It's The Real Thing?

Internet forums have been dying a slow death, painful in the age of Facebook and other social media platforms (much like blogs), but there are still a few of us that frequent them. As with all things internet, any attempt to apply reasoned logic is immediately attacked.
 
Case in point was a thread on an internet bike forum about how racing on Zwift is becoming a big deal. It certainly seems to be a big deal, given the number of races happening on any given day, as well as the 3rd party ranking and validation systems that have popped up to attempt to curb virtual cheating. While I don't participate in races on Zwift and therefore don't use these services, I think they're pretty good things for those that swing that way. Anything to gets people inspired to move. Maybe they'll ride more when the weather is good. Maybe they'll pin on a number and jump into a real race.
 
That last bit is a sticking point. Some claim that Zwift races are "real" racing. Some tend to a more traditional viewpoint of what bike racing is. While I'll concede that racing on Zwift is a competitive endeavor involving bikes (and DeWalt drills), I tend to agree with the traditionalists.
 
The difference for me is there are no consequences on Zwift other than getting dropped. Bike handling doesn't come into play. Positioning isn't really a factor, because you can't get guttered. You can always ride around or through other riders. The road surface is always smooth and of uniform width. Nobody is getting road rash or broken bones, unless they are very bad at riding a stationary trainer. You don't even have to turn, so the accordion effect in and out of turns isn't a player.
 
It really comes down to w/kg. While that does play a role in road racing, it's not the only factor that matters. That's why I don't consider Zwift racing to be a direct parallel. Some people disagree with me, and that's perfectly fine.
 
Zwift is a great way to kill time on the trainer. It's a great distraction from the suck. Having other people online in the virtual world can provide great stimuli to push yourself. As I found out last year, you can also burn yourself out before the snow melts off the roads if you're not careful. I have to remember that riding the trainer is not my ultimate goal. I'm not peaking for a virtual race or so I can grab a KOM for an hour. My goals are all on the pavement. Everything else is just preparation, recovery, fun, or all three.
 
In about a month I'll turn off the computer in my trainer dungeon and it will sit untouched until the snow and ice return (or I break my collarbone again). When that happens, I won't miss Zwift. I won't long for the days when I can once again be confined to a stationary trainer, watching a virtual representation of me ride on imaginary roads.
 
I'll be too busy riding and racing to think about it.

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