I hear you - Zwift is hard and the racing and indoor cycling workouts make it even harder but have you ever just cruised around in recovery mode and had a gander at the scenery? There's some pretty epic artistry going on and the level of detail is truly exquisite. From the wonderful world of Watopia and New York City to Innsbruck and the Makuri Islands of Japan, there's a smorgasbord of clever little details just waiting to be found and some of them are quite amusing, too.
Of all the worlds, Watopia, in particular, is rich in flora and fauna of both the extinct and living kind, which you'll discover when exploring the many roads that make up this fictitious land. For many riders, it's the landscape diversity that makes Watopia such a fan favourite but others prefer the realism of Innsbruck, Richmond, London and Bologna. Whatever your persuasion, Zwift has stitched in layers of carefully curated messages - all you need to do is look.
In an attempt to unearth some of Zwift's most iconic landmarks and creatures we've collated our favourite finds in the list below. If there is anything we've missed or you think should be added, feel free to leave a suggestion in the comments section below.
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1. Scotty the squirrel - all worlds
We'll start with a real easy one - Scotty the squirrel. If you don't know Zwift's in-game mascot by now then you've truly been living under a rock, that or you're taking your riding way too seriously. Scotty is everywhere and you'll first encounter him on the homepage graphics of the pairing screen. You'll also find various celebratory squirrel balloons and statues scattered everywhere from London to Watopia, but the real Scotty is little harder to find. He parks himself on certain spots on Zwift and Zwifters get a real kick from trying to find him - kind of like a Where's Wally? scenario.
So where is Scotty, currently? Well, rumour has it Scotty still likes to frequent the gas station's veranda just before Reverse KOM as well as the summit of Box Hill.
2. Sloth - Jungle Circuit, Watopia
In late 2017, Zwift released an expansion to Watopia called the Mayan Jungle. As the name suggests, the route snakes around a jungle-laden course complete with wooden suspension bridges, a mix of gravel and tar roads, tunnels, ancient ruins and era-specific statues and trinkets - it's a great way to break up the banality of the metropolitan-style scenery of downtown Watopia.
There's also a fair amount of new wildlife to be found here, including exotic toucans and fireflies but also a friendly sloth. Often mistaken as a monkey, the jungle sloth can be found hanging from a vine that's suspended across the road with its arm stretched out. If there was a way to high five the little fella we would.
3. Yeti - Alpe du Zwift, Watopia
The Yeti is Zwift's most mythical creature and easily one of the hardest in-game Easter eggs to spot. What makes its sighting even more difficult is that the Yeti lives high up on the slopes of Alpe du Zwift, meaning you'll need to pedal up the torturous 12.24km/1,000m climb and that doesn't even guarantee you'll get to see the furry beast.
That said, to help spot him, Zwift placed a sign post after turn 12 which says “Méfiez vous du yeti” (beware of the yeti) in 4.9km. Zwift's creative team enjoyed the idea of taunting its users with tricks as just a few metres up the road is a petrified tree positioned in a yeti-like pose. The real yeti can be seen frequenting the terrain around turn 7, turn 5 or turn 4, walking around or sitting on the rocks.
Interestingly, both the yeti and sloth can be found on one of the graffiti murals on the event-only Crit City courses.
4. Swarovski Kristallwelten - Achterban, Innsbruck
Deep in the paincave on your way to tackle the Innsbruck KOM, you'll find the next item on our list - the Swarovski Crystal Worlds Giant. Located in Tyrol, Innsbruck, the real-life Swarovski Kristallwelten is an experience attraction created by André Heller for Swarovski, comprising a recreational park, art museum and restaurant. It's become a landmark and Zwift made a concerted effort to bring it to life pixel by pixel with the help of 3D Artist Chris Silber.
Other notable landmarks on this course include the Kufstein Fortress and Bergisel Ski Jump.
