Combining my love of bicycle touring, fitness tech, and software development, I’ve embarked upon a new project. Although cycling around Lake Superior is definitely still on my bucket list, the advent of immersive indoor cycling applications such as Zwift and Rouvy presented the potential for a “virtual” tour that I can undertake until the opportunity for the real tour comes around.
As I approach 300 miles and 4 virtual days into my virtual circumnavigation of Lake Superior, I thought it would be a good time to offer some thoughts about the experience.
On the technical side of things, I’ve been pleased with how well Rouvy is suited for this purpose. Although Rouvy’s strength is certainly based on video-enabled rides as well as its newly released “augmented reality” routes, the ability to upload custom routes and follow your progress via high-resolution satellite imagery works very well and provides a surprising amount of immersion to the experience. The website linked above was a fun little project using a handful of technologies that allowed it to come together quickly and with a minimum about of coding.
As for nature of the rides, it’s a long way from a virtual reality experience but still surprisingly immersive. I suspect the combination of the speed at which the imagery is passing (comparable to a real-life ride), the physical effort associated with the motion (pedaling the bike as opposed to simply moving a mouse), and the quality of the satellite imagery all come together to create a somewhat memorable experience. I’m beginning to believe that when the time comes to make this tour in real life, there’s likely to be a lot of “deja-vu” and a feeling of having “been here before”.
So far, it’s been fun and don’t see any reason to think I won’t eventually complete the loop. In fact, I’m starting to think about what to ride next. Maybe I’ll re-ride Lake Ontario since it’s been 25 years and see if the virtual tour can bring back some memories from the real one.