SO imagine if you could load your workout and actually ride the course. A hybrid of Google Street View with the Zwift overlay. Riding the Giro d’Italia or Vuelta a Espana. Or even your hometown back roads… I’d bump up my bandwidth for that.
I would love to see this as well. Unfortunately, I think there are some challenges. Namely, the streetview data is static images, and it would have to be heavily modified to make a seamless experience in a moving 3D world.
Lots of signs and people and cars and such in the google data that would have to be cleaned up I think.
Also, I suspect there may be some legal issues.
If you look at the Richmond course, that was a real world place that could have been done using Streetview data (if it were possible). But I believe I read that Zwift sent a team of folks there to ride the course and record the data, then used some tools and lot’s of development time to clean it up and turn it into a 3D world you can ride your bike in.
I would imagine that, assuming Zwift continues to grow (financially), that we will eventually see a lot of classic courses. Not just the European classics, but some of the big events all over the world.
I could see, for example, having a course like the Whistler RBC Gran Fondo in Zwift. Those of us who aren’t able to make it to Vancouver for the ride, could sign up for the virtual event. That would be a spectacular course, and one that shouldn’t be too difficult to create.
I dunno if Zwift has mountain biking is it’s future, but there is a ton of great single track up at Whistler that would be another excellent addition to the game.
LET’S DO THIS!!
There are other services, such as BKool and Tacx who are already doing something very similar.
The idea of having more real life courses is a reasonable one but I don’t think Zwift should be moving away from it’s core product that radically.
Was riding Richmond this morning and took the time to see just how much detail went into it, it must have been a tonne of work.
Unfortunately Bkool and Tacx’s software is “graphically challenged”. They both have a massive advantage in terms of the rides that are available, but the software itself looks and feels awful in comparison.
I installed and tested ** Bkool** recently. The big draw for me is that it works on the iPad, so not only can I ride unlimited routes, but I can also do so and watch the TV. I first did a Video route which looks like it was done via themselves. I couldn’t see the course (just peoples backsides) and the gradient constantly changed, never smooth. To add to this the bottom quarter of the device is obscured with data. They whole thing was totally underwhelming.
So I tried importing my own routes and riding them in 3D. Unfortunately the modelling used does not include any road features, so there are no junctions, no roundabouts, etc. This means that your ride is very hard to transpose onto the one you did outside. Also AGAIN it’s never smooth, always random changes in gradients even on roads I knew were totally uniform.
Then I tried riding a 3D route from someone else. 1hr 10min into the ride it crashed and I lost everything. No way to recover. First ride I’ve ever lost since I started cycling. After this I stopped my premium subscription and will soon delete my account until there’s big improvements.
TACX4. When it needs DirectX9 to work you know you are in trouble.
The videos are very good and I thoroughly enjoy the one I was given. But they are very expensive and unless you want to ride one many times then it’s hard to justify. They are also massive downloads, the one I have was 10Gb.
The 3D courses are terrible to ride and it’s such a shame. Physics are modelled terribly, always stuck against one side of the road of the other, banging into things, riding through things. This is a huge shame as there’s obviously a lot of time gone into creating them. Some courses are bugged so badly they are unrideable on the NEO, constantly stopping and starting on almost flat surfaces.
Zwift by comparison has very little ride variety & wastes 3 days a week forcing us to ride Richmond. But it’s all about the quality. Graphics, ride quality, experience, multi-player, training options, all head and shoulders above anything else.
All Zwift needs to do is make Richmond optional, build some more tracks that add variety and many more miles… And then there’s no reason to go anywhere else.
Great post, my experiences have been similar, especially with BKool. I subscribed for a month, but cancelled it a few days later.
I’d been intrigued by the Tacx Training software, but I won’t bother shelling out now.
