4 STAR ENDURANCE is proud to support LEON’S TRIATHLON – one of our favorite local races and the unofficial start of summer “kickoff to triathlon season” for the Chicagoland area!
Register online at LeonsTriathlon.com and join us at this year’s race! As a new perk this year, for every person who registers for the race, 4 STAR ENDURANCE is providing a free training plan:
12-week SPRINT/OLYMPIC TRAINING PLAN – LINK COMING SOON!
IRONMONSTER TEAM: Join us for the Leon’s Tri Team Challenge! 4 STAR ENDURANCE supports the 100% intimidation-free and friendly Chicago IRONMONSTER triathlon club – so if you’re racing the OLYMPIC distance and not already on a club team, please feel welcome to register for the “TEAM CHALLENGE” division and select the option to join our “IronMonster” team roster on race day to compete for the team cup challenge competition alongside the Chicago IronMonster triathlon club – we always welcome any new triathletes! Click here for more details
TRAININGPEAKS TRAINING PLAN UPGRADE: 4 STAR ENDUARNCE also creates detailed training plans delivered via TrainingPeaks! Join the 4 STAR ENDURANCE CLUB or IRONMONSTER to enjoy our premium training plans that feature fully “structured workouts” that are fully compatible with virtually all smart watches, apps, and fitness devices including GARMIN, ZWIFT, ROUVY, RGT CYCLING, and more! Learn more about TrainingPeaks integrations here, and consider joining our 4 STAR ENDURANCE CLUB to unlock the power of TrainingPeaks Premium! See below for more training tips, resources, and info!
LEON’S TRIATHLON – VIRTUAL BIKE COURSE! Ride the Leon’s Triathlon bike course on RGT CYCLING for free! We’ve created a virtual replica of the Leon’s Triathlon bike course on RGT CYCLING (MAGIC ROADS ID: zv3UR9E5Iw0c). Join the CHICAGO VIRTUAL CYCLISTS (CVC) community for workouts, meetups, and virtual races on the Leon’s Triathlon bike course!
TRAIN SMARTER WITH 4 STAR! Join the 4 STAR ENDURANCE CLUB to get a discounted upgrade to TRAININGPEAKS PREMIUM to take your training to the next level… and you might find yourself on top of the podium!
JOIN OUR COMMUNITY! Join the IRONMONSTER triathlon club to join our community of like-minded, beginner-friendly, and fun triathletes! Team perks, social events, meetups, and a race day tent for socializing pre and post race are just some of our perks… as well as discounts on 1on1 training, group training, races, team gear, and more!
At 4 STAR ENDURANCE, we spent 10+ years building Chicago’s first and only USA TRIATHLON (USAT) Certified Performance Center where we developed enhanced techniques for creating highly curated, accurate course replicas for our most demanding amateur and professional athletes alike. Creating the most realistic training and racing experience at our 16-rider indoor CompuTrainer cycling center allowed us to pioneer hosting some of the industry’s first-ever USAT-sanctioned indoor SPRINT and OLYMPIC distance races under one roof… and even support the development of a professional triathlete, world champion, and UCI eSports World Championship qualifier!
Now, with the rapid growth of indoor cycling platforms and eSports Cycling, we’ve now transferred those skills, tools and techniques over to the 3D and video cycling realms to further develop expertise in designing virtual eSports cycling events for both draft-legal road races, triathlon time trials, and charity fundraisers using various virtual cycling platforms including a few of our favorites, such as:
VidFitnessfor completion-focused video rides with “virtual challenges”:
RGT CYCLING for 3D real-world “magic roads” simulations for draft-legal races and time trials:
At 4 STAR ENDURANCE, we’ve also developed our own internal techniques for curating GPS data to design not only the most accurate, but also the best possible ride experiences across several virtual cycling platforms – delivering the best possible experience for our athletes, partners, and training programs.
See below for a few quick tips for RGT CYCLING specifically, and contact us anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire about assistance and services in designing your next virtual course, or indoor cycling or triathlon race experience. Whether a private 1on1 Zoom meeting to learn how to create and custom-tailored a course for your own individual training, or a consulting engagement on hosting team rides, charity fundraisers, or help with coordination for a full professional production and marketing promotion with partner organizations – we’ve done it all!
