The MyWhoosh team, including Zwift's former brand experience manager Jacob Fraser, World #1 esports racer Holden Comeau, and World Tour Coach Kevin Poulton, share in-depth insight into what differentiates the virtual cycling platform.
MyWhoosh is a newcomer to the new virtual cycling game, but it is leading the charge in the legitimization of esports. Founded in 2019 by Akhtar Hashmi, CEO of Abu Dhabi, UAE, MyWhoosh wants “To blend the freedom of pedaling with simplified science, indoors, to motivate a global community with fun, fitness, and competition.”
“We’ve begun doing this with a library of world-class workouts and training programs, established esports competitions, and daily social rides to engage users of every ability level,” notes MyWhoosh’s Jacob Fraser.
The MyWhoosh Team
Jacob was at Zwift for over three years as Senior Manager of Brand Experience. He worked closely to develop esports and helped deliver the first in-venue eracing event directly supported by Zwift.
Jacob is now among over 100 employees, primarily based in their Masdar City, Abu Dhabi headquarters, but with a global presence. Currently, as director of esports, Jacob brings his depth of experience to MyWhoosh to lead their journey into the active pursuit of the virtual racing sector of the market.
Director of product Kevin Poulton joined MyWhoosh to spearhead the creation of a virtual cycling experience that encompasses all aspects of riding, including competition, community, and structured training, into an effective fitness plan. Kevin’s years of World Tour coaching experience and subsequent in-game training content pioneer the effective use of indoor training at the sport’s highest level.
Holden Comeau, the director of data analytics, was an early adopter of esports as an athlete and professional data innovator. Holden won the USA Cycling Esports National Championship in 2019 and was a member of Team USA’s inaugural world championship team. With over 300 virtual victories, Holden held the ZwiftPower world #1 ranking uninterrupted for almost six months in 2020.
“I have a strong passion for indoor racing,” notes Holden, “it’s what motivated me to become the top-ranked rider in the world.” Holden’s real-world expertise in data technology and unrivaled esports racing experience brings a skill set that is a unique and invaluable asset to the MyWhoosh team.
“I work in an innovative data technology environment now heavily invested in advancing the sport,” he shares, “and to have the opportunity to be a part of that progress, and this team is remarkable.”
The Creation of a New Sport
The team at MyWhoosh prioritizes high-level esports racing on its platform. Unlike market-leader Zwift, which describes itself as “non-esports focused” (CyclingNews, April 12, 2022) and where only 20% of the user base competes in esports and competitor RGT that claims it “isn’t an event organizer.” (Velonews, March 30, 2022) MyWhoosh has embraced the evolution of cycling esports as a legitimate distinct cycling discipline.
“Any new sport requires significant investment to grow and stabilize,” explains Fraser, “and we are currently leading the charge in that investment.” MyWhoosh believes creating a new sport demands investment by its stakeholders to bring cycling esports to the forefront, and they are willing to make the necessary financial commitment.
Big Money Esports Events
MyWhoosh hosts a weekly racing series called “Sunday Race Club” with a monthly prize purse of $96,000 spread over three categories, two genders, and team and individual classifications. The “Winter Solstice Championship,” a recent quarterly race series, saw competitors tackle seven stages over eight days for a prize purse of $37,000.
The elite-level competition and big money attract top esports pros from across the globe. Including the 2020 UCI Cycling Esports World Champion and 2022 runner-up Jason Osborne, Ollie Jones, Faye Faber, and Katherin Fuhrer, to name a few.
“A professional triathlete for the last 15 years, racing and training worldwide, I found MyWhoosh when COVID put the brakes on international competition, and I threw myself into esports,” shares British triathlete Philip Graves who in 2009 at age 20 became the youngest Ironman winner. “It’s highly competitive, but there is also a great sense of community, and it has 100% elevated my cycling performance to a level I never imagined possible.”
MyWhoosh is legitimizing cycling esports through ground-breaking innovation and development of the industry’s most robust validation, verification, and categorization model and a realistic race experience. MyWhoosh automatically runs each racer through a proprietary performance verification system for every race that undergoes performance verification.
The racer’s performance is analyzed against a multitude of tests to answer MyWhoosh’s three questions of performance verification.
- Is the performance technically legitimate? Is the data clean, accurate, uninterrupted, and without anomaly?
- Is the performance humanly possible? Does it align with historical trends of human capabilities for aerobic and anaerobic thresholds, and does it fall in line with the expected outputs of world-class riders?
- Is the performance a product of this specific athlete? Does this performance align with historical data, training loads, expected power to HR ratio, etc.?
MyWhoosh’s Race Commission reviews the results manually but is working to fully automate the system. In addition to creating a biological signature for every racer on the platform. “We’ve only just begun,” shares Fraser, “but we are working to align a rider’s power profile and heart rate trends (with things like torque value locations when applicable) to identify if a given performance is from a specific rider.”
MyWoosh utilizes a dynamic categorization model. “We match up each competitor with a field of other racers of similar abilities,” Fraser explains, “to create fair and fun racing.” The categories do not have static limits that remain constant.
The race commission at MyWhoosh sets the limits based on registered participants and their historical data to prevent accidental miscategorization. “Lots of variables go into matchmaking of categories, and we want to add as many as possible,” says Fraser.
MyWhoosh implements real-world physics in a unique way to virtual cycling. The drafting method provides users with an exceptional drafting experience in-line with outdoor riding.
As for results, MyWhoosh calculates everything server-side and accordingly has the same delay and visuals that all online multiplayer video games have.
“It’s certainly an uphill battle for the entire industry,” concedes Fraser, “but we will lead the way by verifying every single one of our performances in high-level racing and bringing the strength of robust data analysis and even artificial intelligence (AI) into the equation in an attempt to create the most legitimate racing available online.”
A Long-Term Commitment
The team at MyWhoosh is committed to supporting the development of the young sport with investment in the product and the necessary infrastructure. “Things like TV or streaming coverage, athlete financial stability, and more,” Fraser notes.
In addition, MyWhoosh is continually building out its totally cost-free platform based on user feedback with a library of world-class training programs linking a unique in-game calendar functionality that allows the tracking of activities and 3rd party imported workouts.
“Verification is a never-ending quest, but it is only half of the equation,” for Fraser and his team. The cutting-edge group plans to evolve the racing product through new and innovative racing styles and structures in the future.
- Fan engagement: Imagine an event where viewers vote to give a racer a boost or lessen their weight for a few seconds. “Crowd-sourced interaction that impacts the race is critical to the success of esports in the future,” according to Fraser.
- Automated Race Verification: Imagine an event where crossing the finish line opens up a real-time results page that instantly verifies things like race weight, trainer calibration, acceptable power output based on historical trends, etc., and compares them to your competitors. “It would help alleviate the current need of esports racers to wait for results verification,” explains Fraser, and “we could even bring this further forward into the race itself.”
The possibilities are limitless for MyWhoosh and its dedicated team, resources, and commitment to legitimizing esports racing. MyWhoosh plans to appeal to the broader cycling community and coexist with the other available platforms in all but one area, according to Fraser.
“However, we intend to focus heavily on racing, and I’m hopeful that the racing community will recognize this commitment in the future as we continue to develop.”
The ultimate goal for MyWhoosh? UCI Cycling Esports World Championships, the Olympics, a professional racing league that pays racers a living wage and allows them to focus on esports, and continued technical development that lets fans engage with the platform and racers.
“We have some massive goals,” says Fraser. I’d say so, and I can’t wait!
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, http://www.TheDIRTDadFund.com. 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.