Gear West Bike and Triathlon has been holding an open-to-all Virtual Time Trial Series taking place in store on the Tacx Fortius Virtual Reality trainer. Each Time Trial "Event" will run 1 month, at which time they will change courses. The Male and Female winners from each age-group after the month will not only receive a $10 GWB&Tri gift certificate, but have bragging rights all month.
The first stage was a 2 kilometer mountain ascent which my Retul fitter Curt Wood said, "will make you see stars."
I didn't quite get to that stage, but it was tough. A dig deep and then some tough. On the video screen in front of me I could see that elevation. And I seemed to be making little progress. The actual climb was a 2 kilometer mountain ascent. The grade readout showed in the mid-8's, my RPMs were churning (it felt like churning) in the 70's, my power output maxed in the 320 range, and still....the....climb.....dragged.
Once I crested I was able to speed back up into the low 30 MPH range as the super cool software actual does account for the descent speeds. I ended up doing the 3.6 mile course in a respectable 12 mins 50 secs which was an average speed of 17 MPH. As comparison, Curt has the current record at 9 mins and 30 secs. I was dripping wet. And happy as a clam.
In talking with Curt and Gear West owner Kevin O'Connor the Tacx system has just upgraded to version 1.2 which will now allow for Google Earth. What does this mean? Heck, you can download a course via Map My Ride, for example, and ride an upcoming event weeks ahead of time to become familiar with it without ever having to leave home. Quite an advantage in my book. And you will actually get the visual via Google Earth along with the topography readout.
One really cool feature of this trainer is the ability to take your height and weight into account, so light people can fly up the mountains just like they would in real life. Bigger people have to put out bigger watts to climb.
I really appreciate Gear West putting on this series.
This is a unique opportunity to not only try out the best Virtual Reality Cycling Software available, but also to get a benchmark for your winter fitness, as the Tacx system will also measure your power, heart rate and cadence.
Here's the TT courses:
November 23-December 23: Tour of Lombardy 3.6 mile TT (Italy)
December 26-January 25: Alpe D' Huez uphill TT (2.5 miles)
January 26-February 26: Tour of Flanders TT (8 miles)
In the area? Read more and sign up here.