See the ECHELON RACING LEAGUE for inspiring live-coverage examples of some of the world-class possibilities, or visit VidFitness for video cycling examples!
THE TECHNICAL STUFF
DESIGNING GPS ROUTES FOR VIRTUAL CYCLING
Below are some tips and resources for designing virtual courses on platforms like RGT CYCLING.
STEP 1 – EXPORT GPX FILES Go to websites like GARMIN CONNECT, STRAVA, or RIDEWITHGPS to search for routes, or design your own course and export a “.GPX” file. Garmin Connect or Strava workouts would be the least ideal to use direct raw GPS data – we recommend converting to a course file leveraging map elevation data first before exporting, rather than exporting GPS workout data from a GPS device without conversion first.
STEP 2 – AUTOMATED GPS ELEVATION CURATION If the GPX file was created from a GPS watch or bike computer workout, consider smoothing the data with more accurate GPS data from global databases like NASA or USGS. Use a tool like PERF PRO STUDIO or GPS VISUALIZER to convert, smooth, and adjust data automatically based on mapped elevation data from publicly available databases (e.g. with GPS Visualizer, simply select the “Add DEM elevation data” option when converting a file).
WHY? Tools like PerfPro and GPS Visualizer have access to NASA’s SRTM (Shuttle Radar Topography Mission) elevation data set and/or the USGS’s NED (National Elevation Dataset). If your GPS coordinates do not contain elevation information, this can provide it – or if you have GPS data already, this can help improve your file with great accuracy. If you had elevation data from a handheld GPS watch or bike computer (not very reliable when it comes to accurate altitude data), your data could be “bumpy” with repeated ups and downs of a few feet at a time that shouldn’t really be there to mimic a real-world smooth, flat road.
STEP 3 – FLY THROUGH & MANUAL CURATION Learn to use GPX file editing tools and follow a tutorial like this – or use a 3D analysis tool like GPXmagic to do a virtual “fly through” of the course and consider watching these videos to learn some best practices on how to make these types of adjustments:
FIRST PERSON “FLY THROUGH” – do a fly through to get a better perspective on the course smoothness, hills, corners, and views.
SMOOTH STEEP HILLS – consider smoothing hill segments above 8-10 percent grade for a better riding experience for a wider range of athletes and indoor bikes and smart trainers that often have limitations above 8 percent, causing “tire slip” issues. For time trials, consider smoothing grades to under 5 percent grades as the max. Also, to maximize the cycling drafting experience, consider keeping the bulk of the course segments to under 3-6 percent!
REMOVE OVERLAPS – “nudge” out and back sections to avoid overlapping (check both left/right “tracks” and up/down “elevation”)
SMOOTH TURNS – eliminate sharp turns (unless intended?) by selecting a start point, then clicking SMOOTH BEND, then DROP MARKER – and/or use “TRACKPOINTS” to leverage the “Add 2 track points in place of this one” feature.
SMOOTH ROADS – use FILTERS and CENTROID AVERAGING at 50 percent to smooth out larger sections of “bumpy” GPS data points to eliminate both vertical and side to side jitter in GPS data points.
REVIEW DISTANCE and ELEVATION GAIN – review the final course data for distance and total elevation accuracy. With RGT Cycling, review the “Detailed Interactive Report” in the confirmation email for any errors or areas of concern…
STEP 4 – LOAD DATA INTO CYCLING APP Load your file into a cycling app like RGT CYCLING (premium version) by uploading or emailing the data file as per the app instructions for magic roads to make it ready for a test run in your library!
STEP 5 – TEST RACE Use a tool like the RGT CYCLING phone app (with premium subscription) to schedule a GROUP RACE with 20+ BOTS that have a wide range of FTPs (100w to 300w) to see how fast various riders would complete the course – or schedule a meetup with real people (and bots!).
