A Virtual Commute Experiment

Been a bit low this week. Work. Stress. Normal shit. Anyway, my mojo for riding waned a bit for a couple of days and so when I would normally go out for a ride in the early morning sunshine, I decided to stay in yesterday and do an experiment on my trainer to give me the motivation to do something.

I have micro lows. As quick as I get down I can be back up in the space of a ride or a nice meal or speaking to people.

I decided to upload the gpx file for my “real world” commute route to work into Rouvy and ride it to see how realistic it is in terms of effort and time. So first up some stats.


Its approx 19.5km long and in the winter it takes me 38-40 mins on my gravel bike with road tyres, guards etc. In the summer, on my posh bike, I’m faster, circa 33-35 mins, I think the fastest ever was just sub-33 which is about a 34km/h average.

Below is a flavour of how it works.

I’ve ridden this road literally hundreds of times now so I know every inch of its uphill downhill etc so if I was ever going to do an experiment where I compare a trainer to real world cycling this is the best bit of road I could choose (apart from the commute back home lol!). I wanted to see how accurate the gradient was too because I know how I feel on every part of it not withstanding its not cold in my man cave and the only wind is from a pedestal fan.

Off I went and straight into the first uphill straight out the door. A shallow gradient and then a fast drop before the long, draggy climb over the Lickeys. The first thing I noticed was how accurate the gradient was but my old, laggy trainer doesn’t keep up. So if I go into a steep gradient the speed drops immediately but the resistance lags for a few secs. Likewise if I hit a steep descent, I’m pushing big watts over the top and when the gradient eases the speed exponentially goes up for a few secs while the lag of the trainer catches up and eases off. Overall its ok though, it just makes the video a bit stodgy in places.

My first personal checkpoint every ride is at the top of the Lickeys. The first and biggest hill on the route. I normally get there between 9 – 9 1/2mins into the ride. A minute faster if I’m on the best bike flying. I hit it at 9 mins 20 secs which impressed me as I thought I was flying as my marker raced across the map on screen.

I’m the blue blip that moves across a Google map

The other thing to note about riding an outdoor route indoors is that you don’t stop at junctions or slow down for, say, corners. So the time saved there has to be taken into account too.

I also had a play with the Streetview feature in Rouvy. There is no video of my commute route to follow so you can switch it on so the screen splits and the google street image refreshes at a rate you set of 1, 3, 5 or 10 seconds. It works ok but it does slow down your marker on the map and ends up jumping sections rather than being reasonably smooth. I turned it off and concentrated on the map. A satellite/Google Earth map is an option too and in the new Rouvy AR app you follow a 3D Google Earth map which is even cooler. That app is out but only supports Bluetooth devices at the moment so no good for me on ANT+ for now.


As I rolled on towards work, it was becoming apparent it was going to be a fast ride. The gradients were mapped to the route very well and appropriate and correct in steepness on the whole aswell. Not bad. It didn’t feel as hard as for real but I wasn’t wearing a load of clobber on a heavy bike either.

At the end of the ride I actually take a shortcut on a footpath for a few yards between roads then roll into work quite slowly. I did ease off and try to mimic this part of the ride and then I was done, so what about the time?

So it was a classic morning work commute route. 19.31km and I finished in 35 mins 34 secs. Taking into account I’m not riding my winter bike, I have no wind, no cold weather or rain in my pain cave and I didn’t stop or slow down at any junction, roundabout or corner on the route I believe its a fairly accurate time to be honest. I think its probably physically harder for real because of the heavier bike and my cycling kit etc. I’d like to do it again and perhaps mimic the real world with perhaps easing off or stopping briefly where I would normally. Maybe thats an experiment for the route home?

morning virtual commute done

…and I can say that my mojo was restored as predicted.

#ItsOkNotToBeOk #AddressYourStress

One thought on “A Virtual Commute Experiment

  1. Interesting! Not slowing down for corners, lights, junctions, etc makes a big difference to average speed. That looks like it would be a useful tool for scoping out race or time trial courses. If the street view was smoother it would be even better!


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