It’s safe to say the pandemic and weeks in lockdown inspired us all to take up hobbies and one in particular, for many, has been the virtual racing world driven by one of the largest indoor training apps, Zwift.
One team that has thrived throughout the pandemic is the Atom Racing Team (ART), a dedicated Zwift racing team made up of Wattbike owners. Whether you’re a newbie to riding on the Wattbike, or a well experienced rider, ART caters for all abilities, to ultimately improve your fitness goals whilst having fun throughout the world of Watopia!
To tell us a bit more about the Atom Racing Team we caught up with Jason Byles, one of the key members behind the operation.
Tell us a bit about yourself, Jason and why you love the Wattbike
Well, I’m a 46 year old married man with two young daughters. I live in the North East of Scotland and am a huge Wattbike Atom and Zwift fan. I normally cover around 80-100 ‘race’ miles per week taking part in the TFC Mad Monday, WTRL Team Time Trials and our ART Attack races. To compliment that I try and squeeze in a few 40-60 minute recovery rides.
The attraction to the Wattbike is simple, the Atom is sitting there in my garage, at any point of the day that I want to use it. When the kids went to bed, or if it was raining outside (as if often does in the North East of Scotland), the Atom is there, ready for me to work out on and that’s what I love, the flexibility it provides.
It also inspired a more social aspect too, and this was before the COVID-19 pandemic. I was quite excited by the fact I could jump on and do a social ride with a friend who was sitting several miles away in his garage. Yet we could ride together albeit on screen, chat and race each other around a virtual World, I still think that is awesome.
Simply by doing this, I started seeing improvements in my fitness, stamina, and endurance. My FTP figures were climbing, my weight was dropping, and it was happening whilst I was having fun. What’s not to love about that?
Jason Byles riding on Zwift
When was the Atom Racing Team established and how’s the success been so far?
The Atom Racing Team (ART) was formed on the 29th January 2020 by a small group of individuals who had one common goal, to form a select group of people who wanted to race their Wattbike Atoms in a more social aspect on a virtual platform. And from there, it has grown massively.
I joined ART in April 2020 and entered my first race as a C Category rider. I was surprised to be placed 19th out of 80 racers and got my first FTP increase to boot, what a bonus.
I then joined my first Team Trial Race three days later and from that point onwards I was hooked.
In a small space of time ART has achieved so much. ART won the Team TFC Mad Monday Race winter series, out of 50+ other well established teams, and we are currently leading the same Spring series although with stiffer competition. We regularly get teams in the Platinum league within the WTRL Team Time Trials. We have our own event within Zwift called ART Attack - a mixture of a public Group ride with a little twist, and we are hopeful to place well within the upcoming Zwift Racing League.
How many members do you have?
From approximately 80-85 members in March 2020 to 465+ members 12 months later, and we continue to grow rapidly every week. We encourage all Wattbike owners to join, regardless of experience, fitness level, gender or age.
What would your tips/recommendations be for someone looking to join?
Don’t let the term ‘Racing Team’ put you off joining ART. Potential members do not need to be elite athletes or superstar sprinters. We are a very supportive group of riders, all we ask is you give it a try, what have you got to lose?
By definition of ART, you will need to own or use a Wattbike. We only race and arrange group social rides on Zwift, so a separate membership to that application will be required but Zwift does have a 7-day free trial for you to try. Take a browse on our newly released website that will provide some information about what ART is all about, then join us by finding us on Facebook and answering a few simple questions. It's really that easy.
What categories and races do you cover?
ART caters for everything from inexperienced or Zwift D Category riders, to experienced or Zwift A+ riders and everything in between. This also applies to our dedicated women’s teams too. It doesn’t matter what fitness level or ability level members are, we can find a suitable race team for you.
Finally, what inspires you to get on your Wattbike and dedicate so many hours in the saddle. So, why do you Watt?
It’s the challenge of becoming fitter, faster, stronger and seeing the proof of my improvements that inspires me to Watt.
A lap of victory for the Atom Racing Team