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In the end, the founders of Zwift hope that this new form of competitive cycling will one day appear at the Olympics – which could happen if the Olympic cycling body, UCI, lends its support. Things are arguably moving in this direction already. Last June Zwift debuted at a new event called the Olympic Virtual Series, founded by the International Olympic Committee. And one of the differences between e-cycling and other elite track events is that it’s relatively easy for anyone to take part.
“Anyone, anywhere in the world, from the comfort of their own home, can go through a process of qualification,” said Shawn Parry, Zwift’s strategy director.
Work through rank
This is how Izler cut. He failed during a qualifying round that was open to users across the United States but made it to the U.S. national team through a separate qualifying process. He is not a total novice, he participated in the triathlon as a student. But virtual races are no less exciting than outdoor events. “You feel the adrenaline,” Eisler said. “You know you’re against real-life people who are really strong.”
At the World Championships, Eisler and his fellow competitors will all have the same smart trainer — a device that replaces the rear wheel of a stationary bike — so that they can compete on a level virtual playing field. Smart trainers automatically increase or decrease the resistance to match the feel of the virtual road surface in the Zwift course. It is even possible to simulate cobbles.
Data plays a big role in platforms like Zwift and riders constantly monitor their performance. Their heart rate, speed, and watts of power output, among other statistics, are always visible on the screen during a race. Commentators can pick some of these figures live to show viewers how hard an individual competitor is working.
For example, Eisler knows that his heart rate (measured in pulses per minute) should be kept below a certain level to avoid catastrophe. “I can recover if my heart rate is 185, but if I hit 195, I can’t,” he says. Tracking her numbers on the screen allows her to go beyond her limits, and this is something she says has gotten better over time.
Real-time data on each rider’s performance will allow Zwift and UCI officials to find potential cheaters in the championship. Non-sports competitors can use a variety of tactics থেকে from lying about their weight, which can benefit their strength, to trying to manipulate the game.