Now that we have the Alpe du Zwift, many have wondered if we will get our own velodrome on Zwift. Coming from a track background, I have been asking for a velodrome too! So when BKool invited me to train for a month on their platform, I wanted to see their version. I learned some positive and negative aspects of what BKool offers. What can Zwift learn? And how can they be original in their approach?
Bkool has two velodrome options, Luis Puig and the Galapagar Velodrome, both in Spain. You can opt for video mode or game screen. I prefer the game mode, mostly because it lets you see other riders on screen.
Watching a video of the track feels real. However, I think most riders new to a 250 meter track will find it to be a tight circle. It can be dizzying and one can lose where they are on the track. When this happens, you have to rely on the on-screen numbers. For these reasons, a 333 or even a 500 meter track like Roubaix may work better for Zwift.
Speeding with Others
Bkool has several options. You can enter either your own program or one started by another rider. I started an hour ride. Here’s the interesting part: if you wait and warm-up for ten minutes, others can join in and ride with you. It is definitely better with some company! I rode a twenty minute effort at my FTP. I also ran a 3 kilometer pursuit effort and a one kilometer effort as well. Speeds seemed realistic. I ran my FTP at 3.6 w/kg and averaged 40.6 kph. My pursuit at 4.6 w/kg averaged 43.9 kph. My kilo at 7 w/kg hit an average of 50.0 kph. When you race against other opponents, you earn points to purchase jerseys for your avatar. Interesting idea.
I did like having a speed that means something to me, and a velodrome course gives me this. 50 kph is the goal I was shooting for. All I need to do is figure out how to do that for another 59 minutes and I’ll be ecstatic. I like this aspect of flat track racing. What does a 14:00 lap of Watopia mean? The average watts tells you some part of how your ride went, but not the whole story. On the track, your numbers are simply more relevant.
Race Options… are Limited
Bkool has race options of Keirin, Pursuit, Team Pursuit, and an Elimination race. Sounds great! Guess what? None of those options are available to power meters, only smart trainers. This is unnecessary, there isn’t any elevation changes as there would be in a long steep climb.
The worst part of my experiment with Bkool and its velodrome was a seven second lag. When a race started my avatar waited, waited, and then took off. In workout mode, the lag continued to grow from seven seconds to almost thirty seconds. This made intervals impossible to gauge. I have a very fast gaming computer that runs very smoothly with Zwift. It was frustrating to say the least.
How would a race work? The number of riders must be limited. This may be the reason Zwift has not installed an open velodrome. Until Zwift is ready, I am willing to wait.
Soon, we will have a volcano points race. It will be nine laps long with points each lap over the 40 km distance. The information will be at http://www.z-race.com/about/ If any organizer wants exciting sprint races, I would love to see sprinters line up at the London 1 KM banner sprinting one on one to the finish line. Definitely live, with Nathan shouting himself hoarse.