When I started cycling in the spring of 2015, I became aware of the new types of trainers you could use with bikes. It was June before I finally decided to buy a Kurt Kinetic Road Machine 2.0 Fluid Trainer. I suspect we must have been having some rainy days, and I missed being able to get on the bike. Meanwhile, I also discovered a new online resource for cycling called Zwift. Finally, someone had created a virtual world for cyclists that rivaled popular video games. With a bike on a trainer using a tiny ANT+ dongle and a speed sensor (and optional cadence and heart rate sensors), you could enter a virtual world of cycling roads around an imaginary island along with hundreds of other cyclists from around the world. As with many other computer games, you design your avatar and your equipment from a variety of options.
The genius of this game-play is that there are very subtle ways in which riders are motivated to work hard. Natural competitiveness makes many of us want to speed up, either to keep from being passed, to stay with another rider, or to catch up and pass another rider. Although "smart" trainers make going up (and down) hills more realistic by controlling the resistance, "dumb" trainers provide a similar effect because a rider begins to go faster in order to counter slowing down. The faster one goes, the greater the resistance. Because one begins to hear the sounds of slowing down and sees the slower movement, there is a natural reaction to maintain speed and to begin to rider harder.
|Map and Elevation Chart of Mountain Climb|
At first there was just a circuit around Watopia. Before the world championship race in 2015 held in Richmond, Virginia, Zwift opened up the virtual 2015 Road World Championship Course. In 2016 Zwift began charging about $10 a month. They began adding some new routes along with interesting new features along the route. This past week they opened an exciting new route that imitates the alpine mountain climbs well-known from races like the Tour de France.