Whether they’re group riding, racing, or just finding each other on the roads, the LGTBQ Zwifters club brings a colorful and supportive community to the world of Zwift.
“The club exists to provide a space where LGBTQIA+ Zwifters can find support from others in the community,” club admin Clare Taylor says. “We have an active Discord server with discussions which range from technical questions about Zwifting and bikes, to sharing information about Pride rides, to questions and answers about lifestyle.”
Each year in June, club members help to lead “Pride On” events throughout Pride Month. Click here for more information about the 2023 events!
Taylor joined Zwift in January 2021, motivated by the UK winter weather and a COVID-19 lockdown. She joined the LGBTQ+ Zwift Community on Facebook and noticed that they were looking for leaders for “Pride On” rides, which Zwift began in 2019. She decided to give ride leading a try and loved it, becoming a regular leader for the community.
Club admin Clare Taylor
When Zwift’s “Clubs” feature opened to testing at the end of 2021, Taylor jumped at the chance to create LGBTQ Zwifters. (She couldn’t add the “+” sign, which is used for inclusivity.)
The club offers different types of rides, including slower-paced groups, badge hunts, and rides to mark LGBTQ+ visibility and remembrance days. These are visible to club members only. Then, each Sunday, there are three “Pride Rides” on the general calendar that are open to the public.
In the 2022-23 race season, for the first time, LGBTQ Zwifters entered teams into the WTRL TTT, Zwift Racing League, and the Flamme Rouge Racing Tour International.
“Racing in particular is about being visible as a community outside of Club and Pride Rides by racing under LGBTQ Zwifters,” Taylor says.
“I think LGTBQ+ people need representation in every aspect of life,” says club member Joe Batcheldor. “What’s terrific about the club is the support, especially for those in the club who are transgender or nonbinary. This can be a safe place where they can race in categories that reflect their gender and not have to deal with some of the harassment that they might get if they were racing in real life.”
Batcheldor IRL and on Zwift
Zwift allows riders to choose the gender for their avatar that they identify with most, and the club embraces this. The category system will place them with others who are close to their racing level. (Advice for elite-level racers is listed on the racing page of the LGBTQ+ Zwifters website.)
Some of Batcheldor’s best memories with the club are related to racing team time trials. This race format takes planning, coordination, and a lot of teamwork.
“Doing a TTT on Zwift is so difficult to learn,” he says. “On our team, it’s really relaxed, and nobody is all that interested in winning, so we’re all learning together… We test out different strategies, and even if they don’t make a lot of sense, we give it a try.”
Batcheldor first started cycling as an adult in 2018. He hasn’t joined an outdoor cycling club because he’s concerned about harassment and not being accepted. After starting Zwift in October 2022, he immediately joined LGTBQ Zwifters. He wanted to experience the social parts of Zwift in a community where he felt comfortable.
“I’m so happy I joined the club,” he says. “It’s been a true joy.”
Some members of the club have become friends outside of Zwift. They chat on Discord, a text and voice communication app, about cycling and other areas of their life. Batcheldor says he recently talked to a friend from the club on the phone for two hours.
To those who are feeling unsure of themselves and afraid they won’t fit in, he says, “Be yourself and get involved. The club is very accepting. I know a lot of people in the club like to remain somewhat anonymous, and that’s fine. You don’t have to out yourself to be part of the club.”
You don’t even have to be LGBTQ+ in order to join, Taylor adds. But you must respect the other members and their privacy.
“Allies are welcome in all our club spaces, and we have had fantastic support from allies who have regularly led the Sunday Pride rides,” Taylor says. “I think it’s important to note that not all of our members are out on Zwift, and there have been occasional negative comments made in other public group rides, which is why the privacy of our members is important.”
Club member “Temps 09,” who prefers to go by that name on Zwift, says it means a lot to have “a place to show we exist and just want to ride, same as everyone else.”
“It is a space where there is not a discussion of if I should not belong,” they say.
Temps 09 is a lifelong cyclist, having tried road and mountain biking and settled on cyclocross. They heard about Zwift from ads on cycling websites and Zwift Community Live broadcasts. Finally, they signed up in August 2020 when wildfires nearby in California made it difficult to ride outside. They were happy to find a welcoming community of LGBTQ Zwifters and joined the club.
“Zwift is more accepting of LGBTQ+ people than many cycling events outside,” they say. “It’s easier to find similar cyclists than risk a bad encounter IRL (in real life) sometimes.”
Due to schedule conflicts, Temps 09 ends up missing a lot of club rides, but they still find ways to stay active with the club. They race for the club sometimes, help with Pride Month rides, chat with other members, and wear the Pride kit in free rides and group rides when possible.
“Doing the stage races on Zwift are racing high points,” they say. “Then helping with Pride Month 2021 by leading for the first time.”
Pride Month offers many chances to jump in and get to know this community, whether you’d like to join or just want to chat and show your support. Try a ride and check it out!
“One of the great things about Zwift is that it doesn’t matter who you are – you get on your bike and ride whatever your identity,” Taylor says. “But for those looking to connect with members of the LGBTQIA+ community to find support, new friends, riding buddies, or for those who just want to quietly be part of the community, the club is there.”