— PC Gamer (@pcgamer) May 27, 2020
Getting to experience incredible landscapes in a whole new way is undoubtedly one of the real perks of cycling. However, how many of us ever expected to be given the opportunity to pedal around one of video gaming’s most famous virtual settings?
Not many probably, but that is seemingly now possible thanks to a brand new technological innovation which has recently been unveiled.
A new way to play
If you have ever wanted to combine a Gran Fondo with Grand Theft Auto, now you well and truly have the chance. According to sites including Cycling Weekly, a very clever individual has created a mod which allows players to pair a turbo trainer with GTA V. The end result? You are able to use your bike as a controller to explore the game’s fictional setting of Los Santos. Not only that, but your activity is saved as a FIT file so it can be uploaded to Strava.
It is clearly an intriguing way to explore one of the biggest games ever made. Back in 2018, Marketwatch proclaimed GTA V to be the most successful media title of all time, with the website estimating that the game had generated revenues of around $6 billion, and also secured sales of around 90 million. Remarkably, seven years on from its launch, the game is still going strong too. The Epic Games Store announced it was giving the title away for free earlier this year, only for the level of interest to reportedly cause the website to go down.
However, while the mod may be good news for any cyclist who loves GTA, it is also a reminder of the incredible strides that have been made in virtual sports in recent years.
A huge number of different sports and pastimes have found a way to exist and thrive in the virtual world. eSports tournaments are now held in relation to a range of games, with sports simulation titles like FIFA becoming particularly prominent within the industry. Traditional soccer clubs like West Ham United have also gone on to recruit competitors who specialise in such titles, with one of their players winning a recent event.
Elsewhere, it was recently confirmed by the Boston Athletic Association that the city’s prestigious marathon is going to be held virtually in September, with the event being complemented by a host of activities including panel discussions and interviews with champions. Sports betting has even embraced the virtual trend too, with Betway giving fans the chance to make a wager on a range of markets related to simulated sports including football, horse racing, cycling, and motor racing.
However, if one area has really embraced the virtual concept it is cycling, with the GTA mod just being one recent example of how the simulated experience is truly thriving on two wheels.
There have been a host of eye-catching events involving virtual cycling in recent months, with Chris Froome, for example, taking part in The Challenge of Stars.
Sportstar reports that the knockout event revolved around 16 riders, with all of them participating through the BKOOL simulation platform. Sprinters taking part were tasked with racing just over a kilometer in a recreation of the Tuscan countryside, while Froome and seven other climbers tackled a 2.9-km ascent on the day after.
Chris Froome among top riders competing in Challenge of Stars: Virtual event pits riders head-to-head in BKool circuits and will be broadcast live this weekend. Find how to watch it here.https://t.co/TQfCqW8VOG pic.twitter.com/yBJFhM5Tbc
— Cyclingnews.com (@Cyclingnewsfeed) May 22, 2020
Elsewhere, it has been revealed that more than 1,000 athletes have tackled all nine IRONMAN VR events which have been held across the past couple of months. Incredibly, all of the competitors are thought to have completed around 143km of running and almost 500km of cycling in the process.
A new dimension?
But while simulated sports experiences and virtual cycling are clearly thriving at the moment, it could be argued that an innovation like the GTA mod brings an intriguing new dimension to such activities. After all, it makes cycling in video games suddenly a very real prospect.
Cyclists with a deep love of video gaming may well be intrigued by the idea, as it could offer up a whole new way for them to experience the very vivid environments and settings that are often painstakingly created for major titles. Considering the technology we now have at our disposal, it will be fascinating to see whether similar mods or other experiences go on to emerge in the months and years ahead.
Image from above video by Nestor Matas