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Video: Mike Cotty compares virtual Tourmalet vs real thing

Col Collective climbing guru, in lockdown in the Pyrenees, dials the ascent into his home trainer

Virtual cycling is booming at the moment – indeed, depending on which country you are in, it may the only option you have to go riding at all. Mountain muncher Mike Cotty, who is based in the French Pyrénées, is among those who cannot go riding at all due to the lockdown there, but he found a way of riding the fabled Col du Tourmalet, while remaining at home.

We’ve all got our own opinions on how close to the real thing it is, but of course at the moment there’s a limit to the number of real-life roads or climbs that you can tackle on virtual platforms – so Coty, whose Col Collective videos we have featured regularly on, had to dial in the ascent’s details before tackling it.

He said: “Well who could’ve ever predicted not being allowed out to ride? With spring in the air and the mountains calling, being in a current lockdown in the French Pyrénées has thrown quite the proverbial spanner in the works when it comes to actually riding these beautiful big peaks once again.

“Adjusting to a ‘new norm’ is quite the challenge, staying fit, motivated and, let’s be honest, sane when you're not allowed to ride outside is a challenge in itself, so I've had to enlist the ol’ creative grey matter to come up with a few ways to stay on top of the game during these unprecedented times that we all face.

“I’ve been dreaming of riding the Tourmalet again for quite some time, so I rigged up the Kickr and Kickr Climb, synced up the route and got after it, albeit this time in the virtual world, to see just how it compares to 19 kilometres of mountain greatness, AKA the real McCoy.”

He continued: “This was the first time I've followed a route on the trainer and I have to say that I was impressed by the result. Staying motivated when on the static bike is a mission in itself and anything that helps in that regard is welcomed with open arms.

“I hope you enjoyed this ride and it may spark a little inspiration to help you through these testing times.

“What's for sure is that the mountains aren't going away any time soon, so with a little patience and perspective we'll be exploring them again before we know it!”

Cotty, who now runs a cycle tours business from the Pyrenees, added: “Let this be a time of learning, a time of perspective and self-development that we use as a positive to become a better version of ourselves, able to cope with and overcome adversity just like when we conquer and overcome the mountains, one pedal stroke at a time.

“Thank you for being part of the journey. Stay healthy. Stay home.”

Simon has been news editor at since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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