I consider cycling or running my “reboot.” Everybody has their outlet. For me, it’s exercise. If I’ve had a tough day or a tough week, I want to wear myself physically out!
Meet Kenneth Thomas: physician, coffee roaster, Zwifter. Hailing from Starkville, Mississippi, he is currently chief of staff at his hospital and laboring along with millions of other medical workers worldwide in the front lines of the Coronavirus pandemic. This is his Zwift story.
Before 2019, most of Kenneth’s running and riding was done outdoors – but he was fickle about the weather. “If it was cold or wet, I’d play hooky (and feel the pounds pile on).” Using an indoor trainer was a last resort. “Honestly, I hated exercising on the trainer! I know that’s a strong word, but it’s honest!”
Then the guys at his local bike shop (Boardtown Bikes) told him about Zwift. He got a Wahoo KICKR for Christmas in 2018, went for his first ride on New Year’s Eve, and as a self-confessed numbers geek immediately fell in love with all the new stats at his fingertips:
To see my heart rate, watts and all kinds of other numbers I didn’t even know I needed just blew me away! I rode 15.3 miles in 58 minutes and 1 second, climbed 719 ft, and burned 420 calories!
The interaction with other Zwifters quickly grabbed Kenneth’s attention as well:
I saw other people, in real-time, riding… like right next to me! And then someone tried to pass me, and I was having none of it! I saw those watts kick up as I ‘closed the gap’. I finished the ride and couldn’t wait for the next.
Kenneth found riding on Zwift so enjoyable that it wasn’t long before he added a treadmill to the mix, bringing his Brooks inside to hit the virtual streets of New York, London, and more. Indoor exercise was no longer his “last resort” – it was his go-to workout.
Over that next year, I increased my overall exercise time by about 50-60%! And, honestly, most of that time was on Zwift. I couldn’t help but tell basically everyone how much of a game-changer it was for me! It’s a game-changer – it really is.
Now a level 21 rider/10 runner, Kenneth’s next milestone is unlocking the Zwift Concept Z1 bike. He’s 90% there!
As a doctor working in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the value of Zwift’s community interaction has never been higher for Kenneth. We’ll let him tell that part of the story…
One subtle but very important aspect of Zwift that makes it so special for me is the community. I didn’t realize (or appreciate) that until the day when I came home tired, wondering how brutal of an impact COVID-19 was going to have medically and economically.
I joined a group ride – I think one of the Tour of Watopia rides. I saw all these flags from the different countries and people communicating with each other and we were all commiserating our fates… and then it happened. Someone in Italy pulled up beside me and started talking. Italy was under quarantine and thousands upon thousands were dying and here I was riding my bike in Mississippi next to someone from Italy! I’m a manly man, but I will tell you, I teared up! I thought, “now this… this is community! Here we are – all isolated, yet we’re together!”
That was what I needed. That was my reboot for that day. In the midst of a fearful world full of unknowns, seeing and interacting with someone else, even virtually, gave me a renewed hope that we were going to be ok. It made knowing “the worst was still to come” just a little better because there was still a community out there. In this instance, it was a community of Zwifters – location independent, COVID-19 independent.
I think we’re made for relationships and, just to see people show up, even virtually, and commit to being part of a community, gives me hope. It’s not to say that we aren’t going to have difficulties in all this – we will. But, listen to me Zwifters, this too shall pass and we’ll be stronger for it. Come hurricane, flood, pandemic, killer bee attacks, terrorism, famine… we will still be here. We are Zwifters. We will Ride On.
Come together with the Zwift Community to support Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in their response to COVID-19.