Anyone who’s ever ridden a stationary bicycle trainer knows that it can be a little boring just sitting there, pedaling away, starring at the wall as you try and get a workout. Many indoor cyclists want something a bit more fun; a little more interactive; something that makes them feel as though they’re actually out there on the road, riding their bicycle and taking in the scenery.
That’s where the epicPLANET series of epicRIDES Virtual Cycling DVDs come into play.
The epicRIDES DVD series currently consists of thirteen different videos, each of which features a scenic and challenging bike ride from somewhere in North America. As you watch the DVD, you pedal along with the cyclists on screen and try to keep pace as you climb, sprint, and descend – not in real life, but virtually with the assistance of your bicycle trainer and the on screen video.
The DVDs are essentially of mix of footage from a car-mounted camera and a series of bicycle mounted GoPro recorders. As you follow the ride on screen, the camera angles slowly change from one view to the next, helping you to keep the ride fresh and exciting, rather than just starring at one boring camera angle for an entire workout.
The overall quality of the videos is good, but I think the compression used to fit the videos onto DVD has degraded the quality a bit, as pixelation and motion blurs are noticeable.
Throughout the virtual bike ride, a large on-screen digital dashboard keeps track of your progress in the workout. The dashboard graphics work to inform you of how fast you should be pedaling (approximately), how long you’ve been pedaling, and how much time you’ve got left until you reach the top of large and difficult climbs.
It may sound a little silly to some that you would watch a virtual simulation of an actual bicycle ride instead of simply getting out on the road and participating in a real road ride of your own. But there are several types of people who can benefit from a virtual cycling experience like the ones provided by epicPLANET.
- People who live in areas where harsh winter weather prevents them from cycling during the wintertime.
- Busy businessmen and individuals who don’t have the time to actually conduct a long outdoor ride, but can use virtual cycling on a bicycle trainer to get in a quick workout whenever they have the time.
- And those of us who simply like to ride a bicycle trainer every once and a while and while doing so, experience what it might be like to conduct a bicycle ride on the other side of the state, country, or planet.
That’s one of the real neat things about the series of epicRIDES videos. While you might be able to go out your door and go on a physical bike ride of your own, doing so probably means that you’ll be forced to cycle on a road that you have ridden down dozens of times before. With these DVDs, however, you can transport yourself to a far off place, to a location that in real life you might not ever have the chance to experience for yourself. And over the course of the DVD, you get to visually experience what it might be like to ride your bicycle in that area.
With the epicRIDES videos, you can take a cycling journey through Vermont’s Green Mountains on one day and then ride your bike through tunnels of green trees in southern Louisiana on the next. The following day you could be cycling through the hills surrounding Austin, Texas, and the next day by climbing up Beartooth Pass in the state of Montana.
The virtual cycling videos are the core of the epicRIDES experience, but each video also comes with a downloadable training guide (a PDF document filled with information that you can use to enhance your experience when riding with a bicycle trainer), a downloadable route map (which shows the featured bicycle ride on an interactive Google map), and a downloadable PowerProfile (which is a time-based workout file that’s compatible with programmable indoor bicycle trainers).
Riding a bicycle trainer isn’t for everyone, but for those of us that do ride with a trainer and are looking for a way to make our time on the trainer a bit more enjoyable, a virtual cycling experience like the one provided by epicPLANET in the epicRIDES DVD series is certainly worth a try.
My recommendation is that if you have a bicycle trainer, you at least try enhancing your ride with one of the epicRIDES DVDs. Watch the video, give the virtual cycling experience a try, and if you like it, pick up another DVD from the series.
This is a niche product for a very specific individual. If the quality of the video were a bit higher, I’d give it a 9 out of 10, but because of the small loss in video data due to poor video compression, I have to give the series an 8.
For more information on the epicRIDES Virtual Cycling DVD series, please visit: www.epicplanet.tv
This product was sent to Bicycle Touring Pro at no cost for the purpose of this review.