Zwift competition welcomes Launceston exercise physiologist Dr Greig Watson

DEDICATED: Exercise physiologist Dr Greig Watson has made the top 10 in virtual riding program Zwift, a popular training tool. Picture: Scott Gelston

DEDICATED: Exercise physiologist Dr Greig Watson has made the top 10 in virtual riding program Zwift, a popular training tool. Picture: Scott Gelston

Imagine exercising from the comfort of your own living room while still cruising through the streets at a heart-pounding rate.

A Launceston exercise physiologist has done just that and raced into the top 10 national rankings of cycling virtual reality training program Zwift.

For the past five months Dr Greig Watson has taken part in weekly races using the software program which allows riders to put their endurance to the test without leaving their homes.

He has competed against professional athletes but his dedicated and knowledge about the human body has propelled him into the live eRacing finale at Rapha Melbourne on September 23.

“It’s a computer-based program but there are real people producing the power to make their computer-based avatar move,” Dr Watson said.

“People ride their bikes and the bikes are attached to their computer by either a smart trainer or a power meter … it can be quite smart. The trainer that I use will adapt the intensity according to the course that I am riding on.”

The program can mimic some of the best known training rides in the world and also has its own world with riders able to climb unique mountains or cycle around volcanoes.

“It’s quite nice to be able to ride and race on some of the course that you have seen on TV,” Dr Watson said.

“When we do these races I am racing against people who have similar setups to me … in order to race you have got to have a heart rate monitor on so the race organisers can see that you have an appropriate physiological response to the power you are producing and you also have to provide you body mass.”

The major event in Melbourne is the first of its kind and has pitted racers from across the country against each other in two separate leagues – East Coast and West Coast.

The event was arranged by KISS, a group of busy fathers who wanted to participate in racing on Zwift at a time that suited their schedule around their young families. The first race was in December 2015.

“For 22 weeks there has been a race every week, every Tuesday, and it’s only Australians that have been able to accrue points towards the finals,” Dr Watson said.

“The interesting thing about the race is that anyone can enter it, so you’ve got the likes of myself who is a good local amateur rider, but there are also professional riders and Olympians I have been racing against.”

Dr Watson said his competitors have included Australian cyclists Patrick Shaw and Bernard Sulzberger. The races are also commentated by Tasmanian cyclist Wesley Sulzberger.

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