An interview with Team Canada and Zwift Team Restart p/b Alex Coh elite cyclist Oliver Dowd.
Hey there! Thanks for the chance to get to know you a bit better. Let's kick things off with a little intro. Can you share a bit about your background—where you're from, what you do, and what lights your fire outside of cycling?
I was born and raised in the Toronto area, but I moved to Vancouver two years ago to pursue a more outdoorsy lifestyle. Outside of cycling, I enjoy walking in the mountains and camping.
That's awesome! Now, let's dive into your cycling journey. When did you first hop on a bike competitively, and what's been your proudest moment on the road?
I started riding six years ago and entered the competitive scene three years ago. My proudest moment so far was beating Phil Gaimon’s time up one of the hills in Vancouver that he targeted in one of his KOM raids—Grouse Mountain.
Fascinating! Switching gears a bit—tell us about your transition into the world of virtual cycling esports. What got you hooked, and what's the crowning achievement of your indoor career?
Virtual racing hooked me early on because it offered a time- and cost-effective way to compete against others. My crowning achievement so far was earning a spot on the Canadian Esports team for the UCI World Championships two years ago.
Sounds like a wild ride! Speaking of rides, you're part of a Zwift Grand Prix esports team, right? How has being on a team shaped you, and is there something unique about your team that's led to its success?
I’ve been with Restart since its inception. We began as a group of six guys who met on Reddit, and we raced in the original KISS Community League together. Since then, the team has grown and continues to compete at the highest levels.
Great insights! For context, could you share some of your physical stats, like your indoor personal bests for various power intervals?
I may not be the strongest FTP rider, but I was thrilled to achieve 5.4 w/kg for 20 minutes this year. My main strength is that I can deliver 10 w/kg for one minute, even at the end of a hard hour of racing.
Impressive numbers! Looking ahead, what are your esports goals, both short-term and long-term? Is becoming the UCI Cycling Esports World Champion on your radar, and what does it mean to you?
I may not be at the level to compete at the forefront of the World Championships, but I’d love to earn a spot on the Canadian team again this year.
That's ambitious! How do you feel about the current multi-platform landscape of esports championships, both nationally and internationally?
Personally, my favorite platform is RGT. However, I feel that choices often come down to people voting with their wallets rather than logic.
Interesting perspective. There are skeptics who question the legitimacy of esports. What's your take on the challenges esports faces in gaining recognition and trust?
I believe esports can be more valid than outdoor sports if you’re purely looking to celebrate the fittest person. The indoor environment offers a more level playing field, assuming everyone uses proper power meters.
Well said! With multiple platforms available for esports, where do you see yourself fitting in? Do you race on more than one platform? Are there features on one platform that you prefer over others?
I race more on Zwift because it has the most competitive fields. However, I prefer RGT and the Echelon Racing League, which offer proper stage racing and magic roads.
Good to know! What do you think could make virtual cycling more engaging for spectators?
I think the formats they choose are too complicated and sometimes hard to follow, especially since live scoring isn’t always bug-free. I’d prefer road race-style events with a highlight package rather than a full race broadcast.
That's a thought-provoker! Looking into the crystal ball, where do you see esports in five years or even further down the line?
I believe esports will eventually become a proper Olympic sport and will shed its niche status.
Intriguing! Now, for a fun twist—give us an exclusive. What's something about you that even your mates don't know?
Well, most people in the Vancouver cycling community know this, but I lived out of a van for six months this year. However, winter is coming, and I need an indoor training setup, so I’ve moved back into a house.
Fantastic! Thanks for this enlightening conversation. Wishing you all the best this Zwift Grand Prix!
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!