Getting sweaty on the Wahoo Shred Sessions
Many of us don’t have trails on our doorstep and we’ve had to find new ways to get our riding fix during lockdown. Wahoo Shred Sesison is one such option.
Written by Laura Bailey
Wahoo have launched the Shred Sessions on the virtual riding platform Zwift. The programme started on the 6th May and runs through till the end of the month, aiming to unite riders from around the world with some of their favourite riding stars. We joined in on both sessions on Day One joining current EWS rider Noga Korem and former EWS champion Jermoe Clementz as ride leaders to see what it was all about.
How did it come about?
Wahoo have worked quickly to bring the sessions together with Zwift, following on from an idea from EWS rider Caro Gehrig. Louis Quinton from Wahoo told us why it struck a chord for him. “The thing I miss the most about riding is the people and the community and from the riders I have spoken to it’s the same for them. This is a great way for us to connect the riders with their friends and their fans whilst doing what they love – riding bikes!” The feeling was echoed by Noga Korem too who told us “it’s really important to be socially active at this crazy time, to keep my friends and fans motivated and positive on these days we can’t race and do our “normal” job.”
What to expect?
The Shred Sessions are group rides on the Zwift platform. Each session lasts an hour, and is hosted by one of the Wahoo Athletes from the world of CX, XC, Enduro or Downhill. Expect to see household names as guest leaders with Troy Brosnan, Richie Rude, Miranda Miller, Sam Hill and more already scheduled for sessions running from Wednesday – Sunday through each week in May.
What happens in a session?
Waiting for the start of the session to begin we could see flags from across the world represented and greeting messages pinged around the group from riders ranging from Corsica to Yorkshire, Switzerland to Portugal and Japan to Canada.
As the ride begins, all the riders bundle together in a mass start. It’s entertaining to see 500+ virtual MTB riders in one place and was bigger than any real life ride start we’ve ever been on! Whatever set up you’re on in reality you’ll all be astride an MTB virtually for the Shred Sessions. You can customize your rider and bike set up on Zwift to build your own virtual avatar. The more you ride on Zwift, the more options for customisation you unlock. Ride any of the Shred Sessions through May and you’ll unlock your own Wahoo Kit.
Once the countdown to the start of the session is complete, you start to pedal, and expect that you won’t stop till the hour ends. Unlike reality there is no downtime in Zwift, while the gradient undulated through the Jungle Circuit we rode, my smart turbo trainer shifted resistance to mimic the changes in gradient but the group kept moving, so be sure to be ready for a good workout session. Jerorme had us putting in efforts up the short punchy 8% bridge climb, and we all joined Noga for a fun 20 second sprint at the end, but it’s all optional you ride at your own pace and power.
After a short virtual road pedal your avatar joins the offroad world, and the dust begins to fly! There’s no singletrack here, although there is elsewhere within Zwift now, check out https://www.mbr.co.uk/news/zwift-mountain-biking-391545 for more info. This is an hour blast on virtual offroad tracks, and with no steering to focus on you can concentrate on your workout or asking the pro’s some questions through your ride.
Can anyone join in?
Each group ride had hundreds of riders riding together, so as expected there was a mix of speeds and fitness. These sessions aren’t races, but a chance to make the most of riding with fellow MTB riders. Whether you’re fully immersed in your training during lockdown, or just keen to make contact with some other mountain bikers there will be someone for you to join forces with. Zwift works hard to mimic the real world where it can, so get in behind another rider’s slipstream and you’ll receive a benefit from drafting. So it’s worth keeping with a group where you can.
The two sessions we joined weren’t conducted at a sluggish pace, and be prepared to get hot and sweaty. Sticking in the pack and riding alongside Noga for a lot of the first ride was great fun, although the sweat levels got so high at one point, that a quick wipe down caused me to rub out my contact lens! Even Noga told us it was a good workout after having an easier training period with her races postponed or cancelled till August, “I started to ride outside just a week ago, so to have to admit the pace wasn’t so easy for me, but it was a cool experience and it got me more motivated to get back to shape. I was flattered when they asked me to lead the first Shred Session. Zwift is really cool and I’m happy they started an MTB series”.
Is it social?
Weirdly so! Having not had the chance to ride with other people for a long time because of lockdown, it was great to get back to some of the random chats you have when out on your bike. Zwift has messaging capacity so the group can chat while riding. Through our rides both leaders, Noga and Jerome, kept the group updated with positive messages and answered riders questions. Louis Quinton, from Wahoo joined the first ride, and enjoyed the topics of conversation. “Obviously we got to beer pretty fast but the essential topics such as Pokemon characters and everyone’s 3rd favourite dinosaur were also covered. This just highlights that whilst the world takes this pandemic very seriously, there are still some opportunities to not take ourselves so seriously”. The evening ride gave riders a chance to learn more about Jerome’s training regime, power output, and favourite places to ride. So if you’ve got a burning question for one of the special guests this is your chance to ask them direct.
What did we learn?
The Shred Sessions reminded us of some of the reasons why we love MTB riding so much, great company and entertaining chat. And for us mere mortals it’s a great chance to ride with your heroes. For the first and I’m sure last time ever I was ahead of Jerome Clementz on a bike – and whether it’s in a virtual platform or not I’m taking that as a win! We learnt that Noga’s favourite place to ride is Crankworx Whistler, discovered beer and Zwift have played big parts in getting our fellow riders through lockdown, and learnt how to tell if we were training fatigued from Jerome.
Louis from Wahoo gave us some of his top tips for making the most of the riders “Don’t forget water and try to give yourself the option to type in game (Push the M key to message). Virtual group rides are no different to the real thing, you’re there to socialise as much as ride!”
What do I need to join in?
To join in you’ll need some form of indoor cycling set up and of course you’ll need to sign up to Zwift. You can get a 7 day free trial on Zwift and it’s then £12.99 monthly membership and you can cancel at any time. For your indoor set up you’ll need a bike and a trainer. You don’t have to go mad on expensive kit, any bike and trainer will do. Smart turbo trainers alter resistance in Zwift to mimic the terrain and gradient you are riding and Louis gave us his favourite set up, “ Having a smart trainer like my Wahoo KICKR will give you the best experience on Zwift and right now I am looking for as much realism as I can get” But if you only have a basic turbo you can still connect speed and cadence sensors via bluetooth or ANT+ to get virtual power in Zwift. You can find the schedule for the Shred Sessions here.
We’ve heard on the grapevine there’s a beer based reward for the athlete that gets the most people joining them through the month, so if you fancy getting involved why not pick your favourite rider and sign up and give it a go!
Written by Laura Bailey