In RGT CYCLING you can use the new SPECTATE MODE so you don’t have to ride the course yourself – simply view on a PC and click Shift-F6 and use HOME/END and PAGE UP/PAGE DOWN to follow other riders and view the route in 3D from several different camera angles by clicking to drag & zoom in/out to identify any points that need tweaking, then go back to STEP 3 to make any edits and repeat as necessary until the course is perfected to your liking! Once the course is loaded, in the RGT CYCLING app you can use either of these methods to test ride/race a course:
MENU-> MAGIC ROADS -> LIBRARY (click on your map) ->”QUICK RIDE“
MENU->ORGANIZE -> GROUP RIDE or RACE-> “MAGIC ROADS“ then update “LAPS” and add “BOTS” (with at least 50 riders for draft-legal events) with power ranging from 100-300w
With a cold and long winter climate, and a huge population and cycling community, the Chicago area has quickly become a hot-bed for professional level “eSports” indoor virtual bike racing! Check out the highlight reel of footage of several 4 STAR ENDURANCE and xXx RACING ATHLETICO cyclists racing in the professional divisions of the ECHELON RACING LEAGUE (ERL)!
Jacquie Godbe –Surging from the pack (34km to go): https://youtu.be/JG98chbHYRQ?t=2044 “Godbe is 1-2 punching the field” and “You’re not going to beat Jacquie Godbe in a straight drag race to the line!”
Since the start of COVID restrictions have shut down endurance races across the country, Chicago’s standout pro triathlete Jacquie Godbe has taken her athletic talents to the booming virtual cycling eSports platforms… and proven to be the woman to beat across the two most popular virtual bike racing platforms among professional cyclists – ZWIFT and ROAD GRAND TOURS (RGT) CYCLING.
xXx Racing-Athletico is Chicago’s premiere USA CYCLING (USAC) Division I cycling club, having produced state, national, and world champion cyclists. While supporting grassroots development programs, races, non-profits, clinics, and hosting Chicago’s largest weekly group ride… they were even selected by USA CYCLING as DIVISION I “CLUB OF THE YEAR” three times (2010, 2013, 2015).
Now, thanks to Jacquie Godbe and several other athletes from the Chicago Virtual Cyclists (CVC) community’s ScaryFast Development Squad program, xXx Racing is quickly growing one of the top local eSports bike racing teams and development programs! Learn more about the team at xxxracing.org/history
GET STARTED WITH eSPORTSBIKE RACING!
Want to get involved in virtual cycling “eSports” bike racing with xXx Racing-Athletico on the RGT CYCLING platform? Here’s how to get involved!
1. Want to get involved in virtual cycling with other Chicago area cyclists? Get started with our beginner-friendly and free CHICAGO VIRTUAL CYCLISTS (CVC) community on Facebook, Discord, and sign up for our ScaryFast Development Squad to ride with us on Thursday nights (7pm CST) on both RGT CYCLING and ZWIFT!
2. Want to learn more about RGT CYCLING, the free virtual cycling app? Visit rgtcycling.com/get-started to race and ride for free virtually – all you need is a phone, a PC/Mac/Tablet/AppleTV device with a viewing screen, and a trainer or bike with a power meter!
3. Want to participate in competitive bike races through the free ECHELON RACING LEAGUE (ERL) with the xXx Racing-Athletico squad? Visit echelonracingleague.com and sign up for the AMATEUR division to join the Echelon Racing League email list first, then join in the Cat 1/2/3/4 divison races on Saturday and Sunday afternoons (if you’re not familiar with bike racing, Cat 4/5 are the beginner divisions, so start there and work your way up!). Don’t forget to select the xXx Racing-Athletico team jersey under the EQUIPMENT options in the SETTINGS menu of the RGT CYCLING phone app!
4. Want to join Chicago’s top virtual + “in real life” (IRL) bike racing team so you can show your Chicago pride by wearing a xXx Racing-Athletico team kit both virtually and in person? Check out membership info (discounted for 2021!) at xXx Racing-Athletico – and don’t miss the great photos below from featuring their team kit in the ECHELON RACING LEAGUE (ERL) on RGT CYCLING!
