LONDON • Cyclists deprived of their weekend ride out with friends and fitness fanatics who cannot get to the gym are turning to online cycling workouts to help them stay in shape during the coronavirus shutdown.
With professional racing closed down in Europe and club cyclists being advised against riding in large groups, the Zwift indoor training platform has seen a manic few weeks, according to spokesman Chris Snook.
Some of the best-known professional road cyclists have been making the most of their unexpected spare time to lead out virtual rides on Zwift's fictionalised Watopia course, as amateurs join in from their home-based smart bike trainers.
"It's providing a unique opportunity for cycling fans to not only ride alongside their heroes, but to ask questions," Snook told Reuters.
"Guests have included (2018 Tour de France champion) Geraint Thomas, (German rider) Andre Greipel, (world champion) Annemiek van Vleuten and many more."
Others who would normally prefer the gym have decided that it is time to buy a Peloton stationary bike, rather than risk going to group classes. These are the people who do not ride outdoors and so would not own a bike that they can transform into an indoor trainer.
"It seemed like a good opportunity for me to make an investment so I could exercise inside of my house, enjoy that exercise, and save money in the long term," said Amanda Clare from San Francisco.
The 41-year-old normally works out at Barry's Bootcamp but decided to drop that as the spread of the coronavirus forced people to stay home.
"I spend about US$500 (S$713 ) a month on Barry's, so while the Peloton was an investment - it was $2,450 - that will be made up if I just move to working out on it," she added.
Clare is crossing her fingers that the bike will be delivered as planned despite the disruption.
Jenn McCarron, 40, from Los Angeles has also decided to trade up by getting a Peloton bike after subscribing to its online classes for eight months.
RIDE AND CHAT
It's providing a unique opportunity for cycling fans to not only ride alongside their heroes, but to ask questions.
CHRIS SNOOK , Zwift spokesman, on fans being able to chat with champs on the apps.
It seemed like a good opportunity for me to make an investment so I could exercise inside of my house, enjoy that exercise...
AMANDA CLARE , gym goer, on why she bought a Peloton stationary bike.
"What made me pull the trigger was quarantine and loss of control over my fitness routine, which 100 per cent takes place outside of my apartment," she said.
"When the quarantine started happening last Friday, I started getting this low-level burn of urgency, like 'wow, if we go in for two months I need that level of cardio', and not just that - the community and the connectivity around it."
Criminal defence lawyer Liza Rosado of San Juan, Puerto Rico is waiting for a Peloton bike that she ordered in the middle of last month. "Now that I'm gonna be stuck at home, I really wish I had it here," said the 35-year-old.
Still, she is keeping things in perspective in light of the pandemic, which has led to a curfew across Puerto Rico and shuttered all non-essential businesses.
"I'm not going to be angry or mad about it - people are losing their jobs," she said. "My clients are in jail. We don't know what's going to happen. We know they are one of the populations that's most at risk (from Covid-19)."
Back in Britain, the British Cycling Race Series, starting this week, features eight 30-minute races in which amateurs and elite riders, often those self-isolating, can compete against each other from the safety of their own living room.
"We're in an entirely unique situation that means there'll be no racing for a while, but it's important that we try to find some sense of normality in all this," said British Cycling's women's endurance coach Emma Trott.