Yeah Zwift’s biggest weakness has always been the lack of variety in courses, good to see it’s finally being addressed. I won’t hold my breath for being able to do 100 miles without any repeated terrain but we can but hope. I still think having a portal to go through to Richmond or incorporating it into Watopia somehow is the best solution for Richmond.
The TACX videos are interesting but expensive, if you like to ride them over and over then I could see value here. They are much better than the Bkool videos I tried or the amateur videos I’ve seen uploaded to other sites. They give the impression that they were filmed properly stabilised and from a motorbike.
I would not recommend the 3D rides which is a shame because the environments TACX created for the them must have taken a long time. This is where I hoped to find a rival to Zwift, but it’s simply not in that league (not close) as a riding experience.
A portal to Richmond isn’t a bad idea. Somewhere to go and ride almost alone whilst everyone else enjoys Watopia The important thing here is that there’s paradise in Watopia and we are told we can’t ride it 3 days a week. Where else do you find this sort of warped logic ? I guess the train forces me to stand up and Sky forces me to pay for loads of football just to watch the golf…
The concept is sweet, I’d love to be able to ride some rides I did during cycling holidays but it would be a sequence of still images that are rather large. A quick google didn’t reveal the average size of the photospheres, but I’d imagine each one to be at least 1MB. I don’t know the interval they are taken at, roughly 10m apart I’d say, so 100 images per Km. 60K ride would be 6000 images, or 6GB of image data. And 60K is a short ride.
Apart fromt the Bkool and Tacx software alternatives there is an app that sadly only works on iOS, but it has gpx linked videos that speed up and slow down to match your speed as well as use smoothed elevation data to simulate the gradient. It’s called Fulgaz.
The streetview deal would have the possibility to wear VR goggles and look around while you ride but without it being video it’d still be weird… and your sweat would kill the goggles in a few rides
I think 100 mile courses are certainly something we should EXPECT in the future of Zwift or whatever similar app we are using for cycling. We started with a very small island just over a year ago, and now we are up to a very detailed 10 mile urban course with multiple route options, etc.
I think it is relatively easy to generate models of the real streets we ride on. Clearly, we already have detailed road and trail maps of many locations and many data on the details of riding on them. What is more difficult is making realistic scenery to go along with it and presenting it in an aesthetically pleasing package while simultaneously retaining the social elements we enjoy now. More rural 3D areas might prove easier to model because some elements could be generated based on some other sources of data. It seems to me that with the right tools it will become much easier for Zwift, and perhaps even other users / groups / companies create courses that can be ridden. In fact, there is no reason to think that this couldn’t turn into a more open world where one could start anywhere and end up wherever they decided to pedal.
I tried BKOOL, too, about 14 months ago before deciding that for now Zwift is the way to go for me. There were some nice aspects about it, but socially it didn’t compare in my eyes to Zwift where I always found people to ride with or chase.
I’ve been suggesting/urging them to release a “Course Builder” for well over a year. I’m willing to manage, build and maintain the community course repository, where we can build and update courses to ride, outside of the “supported, reference courses” that ship with the default Zwift desktop client.
This would be relatively straightforward, and pointing the Zwift client to a local course vs. a remote course hosted on Zwift HQ’s servers wouldn’t be a big stretch. It would require some minor code-path changes (load local course vs. connect to remote), and would require building out a separate, non-Maya, standalone course builder, but the support from the community would be ENORMOUS for such a tool.
Alas, it will never happen. What probably will happen though, is someone will just replace the Zwift-supplied client itself, with something bigger, brighter, more-capable and more current, and include many of the features that Zwift does not contain, or will not add into their codebase.
There’s nothing stopping someone from replacing the Zwift client app entirely, other than time, resources and motivation. But those margins are rapidly getting slimmer every day, and Winter is Coming, as they say in GoT.
I rode w Tacx 3D, but after an update, google street view went away. (actually for the better), but it was easy to upload the course i want to ride and the trainer reacts accordingly. I would be alright with a google upload for at least the elevation changes.