The Zommunique logo June '23


indieVelo—Lessons Learned From My First Three Races

A Beta-tester embraces change to reveal insights from his first three races on the innovative virtual cycling esports platform indieVelo.

indieVelo Race arch with riders

As intimidating as it may seem, change is a catalyst for growth. It pushes us out of our comfort zone and demands adaptability and resilience. Yet, in this transformation, we open ourselves to a new potential for worthwhile progress.

Tennis great Andy Roddick once said, “The only way to ensure you’re successful in life is to change with the times.” It all sounds profound for a talk about basement bicycle racing. However, the virtual community takes cycling esports seriously, and we’ve become comfortable where we are.

indieVelo back of racers head

Why do we need to change?

Guilty as charged. The virtual cycling esports platform indieVelo came across the radar while still in closed Beta. My first ride on the platform wasn’t until months later—June 18, 2023. Several barriers to entry prevented the change from my current platform of choice.

I didn’t have a PC, and my internet friends weren’t there, but most of all, after almost seven years, I was in a cozy place. Not without its weaknesses, of course, but none too great to overcome or rationalize away without a moderate amount of annoyance. I was used to that, but I couldn’t overlook the racing. There was too much to turn a blind eye to.

A bike racer’s primary priority is the race experience. If there’s potential to find something better, most racers will take the leap or, at the very least, consider the possibility. I’m grateful for doing so. I learned much about what esports could be from my first three races on the virtual cycling platform indieVelo.

Late To The Party

Yet, I was even later to the racing party. I spent another month and over 800 miles free riding and feeling it out before dipping my toes into the turbulent waters of racing on a different platform. It may be because it took me that long to catch up on the Founders Club’s Discord threads. Or because I thought racing didn’t fit perfectly into my training plan.

The actual reason was that I spent years and burned countless “mental matches” to become a moderately proficient B basement bike racer. Did I have any more to burn learning another platform? I found out that it didn’t take much.

indieVelo—Sign Up and Pre-Race

Finding a race is straightforward. The HUB is indieVelo’s in-game central page for all ride experiences—Ride, Pace, Train, and Race. When I clicked on Race and scrolled through the list, I saw a repeating roster of events rolled out almost every five minutes. 

There were time trials, scratch races, points races, elimination races, and team points races. After a minor search on, I learned that most were repeating roster events highlighted in Green. User-created custom events were Bronze, monthly challenges were Gold, and if I wanted to create an event, it would show Silver.

For demonstration purposes, I chose the Short and Flat Scratch Race. I was familiar with the 10.5-mile Coastal Forward Loop route from my time with the indieVelo Pacebots. It was a Ranked race, meaning my result counted toward my standing amongst other indieVelo racers. Unranked races were just for fun, it seemed.

I returned to The HUB to find Pacer Anna Amber because she was riding the same course and devised my quasi-experiment race strategy. I would sit in for the first four or so miles until we reached the roller at the High/Low road split and launch my blistering 1-minute attack. Then assess the damage and react for the race’s later stages while preparing for the finale.

A countdown timer front and center on the user interface made it impossible to miss the start. I knew it was time to get into the pen when it started blinking different colors, eventually a bright red.

indieVelo Race One—The Pen

After spinning for a half minute, a PEN CLOSED announcement flashed on the screen. No further new entries are permitted to enter the main pen while the game sorts the racers into smaller pens according to Race Rating. I was in pen 2 of 4, matched against riders of comparable ability based on my previous ride experience.

I looked around, scanning the Nearby Riders list and waiting to read the usual pre-race text banter I’d grown accustomed to. There was virtual cycling silence. I was the only human. Racebots surrounded me, and they weren’t in the chatting mood.

The possibility that I’d be the only living, breathing rider dawned on me before, and, quite frankly, I was curious how it would play out. My goal these days is a fun workout. The time for marking my territory across the virtual cycling landscape is behind me. However, I do have a bone to pick with technology. 

Five Valuable Lessons Learned Racing on indieVelo

  1. Stepping Out of Comfort Zone: Transitioning to a new virtual cycling esports platform like indieVelo can be a daunting yet rewarding journey, pushing one’s boundaries and offering fresh opportunities for growth.

  2. Dynamic Event Participation: The platform offers a regular roster of races and race formats, allowing users to engage in varied scenarios and actively participate in dynamic events, thereby enriching the cycling esports experience.

  3. Benefiting from Data Insights: IndieVelo’s detailed post-race analysis offers rich performance metrics that can inform future racing strategies, highlighting the importance of data-driven progress in the esports realm.

  4. Understanding Unique Interactive Features: IndieVelo’s unique features such as the AI-enhanced Racebots and draft indicators provide an immersive, realistic experience, emphasizing the importance of familiarizing oneself with these interactive elements.

  5. Embracing Continuous Innovation: With its ever-evolving feature set, indieVelo demonstrates the future of cycling esports. Adapting to upcoming innovations and functionalities can provide a competitive edge and enrich the user experience.

indieVelo Race 1 image

indieVelo Race One—The Race July 13, 2023

When the gate dropped, the group rolled out at a controlled pace while I shot off the front in anticipation of a frenetic sprint for positioning. I settled into the group and easily held the pace. All my riding up to that point was endurance-paced base mileage, and the bots weren’t expecting much more from my flat power curve.

The game learns your ability as you ride and produce various intensity and duration efforts. All it knew about me was that I could hold Z2 for a while.

