Virtual -v- Real World Cycling


During the COVID-19 lock-down, I have aimed to do as much as my training indoors as possible.  I have a smart trainer for cycling and a treadmill for running.  I have used various apps for both with my current favourites being Zwift for running and Bkool, the same brand as my trainer, for cycling.  Zwift is pretty good for cycling, especially on a social level, but its relatively small number of routes can make it a bit repetitive.

One of the things I like about the Bkool simulator is that you can create your own courses.  Coupled with a smart trainer, you get to feel the up- and down-hill gradients.  It is possible to create a route using real-world video, but I haven’t attempted that yet.  Instead, I have simply uploaded a ride that I have done using a Garmin FIT file.  Then, when doing the ride, you can follow your progress with an arrow on a map  of your ride.  Sounds boring I must admit!

So I got to wondering, how realistic is the simulator compared with riding in the world?

To answer the question, I created a course on the simulator using one of my regular circuit rides to see how it would compare.

From the get-go, the virtual ride was harder than the real word.  The inclines, not massive by any means, felt a lot harder than they really are.  And, indeed, there were some sharp inclines where the road is actually relatively flat.  I guess this is to be expected as the virtual route is generated from the data in the FIT file.  It is said that an hour on the turbo trainer is worth two hours on the road and I have to say that is how it felt at the end of the ride.  The average speed was pretty much the same as the real worldwide, although this was in no way a scientific test as several factors could affect the numbers.

The main conclusion I drew from this?  There is nothing like cycling in the fresh air no matter how could the cycling simulator.

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