Sunday 22 March 2020

Local Clubs Turn to Virtual Racing

As the Corona Virus pandemic takes hold and British Cycling have suspended all sanctioned events including club activities, local clubs are turning to virtual reality racing to replace traditional group rides. The governing body continues to advocate riding bikes, in fact actively encouraging it as a way to support the community but will not support group riding: “Our recommendation to clubs is that no organised activity (including rides, training, coaching, events) should take place during this period, in line with government advice on social gatherings on non-essential travel” reads the British Cycling website. In light of this, Bournemouth Jubilee Wheelers, Poole Wheelers, New Forest CC and other local clubs have started to replace regular group rides with racing on Zwift. There are races for all levels of riders and, without having to leave your own home you can pin a virtual number on, it is easy to adhere to social distancing advice, avoid group riding and still stay in contact with your club mates.
Races in Zwift are usually organised into categories from A to D with A being the fastest. Although there might be racers of other categories visible, you’re only usually competing against other riders in your category. Of course Zwift has been around for a while gaining popularity long before Covad-19 threatened outdoor riding but we could be getting a glimpse into the future. Older cyclists have been self isolating for years, it goes with time trialling territory. New generations of bike riders have grown up with social media, platforms that promote distancing, so there should be few problems, surviving on virtual cafĂ©’s and virtual cake may be the biggest challenge.

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