenon taking the world by storm – an online platform where cyclists (and runners) can meet their fitness goals while having tons of fun along the way. With the top performance of South African based Team NTT Qhubeka (now Team Qhubeka Assos) at the Virtual Tour De France, hosted on Zwift, and Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio’s being the current UCI Esports World Champ virtual world champs – an interest in Zwift has never been higher in South Africa.
By providing these sponsorships Zwift is playing a major part in the growth of cycling inclusivity in South Africa. Ride2Live has already identified 12 high performing cyclists between the ages of 16 and 21 from development academies across South Africa and the remaining slots will be filled by Ride2Live during the year as the campaign gains traction. The current academies that are part of the campaign are: Legadima Cycling Academy (Cosmo City, Johannesburg); Ekhuruleni Cycling Club (Ekhuruleni); Bonga Cycling Academy (Khayelitsha, Cape Town); Absolute Motion Cycling Academy (Kzn) and Codah Cycling Club (KZN).
Cycling generally has high barriers to entry for top performing athletes coming from disadvantaged backgrounds; and online racing can admittedly be a challenge – however these academies have worked hard to obtain smart trainers (or access thereto) and internet connectivity. In addition to providing a safer alternative to road cycling the other advantages for our development cyclists are the fact that transport can often be a problem to races, as well as prohibitive costs of entry – both of these challenges aren’t faced in a virtual world. Bike quality, weight and aerodynamics also plays a much smaller role – thus levelling the playing field.
It is also inspiring to see generous cycling stores, partnering with Ride2Live to open their doors to allow young development cyclists to train at their premises. One example is Legadima Cycling Club who will be training and racing on Zwift at CycleLab Fourways.
According to Paul Ingpen, the managing director of Electric Ink Media (Ride2Live)- “Ride2Live was established to showcase the existing cycling development platforms and academies in SA, many of which were invisible to potential sponsors and aspiring riders alike. The partnership with Zwift provides us with a fantastic opportunity to unearth the next Nick Dlamini, wherever he or she may be, a whole lot faster than waiting for a talented rider to be noticed in the traditional manner at formal events that most cannot afford. Our rising stars can now ride alongside the big teams virtually and crack invites to join online races, without the prohibitive costs or disrupting their family or school systems.”
If you can assist with smart trainers (good quality second hand trainers will suffice as well) or other sponsorship please reach out to Ride2Live at firstname.lastname@example.org. This will allow better training (often trainers have to be shared amongst cyclists and also enable inclusion of further deserving cyclists onto the platform). Regular updates will be shared on Ride2Live’s social pages (Instagram and Facebook – @ride2liveSA) and on our website by clicking here. Hardworking development cyclists with access to smart trainers and internet should also reach out to Ride2Live to apply for inclusion into the program. You can follow Zwift on all their social channels at @GoZwift.