Author Topic: On-Line Racing - Where are the results?  (Read 290 times)

Mark

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On-Line Racing - Where are the results?
« on: May 27, 2021, 02:39:13 AM »
The Virtual World of On-line Racing:

Covid19 has accelerated cycling journey into the virtual on-line riding and racing environment.

There was little doubt that cycling would start to move on-line in the future, but the speed that it’s all happening is quite surprizing. The suitability of cycling to fit into the virtual on-line gaming world has surprised all that have given it a try. In fact the Zwift App has captured the principles of cycle racing so well, that you sometimes you forget when hiding behind a competitor to get out of the wind, that the air resistance is a computer generated algorithm and you’re not actually surfing the draft of the opponents from around the world.

Bathurst is historically is a very strong cycling centre, with excellent cycling roads and opportunities to get involved in the sport. So that long Bathurst history of traditional cycling may of slowed the uptake of local riders into the on-line world initially, with a percentage of Bathurst cyclists keen to continuing to ride in the great outdoors only. However recent stats suggest that is changing with most local cyclists diversifying onto the computer.

Initially Stephen Jackson and Jenn Arnold were two of the local riders that took to the Zwift Platform quite seriously, I expect that Steve would have been the first Bathurst rider to reach Level 50 in the Zwift game; currently (may 2021) Steve Jackson has ridden over 60,000km !!!!  That is a staggering amount of hours in the zwift app. It would be difficult to imagine any other local cyclist even near that many kilometres. Jenn is also a level 50 player, and puts her experience to work as a ride leader with some of the Tri Australia virtual rides, she also has some good results in female zwift racing in the past.

Top class Mudgee Pro Triathlete NicK Kastelein who lived in Bathurst for a period also leads events on Zwift as part of his Canyon Speedmax sponsorship. His events are Time Trial competitions and recon events for those race events. Results are calculated and added to your game profile.

These days the majority of Bathurst cyclists have tried Zwift at some level, some opt to keep their account private. Many of these local cyclists are also building some impressive kilometre values, they include Graeme Peadon, Greg Vinall, Para World Champ David Nicholas and former Bathurst cyclist Karl Addison (who can still connect with the local club although now thousands of miles away), all of these riders have topped level 40 on Zwift.

Hollee Simons (one of the many local triathletes regularly using the indoor trainer) is also closing in on the level 40 mark having already topped 14,000km. Other very experienced Zwift riders include Jamie Rivett (L32) Peter Wilson, Jack Cannon & former club member Emily Watts (L29); Glen Carter (L28); Chris Howarth, Stuart Renshaw, Anne McAlary & Geoff Short (L27) Luke Gillmer Mark Simons (L26)……..

Away from counting the Ks, the history of virtual on-line RACING got serious in Bathurst when Covid19 first hit and close down racing across the world. Cycling NSW and Qld partnered with zwift to host the cycling state of origin cycling series in May 2020. Bathurst riders raced for NSW who defeated Queensland in the 3 round series promoted by Koa Sports League, 150pts to 73pts.

The Bathurst Club had 4 cyclists that finished the first-ever virtual Cycling State of Origin with Luke Tuckwell riding well in A Grade and Ray Thorn a consistent performer in C Grade; while both Cadel Lovett and Mark Windsor who were new to Zwift, finished on the podium twice in the early rounds and had to be re-graded in the series. Windsor finishing 4th overall in the C Division after the 3 rounds with Cadel 8th and Ray 9th, and Tuckwell just missing the top 10 in A Division.
 
On the 18th May 2020 Cycling Australia with the support of another On-Line Cycling Application, FulGaz unveiled the inaugural Virtual Tour of Australia which was exclusively available to Cycling Australia members. The tour started with the Greenhill Road course, a tough climbing stage towards Mount Lofty in South Australia, Stage 2 was on the Gold Coast at Springbrook. But the excitement for Bathurst was stage 3 was a virtual three laps around our famous race track at Mt Panorama.

This was particularly exciting for local Mark Windsor who has raced many times on the Mt Panorama course since the early 1980s and was very keen to be involved in the first official virtual cycle race on the course. Using his experience he rode the 3 laps of Mt Panorama in 37min 26sec, placed him third overall in the stage behind talented Lidcombe junior Adrien Triccas (36:33) and Tasmanian Colin Locke (36:55). Former Bathurst rider Emily Watts (38:40) was also third in the women’s event behind Brodie Chapman (37:47) and Bre Vine (38:33) with Bathurst’s Toireasa Gallagher 10th and Kerryn Windsor 16th.

