I am very late to this party, but ...
... new indoor trainer with power (finally!)...
... broken wrist that is keeping me from riding outdoors...
They give you a free trial, so I checked it out before buying.
Honestly at first I didn't really get it. I rode, on virtual courses, but kind of mindlessly. It didn't have the social element I was expecting. I went up some stupid hill, didn't know when it would end, and finished my ride.
$17.99 CDN / months for this? Nah.
Then I joined a group ride and it all made sense.
Then I raced and it blew me away!
Group Rides and Workouts
These are pretty cool, you're in a group, usually there's a leader who keeps everyone together. Everything is expressed in "w/kg" - basically your power output divided by your weight (or at least the weight you told Zwift!)
Depending on the ride, the leader can be cool, annoying, the groups can be fun or you can end up alone if you're too fast or too slow... but it's pretty easy once you have a handle on your w/kg to find rides that match your ability and desired workout that day.
I use these for easier days, when I want some company and someone to hold me in check.
For me, this is where things got so much more fascinating.
Now it's worth noting these are far far far from structured workouts... they are legit races, and people take them seriously.
The biggest benefit of Zwift races - you don't have to be that fast, and unlike real road races there is no danger! There are categories all the way from A to D, and in each category there's typically a several groups that form.
The drafting is the one element you have to get a bit used to - following riders gives you a speed boost. Zwift steers for you, but you need to understand at the front you need more power to break the wind than when you're in the pack.
Most importantly you have to understand the draft effect decreases to almost nothing on hills.
And as a big guy, this is where I need to really pay attention... one minute I'm soft pedalling in the pack, next minute and off the back and busting my ass to try catch up!!!
The result is that I'm paying attention constantly, the minutes don't crawl by they fly by.
The other thing is just like real life there are attacks - and usually on that final climb, or there's a sprint to the finish, and a palpable increase in pace leading up to it...
It's just a hoot. Like playing a game for an hour (or less, or more!).
What Zwift Is Not
So they do have structure workouts as well for those who prefer to do ... that.
I don't, and from what I understand Trainer Road is better suited to that kind of thing.
I decided awhile ago that I have minimal interest in really improving to my full ability. I know that sounds crazy, but honestly the biggest gains I've ever had were when I loved what I was doing and did it more. Indoor especially that's a challenge - so fun trumps perfect training regiments.
(Honestly I haven't done structured training of any kind since Ironman 2014 - I push myself but not in any kind of methodical way. And that's how I like it.)