Online racing pushes cyclist to maintain skill until sport starts
THE world of eSports usually involves a person with a mouse and keyboard in hand, sitting at a desk, but that's far from the case with eRacing.
The new wave of electronic bike racing involves just as much sweat and determination as road racing, with enough changes to allow riders to strategise in ways they could not on the road.
Earlier this month, Moranbah rider Harrison Ney came third in the Under-15 National Junior Road Series race.
The event was the first of a three-race online series open to competitors across Australia and New Zealand.
Harrison has been cycling for two years, but 2020 was set to be his first step away from Mackay competitions.
He started cycling because his father, Geoff, was engaged in several charity rides.
"I thought I would jump on one of the spare bikes and I've been riding since," Harrison said.
Half a year ago he took his riding to the next level and sought out Brendon Brauer as his coach.
Harrison started to race at Mackay and fared well. This was the first year he planned to travel for events, but COVID-19 restrictions put a dampener when it brought the racing calendar to a halt.
Still the young athlete wanted to maintain his fitness for when the sport resumed, and that lead him to try eRacing.
"It was really my opening year for racing," he said.
"I was pretty devastated, because I was feeling good going into the events. But being able to keep racing like this means I feel better than before."
In eRacing a 'smart trainer' replaces the back wheel of a road bike and can control the amount of resistance a rider experiences while emulating inclines, declines and even drag.
The rider watches the track on the TV and can experience several courses from around the world instead of being limited to their nearby terrain.
"It's nice to have a big fan in front of me blowing wind into my face and with a towel close by," Harrison said.
"Also, someone can watch you closely and give tips on what you need to work on."
Harrison bested the sloping hills of Belgium in Round 1. His next race is on Sunday, then the final round two weeks after.
The Moranbah rider has his sights set on the Junior Road Race Championships at the Gold Coast on August 15 as his first competitive event of the year.