The final two stages were at The Dandenongs in Victoria and the very tough Mt Wellington in Tasmania. Bathurst Cycling club had 3 finishers in the tough 5 stage Australian Tour, with Mark Windsor 4th overall in the Men’s General Classification and first in his age category. Toireasa Gallagher also won her Age Category and was 10th overall in the Womens Final Classification while Kerryn Windsor also won her age category. Former Bathurst cyclist Emily Watts was in top form finishing overall runner up to Bre Vine in the Tour, while local Ray Thorn rode well early but withdrew from the final stages.

The next step in Australia was to get the elite NRS domestic teams racing on-line with all sport becoming very difficult during the pandemic. Zwift was used for the first NRS Invitational Events with Bathurst Club rider Will Hodges involved in the mens event won by Tom Benton (IFM) in the 2020 Covid19 Lockdown, worth noticing that former Bathurst Club Junior rider Zac Marshall finished in the top 25 in this event riding for StGeorge Team. Another former Bathurst Rider Emily Watts (AERO Women) also rode that Invitational series finishing 18th behind Bree Wilson (RXS).  Zwift again was used again in the 2021 elite team AusCycling E-Sports Series, with organisers aiming to encourage a viewing audience with commentary by Matt Keenen and more recently Kate Bates. Emily Watts showing recently she has quite a talent in on-line cycling defeating Sydney’s Kate Banerjee to winning stage one of the current 2021 @GoZwiftAUSNZ eNRS Women Series which was live streamed on SBS Cycling Cycling Facebook feed.

However this concept of still racing under Cycling Australia (or AusCycle) is a bit clunky, as really these old cycling management bodies eg UCI and ITU etc.. are only partners with Zwift (& the other apps) in the current e-cycling competitions. It is possible that the UCI and its sub groups can give Zwift and the other on-line sports gaming platforms some credibility in the on-line racing, but I expect that will be only a short term thing.

The bottom line is Zwift itself can give all users many different options to motivate them in all types of training and racing on-line, with cyclists able to set many different goals while riding. We have already mentioned the different levels a cyclist achieves, but with the racing, zwift organises competitors into grades depending on their output in the game. Riders moving up the grades as they get stronger in the zwift events which can be short and fast or tough hilly marathon races well over 100kms in length. 

Then of course zwift has its ZwiftPower ratings system, where cycle racers score points (in actual fact loose points) to get an on-line virtual Cycling Zwift Ranking. This can be a world ranking or a national ranking, it can be male or female or by age category.

Bottom line the more you race and the better you perform, the lower you can get your ranking. This month Mark Windsor moved into the top 25 in the world in his age category and leads the Australian National Zwift Power Ranking, also in his age cat is Stephen Jackson and Gary Baker who are both in the top 50 in the National age rankings while Graeme Peadon has just dropped out of the top 100.

In the U23s Category currently Emily Watts (AERO Women) is the 3rd ranked Aussie and 55th in the World, Luke Tuckwell is ranked 18th in Australia and Ella Falzarano 77th. While Jenn Arnold is 65th ranked Aussie in her category, others include Luke Gillmer in the top 400 Australian age rankings. It should be noted the rankings only go to 1000 and there are over 3 million users on Zwift, and up to 45,000 users simultaneously on the game.

At this point we should make it clear that you need to race regularly in Zwift to get a good Zwift Power ranking and the majority of local zwift users do not race. Obviously then, there are many other forms of motivation in the Zwift game including a range of personal challenges such as badges and conditioning measurements. So the point is, its difficult to access an good on-line cyclist as riders have a different focus.

So this article could go a lot deeper into the achievements of our local on-line cyclists. Cycling is a very diverse activity and the on-line version also has many different way to measure individual success.. In fact I just noticed the high watts that Will Hodges (L17) has pumped out in recent activities yet I haven’t mentioned him above.

I expected Club Meetups may be another competition option in the future, other cycling clubs, who don’t have the cycling facilities of Bathurst, have already developed this into their activities. A recent Western Advocate article suggests the Renshaw Pedal Project is playing with the idea, and I believe D2F’s Cycling Team is using the technology. Certainly the On-line Virtual World of cycling is looking to grow even further in the future.
« Last Edit: June 14, 2021, 12:09:35 AM by Mark »