Indoor Training - Part 3 Rouvy vs Zwift and Fulgaz
Part 3 of this series is somewhat delayed by Christmas and associated shenanigans such as the traditional Christmas Cold, which really flattened me for a couple of weeks.
First off, the virtual cycling app that I've used the most is Zwift, though I've only engaged in group rides a couple of times, and never raced (though that may change in the very near future). Much derided by 'serious' cyclists for its cartoonish and obviously game-like appearance, it remains the most popular of the virtual cycling apps, and because of this it has a strong feeling of community - you can't really embark on a ride on Zwift and not see other riders. While the graphics are not-super-realistic, they are attractive to my eyes and especially so in the more recent route releases. There's also the fact that in a ride you can choose where to go each time you reach a junction - there's a reality in that that isn't offered by the apps which use real-life videos.
At some point, probably in 2022, I felt I needed a bit of a change and tested out a couple of apps which use real world videos for their routes - Rouvy and Fulgaz. (I also tried out RGT, but didn't really feel it offered much that Zwift didn't, and it has since been taken over by Wahoo and then killed off). I liked both Rouvy and Fulgaz for the realism of the routes, especially the Fulgaz videos which are excellently curated. What swung me in favour of Fulgaz was the use of avatars in Rouvy, which didn't seem quite right to me. The avatars and other added features such as start/finish arches seemed float strangely over the videos.
I chose Fulgaz, but I've found I've used it less and less over the last year. I'm not sure quite why, but I think it's because of the lack of other riders around me as I ride (other than those on the video, and your effort doesn't really get reflected in whether or not you pass them or are passed by them).
Very recently I tried Rouvy again. I think that it's had something of a system revamp recently (see this article for example). From my memories of trying Rouvy 2-3 years ago, the revamp doesn't seem to just be about the interface - the new Augmented Reality courses and the graphics of the avatars seem very much improved, especially where they've added rider shadows on the road. The shadows clearly relate to the orientation of the sun relative to the course, so they move around as you negotiate turns and hairpins), and with the intensity of the sunlight on the day the video was shot. This means that in videos in overcast conditions, you don't see shadows.
The companion app makes saving images pretty easy, but it doesn't include the screen graphics.
Riding with ghost riders in Northern Italy
Riding in Provence
Riding a section of Paris-Roubaix - note the lack of shadows, which impacts on the virtual reality
The video below shows a short section of a recent ride that I did. You can see that the various elements of the app that show riders near me, plus metrics are pretty much as other apps offer. The three riders (Emma, Peter and Will) are 'ghost riders'. the default number of ghost riders is 3, but I think you can adjust this. The ghost riders loosely match your W/kg, but not precisely, so they move around relative to you as you ride along - it's all quite realistic in feel. You can also see a 'real' rider listed, Maxsaoo, who scorched along the route, eventually passing me just after the mid-way point. As far as I can tell, the shorter, flatter routes have more riders on them. At the moment I'm really using Rouvy as entertainment as I complete TrainerRoad interval sessions.
As with most virtual cycling apps, you accumulate points towards ascending the levels - in the example above, I'm at Level 11, and about 2/3 of the way to Level 12. You also accumulate 'coins' with which you can buy equipment (think 'drops' in Zwift). Though I'm still learning the details of the app, over the space of my first week with it I am thoroughly enjoying it!
This evening, however, I'm back with Zwift for my first ever race on the platform, a 16.1km time trial.
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