I spent the weekend building the Unofficial Zwift Team and Club Listing. I have no idea if it will work. I do know that since it is not automated, it does take work on my part to manage it. Who knows? If the concept works, I may rewrite it and that would create more options for the users.
The process started a discussion on the Zwift Riders Facebook group. Seems not everyone could see the reason for the project. I also learned that I wasn’t the only one with similar ideas. At times, I felt I was having to defend myself. So, in the format of an interview, I want to explain.
Why did you decide to build the listing?
It started because I had a great time participating in the first-ever team race on Zwift. It brought back memories of my days team racing on real roads. It got me to wondering who else was on my Zwift team and how could I find out who they were. For that matter, I was curious who all was on the other teams as well. There was no centralized place to find out. I saw a need and tried to meet it.
Do you really think it was a need?
Maybe “need” is too strong of a word. Here we are riding expensive bikes on expensive trainers connected to expensive computers over high bandwidth connections. I’ll call it a “want.” I wanted to know this information and I figured others would as well. Could Zwift survive without it? Sure. However, the teams would form and they would find ways to connect with each other. Why not build a place where a system for this was already in place.
Are you trying to control the team space on Zwift?
Nope. Zwift is a huge community. I am beyond certain that the majority of Zwift users don’t even know the listing exists. It is most likely only known within my sphere of contacts on the Zwift Riders Facebook group. Also, this system doesn’t do anything other than list for common knowledge what others are doing. I’m not building the teams. I’m not telling them where or when they can race. That is all up to the teams and clubs.
Why are you doing this when there are other people building team sites?
First. When I started building it, I didn’t realize there were other initiatives started. When I saw Tam Burns’ Zwift Team Worlds Event project, I was like, “Ahhhh, I don’t have to do this! Someone else is doing the work.” However, when I took at look at what Tam was doing, I realized we’re doing something very different.
Tam’s site and another one by John Greig allow users to register and then the software groups them into teams for specific events. Actually, it is a pretty cool concept and I imagine it will work quite well. It isn’t what I was looking for. I wanted something that was 1) driven by the users, and 2) allowed for continuity for the teams.
So, do you think you have the better plan?
No. I have A plan. Also, from the very beginning I took this concept to the Zwift Riders Facebook group. Behind the scenes I communicated with team mates and other users who gave valuable feedback. I kept putting out iterations of the concept and made adjustments based on the questions users had interacting with the interface.
I think this site is just one of several that could serve the Zwift community. It isn’t in conflict with other sites. For now, it is the only site that does what it does. Frankly, if a better site does what I’m doing (I’d love for it to be integrated in the Zwift software!), I’m more than willing to hand over the data.
How does it work?
If no one uses it, it won’t! Even if there are multiple teams and clubs listed in the portal, but none of them race and ride as teams… it still won’t work. However, it is a good tool that gives Zwift riders opportunities to enjoy team racing.
The way I envision this is that a group of Zwift riders who regularly hangout together online decide to form a team. They choose a team manager and he or she signs onto the portal to create a team. I receive that submission and list the team on the team listing.
If the team is an Invitation Only team, I give the team manager a link to be sent to each member they wish to join. As those entries come in, I add them to the team roster that appears on the team page. That team page is then viewable by anyone.
So, if you are out riding in a race and you see a bunch of people riding with say… Team CCG out beside their names, you can go to the portal and find it stands for the Childwall Chain Gang, an elite group of Road Race specialists, est. 2008 and located in Liverpool, UK.
Unattached riders also can sign up. My plan with this is to create a listing of these riders and then allow team managers to approach those riders to join their groups. At some point, it might workout to form teams based on these lists… However, that doesn’t fit with my desire to have the teams driven entirely by the users. This will be something on which I’ll seek community feedback.
Where do you find this site?
Let me say, first, that I still want feedback. I can’t incorporate every idea, but I definitely consider them and much of what I’m doing now came from user feedback. Thank you!
Last, this is all about you. If it falls flat and no one uses it, then that is a sign that it isn’t needed or that someone else has something better. I’m fine with both those outcomes! However, if you do sign up, don’t do it on a lark. Use it as a way to build your team — and then RIDE ON as a team. That part is all on you.
Now, go continue making Zwift the awesome online cycling community that it is!