5. Need to upgrade to a SMART TRAINER or POWER METER? Most virtual cycling apps require a “power source” to measure your effort in watts. You can get a phone app or heart rate monitor that converts heart rate to power, a power meter for your bike (to have the added benefit of a power meter for indoors and outdoors!), or a “interactive” smart trainer – visit some of Chicago’s top local bike shops like PEREGRINE BICYCLE STUDIO and BFF BIKES!
The LADYBUG swimmer program was started by Coach Chris in 2018 to offer FREE swim buoys to encourage open water swim safety (wearing a bright buoy anytime you swim in open water), and to take the intimidation out of open water swimming for new swimmers!
The LADYBUG SWIMMER program provides completely FREE swim buoys to anyone who joins in for an open water swim, with one caveat… you have to agree to “pass it on” by giving the buoy to someone else within a year of receiving it, to encourage open water swimming safety, camaraderie, and develop new friendships through open water swimming!
To receive a free buoy, simply follow our news & events through the 4 STAR ENDURANCE website by signing up for email updates below – or follow us on facebook to stay tuned for upcoming events!
To support the LADYBUG SWIMMER program, consider making a financial contribution to 4 STAR ENDURANCE programs here: SPONSOR 4 STAR
4 STAR ENDURANCE is supporting MULTISPORT REASEARCH to help the endurance sports industry during these challenging times, and that starts with hearing from you – our athletes and community!
We’d really appreciate your input on an anonymous survey to better understand athlete motivations during the current pandemic. Your input is greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance for your time. Stay safe.
Do you swim, bike, or run? Whether you’re a cyclist, runner, triathlete, swimmer, OR a triathlete – there are two different “VIRTUAL CHALLENGES” going on right now as part of the 100% completely free USA TRIATHLON #VirtualTri promotions that feature over $5,000 in prizes – a great way to INSPIRE and kickstart your 2021 season with some added motivation!
NATIONAL CLUB CHALLENGE (NCC)
Simply link, sync, and log all training miles automatically through the FitRankings.com virtual platform through February 14th as part of the “National Club Challenge” #VirtualTri challenge with 4 STAR ENDURANCE’s open Chicago IronMonster club for a chance to win over $3,000 in prizes
– and/or –
#DREAMINGSEASON HASHTAG CHALLENGE
Join the FREE #DreamingSeason challenge to share your goals for the 2021 season on social media to win over $2,000 in prizes during the week of Jan 25th through Feb 1st!
See below for full details & links:
“NATIONAL CLUB CHALLENGE (NCC)” – (Jan 14th through Feb 14th) Sign up to log all your training miles to win prizes! This challenge is completely FREE – simply sign up and select the “IronMonster” club to log your miles with fellow Chicago area endurance athletes! There are options to pay if you want to renew or join your to become a USAT or get some extra swag, medal, etc.!
#DREAMINGSEASON “HASHTAG CONTEST” – (Jan 25th through Feb 1st) Get social and participate in motivating each other to set goals and start your training season! This is “hashtag contest” challenge is completely free with over $2,000 in prizes on the line! Just use the #DreamingSeason hashtag and comment on any official USA Triathlon #DreamingSeason social content to share in with your motivation & goals for the 2021 season!
How do you participate? Simple use the hashtag #DreamingSeason when commenting on any USAT posts on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and you will be entered into a contest for the chance to win product from various partners!
Virtual cycling eSports platforms like Zwift have been a tremendous space for gender parity in bike riding, racing, coverage, and generally great for getting more women on two wheels and into the sport of cycling! The indoor cycling scene is also a safe, friendly, and an empowering platform that can really boost your fitness too!
Here are a couple great tips & resources for finding women-specific teams, communities, races, and generally having more fun on your bike!
ZWIFT COMPANION APP(TO FIND RIDES, WORKOUTS, and TTs!) With the Zwift Companion App, click on the EVENTS menu and then FILTER. Select the Women’s gender icon under GROUP and it’ll filter all Zwift events to show you events that can also be filtered by group rides, time trials, workouts, and races that are women-specific.
