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Map-based app allows you to ride against other users in real-time

A turbo training website, www.turbotraining.co.uk, has launched a beta test program for its map-based racing application that allows you to compete against other riders online using a turbo trainer.

www.turbotraining.co.uk is being developed from a simple turbo training website into one that allows you to integrate your performance data collected from sensors – power, heart rate, cadence – into your workouts in real time. Plus, you can ride with other users and race them virtually from your own home.

The system comes from Aaron Bird, who set up www.turbotraining.co.uk in 2008, and Rob Barrett, who in 2007 created a standalone ramp test and interval training application using ANT+ data for real-time training with power. They’ve now combined the two ideas to create online turbo trainer racing.

“Today we are launching a beta test program for our map-based racing application,” says Aaron. “This allows you to race on any route you choose to plot – create a lap or Richmond Park or an ascent of Box Hill. Battle it out with four other riders to be the first to the finish line.”

You can race via any web browser after downloading a small 2Mb app called Power+ that sits in the background within your system tray. The app listens for any ANT+ speed, power or cadence data and sends it to the www.turbotraining.co.uk servers.

“This data is then displayed via the web browser in a similar fashion to what you would see on a Garmin head unit,” says Aaron.

In a virtual race each rider has an avatar on the map which is controlled by their own data. All riders can see the performance data of everyone in the race.

You can race on a pre-made course or plot your own. You can also choose from pre-prepared workouts and training plans or design ones for yourself.

“The key advantage of group training and virtual racing is motivation, and that’s what turns turbo training into a sport and not a chore,” says Aaron.

The system allows you to race/train by power even if you don’t have a power meter on your bike. How? It uses what the designers call ‘Proxy Power’.

“Proxy Power relies on knowing the make/model of turbo trainer that a particular user is using,” says Aaron. “This can be selected in their profile. We have mapped the polynomial equation for a number of turbo trainers, so for a given speed we know the approximate power through manufacturer power: speed data, or through data we have collected ourselves.

A full list of trainers that have been mapped so far can be found here. http://www.turbotraining.co.uk/devices/index

“We currently offer a monthly subscription whereby users can choose to use our Power+ software,” says Aaron. “This is in production and runs on a user’s computer. It’s currently £5 a month which gives a user access to workouts and training plans as well as the interactive data. We also offer an option for those user who don't have any ANT+ equipment. This is free to try.

“The new features we are currently beta testing use a different architecture. Everything runs through a web browser which is why users can workout solo or in a group – either group turbo sessions or racing.”

If you’d like to be involved in the beta testing (PC only, a Mac version is planned for later in the year), go to the website and register your interest. 

Last month, we told you about Zwift, another indoor cycling system that allows you to ride online against other users around the world. With Zwift you get videogame software and see yourself racing on virtual roads. It will charge a monthly fee when it launches fully early in 2015.

Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over 20+ years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for eight years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.