5. Ibex mountain goat statue - Epic KOM, Watopia
Now this is one of the hidden novelties I never noticed at first, probably because I was in so much agony just trying to crest the Epic KOM. Long before Alpe du Zwift, the toughest and longest climb in all of Watopia was the Epic KOM, made tougher by the extended Radio Mast ascent immediately after its summit. As a reward for conquering the steep slopes, Zwift programmed the Ibex mountain goat statue to bow at riders once at the top - a great gesture which carries into the respective KOM and QOM jerseys, both of which feature mountain goat graphics.
6. Zwift arcade simulator - Start pens, Watopia
An easy one to miss, the arcade is located on the right side of the boardwalk as you leave the start pens in Watopia. While the arcade itself is packed with your traditional flick-stick consoles, on the outside there are several Zwift simulators complete with what looks like a Tron bike affixed to a wheel-on turbo trainer.
7. Dinosaurs - Titans Grove, Watopia
T-Rex? You said you have a T-Rex? Say it again. Yep, we have a T-Rex. Many of us will remember that famous line from Jurassic Park and Titans Grove also has its own T-Rex.
While it's not a man-eating beast like the movie, the T-Rex can be found at the start of the Titans Grove KOM on the right-hand side. He seems harmless enough but it's probably wise not to provoke him - after all, he can't see you if you're standing still, right, which is an issue...
Titans Grove is also home to other dinosaur species but apart from the Brontosaurus and Parasaurolophus, I'd be lying if I knew each and every kind. It's just a pity there aren't any Velociraptors in the long grass.
8. Jarvis the bear - Titans Grove, Watopia
Jarvis the bear is probably one of the easiest Easter eggs to find in Zwift, mainly because of his sheer presence and comedic tendencies, but some riders still haven't seen him animating the nearby treeline of Titans Grove.
How did his name come about? Well, when Zwift launched the Titans Grove expansion in August 2019, the team took to Facebook in an attempt to name the bear and after myriad suggestions from fans, the bear appeared to have scratched his name into his tree - Jarvis.
He's easy to spot: ride past his tree and you'll see him slapping a beehive for honey before falling on his back, and he does this on repeat seemingly never learning from his mistakes.
9. Halloween party - Watopia
For the past few years now, Zwift has made a habit of celebrating Halloween in-game. Who can remember the Halloween scavenger hunt from 2019 where riders darted around Watopia in search of finding all the parts to complete the dinosaur costume?
Last year, Zwift rolled out new Pace Partners as part of the Halloween shenanigans: Carlin Cosmic, Darwin Dino, Delta Daring, who handed out pieces of Halloween costumes depending on how much time you spent riding with them.
As Halloween 2021 is almost upon us, don't miss out on joining in on the festivities. Expect a similarly themed day mixed with the same crazy antics and unlockable features we've seen in the past.
10. The paperboy bike - all worlds
For those who grew up in the eighties, the paperboy bike was a real treat. Based on the original Atari arcade action game, Zwifters were given the chance to ride the iconic pixel bike complete with paper basket during the April Fools of 2018. Reminiscent of the Tron bike in many ways, the paperboy bike was also of the light-up variety and left a glowing trail in its wake.
What made it all the more exciting was the functionality and paper-throwing action. By pressing the F2 key you could throw newspapers at a target to unlock 50XP for every successful hit. The downside? The bike wasn't a keeper and could only be ridden on the day.
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Aaron is Cyclingnews' tech editor. Born and raised in South Africa he completed his BA honours at the University of Cape Town before embarking on a career in journalism. As the former gear and digital editor of Bicycling magazine and associate editor of TopCar, he's been writing about bikes and anything with wheels for the past 16 years. A competitive racer and Stravaholic, he’s twice ridden the Cape Epic and completed the Haute Route Alps. When not riding, racing or testing bicycles in and around the UK's Surrey Hills where he now lives, he's writing about them for Cyclingnews and Bike Perfect.
Rides: Cannondale SuperSlice Disc Di2 TT, Cannondale Supersix Evo Dura-Ace Rim, Cannondale Supersix Evo Ultegra Di2 Disc, Trek Procaliber 9.9 MTB
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