Today was the day I decided to end my latest obsession. It’s Day 50 of the South African Coronavirus Lockdown and I have spent the past 49 days making sure I did at least one training session a day on my Tacx smart trainer in the virtual performance cycling world of Zwift.


By Sean Badenhorst

For seven weeks, a daily training session in our garage, which has been converted to what I refer to as ‘the gain cave’. No days skipped. Not one. Some days, more than one training session! That’s an obsession.

I have had aching quads for seven weeks. Forty-nine days of microscopic muscle fibre tears that I have tried to ignore. Why are they aching? Because they’re not recovering. That’s why. It’s impossible to do an easy session on Zwift. Okay, let me rephrase that. It’s impossible for ME to do an easy session on Zwift.

An easy session on a bicycle, even a stationary one, means just rolling along for maybe 45 minutes in a very easy gear to let your muscles recover with the aid of some circulated blood. Incorporating these easy sessions into your cycling training is common sense.

I tried that, but I failed. I somehow decided that I needed to at least cover 30km per ride. And some rides I only had one hour, so 30km needed to be covered in that hour. And for someone my age, that’s not an easy ride.

You can also not ride at all for a day or two to give your leg muscles time to recover and absorb the training effort. Today was that day. No ride at all. It wasn’t easy, but I did it. I overcame my obsession.

Why the obsession? Here’s why:

I am a naturally athletic guy. I enjoy doing exercise and I particularly love cycling. Any kind of cycling. As long as I’m pedalling a bicycle, I’m content. I’m also a naturally competitive guy. If there’s a sporting challenge, I’m interested, if it’s a cycling-related challenge, I’m definitely in. All in!

Along with the rest of world, this Covid-19 pandemic changed my daily routine. For 49 years I’d adapted to the world and my immediate environment. In simple terms, my world involves family, work, fitness, food and sleep.

Then came the hard lockdown and the world changed. My world changed. I no longer had freedom of movement outside my home and I no longer had control over what I normally have control over. So, I began to work out what I could control and I focussed on that. And THAT became my daily focus. That was my daily appointment with Tacx and Zwift. A place that became familiar, where I began to feel I had a high level of control. Until it began to control me…

Zwift is an app that delivers you to a virtual world called Watopia. The ‘visitor’s visa’ costs around R330 a month. To briefly explain it to those that aren’t familiar with Zwift, it’s like riding your bicycle in a computer game where you earn rewards for distance covered, time ridden, altitude gained and so much more.

The app connects to your smart trainer, picking up your power and cadence and it connects to your heart rate belt, picking up your heart rate. It takes all this information and feeds it back to you as you cover various motor-vehicle-free roads – some hilly, some flat, some inside volcanoes and some under the ocean. You can just ride or you can join one of the many, many races.

It’s designed to be engaging. It is. It’s designed to be distracting. It is. It’s designed to be motivating. It is. It’s designed to be rewarding. It is. For someone that struggles to ride a stationary bicycle indoors (like me), Watopia is a truly magical place to pedal! I never really got excited about opening my garage door, but now I do…

It feels a bit weird to not have ridden today. It became both a habit and an obsession. Sure, I did lose weight (a bit) and improved my fitness and strength (a lot!). But it’s not the end of the world that I had a rest day today. Really, it’s not. Besides, I know I can return to Watopia tomorrow…


An obsession is a way for damaged people to damage themselves more. – Mark Barrowcliffe