Are you ever tempted to defend your love of virtual cycling?
I’m going to let you in on a secret. The shame I feel has kept me from telling anyone before. It’s time I confronted my demons and made amends. I suffered from a severe case of Virtual Cycling denial!
When the change of seasons forced me off the road, it was on to a Computrainer. My love of cycling and the need to maintain fitness made it an accepted necessity. I would drone away for hours perfectly content with the rudimentary resistance variation my “high-tech” device provided.
My non-cyclist friends just shook their heads. The cyclists in my life would acknowledge my choice with guarded approval. As time went by, distant voices from a new group of riders emerged. The group grew and began to question my sanity with the boldness of numbers united behind a cause. They called themselves virtual cyclists.
Tempting Tales of the Virtual Cyclist
I wasn’t listening, and it wasn’t because the whine of my rear wheel left my ears ringing. I heard mystical tails of a world where you ride a trainer in relative quiet that replicated terrain changes with realism. You make turns and rendezvous with your friends, ride in groups and even race your buddies. All while chatting with them like they were riding alongside.
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. After several years of denial that had grown out of control, I opened my mind to find that it was good, and it was true. Virtual cycling has changed my life in profound ways, and not only my cycling life. It has become a passion that I feel compelled to share on the pages of this blog.
Traditional Cyclists Have Their Reasons
Many articles I write, often with a virtual cycling focus, find their way onto multiple cycling-related social media groups. The responses I received from many make it clear that I wasn’t the last hold out. One such group consists of over 1,200 fervent and bold “traditional cyclists,” and I asked them, “Why?”
You may have heard a few of the answers or thought them to yourself during your stage of denial. Some cyclists aren’t virtual cyclists, and this is some of what they have to say.
The It’s Not Real Rationale
A fine way to start.
The I Don’t Like it Because I Never Tried It Admission
A very interesting reason, but not one I would base my decision on.
The Mindnumbingly Boring Mantra
As you can tell, this is a popular response from the traditional cycling crowd. While I don’t believe this is an indictment of virtual cycling specifically, it is a barrier to participation. If you don’t like riding a trainer, to begin with, the chances you will open your mind to the virtues of doing so in the virtual world are limited.
The I’m Too Tough For Technology Tale
It is a rationale that always gets me. I make many cycling decisions based on how tough they will make me seem, if only to myself. I’ve used up all of the ones involving cold and cars. If you are aware that something exists with the potential to make you safer and more comfortable, might you give it a chance?
No sensors, no feeling. You are riding indoors anyway, and there are ways to make it more enjoyable, interactive, and arguably more beneficial. I’m afraid to disagree, so I won’t.
The Journey is in the Ride Rationale
The epitome of the traditional cyclist rides for the tradition. In the cycling utopia of my mind, I am pedaling effortlessly down a slight slope with a gentle tailwind. I get it! Now I choose to continue my never-ending quest for the perfect ride in the virtual world. It’s difficult to question anyone for seeking theirs in any way they choose.
The I’m Too Good For Technology Logic
I’m sure there are plenty of world-class athletes who shun technology based on the fact that they won without it. I venture to guess there are more who embrace technology for the performance benefit it provides. Virtual cycling has come a long way in 330 wins, I suspect.
The Real Cyclists Don’t Play Video Games Reason
Virtual cycling is at its core a video game, I guess. Just a video game. No, not to me.
The If It Ain’t Broke Don’t Fix It Idea
I’m not touching this one. Less to go wrong would be a good thing.
The Room and Resources Reasoning
Virtual cycling comes with a relatively high start-up cost, that is true. If you are not in a position to allocate the room or resources, that is understandable.
However, once you make the initial investment, you spend much less of your hard-earned money. Since becoming an indoor specialist, my yearly expenditure on upgrades, entry fees, travel, and hospital co-pays has decreased dramatically.
The Demotivation Debate
There is nothing more motivating than riding with thousands of your cycling buddies as you approach a virtual sprint segment or KOM. The inability to resist the urge to ride harder more often than you should is a common criticism of virtual cycling. If motivated, the indoor cycling space can be a place of comfort.
The I Can’t Be Bothered Being Better Basis
The enjoyment of cycling is the primary reason why I choose to ride indoors. Not killing myself is another. One can ride indoors with their mates for the enjoyment of riding. The two do not have to be mutually exclusive.
The I Just Strongly Dislike Everything About it Argument
It is a strong argument.
The Maintaining Balance in the Universe Motive
An argument I don’t have the courage to debate.
I Tried It But Didn’t Like It Logic
If you gave it an honest try and didn’t like it, who can ask more than that?
And My Personal Favorite
Circular reasoning has always appealed to me. I did ask, and I think I do know, for me. Of course, my passion and love for virtual cycling don’t have to influence your decision. Nor does it prove your choice wrong. We are different, that’s all.
Conclusion - Two Questions With One Answer
Then why ask? When you believe strongly in something, it isn’t easy to accept that others don’t. For me, this manifests in the need to understand where the differences lie. The answer leads me to another question you may be asking yourself.
Then why share your virtual cycling-related articles with a group of different thinking traditional cyclists? The answer is the same, understanding. To fully appreciate a topic or event, you must explore all perspectives. A conflicting point of view provides the compass to be accountable to your beliefs and honest with yourself.
Oh yeah, there is another reason. I think it’s funny. Although it is sobering when you realize that there are people that talk and act this way, and they ride among us.
I will continue to put myself out there, despite being reminded that some social media safe places are only sanctuaries for those with similar beliefs. As for the (often unprovoked and personal) criticism, I try to remember my blog-writing mentor, Eric Schlange of ZwiftInsider’s advice.
“Be a duck,” he said. I’ll try. But it seems to be getting worse.
What Comments Do Your Traditional Cycling Buddies Make?
Semi-retired as owner and director of his private Orthopedic Physical Therapy practice after over 20 years, Chris is blessed with the freedom to pursue his passion for virtual cycling and writing. On a continual quest to give back to his bike for all the rewarding experiences and relationships it has provided him, he created a non-profit. Chris is committed to helping others with his bike through its work and the pages of his site.
In the summer of 2022, he rode 3,900 miles from San Francisco to New York to support the charity he founded, TheDIRTDadFund. His “Gain Cave” resides on the North Fork of Long Island, where he lives with his beautiful wife and is proud of his two independent children.
You will read him promoting his passion on the pages of Cycling Weekly, Cycling News, road.cc, Zwift Insider, Endurance.biz, and Bicycling. Chris is co-host of The Virtual Velo Podcast, too!