virtual riding zwift
Virtual riding is as hard as road riding

It's a topic of hot debate among keen riders... but hey, those aren't our words in the title! Those are the words of professional cycling coach and data scientist Philipp Diegner.

His exact words, in relation to racing, were:

Virtual racing is as hard as road racing; it is just that endurance is a more decisive factor in road racing, whereas virtual racing is one hour of pure, intense suffering.

Though the cycling purist will almost certainly disagree with Diegner, his explanation of the difference between professional road racing and virtual racing makes sense.

"The racing is often short and particularly intense,” he explained. “It is 45-90 minutes of racing instead of 3-6 hours. The consequence for the riders is that there is no opportunity to save energy like they have in road races, so they have to make prolonged, all-out efforts that push them to their physical limit.

“Professionals are not necessarily used to this and it can be a shock to the system."

In the wake of virus lockdowns around the world, thousands of riders of all abilities have recently made the virtual transition. Some seem to be loving it, some not at all, but I think everyone agrees that nothing quite matches the wind in your hair.

Having said that, Philipp Diegner list of the top 10 professional performances so far shows off some seriously impressive feats (published in May).

Of course, the most famous of all bike rides has officially made the digital transition, with the Virtual Tour de France 2020 currently in action. Depending on how you feel about virtual racing, this may be providing welcomed entertainment or a source of a source of great despair at missing the real deal.

Regardless, you can keep up with the the virtual tour on their website or watch the 'highlights' on Facebook. Its sort of like watching an old-fashioned video game, but it is quite interesting to see professional cyclists set-up in their spare bedroom. 

If you've recently taken up virtual riding, or have been into for a while, let us know about your experience and help inspire others in the Facebook comments.

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