Thanks to platforms like BKOOL, indoor training has taken on a new dimension in recent years. Riding indoors not only has a lot of advantages over outdoor cycling, but recent technological developments have helped it become a much more realistic experience.
This is due, in part, to the newfound abilities of virtual training platforms like BKOOL to take into account weather, time of day, terrain and drafting into how your trainer responds.
What is drafting?
Drafting is a technique widely used in all kinds of racing. In cycling, it involves riding behind the cyclist in front to take advantage of what’s known as an “aerodynamic suction tunnel.” The idea is to position yourself close to the rider in front of you.
When you ride “on someone’s wheel,” you face less drag and save energy, since the rider in front cuts the wind for everyone behind. When you’re drafting, you can generate a higher speed at a lower effort, while maintaining the same speed as the rider in front.
Drafting serves as a means of preserving energy, as well as a shelter from the wind. It is also a key tactic that every competitive cyclist and team uses daily.
How to take advantage of drafting in BKOOL?
It has been possible to “draft” in BKOOL for awhile now, and our talented technicians have not stopped improving it in our quest for the ultimate immersive virtual cycling experience.
While in real life, you sometimes need to brake to stay in the draft (adjusting your speed to stay on the wheel), the BKOOL simulator makes slight automatic adjustments when you’re drafting, so you tend to stay in the other rider’s draft. We do this because braking doesn’t really work during the simulation.
Your speed adapts to the cyclist in front
In BKOOL’s drafting system, your speed adapts to the speed of the rider in front. There’s a small, very gentle assistance that allows you to stay in the draft, but any change of pace from either the rider in front or behind can quickly eliminate the draft effect. It’s common to gain speed and end up overtaking the rider in front quickly when this happens. Staying in the draft is an acquired skill that takes practice.
Use power and cadence to adjust drafting in BKOOL
Since the simulation also has no steering to allow you to steer out into the wind, in BKOOL you simply adjust your power and cadence for each situation.
If you want to continue drafting, keep speed and power as stable as possible. If, on the other hand, you want to get out of the draft or overtake, you need to either back off or overtake the cyclist in front. If you start to overtake, you’ll see that you lose the draft and your trainer’s resistance increases back to normal “non-drafting” levels.
In a peloton, the advantage for the riders back in the group can translate into a reduction of up to 60% in air resistance compared to the rider in front.
Remember, in order to make use of the drafting zone, you must take the following into account:
- Distance: by riding close to the rider in front, you will have less air resistance than if you slow down and move away.
- Speed: to improve the realism of the simulation, there’s a minimum speed of 15 km/h for the drag reduction to take effect.
How do I know if I am taking advantage of drafting in BKOOL?
The drafting graphic at the top of the BKOOL simulator’s screen is quite simple: it’s only there if you are in drafting range. It goes away if the riders are too far apart to draft.
What you see when you enter another rider’s draft
If you are in the approach phase, you’ll see two cyclists on the screen and arrows between them. The rider in yellow, located at the rear, is you and you’ll see it get closer to the rider in white.
Once you enter the drafting zone, the arrows that separate the two cyclists disappear and a yellow box surrounds them both, indicating that you are now in the same drafting zone.
What happens when someone is drafting you
In BKOOL, we can also see when someone else is drafting us from behind. That is, we see them as they approach and enter the drafting zone.
The representation is similar, but it shows the other cyclist behind. BKOOL can show all possible combinations: if riders are approaching, if they are drafting, if one is drafting and another is approaching, etc.