Before resorting to a glass of whiskey each evening, I have been clipping into a bike in my bedroom, and losing myself in one of a number of virtual bicycling paradises. They came with the Tacx Fortius VR training rig, that I purchased from this gentleman, two weeks ago (he normally rents them out, but had a new one to sell me). Well, I’ve lost a kilo, my legs haven’t stopped aching, I’m eating like I did when I was in A-grade, and I am not sure why I’m sitting here blogging when the machine is beside me, and I could be logging a time.
Okay, so these virtual worlds I’m busting my arse to pedal through, are merely modeled terrains, with hackneyed landmarks you would be laughed out of architecture school for designing. But the gradients and surface types of those VR terrains, tell the roller brake touching my tire, precisely how much resistance to offer my pedaling, to have my whole body fooled, that it is, actually, somehow, inside the screen. Again I ask myself why I’m sitting here typing. In those worlds, I have to steer. I have to pedal. Going down hill into a bend, when the roller brake has turned into a motor, I even have to touch my rear brake. All this fun, and I have not yet progressed to real-time live racing, against Tacx users elsewhere in the world, or to using the Google Earth feature, or to completing my French Alps DVD challenge.
My first serious experience of virtual reality, came when reading George Orwell’s 1984, when I was in high school. The combinations of black letters on white paper effected my body, when they described Winston seeing Julia naked. I was lying on my bed reading, and from memory, I had an erection (I can’t be sure, but that age, I usually did). But 1984 story had a sad ending, whereas every VR challenge with this new toy of mine, ends with yours truly Dr. Behooving sprinting for glory, to the cheers of stiff looking CAD men lining the pixelated road I am riding on. And erections pale beside waves of endorphins, liters of sweat, and screaming leg muscles.