With the change in weather for most people, the world of cycling should be coming to life right now. After all, it is the season of professional bike racing and whatever your skill, you would now be taking the opportunity to make the most of the sunshine and dusting your bike off ready to hit the peaks and valleys. But instead, everybody’s cycling hobby hit a curveball with the coronavirus and lockdown measures. Lockdown banned cycling for many in so many different parts of the world, and as a result, the cycling industry was hit hard. But as everybody has had to adapt to a new life indoors, so did the cycling community, not least with the tremendous growth of indoor cycling technology.
While many people have had to adapt their life to accommodate their cycling hobby or passion, the popularity of indoor or virtual cycling had already started to surge in popularity. The “Year in Sport” report by Strava in 2019 highlighted that virtual cycling indoors was going to be the next big thing. The virtual reality components of exercise have been visible across the board. But how is indoor cycling technology serving people in the midst of lockdown?
The Advent of Virtual Worlds
Arguably virtual worlds are coming to their own since the lockdown. There are so many different platforms out there dedicated to indoor cycling, such as Zwift, but for a fee, each cyclist can gain entry to a virtual world that has proven to be a game-changer.
There are countless apps for budding cyclists to choose from each with their own features. Zwift is an app that isn’t just a way for you to gain entry into a virtual world but it can instigate competition. For any indoor cyclist that is looking to compete without being able to hit the road for real, and without investing in road bike tires and a bike lock, there are so many different communities that give cyclists the opportunity to take part in races or even to have conversations with other riders. Zwift and veiled the Zwift Companion app to give you the opportunity to give passing bikers a thumbs up. And the rides take place in various types of worlds as well as the more reality-based ones from London to New York. As well as Zwift, other options include Trainer Road, The Sufferfest, Road Grand Tours, Rouvy, and BKool, all with their own unique approach to riding.
The Turbo Trainers
The other component that is currently being used to recreate the authentic experience of being outside is a turbo trainer. While most cyclists are using virtual worlds to gain that authentic sensation the most important piece of the puzzle is a turbo trainer. A turbo trainer is a massive market right now. It is a gadget which allows people to ride their bike while standing still. much like the resistance settings on an exercise bike, the turbo trainer, when used in conjunction with a virtual world app, mimics the resistance a cyclist would have out in the open. There are two types of turbo trainers. Wheel-on principles is where a tire is clicked onto a holder that works very similarly to a treadmill. The other approach, wheel off, hooks a chain around a flywheel, and while there are companies that have made entire bikes that incorporate the entire feel, such as Wahoo, the whole set can be a very expensive system.
It is not just for those people who are maintaining their health and fitness during lockdown, but using a turbo trainer system is one of the best ways to recapture that authentic “road feel” experience.
You only have to scroll through Instagram after the lockdown to see just how many people dived wholeheartedly into cycling as a way to keep saying but also as a way to keep social. With the various companies that have already rushed in to help encourage social interaction, such as Peloton, arguably indoor cycling is finally coming to its own. The trend was increasing but now with the reality of lockdown and how it’s changed our approach to everything, the technology has certainly taken a leap into the stratosphere.
It’s gone a long way from the original experience indoor cyclists used to have. With the increase and improvement of the technology on such a constant basis, it has highlighted so much hardware and software out there, not just improve the cyclist experience but turn it into something that keeps people connected. And all it took was a global pandemic to show just how indoor cycling technology has improved everybody’s lives!
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