Virzoom’s VZFit Explorer Challenge is over. The 21-day event, which consisted of 7 rides and more than 300 miles concluded on the 7th of September. The competition was just one of many tournaments, held as part of the inaugural VR Fitness Summit, an ambitious virtual event coordinated by the Virtual Athletics League (VAL) and involving more than forty studios and developers. Across all competitions, $25,000 was up for grabs in prize money with Virzoom’s Explorer Challenge having a $1000 prize fund.

As a long time user of VZFit, I decided to do the Explorer Challenge for a number of reasons. Firstly, indoor cycling has now become a firm part of my weekly VR exercise program and I wanted to push myself further, with more frequent, longer rides, to see what I was capable of.

Secondly, with 2020 and the global pandemic writing off all opportunities for a holiday, as well as severely curtailing even the most mundane of social activities, I wanted to use VZFit Explorer as something of a virtual travel savior. The opportunity to take a series of road trips, visit exotic locales and get a sense of adventure from my very own home, and may I add without needing to wear a single face mask, felt like sticking the finger to Covid19 and reclaiming my summer back.

And thanks to the excellent ride curations from Virzoom’s Ride Finder and Keeper Robert Collins I got exactly what I hoped for.

The seven rides, spread over four continents, offered spectacular scenery, with a ride through Italy’s Dolomites a glorious highlight. Check out my thirty minutes video clip below where I cycle up through the mountains, the landscape slowly transitioning from glorious sunshine, conifer pines, and an abundance of greenery, to a barren white wilderness of ice and snow as I negotiate the mountain’s winding turns. The video really does not do the ride justice, it was a fantastic and memorable experience in VR.

The Scottish highlands were another obvious choice, the rugged mountains and hillsides famed the world over for their natural beauty. A riverside cycle alongside the Danube through Budapest featured some fantastic architecture and historic buildings, whilst Japan’s archipelago of small islands all linked by a series of modern bridges and tunnels provided stunning ocean views and sunshine that really felt like a mini cycle summer holiday.

But the seventh and final ride was the real challenge. A 142-mile slog through the desert Badlands of Death Valley, California, navigating the featureless terrain proving a psychological test in itself as hours of riding seemed to be getting me nowhere.

A true road to nowhere, navigating across the vast, unchanging environment of the Badlands was as much a psychological test as a physical one.

Success!

I entered the third week already behind, thanks to a couple of missed days on the saddle. By my calculation, this meant I had 28.5 miles to catch up over the last week. In fact, it was a lot more as VZFit’s 300 miles in 21 days turned out to be named for convenience rather than accuracy. Adding together each individual ride length showed the correct total as over 330 miles, meaning I was around 50 miles, (roughly 2 and a half hours of riding) behind.

Having completed all the six minor rides I wasn’t about to let this final challenge beat me, however, so I resigned myself to endure whatever agony might befall my perineum and pushed through four painful 90-minute sessions over four days to complete the final ride and with that the Summer Challenge with three days to spare!

The Great Dolomites Road, Italy featured maybe the most spectacular scenery of the entire challenge. It’s beauty well worthy of a salute.

First To Finish – Shon Tamblyn

Lest I start to feel too cocky, it should be acknowledged that the first to finish, Shon Tamblyn did so midway through week 2, before any other competitor had completed any 6 rides, let alone all 7. This was not a surprise. Shon has already cycled virtually the entire country of Japan, and his summer riding has been an epic East to West ride across the entire continent of Europe. This challenge was merely a weekend off from his proper ride!

Shon Tamblyn’s majestic performance saw him cross the final finish several days before anybody else.

A successful and popular event

Robert Collins provided me with the final statistics for the event, which are pretty impressive. Over the duration of the tournament, a total of 216 riders participated with 89 completing at least one of the 7 rides. In total just under 600 hours of riding took place, the distance covered 12400 miles, enough to get halfway around the world.

In all 17 cyclists, listed below completed all 7 rides within the time limit and I’m very pleased with myself to be amongst them.

Challenge Completists

AlisiaDragoon

Bergs

Datdondough

Emart11

GPz4e3D

Johnneye

KevinBrook

Spyder17

Surfous

Uzomaan

Illirge24

Ozonetat

Rresistance

GoHybrid67

MikeInCLE

Mrphilipjoel

Shon_T

Honorable mentions also belong to the following who completed every other ride but didn’t finish Badwater in time

Alexh173

Hanjo

Laurel

SpinningQueen1

Another challenge completer, AlisiaDragoon admires a picture-perfect sunset in the land of the Rising Sun.

Prizewinners announced, finally!

Rides completed and snapshots shared gave each entrant points that were then added to the raffle draw, more points accumulated the more entries into the raffle, and hence a chance to win some cash. 6 points were awarded for each ride completed, 2 for every snapshot shared, and 1 for riding for at least 10 minutes in a day. Completing all 7 rides incurred a hefty 53 point bonus so, in theory at least, riders completing the event stood a far greater chance to win a prize.

Due to some technical issues, the prize draw was delayed for a week but the winners have finally been announced.

Congratulations go to the following;

1st Place – Emart11 $400

2nd Place – Berly14 $300

3rd Place – Shon_T $100

4th Place – RResistance $100

5th Place – Andulka $100

Also as an extra reward, Virzoom has announced that all participants who amassed more than 30 points during the event will receive a free extra month to their VZFiT subscription automatically.

Overall, this event was a real success, with dozens of people taking part and putting in some serious hours of hard work on their bikes. Encouraging people to get fit and active is always a worthy goal, made even more so during this crazy year, where being a healthy body-weight and living an active lifestyle are vital defenses against Covid19.

If you’ve never tried VZFit Explorer and are curious to know more about this excellent app you can check out my VZFit Explorer review, and if you want to know how to connect up your stationary bike check I wrote a comprehensive guide on how to get set up with VZFit using a third party sensor.

VZFit is a subscription service that enables full integration of any stationary bike into VR via the Oculus Quest or Oculus Go headsets. The monthly fee is $9.99 or $99.95 for a year. There is also a restricted free version that features one VZFit Explorer ride and one VZfit Play game each month.


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