Returning to the virtual race track

2023 marks the third year I have been using the virtual Rouvy platform for online riding and racing.

In 2022 I rode their multi stage spring classics and Vuelta events. These were both individual time trials that you had a certain amount of days to complete the rides and their system would take your stage time and add it into an overall general classification.

Placings equalled prizes with kit and nutrition being given out or discounted for successful riders.

Both were brilliant and I am keeping my fingers crossed that there will be a 2023 classics event with Flanders, Wevelgem, Liege and the Amstel covered.

(hint, hint)

Saturday after what is becoming an annual festive bout of coronavirus, I peeked out of the curtains before declaring that I would be on the turbo and not out on the road.

As I powered up the laptop and started spinning my legs I saw a 9 minute countdown to a race up Alp D’Huez and immediately signed up. I was going all in…

The route downloaded quickly and for those of you who have been in Bourg D’Oisans for real starts just outside Seb Pizza!

The mix of real world video and CGI avatars makes Rouvy different from the likes of Zwift and RGT and the peloton was soon off and making its way out of town towards the Casino supermarket.

We hopped over the roundabout and past the camp site to the left turn that signals the start of the climb and the intense and steep drag to the first switchback.

I went way too hard here to try and keep up with the leaders and see some clear air off the front. My logic being that if I could lead for a few metres that would be success!

I didn’t make it and when the 8 and 9% gradients bit I found myself slipping back from the front as I tried to get into my groove.

Both times in real life I had ground up the climb in my smallest gear. For this I wanted to try and save that for later on if needed and ride a lower cadence and standing out of the saddle a bit more.

This was working well for about three turns and I was solid in the top 10 until a poorly timed gear shift saw my chain come off and a kink wrap itself into the rear mech.

I jumped off and watched in horror as some avatars zoomed past.

The chain went on before skipping off a second time and needed a bit of work to get it back on and running smoothly (I have now taken the bike off the turbo and given it a proper bit of TLC). It didn’t take the 20+ minutes of time I shipped to the race winner though, however much I might want to claim that.

Once I was back going and the adrenalin had died down I found a rhythm where I was about 70-80% of FTP but always felt I had a little something if needed.

A couple of riders zoomed past me and I passed a couple but I was always in my zone and in control of my ride.

Again with parallels to my real life ride I was able to pace myself into the final 4kms (from the dual carriageway and bus stop) into town and take a couple of places back.

My final position was 15th place which I would have, of course, taken at the start line.

You can see from my notes that I was a bit gutted about the chain but it was a brilliant start to the build up to on the road racing and I hope to report on some more events soon.

Thanks Rouvy for hosting.

Review – BZ Optics PHO bi-focal photochromic glasses

With a UK distributor local to myself in the fens, I have seen a fair few pairs of BZ Pho glasses doing the rounds and have been intrigued to try a pair out.

BZ are Australian by birth but with a interesting feature for those of us of a certain vintage or optical ability!

The test pair came in a neat pouch with the bi focal lens in my prescription. That’s right, there is a strip at the bottom of the lens which matches my reading glasses. Ideal for reading a Garmin, or as BZ also promote, reading the cafe stop menu.

It’s not great to have to admit that sometimes my eyesight isn’t perfect so to have bi-focal lenses in a pair of cycling specific frames is a brilliant innovation from BZ.

Throw in the fact that the glasses have photochromic lenses that adapt to the amount of natural light and we are looking at a really interesting product with features that outshine some of the other, bigger, established brands.

Would I say the double lens style fits in with 2022’s trend for massive cycling specs?

No, but that is no bad thing. Alternative doesn’t mean bad and the weight and performance of these glasses should put them on your radar… even without a shiny “O” on the arms.

What is clear is that performance wise the Pho’s do the trick. I have tested them in various states of light and had good success with seeing both my Garmin and the road without issue.

To go full on bi-focal and photochromic you will need just over £100 which isn’t a massive amount of money in the current cycling spectacles market.

BZ also offer loads of retro fit goodies like mirrored lenses and a darker photochromic option with bi-focal strips for high summer dual vision.

