The polar vortex is upon us, and in a case of terrific timing, I have digitized the exertions upon my trainer in the depth of my basement. I have joined Zwift. (There will be a fuller review of the Zwift experience coming soon, after I’ve perspired my way through a battery of scenarios.) And I have joined Zwift because they have come out with an app for the Apple IOS and I can now pant away in front of my iPad instead of dragging all of my training dungeon equipment into my working dungeon space—these two worlds are not meant to cross—my computer is my drill press, and if I put it out of commission by knocking a water bottle onto its computer-y bits; I will force my family into a state of privation and poverty. And my office would smell like my worked-over chamois.
But these issues are issues no more. I can use my iPhone or iPad to project myself into the world of Virtual Pretend Bike Racers (VPBRs). My first forays into the world of VPBRs have been a learning experience, as I am also working out the set up of a new trainer. (A Wahoo KICKR, which I could say is like the Cadillac of trainers, but it’s more like the Space Shuttle of trainers. It’s a crazy good thing—although I do feel a little sad about how excited I am about an indoor trainer—I can almost hear my balaclava weeping.) But there are very few virtual kinks to be worked out. I have pedaled through virtual London and I have come across other riders in that land of athletic pixels. I have joined packs of riders and pace lines. And because I am insane, I have also been oddly irked at some rider’s lack of proper pace line etiquette. (Why attack me when I am trying to pull off? I thought you were my friend, Steve from Seattle!) I think I have also fallen victim to the rookie VPBR mistake of feeling the need to chase down EVERY rider that comes into view. (Especially if it’s Steve just after a pace line attack.)
As you can see, I’ve developed a slight fixation with the Zwift world. And I don’t view this as a bad thing. In the past, my trainer rides have been mostly banal affairs where I plod along at a HR of about 104 BPM and work my way through the backlog on my DVR. On Zwift, I find myself riding at a higher HR because STEVE MUST BE PUNISHED. It’s a different experience, because—like the real world—I will have to curb my tendency to ride spitefully. (And this will be a real challenge for me, because I do a LOT of training in the spite zone.) I view this injection of realism into my training dungeon as a good thing, because many of my trainer rides have seemed more like pointless pedal plodding used as an excuse to binge watch Wheeler Dealers.
So I am now a Virtual Pretend Bike Racer, if you inhabit that world and see me out on the digital road, feel free to make contact in some way. (I am still a VPBR noob, so don’t expect me to be able to message you back or anything like that.) I will be pedaling along, trying to find my way about the new world of Zwift, and searching for Steve, who MUST BE PUNISHED.