How virtual cycling took off in the last year
As you go past winding mountain roads you can interact with your friends on other bikes
There is just one thing that beats cycling outdoors, and that’s cycling outdoors with friends! Nothing beats the rush of breezing past your fellow cyclists ahead of you as they try to catch up while you keep putting more distance between them. In the last year or so, the lockdown restrictions have meant that most of us could perhaps still go out for a round of cycling with our families, but the joy of cycling with friends has been missing except for a few weeks during the summer.
In place of it, with everything else moving online we have also been spending a lot more time playing online games with our friends. But what if you could combine these 2 together by merging the fun of cycling with friends and online gaming – welcome to the world of virtual cycling! While earlier virtual cycling was limited to die-hard fans and fitness enthusiasts, in the last year it has taken off to become a widely popular way to stay active indoors while enjoying a group activity with your friends.
What is virtual cycling?
Virtual cycling involves a small device attached to your indoor bike which measures your speed and transfers it to your online avatar on a screen in front of you. So as you go past winding mountain roads and climb up stiff climbs you can see and interact with your friends on other bikes at the same time. Perhaps we’ve all seen TV commercials over the last few months of families exercising indoors on their bikes, virtual cycling takes it to the next level by connecting it to a wider network of cyclists.
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Some of the apps use augmented reality while others let you film and upload your own routes
How to get started?
There are a number of apps such as Rouvy and FulGaz which can be used with indoor bikes to ‘virtually’ cycle in some of the most famous locations in the world and enjoy the scenery. The Zwift app even has a free to use version for under 16 year olds while it requires a subscription for others. Some of the apps use augmented reality while others let you film and upload your own routes as well so you can cycle on your favourites routes indoors!
Virtual cycling has been used by several stars of British Cycling such as Chris Hoy and Bradley Wiggins who’ve appreciated the convenience of practicing on the indoor bikes in the evenings.
It also helps on days when you don’t have the time to travel to a cycling track but have the urge to throw a few pedals
Virtual cycling competitions
Virtual cycling has become popular not just among the cycling enthusiasts but among the professional cyclists as well. Over the last year several world championships have taken place in the virtual world where cyclists from multiple countries take part in the races. The esports world championships have national teams training and riding together virtually, joining the other bike racing events such as BMX, cyclocross and track cycling. The first cycling eSports World Championship took place on 8-9 December, 2020 with riders from 20 National Cycling Federations taking part in the 50km race.
For all cycling lovers, virtual cycling can be an excellent option particularly on days when it is raining or snowing and still enables us to enjoy the company of our friends and fellow cyclists in the virtual world. It also helps on days when you don’t have the time to travel to a cycling track but have the urge to throw a few pedals. So while it may never be a replacement for outdoor cycling, have we given you enough reasons to give virtual cycling a try?