Zwifting back the years
CYCLING WEEKLY|October 08, 2020
After 20 years off the bike, Michael Harrison found a route back to health and happiness via the virtual world of Watopia
Hannah Reynolds

“I used to ride and race in London in the late Eighties,” says Michael Harrison. “I lived in Putney in the days Holdsworth’s Cycles was still about, but after a 20-year hiatus I was so far out of shape, I couldn’t face going out with a club.”

Harrison had relocated to north-east Scotland in 1998, and it wasn’t only club riding he couldn’t face but also the weather outside.

“I got to a certain age and realised I had to look after myself better,” recalls the 48-year-old. “One day I was looking around the local bike shop and they had a bike set up on Zwift for demonstrations, so I gave it a go.”

It was an impulse purchase; Harrison bought his own set-up and dived right in. The effects were dramatic. “I started on Zwift in January 2019, immediately after Christmas. I lost more than four stone in the first year.”

Little by little

As you might expect, getting back into cycling after 20 years off was challenging. “When I started out, 10 miles was a long ride. Over time, I got better, little bit by little bit.” It didn’t take Harrison long to get back to weekly mileage not dissimilar to that from his racing days. “I try to do 300 miles a week, about 40 miles a day, which I normally do on Zwift group rides. I’m not particularly fast; I just pootle long.”

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