Riders pedal through their favourite routes from the comfort of their homes
BENGALURU: Sports may have ground to a halt in the country due to the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic but most cyclists, both competitive and recreational, have hardly missed their rides in the Garden City. Thanks to technology, there have been quite a few group rides and virtual races too.
All one needs is a bike, an indoor trainer, power meter, speed sensor and good internet speed to connect to one of the two digital platforms – Zwift and RGT – and they are good to go. One could link up and ride with friends or race and even choose a route of their liking. The thought of being admonished by the police will be the last thing on their minds.
Unlike last year, the cops have been strict in following government protocols. While cyclists were allowed to ride, encouraged even the last time around, the spiralling cases this summer ensured the riders remained at home and trained indoors.
A lot of young hopefuls who had made Bengaluru their home in recent years may have missed the outdoor rides and the wind in their faces, but they knuckled down to keep their training going within the confines of the four walls in these testing times.
Just before the lockdown kicked in, TMC (The Monthly Crit), the newest racing platform in the City, conducted a criterium race at the Meco Kartopia go karting track on April 4. The first crit race here in close to two years saw around 45 riders competing.
Organisers Ben Joseph and Shaurya Kaushal, both competitive riders, were at their wits’ end when lockdown was announced. With the riders keen on more racing to keep the momentum going, the duo decided to have a race through virtual tools, just like how competitive racing began in Europe and across the world during the pandemic last year.
“We didn’t want to lose momentum. People already loved the first format and we decided to go virtual,” Joseph told TOI. “We had 50 riders for the first virtual race on May 1 and 63 for the second one on June 5, the World Environment Day,” said Kaushal. “We even had 10 riders from the US, Canada, Singapore and UAE taking part,” he added.
Besides the crit, quite a few riders took part in the two virtual Nandi climb races organised by Bangalore Amateur Racing’s Venkateswara Rao Navanasi. Rao also facilitated the weekend group rides to get the cycling community to connect with one another.
“Everyone is stuck during the lockdown and training alone can be a bit boring, especially those doing long rides,” Rao said. “Although one is stuck at home, you can ride with someone you know on your regular routes,” he added.
While virtual racing has been fun for the riders during the lockdown, high-intensity long rides can be taxing on a trainer, and they would probably be the first ones to hit the road when the lockdown is lifted.
FAST FACTS
* Zwift and RGT are two main virtual platforms and are being used to bring racing back
* Both are video game type simulators which work on data that is recorded by external sensors (athlete’s heart rate monitor, power meter, etc).
* All someone needs are rollers or an indoor trainer, which allows them to ride indoors by simulating the resistance of the road, and sensors for speed, heartrate, power, etc.
* One of the apps allows users to upload routes as a GPX file, which then allows them to ride on their usual training routes.
* Group rides and meet-ups are taking place through these platforms, and while riding, the riders jump onto a platform such as discord where they can talk to each other, so as to make the experience of riding indoors as enjoyable as possible.

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