Have you ever been on an outdoor ride or a race with a group of friends or fellow riders? Sure, all of us did and probably you talked along the way. I know for myself I like to talk a lot during cycling ???? Well, this added riding experience is also available for indoor cycling.
Indoor cycling can become boring without some form of interactivity. With all the technological advancement on smart trainer equipment and multiple virtual cycling platforms available it’s now much easier to get a good cycling simulation setup right at your home. Some watch tv or other media during rides and some interact.
Zwift has changed many aspects of indoor cycling experience. Coming from other virtual cycling platforms, when I tried Zwift for the first time I knew why this one attracts so many. For a long time, I was socially interacting during virtual rides with typing in-game messages. Typing messages works most of the time and many riders respond on group rides. However, it is harder to type messages during a race. Some say if you have time to type messages during a race then you haven’t raced hard enough. I agree! But what if you could talk live like outdoors?
Let me introduce you to a popular live audio chat app called Discord. This one is not new and in fact, it’s being used by a lot of gamers for a reason. There are other options available, but Discord keeps coming back as top choice. It simply works with its low latency and audio quality. Now we can be connected even more with people using Discord during Zwift rides from all across the world.
For a group ride or workout, it is that extra social element that adds additional fun to the ride. You would be surprised by all the topics we discuss over the ride. Also, it is critical for team racing to set the pace or attack strategy, to keep each other informed about our power levels and so on.
Another example: I am part of Race3R Zwift club and we use it as a standard for every TTT (team time trial) race.
Using Discord is simple and there are two ways how to speak with others:
- PTT (push-to-talk) pretty much explains itself. You need to push a button to talk. Similar to good old walkie-talkie. This is preferred and higher quality of audio channel
- Voice-activated mode is only as good as every user has properly set their microphone sensitivity. If any user did not set it up correctly you will soon be hearing all sorts of moaning, heavy breathing or worse, swearing
Discord app is available for many platforms including Windows, Mac, iOS, Android… I have it installed on the same PC where I use Zwift and it’s set to PTT mode. This means I don’t need multiple connected devices for Zwifting. But if you use it on a PC then you need a shortcut key for PTT action. You can use a simple compact wireless keyboard that can be also used for texting messages in Zwift. Or you can go step further and complicate your life (like I did) and build a custom PTT solution.
Headphones are the next critical element to use with Discord. For a good audio quality, I highly recommend to invest a bit more and go for sweatproof headphones with Bluetooth. Wired good headphones or even the ones that come with your smartphone are just fine. Don’t go for the over-ear design of headphones because these will cause more heat and sweat. Just make sure you try how it all works before you go on a ride.
Slovenian Zwift League Discord server is up and waiting for you to try this wonderful world of audio chat while racing. I saw a few racers logged on last Sunday, but I think we can improve that.
So, get ready for the next stages and join the social part of racing too! Maybe you make a new friend from competitors, who knows ????.