Even on my trainer I see it. There are dudes who can’t deal with getting passed by a woman. In my pain cave, it may seem like I’m alone: just me and my bike driving watts to my Elite Direto X trainer with its integrated power meter. But those guys are around, those guys afraid of getting chicked.

Chicked. I don’t like the word. It’s ugly. And of course, it’s silly. Even in a virtual environment, I see guys doing whatever they can to stay in front of a female rider. I shouldn’t let it bug me, really. But…

Recently, I came up with a modest proposal. I’d message other virtual riders who seemed in the midst of a chicking panic. A Zwift avatar may not have much expression, but you can tell when a dude is doing all he can to stay in front. So, I thought I’d say hi and see how the ride was going. How’s the ride? Pushing big watts? Then I’d carefully turn the topic to getting chicked. It took a while to hone my technique, but eventually I could get riders to open up. I wouldn’t actually use the word. They wouldn’t either. No one ever said, “I was chicked and here are my excuses.” But they would use lots of excuses. Lots of them.

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Here are the tales of three little chickees, my term for guys who’ve been chicked. I’ve changed their names out of courtesy. While the names are as virtual as the men, their rides and their stories, their behaviours and their fears are real, and by real, I mean real weak…like their riding. (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself!) Maybe we can learn something from these chickees.

Elite Direto X

Horace Bierce

I’m not bragging, but I’m fast. I got power. Out on the road, I’ve often caught and passed groups of cyclists all by myself. I do it all the time. Now I’m no engineer. I don’t know about computational fluid dynamics. But, a buddy I ride with did say I’m probably the most aero rider he knows because of the way I can get my head so low, below my backside, he said. Or was it up my backside?

When you and your women’s peloton went past me the other day on the Richmond course, I knew something was up. I’m positive that if it was in real life, IRL as they say, I would have been able to catch up and get ahead of you. But, I couldn’t. Your group just moved farther and farther away from me no matter how hard I mashed on the pedals. I knew it wasn’t a problem with my Elite Suito trainer. It’s a direct-drive trainer with +/-2.5 per cent accuracy. It can provide 1,900 watts of resistance, which I totally need. I figured there was a problem with the aerodynamics algorithm.

Like I said, I’m really aero, but the virtual-riding program didn’t seem to be taking that into account. And, I think Zwift was actually a little too generous with the draft and speed of your peloton. Sure, the programmers have put a lot of thought into how drafting and pack dynamics work in the virtual world, but I gotta say, the way your group kept away from me—there was something not right. And I should know because I’m really aero.

Also, I think you and your group must be lying about your weights. It’s a classic cheat, right. I get it. I mean, we all shave a few kilos off our avatars. Am I right? But there’s lying about your weight, and then there’s really lying about your weight. I do the former, but I’m pretty sure that you girls were up to the latter.

Oh, and at the end of my ride, I realized I was in erg mode. It was set at 175 watts the whole time. No wonder I found everything so, so easy but couldn’t move fast. I don’t know how that happened. Must have been a glitch.

I didn’t save my ride.

Jullian Waugh

Let me start off by saying that I don’t have a problem with female riders passing me. I have a problem with most riders passing me. But, of course, as a rider, you get passed on an alpine climbs or bike paths. Then you do everything in your power to get in front of the rider who passed you, whether it’s on an alpine climb or bike path and whether or not you actually have the strength to hold the lead. You just get in front, even if you then slow down, especially on a bike path. But, like I said, gender is not a factor.

The other day I was on the Alpe du Zwift as Cameron Childs rode passed me. I gave him a Ride On thumbs up from the companion app running on the smartphone strapped to my handlebars. Then you came around me. So, I did what I do. I hammered on the pedals to get around you.

I got in front and kept up the pace. Did I mention I was on rollers? I use the Elite Nero interactive roller, which is sweet. Did I mention I had a new fan? I got a big one, powerful like me. I pulled the fan’s remote from my jersey pocket and set it to Crazy High, because I was hot. Crazy High was probably too high. The breeze started pushing me and my deep-rim wheels around. The Nero has parabolic rollers that gently guide you back to their centres, but they are not designed for a fan that creates hurricanes on movie sets, I guess.

I remembered that Zwift had introduced the ability to steer not too long ago. I thought I could use that feature to weave across the road and keep you behind me. Then, with all the weaving and the gale, I came off the rollers.

On the floor, it occurred to me that you actually got a pretty good draft from me up that climb. Really, I paced you for about 50 m or so. Did you give me a thumbs up? I didn’t see one.

At the end of the session, I didn’t see any point in saving that ride

Jon Swiftly

I didn’t get enough rest. Sure I had nine and a half hours of sleep, but it wasn’t the right kind of nine and a half hours of sleep. I blame my butler for that as he didn’t put out my lucky pyjamas that I like to wear the night before tackling the Volcano Climb. (The pyjamas are the colour of magma. Cool, right?)

My playlist wasn’t dialed. Actually, it wasn’t my playlist at all. It was my three-year-old daughter’s. I said, “Hey Alexa, play ‘Crush Virtual Ride’ playlist. Instead of playing that selection of songs, which starts with Queen’s “We are the Champions,” it launched into “Baby Shark,” then “If You Are Happy and You Know It,” (I wasn’t!) and then “Baby Beluga,” and then “Baby Shark” again. Despite shouting at Alexa, I couldn’t get anything to play but that playlist. “Doo doo doo doo doo doo.” That’s still in my head.

When you passed me, the sun was in my eyes. I know what you are thinking: how could sun get in my eyes in Watopia? But l can explain. My Elite Drivo II trainer setup and the room it’s in are both stunning. It’s like one of those Peloton ads: lots of space and no clutter. The vibe of the room is what I call Elon Musk Zen: high-tech but so relaxing. It was weird, then, when I freaked out as sunlight suddenly fell across the flat-screen TV. I thought the feng shui was totally dialed.

I rode as hard as I could. Not only were my legs straining but my eyes too as I tried to make out details on the screen. I started to overheat. My butler, it seems, didn’t set the room’s temperature and fans exactly as I like them. It felt as if I was riding through the volcano’s magma itself. I started shouting, “Alexa, optimal trainer temperature! Optimal trainer temperature!” But it still felt like an oven, and the volume seemed to go up on “Baby Shark.”

Finally, it occurred to me that today was a rest day. I’m pretty sure that’s what coach put into my calendar. I stopped the ride and didn’t save it.

by Ally Strada
presented by Elite

Elite Direto X