And if you’ve never tried a group ride, group workout, or time trial consider experimenting and join one of each as your first week’s “homework project” to develop a great starting experience to explore what Zwifting is all about before you join an official race. Group rides and group workouts are very beginner-friendly places to start and will help you learn more about Zwift in general… but time trials are great for establishing your baseline fitness level too!
ZWIFTPOWER.COM If you’re really into data, with websites like ZwiftPower.com you can filter races and events by a wide variety of variables. Select FILTER and search for WOMEN events. If you select RANKING you can also see which races have the lowest (most competitive) race ranking scores, or simply look for the events with the most registered riders as this is where you’ll find more women!
ZWIFTHACKS.COM Similarly, ZwiftHacks.com Events page has a “FILTERS” section but if you click on the “MORE FILTERS…” button that’s where you can select “LADIES ONLY” to see womens rides:
WOMEN’S e-RACING TEAMS! There are many women-specific virtual cycling teams, groups, communities, and programs out there, but finding them can be tough! If you want to find the bigger teams and top teams, go to ZwiftPower.com and simply look for the top ranked teams! Go to RANKINGS->TEAMS and then click on “FEMALE” to see the top ranked teams. Click on any team name and then go to “ABOUT US” to find team information… most teams will post their websites and information on how to join here!
RIDE WITH THE PROS & eRACERS! Know of any famous women’s cyclists? If not, look up the UCI leaderboards or the ZwiftPower individual rankings and then search for some top female cyclists on the web or even within Zwift! You’ll likely find that many of the top female cyclists have great website resources, and many ride on Zwift!
Once you have a few top names in mind, simply click on FIND ZWIFTERS in the ZWIFT COMPANION app to find and follow them. Pro cyclists will have an ORANGE “PRO” jersey next to their name and Pro triathletes will have a GREEN “PRO” jersey if they have verified professional athlete status setup it Zwift to make them easier to find! You can click on the “+” icon to add them to your followed athletes list and click the star icon to mark them as a “favorite” if you want to track them when you’re Zwifting! You can then filter events by “ONLY ZWIFTERS I FOLLOW” to find what group rides and workouts they lead… or maybe even join them in a race!
6. JOIN A TEAM OR COMMUNITY! Start with the “ZWIFT LADIES ONLY” facebook group and start exploring other women’s teams and programs, such as:
This is a copy of Coach Chris’ blog post from June 27th, 2020 after his first ever Virtual Everesting (vEveresting). Scroll below for the 5 key tips that helped him complete this epic challenge!
THANK YOU EVERYONE!!!
What an adventure Virtual Everesting was… climbing up over 29,029 feet (the height of Mount Everest) in a single 13-hour bike ride across 140+ miles! Best of all we exceeded expectations with some great money raised for Hope for Justice – not bad for going out on one little impromptu bike ride up the equivalent of Mount Everest!
LIVE BROADCAST CLIPS: In case you are wondering what this event was all about, here are some links to video clips that feature a few of the moments HOPE FOR JUSTICE connected with me & Shelley during the live broadcast… these include some great videos during the commercial breaks that talk about the charity & cause behind this crazy event:
(where they first chat with me 5hrs in and then tell me I will “pay for it later” as I’m “destroying the hill” and “showing off for the world”! ;-P): https://youtu.be/Vz9OahbMKmY?t=34050
MY EVERESTING – BY THE NUMBERS (for the data geeks): I rode 141.5 miles in Zwift, virtually climbing a total of 29,170 feet. I simultaneously had my power data feed into ROUVY to see how many “real world” miles I would’ve covered of “normal” flat/hilly terrain… and it ended up as over 202 miles of total cycling… I covered almost all of the new Ironman VR courses in one day! The actual, official “Everesting” attempt to hit 29,029 ft (8,848 meters) will show as 12 hours and 41 minutes. I rode a little extra just to make sure it counted fully, so I started at 7:27am and finished exactly 13 hours later at 8:27pm. This included about 2 hours of downhill, rest breaks, and the lead-up ride to the start of the climb.
