Sunday, January 21, 2018

Virtual Reality Cycling

When I started indoor training (years ago), Racermate software (that came with my Computrainer) was as good as it got.  It was the closest thing to virtual reality software, with an avatar of bike rider on the screen with sub par graphics.  Then along came Erg Video virtual reality cycling software.  Erg Videos were provided (or rather sold) on DVDs.  They were real HD videos shot from a car/van and/or a rider from the back of a pack.  Each DVD cost $45.  You could buy Erg Videos of most of the Tour de France mountain climbs.  You could also buy a video of Lake Placid (one of my favorite bike rides) and a video of Threshold workouts...all in High Definition (HD).  I bought six of them for $270.  So, how do they work?  Once loaded on my PC and synced to my Computrainer, I was able to follow a pack of 5-6 riders from some riding club in Canada (forget their name).  As they would ascend a climb, the resistance in my Computrainer would automatically increase, thus virtual reality cycling.  It also allowed multi-rider cycling.  It was pretty cool I guess, but you get bored of the same old rides, which is why I bought six different DVDs.  Plus, the view doesn't change, you're staring at the asses of male riders in front of you the entire ride- bleh.  Today, Erg Videos (just like everything else) can be downloaded so you don't have to bother with DVDs.  ErgVideo software just released version 5- for free.  The latest with ErgVideo 5 is offering free training plans (the bait) that can be synced to your Videos (the catch).

For example, if I want to do a 2x20 threshold workout, from a free training plan, Erg Video will check my library of ErgVideos to see if any of the rides does a similar workout.  If it does, it will list which Videos in my library has an applicable workout.  ErgVideo calls this "Training Objective Equivalent" or TOE.  (C'mon man, you couldn't come up with a better acronym than that?)  Once I choose the TOE ride, I'm able to do a 2x20 workout staring at the asses of the same guys I followed all too many times before.  If I don't have a TOE video/ride, I can either do the workout in "free mode"- which means you just see a screen on your computer or display monitor with the power profile on it (like the old Racermater software days) or buy an Erg Video that does.  That is, for another $45. Remember the catch?  Once the workout is completed, the data can automatically be uploaded into Strava, Garmin Connect, Training Peaks, etc. for post-ride analysis- which is nice.  I never had a choice before with ErgVideo 3.  It was either upload to Training Peaks WKO or nothing.  I don't do Peaks WKO anymore, I ditched it, since they wanted another $179 for a new version.   Now, I use Golden Cheetah software instead.  Golden Cheetah is open source (free) software, and it does everything that Training Peaks WKO does and more.

So, there you go.  In a nutshell, that's the new release of ErgVideo5- offering free training plan workouts and the ability to tie into your ErgVideo library with a TOE video/ride.  Do I think ErgVideo virtual reality cycling software is as good as the Zwift experience?  Not even close.  Zwift does so much more: training rides, workouts, races, fun rides, etc.  And, you're riding against real people from all over the world.  And, you can change don't have to stare at the ass or back wheel of the rider in front of you like ErgVideo. 

I'll do a comparison blog in the future of ErgVideo vs. Zwift.  What I do like about ErgVideo is if you always wanted to say ride the Alpe D'Huez, and you know you'll never get to France, it's the next best thing to being there.  Like I said, the videos are HD videos of the real deal.  Also, if you're a Triathlete and you're going to be doing IM Lake Placid, I highly recommend you buy their IMLP Ergvideo.  It's the next best thing to being there and it will help you train for your event- provided you have a smart trainer.  I think that's where ErgVideo really shines.

Power ON! Coach Rob

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