Pro cyclist discovers that virtual racing can be more exciting than a big “real” race

A competition on a canyon road in Los Angeles proves once again that, no matter whether the finish line is online or on asphalt, racing is all in your head.

Among hard-core road cyclists, virtual racing tool Strava is the gold standard for measuring day-to-day performance versus other athletes.

For Strava aficionados, the fastest ride on a particular road segment is called a King of the Mountain, or KOM for short. Recently, pro cyclist Phil Gaimon got annoyed that a rider who was sanctioned for doping held a bunch of KOMs around LA.

Virtual cycling in LA just got very real!
Virtual cycling in LA just got very real!

Gaimon was retiring from the Cannondale-Drapac pro team and found himself with time and red blood cells to spare. A great post in lays out the story. “Over a 30-day span beginning on October 30, Gaimon has done something about it, grabbing 152 KOMs in the greater Los Angeles area, many of them held by Brandt-Sorenson.”

Gaimon says the quest to dethrone the doped cyclist is just for fun. “On one level, I don’t give a shit — he’s a chump and I know I can beat him.” Here’s Gaimon’s Strava profile.

On the other hand, the motivation from social media is making the virtual race feel surprisingly real for Gaimon. “It’s resonating and I can see it means something to people…I’m almost embarrassed to admit how excited I am to upload the files after these rides,” Gaimon told CyclingTips.

Gaimon’s digital adventure is getting louder applause than some of his physical races. Says Gaimon: “I got more positive feedback on social and more media interest in the 24 hours after taking the Mandeville KOM than I did last March after I finished 11th in the Criterium International.”