With such plentiful options to choose form, deciding which virtual ride to take on next can be problematic in itself. This article looks at some of the strategies that we employ to reduce prevarication and inertia, and to increase time spent in saddle.
It won’t come as a surprise to anybody who has ever been shopping with me that choice is a problem. A simple trip to the supermarket can take hours spent weighing up the pro’s and cons of one potential meal choice over another. So in an environment with thousands of potential rides to choose from, that depth of choice can lead to inertia and paralysis.
I subscribe, or have subscribed, to a number of virtual training solutions. In 2020 we predominantly used Rouvy and Zwift. I currently subscribe to Kinomap, Fulgaz and BKool.
Originally I subscribed to Kinomap so that I could row against video that responded to changes in effort and pace, and also for running on. More latterly I have added an elliptical in to that equation, and discovered the depth and breadth of the ride library too. There are thousands of videos in the Kinomap library, so even using the search filters does not narrow things down all that much.
I use two main strategies on Kinomap for finding courses quickly to ride.
The first revolves around identifying users who publish good quality videos in interesting locations. Between thereynes, gonvil, chador and others, I can usually find something that inspires me to ride it without too much enquiry.
The second revolves around playlists. Playlists serve a number of purposes within Kinomap – video creators use playlists to categorise their videos (as can you), but they are also used to power events. Having a list of rides that you have to carry out makes the choice somewhat simpler. Each month Kinomap publishes a “best of” playlist – which can provide a really useful list of ideas for good quality activities to complete that month.
Of all of the virtual training software that we have used, the heavily curated list of largely 4K rides available on Fulgaz contains by far the most consistently high quality videos to ride. With over 500 rides in the library though, that remains a huge selection to pick from.
Fulgaz is probably the platform where I struggle most to choose something to ride the most. There is an email each Tuesday which lists the latest rides added to the library, and that can serve as a good prompt to ride something new. During December that translated into a new ride each day.
Though I do occasionally drop into Fulgaz to ride something random, in the main I use Fulgaz to ride events. There are also a series of 4 x training plans to choose from, where the ride choices for around half of each week have been pre-determined. I’ll talk about those more as I make my way through the first of the FTP courses later in 2021.
There are a couple of other neat features in Fulgaz to help you choose something inspiring to ride. When you open the Fulgaz application, you will be greeted by a route suggestion with video extract. You can add this ride to your favourites, and then ride it from the app. There is also a list of trending rides – presumably those being ridden most often currently, and the content of which changes regularly.
I do currently subscribe to BKool, though probably use it least of my three subscriptions.
BKool has an immense ride library, but by and large the video quality is generally very poor in comparison to the other options mentioned in this article. Where BKool comes into its own is in its 3D Simulator, which is capable of producing a 3D representation of almost any gpx route loaded into BKool.
BKool have though baked a number of features into their front page that help you to choose what to ride. At the top of the front page is a live section – which identifies the routes currently being ridden by other riders, and who you can ride with (if you can catch them!). Following that are a series of playlists of classic routes to choose from.
BKool also has a series of groups and leagues that you can participate in, each of which set out a series of rides that must be undertaken to complete the league in a given month. When you participate in leagues, the rides that you need to complete will also appear on the front page. Understanding and using groups and leagues is fundamental to getting the most out of BKool – I’ll write more about how to get engaged in them in a subsequent post.
I am not currently riding in Rouvy. Rouvy also has a very expansive use contributed ride library of variable quality much like Kinomap.
There are some excellent ride contributors in the Rouvy community, and it is well worth identifying them and riding their routes – ridewithoutstomach is not alone, but is certainly worth a special mention. There is not easy way to find these routes in the Rouvy application – so do your research in advance, and add them to your favourites in your user area of the website.
There is a career mode and challenges structure within Rouvy that identifies specific rides that have to be undertaken at key milestones. While this certainly helps route choice, those routes are heavily dominated by Rouvy’s own routes, and can become repetitive. Col de la Colmiane anybody? Also, though Rouvy’s own routes are generally well recorded in stabilised UHD, most suffer from being recorded from a vehicle somewhat faster than a bicycle – resulting in moonwalking pedestrians throughout.
Again I am not currently riding in Zwift, but there are a number of teams on Zwift who have scheduled group rides at the same time each week. When I do pop in to Zwift, which I do every now and again, my ride choices are built around the group ride schedules of the Herd, DIRT, ZZHC and ZZRC. All of whom run group rides that run in w/kg ranges that are of use to me.