It allowed me to process the stimuli and assess where the user interface data took most of my attention. The Draft and Wind Speed and Direction indicators were easy to monitor. I found myself constantly looking there out of one eye and at the brake lights of the riders around me with the other. Your position relative to wind direction makes a big difference. The lights changed color to indicate effort level, and it became clear that yellow meant I was okay and green told me I wasn’t. 

Panic overcame me the first time green flashed from a rider up ahead. Prior experience conditioned me to jump with everything I had. After a few frantic chases, my level of urgency faded away. The Nearby Riders list showed speed rather than wkg, and I knew I would make the junction if I were going even a mph or two faster. It kept me in the group until my attack launch point.

The moment my nose was in the wind, I felt it, like I really felt it. The smart trainer’s resistance increased as the bar on the draft indicator went down. The bots were caught off guard, not expecting my 1-minute 7.5 wkg effort, and I built a 20-second gap.

There was little response from the bots. I rode the latter stages as I would in a real-life road race, pushing on the uphills and into the wind. The Gap Monitor indicator that popped up as the race broke into groups was something I never saw before in an online race, and it proved crucial for maintaining the lead of 45 seconds at the finish. I managed a victory in my first-ever indieVelo race. However, it was what happened after the race that shocked me more.

I could access a Ride Review screen showing the complete results. It also had a Summary with all the typical data metrics and an Analysis with pretty multi-colored graphs. Also found there was Critical Power, which had a wealth of information.

It listed a Previous Analysis of my FTP, CP, and W’ and the Current Analysis based on the data from the race. I wouldn’t be surprising the bots in my next race. In addition, it gave me suggestions on where to focus my training and my anticipated potential. 

I had to return to the HUB to check out my Ranking History. The race was longer than a sprint and relatively flat. Therefore, my Endurance and Time Trial ranking improved meagerly. While in the HUB, I chose a pacer for my cool down and began contemplating race two.

indieVelo Ride REview CP

indieVelo—Race Two July 14, 2023

Armed with this newly found data profile on me and motivated to exact revenge, I was anxious that the bots would turn the screws. When Pen 3 popped up, I was intrigued. Why would I be in a lower pen after a significant jump in my CP curve across the board?

Come to find out my position on the nearby racer starting list was my anticipated finishing position. If I placed higher there was a good chance my ranking would improve.

The indieVelo matchmaking system is dynamic and reflects a rider’s skill and ability relative to the other racers. I guess this was a successful batch of bots. I was reluctant to find out.

The early stages of the race played out much like race one. My attack put 22 seconds into the field, and two bots responded. I waited for my companions to join the break, but the group came together when they made the catch. They were pushing hard. The group was pushing harder.

indieVelo RAce 2 attack

I consolidated my position for the latter stages of the race. The larger pack meant higher speeds, and cornering and braking were factors. The Mini-Map alerted me in time to prepare. 

Braking and Cornering matter on indieVelo, but I haven’t found it too in-your-face. It’s a skill that you must master to optimize success. It doesn’t take away from the experience.

indieVelo Race 2 finish line

I jumped from the 47-rider group with 500 meters to go and held the gap to the finish. 2 for two made me contemplate retiring on top. That changed when I saw my post-race stats.

The Critical Power ride review showed minimal progress. While my ranking did improve, I still had work to do. Would Race 3 be the game-changer?

indieVelo Ride Review analysis

indieVelo—Race Three July 18, 2023

There have been several “be careful what you wish for” experiences during my basement bike racing career. Race three was one of them. I heard rumors that with indieVelo Game Update v0.2.6, released July 17, 2023, the new-look AI-enhanced Racebots were more reactive, aggressive, and life-like. I’m here to say that’s an understatement.

In Pen 2, it didn’t take long after the gun went off to see that we weren’t in Kansas anymore. It was go time. The field strung out from the start, and a flurry of attacks from singles and rider pairs began around the second minute. I bridged across to each one when the gap rose to 5 seconds, then it happened, and I knew it was the one.

Brazil’s Kristopher Dennis (bot, mind you, if you couldn’t tell) took off like a shot from a canon, sending it for a quick 10-second separation from the field. I clawed onto his wheel just as we hit my attack point.

After briefly second-guessing my weird science experiment strategy, I pulled the trigger. The result was 11 seconds for me, and Dennis upped the pace. Knowing I could use the help to hold off the charging pack that also ramped it up, I invited him to join me, and we traded pulls.

Much like in real-life racing, if my pace was too high, Mr. Dennis wasn’t interested, and a gap formed. I modulated the effort to my benefit and used my break mate to perfection in the finale. The group rolled across the line 6 seconds in arrears.

I was clear that it took as much out of him as it did me. We both stopped momentarily at the line to gather ourselves before proceeding to cool down. Then something neat happened.

Once all the riders crossed the finish line and the results were in, a Race Ranking image popped up. I had to go into the HUB to find that for the other two races before a Beta-tester suggested the change. indieVelo’s developer supports innovation in race design by prompt response to feedback.

I’m confident indieVelo will continue to evolve and define the future of cycling esports. Will that mean the ability to access a schedule of events, results, and historical race information without going into the game? I can see those changes in the future.

indieVelo shooting star picture


After the lessons I learned during my first three races on indieVelo, change is in my future too. Of all the things the experience pointed out, what I took for granted is most profound. The physics of the game completely immersed me. There was no need to worry about gamecraft or adapting to the counter-intuitive nuances of the draft mechanics. It felt accurate, authentic, and just right, and I’m looking forward to changing the future of cycling esports.

I still have a lot to learn.

What did you learn from your first three indieVelo races?

Comment below! Your fellow virtual cyclists want to know!

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Scott Baker
Scott Baker
1 month ago

This is great and thank you for the summary!

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