lauantai 16. joulukuuta 2017

BigRingVR: no podium or hero's reception, but very "real" riding

The bike trainer software market has expanded like the young universe after big bang. All of a sudden we have more products to choose from than at least I have time to test.

BigRingVR has a simple approach: train the big climbs. There are tens of famous mountains and other climbs from Europe and the USA. Select your ride, set a pacer if you want, and start pedaling.

Today I rode Old Road to Jaca (Spain) and Alpe d'Huez (France). Former is 54 km and 600 VAM, latter is 14 km and 1130 VAM. Combined they charged me 3 hours 36 minutes.

It feels very much like you'd be there, on a real solo ride. It is as painfully, truthfully slow as it is in the great wide open. That's precisely how one perceives the situation when it's not a race. When training, one is very conscious of the effort. So, it was relieving to see other riders on the video ascending the same road.

The realism is strong with this one: when I reached the top of Alpe d'Huez, there wasn't any Finish banner or crowds - just a dull part of the road like it happens to be on 364 days around the year. I sort of expected a hero's reception and felt a bit underwhelmed, just like I would've felt in real life :)

BigRingVR videos are of good quality. Unfortunately they've been shot from a fast moving car with a low frame rate (60 FPS is my guess). Thus when I ride 10 km/h, the picture transitions get jagged. It doesn't affect too much when I stare the 15' laptop screen but when I raise my eyes to the 42' TV screen behind the laptop, especially hairpins seem like a collage of Viewmaster images.

Also, as they've been driving fast while shooting video, when I ride 10 km/h, everything that moves on the video, haaaappennns veeeerrrry sloooww. And to be honest, it reduces the "VR" feeling when the video is shot on a highway 100 km/h.

Nevertheless, BigRingVR is currently free, and I have approached it as a "beta" or concept demo. The road steepness % is quite well synchronized with the video, and some odd mishaps don't ruin the ride.

Setting BigRingVR up was easy with my Elite Qubo Digital Smart B+, and Garmin sensors, and MacbookPro laptop (Garmin ANT+ dongle, two meters from trainer).

BigRingVR will hatch out its free concept phase soon. From January on it'll be subscription-based. So try it out now.

So far I've tested Zwift and BigRingVR. They are very different, and it's like comparing apples and oranges. If you'd like to learn about other alternatives, check out eg. Best Turbo Trainer Software 2017.

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