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AMGEN Tour of California 'Ride with Jens' winners talk Zwift

on May 20, 2016

On March 21st, hundreds of riders participated in the AMGEN Tour of California “Ride to Win!” group ride for a chance at two spots for an all expenses paid trip to Zwift HQ in Long Beach and the opportunity to ride with former world hour record holder and retired pro cyclist, Jens Voigt.

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Justin Terry and Mark Todd were our two lucky winners, and we had a blast hosting them! Flying in from Atlanta, Georgia and Lehi, Utah, respectively, we let them rest up the night before the big event. Then Wednesday morning (not too early!), we brought them up to Zwift HQ to meet the team and get a first hand look into the makings of Zwift.

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Day’s schedule:

11:30am - Meet in hotel lobby and proceed to Zwift HQ (it’s next door).
11:35am - Tour of Zwift HQ / meet the team.
12:45pm - Lunch at George’s Greek Cafe (a local favorite).
2:00pm - Back to Zwift HQ. Get fitted on bikes.
3:15pm - Jens Voigt, Dave Towle, and AMGEN Tour of California staff arrive. Meet and hangout with Jensie. Go over event format.
4:15pm - Time to get kitted up in new Zwift kit!
4:30pm - Report to bike stations. 30 minutes to the start of the ride!
4:50pm - On the bikes and ready to roll.
4:55pm - 3, 2, 1, action! Dave Towle kicks off the YouTube live stream commentary.
5:00pm - Ride On!
6:00pm - Shower up and change (yep, we've got showers in the office).
7:00pm - Wrap up dinner and “sports drinks” at Zwift HQ with Zwift team, Jens, Dave, and AMGEN Tour of California staff.

While it was a jam-packed day, we made sure to capture some sound bites after dinner to learn a little more about these two lucky Zwifters.

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What’s your cycling background?

Justin: I got my first road bike 6 years ago. Around that time, I was getting tired of running, and I wanted to start saving my knees. I had friends who rode, too, so we’d go out for social/fun rides together, but I never did any structured training.

Mark: I started racing BMX bikes when I was 9, and I’m still an active cat 2 and MTB racer. For road, I’m at a national level.

How did you hear about Zwift?

Mark: One of my friends got in the early beta and sent me a link to check it out. I’ve always been a ‘ride through winter on the trainer’ guy, but now it’s a lot more fun.

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Why did you start riding Zwift, and what’s the primary reason you keep riding?

Justin: When I first started, I lived in DC (and they’ve got bad winters - you ride your bike indoors). Zwift seemed like a better, more engaging experience on the trainer.

Now Zwift is just better from a time management experience during the week. I only need an hour, I’m already in my house, and it’s easier to dive in.

Mark: Since I ride competitively, I have a coach, and training indoors has been part of my lifestyle. While I’m used to making myself do it, Zwift makes it more entertaining.

How has Zwift changed your perception of indoor cycling?

Justin: With Zwift, training indoors is way more engaging, and it’s prompted me to change my setup. Before I discovered Zwift, I had a really inexpensive fluid trainer. I’d try to get on and ride, but it was terrible. Then about five months ago, I read an article about Zwift and smart trainers in Bicycling magazine. A friend had a discount on a KICKR so I switched and started riding. It’s been amazing.

We’ve seen a phenomenon we call “the Zwift Effect”: a tendency to stay on the trainer to reach a goal that’s just a little further out of your reach than what you planned on. Has this affected you?

Justin: Yep. It makes it really easy to do structured workouts. I never did those before Zwift. I’d go with friends and ride. I didn’t have a power meter, and I didn’t even think to do intervals. Between the Zwift Effect and preparing for the Jens ride, I’ve crammed four weeks of the FTP builder into three, and raised my FTP from 160 to 180.

Mark: Absolutely. Through the Winter training season, riding on Zwift has been typical for me.

I’ve done 30% more time on the trainer, and my FTP has risen from 280 to 305.

I’d describe it as, ‘Unexpected incremental gains that come naturally from being more consistent with your training and more focused riding. You see the gains, but not the pain.’

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Was this your first time riding Zwift next to people in real life? What was it like?

Justin: It was my first time, and a nice mix of doing an actual group ride and a virtual ride. Having an audience definitely changed the dynamic, too.

Mark: I usually ride at home with my wife in what we’ve dubbed, “the Todd’s pain cave.” It was demoralizing to watch Jens’ high wattage with such low BPM, though (laughs).

Describe Zwift in 5 words

Mark: Innovative, Creative, Fun, Measurable Results, Affordable (OK, I had to use six...).

Justin: Most immersive indoor riding experience.

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You can catch Justin and Mark in action in the AMGEN Tour of California Series Ride with Jens Voigt video on our YouTube Channel.