The world of competitive e-cycling

The pandemic forced many of us indoors. For those who liked to use exercise bikes at the gym, they had a choice: buy an outdoor bike, find an alternative form of exercise, or buy a smart bike. It turns out many chose the latter and some got so good at using them, they’ve entered the UCI Cycling Esports World Championships, which takes place on 26th February:

Later next month, Maeghan Easler will have a box fan propped in the window, blowing cold February air into her apartment in Des Moines, Iowa. She’ll have cooling packs—tights filled with ice cubes—stuffed into her cycling kit.

And she’ll be pedaling like crazy. 

Easler will compete with dozens of other e-cyclists from around the globe in the UCI Cycling Esports World Championships on February 26. It will be the second such contest ever—the first was held in 2020—and will take place entirely in a video-game-like environment, representing a futuristic Manhattan, on the e-cycling platform Zwift. A total of 100 female and 100 male competitors will join the races remotely, pedaling hard on a stationary bike as their onscreen avatars follow the twists and turns of the specially designed track.

Easler, a lab technician by day, is among the best e-cyclists in America and recently qualified online for USA Cycling’s world championship team. She hasn’t decided yet whether she’ll invite any friends and family over to cheer her on during the race.

Chris Baraniuk from Technology Review called likened it to “a mashup of Mario Kart and Peloton” which sounds cool and very indoors. The good news for the winners is, regardless of gender, they’ll receive equal prize money: €8,000 euros ($9,000) for first place. Not bad for an exercise bike. I mean a smart bike.

(via Technology Review)

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