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Friday, September 12, 2014

Now You Can Ride Your Bike in Cyberspace

Posted By on Fri, Sep 12, 2014 at 9:04 AM

click to enlarge unnamed.jpg

After going on a long ride in the dirt, I’ve got to clean off my bike. I’ve got to upload my ride to Strava. I’ve got to lube my chain. I’ve got to take a shower. Wouldn’t it be great if we didn't have to do any of that?

Luckily, some smart people are hard at work at helping you never leave the house again with apps and hardware.

Why worry about rain, sun, dirt, traffic, or anything else, when you can ride and even race against your friends in their own homes, from the comfort of your own home?The most interesting of these new apps is called Zwift, a massively multiplayer game for cyclists that will go live later this month.

I wonder how Zwift pitched to investors. I bet it went something like this: “It’s like riding your bike. It is riding your bike. It’s riding your bike inside but it’s like riding your bike outside, too. It’s a game where you ride your bike inside of a computer. It’s like DDR for people who are training to race bikes. That’s it. Like DDR.”

In any event, they have managed to develop a massively multiplayer online roleplaying trainer in order to let cyclists who don’t want to leave the house continue to race for K.O.M. (king of the multi-use path) all year round. Based on the early Instagram shots of the graphics it looks like it should be pretty persuasively real:

While Strava takes real world biking and makes it into a game, Zwift just is a game. You just happen to play by riding your bike on a stationary trainer. There have been efforts to make riding on a stationary trainer indoors more like riding outdoors.

The Sufferfest, hilariously exploits cyclists’ bottomless appetite for masochism, by providing a subscription service to directed interval workout videos that make you feel like you’re in the pro-peloton on iconic roads around the world.

The Sufferfest - Introduction from The Sufferfest on Vimeo.

Hardware like the CycleOps resistance trainers provide resistance changes to simulate climbing hills. Pro teams (and you) can use this to simulate race courses in order to practice for upcoming events.

The BKool trainers give you an entire 3D world. They claim that they have every single route in the world in “extreme realism” so you can “experience the most realistic sensations.”

All of these sound a little outlandish, but for those who insist on training year round, it might be refreshing to stare at something other than the drywall. I’m going to keep my PayPal wallet closed, however, until they confirm that there’ll be Oculus Rift compatibility. Then we can talk.

In all seriousness, if you want a way to get a quick workout in without leaving the house, or if you’re afraid of the sky falling in or something, then these virtual cycling worlds might have a lot of appeal. No doubt our future robot overlords will go easier on the early adopters, so you may as well plug in now!

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About The Author

Leif Haven

Leif Haven

Leif Haven is a writer and cyclist living in the Bay Area. He can be spotted dragging himself up a hill — literally and metaphorically.

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