What You Need to Know About Virtual Racing
You're first virtual race can be daunting. Between setting up your equipment and devices (how do I have 3 phones and 2 TV's running at the same time?!) to pushing your limits with no idea how your competition is feeling (yup, their avatar STILL doesn't look tired), virtual racing is different than any other discipline. However, with these tips and tricks from our "experience" (cough cough mistakes) you can make your first virtual race a success!
Like road racing, there will be disappointments
In any road race, a breakaway can be ruined by an untimely flat, and a sprint can be ruined by bumping shoulders with your top competitor. In virtual racing, there won’t be any in-race mechanicals or bad crashes, but there will be dropped internet connections that will disconnect you from the lead group. Unfortunately, no virtual racing platform, home wifi network or smart trainer connection is perfect, so when that does happen, don’t get frustrated: You still got a great workout and a chance to ride with friends!
Setup is everything
From getting your pain cave ready with a full water bottle and towel for sweat to checking your Wifi connection (and maybe asking the other people in your house to avoid streaming Netflix for an hour), there’s a lot to set up, so be prepared a couple hours ahead of time, not scrambling to get ready right before the race. (And share a picture of your pain cave setup by tagging @junior_virtual_cycling and using the hashtag #jrraceseries!)
Show up early to the start line
There may not be callups like we have in road racing, but getting online and into the racing platform on RGT early will make it easier to ensure that you get to start the race. Make sure you spin every few minutes in order to stay connected while you wait for the race to start! (If you’re inactive for 10 minutes, you’ll automatically get bumped off the start line and out of the race.)
Starts are HARD
Like many junior road races, expect the start to be an all-out sprint effort, and do what you can to stay with the pack. It will settle down eventually, but you’ll be able to take advantage of the draft easier if you’re with the fast group.
The number one tip from the top racers in the series right now is to actually use real road racing tactics and get in the draft of other racers whenever possible — and the cool thing about the RGT platform is that it shows you exactly how much power you’re saving by tucking in behind another rider. "Use drafting bonus as an advantage because it could save you up to 240 watts of effort!” says Andrew Ellyatt, an Ontario racer who finished 11th in the U17 category in the first race.
Don’t settle in
Like a good road race, attacks and breakaways can come at any time, and hills are still major spots for decisive in-race moves. "Do NOT slack off on the hills. Do not lose the draft. Do not stop paying attention to the race,” adds Saskatchewan’s Lucas Bryson, who finished 7th in the U17 field in the first race of the series. Consider printing out the race bible’s elevation profile so that you know when the next hill is coming and can be prepared.
With these tips, you will be ready to crush your first virtual race!