A Chat with Elite Eracer and Cycling Coach—Paul Odlin

Paul Odlin will be representing New Zealand in the UCI Cycling Esports World Championships and this is what he has to say.

An interview with Paul Odlin.

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Tell us a bit about yourself. Where do you live, and what do you do? What do you like to do for fun? Family life, that sort of stuff.

I am a family man and professional cycle coach based in Christchurch, New Zealand. Holly, my wife & I have two children Lucca (13 years) and Hazel (10 years). We’ve been based in Christchurch for a while where I have built a successful Coaching business that focuses on recreationally competitive athletes (road, gravel, and a bit of multisport) and Adult Bike Skills training.

 

I enjoy a lot of things cycling and what I enjoy most is going super hard in races (mostly esports these days but I do race annually at the Tour of Southland) and being out in nature with my kids, generally on the mountain bike.

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What is your cycling story? When did you start competing, and what is your racing history? What is your most significant accomplishment racing on the road?

I started road cycling competitively in 1998 as a student at the University of Otago. In a couple of years, I had become competitive in A grade; a few years later I really learned how to race by spending one of many seasons in Flanders, Belgium, racing in Kermese races for local teams.

 

My most significant achievements came when I raced for the New Zealand Continental team, Subway Pro Cycling in 2011 & 2012. I won the Sprint Ace Jersey at the Tour de Korea (‘11); Elite New Zealand Time Trial & Oceania Road Race Titles (‘12); and Oceania Time Trial Title (‘13).

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What is your virtual cycling story? How and when did you get involved in esports? What is your most significant accomplishment racing virtually?

I didn’t like the idea of Zwift and esports initially but loved my indoor (BT erg & Revbox) trainers. I started Zwifting because I knew I would need to use it as a tool for my cycle coaching. The Covid-19 Lockdown in New Zealand in 2020 really accelerated my use of Zwift as a coaching tool and my interest in racing.

 

Getting the most combative rider award for Race 5 of Season 2 21/22 Zwift Racing League Premier Division would be one of my most significant accomplishments recently.

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Tell us about your esports team. How has racing with your team prepared you for this moment? Is there anything unique about your team that has contributed to your success?

I race for World Elite Zwifters. It’s a team run almost entirely on the passion of one individual Luis Silva from Portugal. Being in this team has led to me to the opportunity of racing at the World Championships and in the Premier Division. I haven’t been in any other teams on Zwift so it’s hard to comment on its uniqueness, but it is pretty crazy that we (almost) all seem to be from completely different countries!

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For a frame of reference, how tall are you, and approximately how much do you weigh in competition? What is your indoor PB for Peak Power, 15-second, 1-minute, 5-minutes, and 20-minutes?

I am 182 cm; 77 kg; 1061w/697w/528w/437w

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What type of rider are you? Has your riding style evolved as you become more involved and successful in esports?

I’m definitely a rouleur—with age I’ve really lost my punch (but it hasn’t stopped me from trying to train it!). I really enjoy the team time trial and longer efforts (e.g. Epic KOM).

Esports has influenced me in needing to improve my 15sec—1min power.

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What is your go-to training workout, and why do you enjoy it so much? Has your training emphasis and philosophy changed to make you a more successful eracer?

My go-to is actually riding with Bowie Brevet (B Bot in Watopia)! I enjoy the social aspect of riding with familiar names (most of whom I’ve never met ITRW). When I ride on the road I tend to ride at a significantly higher normalized power, so riding with Bowie keeps a lid on this which has helped build my aerobic base without wearing me out.  The added bonus is the number of drop points earned!

 

Second to that is completing an FRC (Functional Reserve Capacity) workout as prescribed by WKO (Training Peaks Software).

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You have accomplished so much in esports. What is it that sets you apart from other virtual athletes?

My attention to preparation for races and psychological skills training.

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How much do you factor in the gamification side of esports? Is there a learning curve that you must master? How vital are PowerUps and other things unique to virtual cycling?

Yeah, it’s definitely important and makes up part of overall success in esports. I wouldn’t say the learning curve is huge, just working out timing is important.

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Do you feel cycling esports will ever gain acceptance as a trusted discipline and gain popularity as a unique discipline? What challenges does it face?

I think it already has become a trusted discipline. The challenges remain in variation in equipment used for measuring – power, weight, height, and anti-doping measures.

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Tell us about your setup. Where is it located, and what do you use? What steps do you take to verify your accuracy?

I’m in my (currently being renovated) garage. I use a Specialized Tarmac SL6 & Tacx Neo 2T & a Tacx Neo Bike Smart. I have a Wahoo Tickr heart rate monitor. I’m using an iPad (Gen 5) as my trusted device, which is connected to a television. I’ve recently started using Tanita scales for weight measurement.

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Some cynics and detractors don’t trust the legitimacy of esports. What do you say to those who question the integrity and ability for a level playing field between competitors? What challenges does esports face in becoming recognized as a trusted competition venue?

I would say as much as reasonably possible is being done to improve the integrity and level playing field. However, there is some way to go—whenever there is a human component to competition there will be cheats.

Thank you for sharing Paul!

For more great interesting insight from other elite eracing personalities check out the esports page of The ZOM!

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