Unless you’re one of the 1,000 riders competing at the 2015 UCI Road World Championships this September, you will likely never ride the hilly course in Richmond, Virginia.
At least not in real life. You can ride it virtually thanks to new software from Zwift, a massive multi-rider gaming platform for cyclists.
In Zwift, which debuted last fall, participants select a preprogrammed course and race against anyone who’s currently on the route. The program works with any trainer that hooks up to a computer, but to get the full effect, you need a model like the Cyclops Powerbeam ANT+ or Wahoo Sports Kickr, both of which capture power (so they can determine how fast you’re going in Zwift) and automatically adjust resistance depending on the virtual terrain.
Last week, Zwift added the world championship route to its stable of rides, and the route stays true to the original in every detail. It even has a section of pave, which is simulated by adding resistance.
If the trial goes well, Zwift might add other real-world courses to its roster, according to a company spokesman. Think spring classics such as Paris-Roubaix or portions of the Tour de France. There’s even talk about adding events that aren’t exclusive to the pros, like Kona, which would help amateurs train and prep for the route.