You can read more about the range and order by visiting their website here…

Remember this?

Not so long ago I was looking for a new bike.

Kind of.

I was suggesting that the sporty nature of my Cannondale Super 6 was affecting my enjoyment of cycling.

Here is the piece.


I have an update and its thanks to one of my local bike shops that I am not now in the market for something gravelly from Trek or Specialized.

I dropped Terry Wright Cycles an email to explain the bike I had and the riding I did. Just to see if there was any upgrade or tweaks I could make to the current bike. If it was a no, the pain of Facebay or Ebay awaited me. This was a big deal.

I hate selling stuff online and having to deal with people. The selling of the old bike is the worst part of buying a new bike.

We arranged a time for me and my bike to pop by their shop and it was agreed pretty quickly that there was some quick wins here.

I was fortunate enough to had upgraded the Shimano R500 wheelset to Mavic Cosmics which had a narrower profile.

That meant that despite an advertised maximum rear wheel clearance of 23mm tyres, I was able to fit 25mm. The internet had told me that a tyre upgrade wouldn’t fit…

2mm makes a real difference

Much as I wanted to believe that a quick investment of less than £50 could save me a fortune on equipment, my mind remained open.,

A quick hour spin didn’t totally convince me. Two weeks on though and I am finding the bike a lot more comfortable. It now feels much more stable and comfortable, a real bonus.

So thanks to my LBS for their help. If you have any questions on your bike fit and feel, you should always consult them before spending a wedge of cash.

RGT now part of my arsenal

My clubs Facebook page is not normally buzzing in November, but the announcement this week that the RGT app was changing got lots of traction.

I have been a regular user of Rouvy now for over a year having found the issues of power drop out on the Tacx app too annoying to overcome.

A quick look of the reviews of that product show its still an issue despite Garmin taking over Tacx. Very sad as it is a great looking tool.

Rouvy has been great for me and the fitness I have gained from going up through the skill levels and the competitive racing didn’t leave me in the market for another product.

Fenland Clarion CC have used RGT (short for Road Grand Tours) for their local online winter racing, but I didn’t have the two sources of input to run the software.

Until now.

RGT have revamped their app so its a single product now and I am going to be testing it later on.

Will it be a replacement for Rouvy? and alternative or just used to race my club mates and friends?

I will post again to let you know.

Rouvy Update

Its been a while since my last update on how using the Rouvy app is going, so I thought I would pen a few brief thoughts.

Across the summer I have used it a lot less due to the hot weather. Yes, even here in the UK!

But there has been a number of updates for stability and the launch of the new group ride feature which is out to rival Zwift on that score.

I have yet to join one, so I won’t pass comment until I do, but the feedback in the Rouvy Facebook group has been broadly supportive.

As I am not riding regularly indoors I have stepped away from the levelling up process. Last winter I was keen to get a couple of grades up and really enjoyed the racing needed to get there.

The rides needed to be completed in TT mode though are quite long and the thought of 2-3 hours indoors on a trainer whilst the sun beats down isn’t one I wanted to contemplate.

But you can still rack up points (based on your suffer score on a ride) without needing to complete mandatory routes. So the fun remains.

I have also been riding some routes regularly enough to be able to insert the virtual me’s to try and beat, something that helps me find more pace.

I don’t want to lose to the early season less well trained version of me!

I think the app will continue to come into its own over the winter months. I am planning to race again this winter and use Rouvy to keep me out of the rain and cold.

There are of course plenty of alternatives to do that, but I like riding the augmented reality riders on a real world video. It works for me.

A mix of realy world video and computer game style animated riders works for Rouvy

One negative has been the ongoing issues getting it to work with a tablet. You do need to check the high specs needed to run the app by clicking here. Fortunately the family laptop and my mobile phone rescued me when the Samsung tablet wasn’t able to run the software.

Order a Beers of Belgium CC jersey now…

We have a window of opportunity with our supplier to get an order of Beers of Belgium CC merchandise in.

(Store password – “FENDRIEN”)

We have enough for a jersey run but would need some more cap orders for it to be viable to make them.