Zwift Academy is a community of fun-loving, competitive women from all corners of the globe. They are moms, daughters, doctors, lawyers, caretakers, entrepreneurs, bosses, and more, who remarkably balance training with all of life's responsibilities.
Each week, we'll tell one rider's story to uncover a little bit more of the motivations and personalities behind this inspiring group of women.
For Leslie Dang Ngoc, Zwift Academy is a not just an essential part of her own health and happiness, but her family's, too. Here's her story...
Why did you join Zwift Academy?
I discovered Zwift at the end of 2015. My husband is a tech geek and I am a sports nerd, and we finally found a topic that joined our interests. I'm a triathlete and had been complementing my outdoor rides with indoor trainer rides for years, but I could never last for more than 45 min. My only motivation was that it was a huge time saver, and time is extremely valuable when you have a job and a baby to take care of. Zwift helped me enjoy indoor training a lot more.
It was only when I got pregnant a second time early this year that Zwift took a preponderant place in my routine. The doctor announced I would need a cerclage to be able to keep the baby and bring him to full term healthy. That meant no bouncing, and therefore no running. Running had been a huge part of my life, and I ran until 8 months pregnant during my first pregnancy.
I had always believed that a healthy mommy equalled a healthy baby, and a happy mommy also equalled a happy baby. Past the initial shock, I was looking for ways to stay healthy while keeping the baby safe, and keeping my sanity during these 9 months. I couldn’t run and I wasn't comfortable riding outdoors as I live in Singapore, a city-island with quite a lot of traffic. That's when the Zwift Academy program was released.
I'm so happy to be part of a community of strong women, and be able to exercise safely, feeling the social side even though I exercise alone at home. I am now 7 months pregnant with a healthy baby, and feeling strong as ever.
How has the training impacted your life so far?
Training is an essential component in my life. It gives me daily structure and purpose. It also shows my 3 year old son healthy habits and commitment.
Obviously, during this pregnancy I don’t train to race, but train for physical (and mental) health and so that I'm not starting from scratch post partum. I continue tracking my workouts, paying attention to my health and my heart rate. I don’t do that for performance monitoring, but as a basis for motivation: to show that you can be pregnant and strong, and to feel confident that I have done the work to come back strong after the baby is born.
What do you do when you're not riding your bike?
I work for an engineering company full time, and the rest of the day, I prioritize quality time with my family. I work out when my son is sleeping or doing external activities, or during my lunch break at work. My workouts currently consist of Zwifting, swimming and yoga, which are safe during this potentially risky pregnancy. I also like cooking fusion food (legacy from my French Vietnamese origins), and baking on the weekends with my son.
Do you have kids or pets? How do they feel about your Zwift station?
I have a 3-year-old son who is used to seeing me spinning on the bike. As a result, he mastered his balance bike over a year ago, and he's not going anywhere without it. Last year, we even flew to a race location with my husband’s and my bikes and my son’s balance bike in our luggage. I can’t wait to make a mini Zwift station for him and hope his little brother will be as enthusiastic as he is.
Cyclists have to replace a lot of calories. What's your favorite post-ride treat?
Simply peanut butter and jam on homemade bread, or muesli with homemade yogurt and fruits if an early workout. If workout later in the day, I also enjoy good homemade hummus on toast. I am very wary about preservatives, palm oil, and other chemicals or gelatin, and prepare as much food as possible at home. A good glass of 100% coconut water is my rehydrating beverage of choice.
What’s one of your most memorable moments on a bike?
I was living in Beijing with my boyfriend (now husband), and we decided to take advantage of a long weekend to set off on an adventure on our bikes. It was before GPS and smart phones and we just starting riding in one direction. Beijing is such a huge city, it took us half a day to finally arrive in the countryside.
At some point we stopped at a mom and pop store on the side of the road (it was really more like a wooden cabin than a proper store), bought a map and tried to get an old Chinese man to explain us where we were. We realized we were at a reasonable distance from a lake, and decided it would be our target for the day. We ended up finding a place to stay for the night on the lake shore and had a great, unplanned time.
Where has your bike taken you, physically and/or mentally?
Riding a bike is a huge mental escape. There is nothing more mind-clearing than feeling the wind on your face, and enjoying the scenery.
I have lived in 5 different countries and travelled to many many more, and I realized that no matter where you are, cycling is a uniting passion. Wherever I have been, there were cycling communities, for social or for racing purposes.
I discovered serious cycling quite late in my life but I believe it will remain an essential component of my life.
Describe Zwift in 5 words
Fun, Challenging, Social, Motivating, Uniting