I definitely could’ve tried to save a bit more time here and there cutting some of the breaks and lead up out, but my main goal was to do this “safely” as a bit of an experiment to see if I could “negative split” the 8 full climbs, which I managed to do (technically and barely)! The first 4 climbs took 5hr 2min, and the last 4 full climbs up the Alpe took 4hr 58 minutes. I knew my metabolic efficiency pretty well thanks to being a numbers-driven coach and certified Metabolic Specialist myself (I’ve done about 30 VO2 tests on myself in the last 8 years), so I was able to pace almost every climb split within about 2 minutes and actually paced half of them within just 7 seconds of each other by sticking to the plan! The only outlier was the final climb at about 5 minutes slower than the rest – and that was probably because I took a longer “real food” break and had some mac & cheese + mashed potatoes for my final fueling up!
My five biggest Virtual Everesting tips if you ever try this yourself in Zwift:
1. STAY DRY (KITS & TOWELS) + CHAMOIS CREME
Change into dry kits every 1.5-2hrs to avoid saddle discomfort (every 10min descent of the Alpe is perfect for this!)… and use lots of chamois creme!!! It was silly, but fun to actually use 9 different kits during this whole adventure – drying off completely after every “lap” and changing into a clean kit w/ chamois creme helped me feel “fresh” an re-energized every climb. I even had to do laundry twice during the ride in order to have fresh towels for drying off, and also for my bike – but it was well worth it!
2. SCHEDULE & PLAN EVERYTHING (FUEL, HYDRATION, HR and POWER)
Schedule out and stick to your fueling plan, break time routine, & have a clear negative split pacing plan! Resist the temptation to start faster when you’re fresh… always start slow and watch both power and HR! My plan was to keep HR between 60-70% of Max (based on LT at 90%) and Power 65-75% of FTP the whole time, and I also tried to negative split each of the 21 switchbacks on the climb (add 1 watt every switchback) to stay focused. The 13-15% grade sections are very hard when you’re 10+hrs in, so you need to save the legs for those last steep sections on your final climbs! For fueling I used primarily a combo of amino powder in 1 bottle and a second bottle of Tailwind (2 bottles total per climb), plus I had a 24g protein shake every 2-3 climbs (3-4hrs) in order to have regular “meals” that I could digest & absorb quickly. I had some other snacks too (chips, gummies, etc.), but my main, consistent fueling plan was Amino+Tailwind+ProteinShakes with about 24oz of fluid every 45mins.
3. TEAMWORK & A GOOD CAUSE HELPS!
Ride with other people for support… and a meaningful cause for motivation! Hope for Justice and the Hope Challenge 2020 crew did an amazing job getting over 150 riders to join in various capacities, with a 12+ hr Zoom chat and live broadcast to keep us entertained! It was also great to see Shelley, Jacquie, John, and several others ride with me throughout the day in Zwift!
4. TEST RIDE AT 100% TRAINER DIFFICULTY(RESISTANCE SETTING)
One of the “rules” of vEveresting is that in order to record an “official” result into the Hells 500 Everesting Hall of Fame you have to use a smart trainer that can simulate the hills at 100% difficulty to simulate the “real world” – basically you have to make it as hard as you can possibly make it in order to replicate what it feels like to climb Mt. Everest! I didn’t realize this until 2 days before, so quickly got in 1 lap of the Alpe the day before for simulation and it was an eye opener! So do at least one test run of your climb at 100% trainer difficulty and at least two or more “double” and “triple” Alpe rides to practice your pacing & fueling plan before attempting a full virtual Everesting – so you know what you’re getting yourself into! This video is a bit geeky, but gets into the science of figuring out how to be the most efficient you can be in terms of cadence, etc. based on how steep this type of climbing is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vu0D0hyP9UY
5. WEIGH INS & TRACKING
Track your splits and weigh yourself after every climb to keep yourself accountable with the effectiveness of your hydration & fueling plan! I lost no more than 0.4 lbs per climb… starting at 163.6 lbs and finishing at 163.3 lbs, losing just 0.3 lbs overall from start to finish. This is definitely one of the reasons why I felt good from start to finish… and was even able to host my weekly “Endurance Sports Trivia Night on Zoom” during my final climb and celebrate with friends after instead of collapsing!