I Have an Awesome Idea for a Video Game

01.15.2007 | 10:29 am

When I woke up this morning, it was -1 (Fahrenheit) outside. That’s -18.3 Celsius for all you metric-minded folk. Regardless of how you gauge temperature, that’s cold.

When it’s cold like this, riding outside is out of the question. It’s rollers, the trainer, or nothing. The thing is, though, after a while you get tired of movies. You get tired of music. You want to ride with your friends. You want to race.

And that’s why I’ve invented — in my mind, anyway — the most awesome video game for cyclists ever.

I call it “Bicycle Race(tm).”

Here’s how it works.

The Concept
In Bicycle Race (BR for short), you ride your actual bicycle, either on a trainer or on rollers. You compete against other cyclists — either computerized racers based on historical cycling champions, or other real riders in online mode — as you race several kinds of events.

Instead of using a handheld controller like most video games, BR comes with a wireless cadence sensor and a wireless speed sensor, which relay info to your gaming console (I’m thinking Xbox, cuz it’s got a good established gaming network established). You then ride either your rollers or trainer to play the game. Easy!

Game Modes
Without even trying hard, I can think of a number of great playing modes for BR. For example:

  • Drag Race: You and as many online friends as you would like race over whatever distance you would like. First one across the finish line wins.
  • Velodrome: Race against others in a virtual velodrome. If you touch wheels, you “virtually” crash, getting to see what the velodrome pileup  looks like, without the inconvenience of the actual carnage. If you’re riding a non-fixed-gear in the Velodrome game, your cadence will be monitored: you coast, you crash.
  • Team Time Trial: See how good you are at working together as you and your teammates (either computerized or real players online) race against other teams (also either computerized or actual online teams). Careful of touching virtual wheels! Best time wins.
  • Race the Legends: Of course, you don’t actually have a chance of racing with the legends, but what if Lance Armstrong were forced to carry an extra 150 pounds? Could you beat him then? Choose your handicap, and then see if you can hang.
  • Race Yourself: Last week, you did your favorite TT course in 19:15. How fast can you do it today? Race your “ghost” and improve your best time.
  • series: Get together a group of guys, call yourselves a league and have a whole series of races, keeping cumulative score of who’s on top.

The possibilities are close to endless.

I Know, I Know
Yeah, I know that there are trainers out there that let you race against the computer. But those things are expensive. As in thousands of dollars. I, on the other hand, am talking about something that plugs into your Xbox, attaches to your bike, and uses the trainer or rollers you’ve already got. I’m talking about something that costs $150, tops.

It’s not like the technology for this kind of game isn’t out there. My kids play Dance Dance Revolution online — jumping around spastically (I had no “good dancer” genes to pass on to my kids, alas) on the dance pad controller, competing against other kids all over the US (and elsewhere, for all I know)

BR will be a huge hit. I’m confident of it. Now, I’d appreciate it if you’d loan me a couple million dollars to develop it. Thanks!


  1. Comment by Rick S. | 01.15.2007 | 10:43 am

    Actually a pretty good idea. I’m proud of you.

    I got up at 5am this morning to go to the local spin class at the gym. I kept thinking it would be cool to have a large screen in the room with real clips of TDF races or something to help motivate. The bad thing about the spin class, is you are pretty much forced to listen to whatever music the instructor likes. Some days can be pretty bad.

    I can’t wait for warmer temps around here!

  2. Comment by fatty | 01.15.2007 | 10:58 am

    rick s – what do you mean a “pretty good idea?” as the title of this entry clearly states, it’s an Awesome Idea. See, if this game existed, when you got up this morning — at about the same time I did — you wouldn’t have had to do mindless spin classes. Instead, you could’ve been cleaning my clock on a virtual race of your choice.

  3. Comment by neil | 01.15.2007 | 11:01 am

    Someone *AHEM* inspired me to start watching the 24 DVDs on the rollers. That’s been working pretty well so far.

  4. Comment by Scott R | 01.15.2007 | 11:19 am

    Would you like that in sequentially numbers $100 bills?

  5. Comment by KatieA | 01.15.2007 | 11:23 am

    Fatty – as you said, it’s already done. They don’t cost too much, and as much as it pains me to say it (selling fitness equipment as I do), it’s one of my competitors that makes them, and I want one as well. Go to the commercial fitness companies and see what they have, because they’ll be better quality (i.e. real tracks / races) and I’m pretty sure you could find one on Ebay, once you know what they’re called. (I don’t know what they’re called, cause I don’t sell them! Stationary bikes though – I’m your girl for those!)

    Rick – That’s also available already, it’s just that a lot of gyms are tightwads and don’t want to pay for it. I rode in a class the other day through the streets of Paris – I think it’s called “cycle vision” or some other REALLY inventive name… But you do have to be careful what instructor you get – I hate the “new age” ones who go on and on about “feeling the breeze in your hair” and “letting your body feel the road” – those one’s, I just want to smack.

    And Fatty, they’re not mindless classes – I personally think that watching TV whilst riding tends to make you lose concentration on what you’re doing… and often leads to worse workouts. At least with spin classes you’re concentrating on the pain in your legs, rather than Keifer Sutherland’s butt (although I assume you watch 24 for different reasons than I).

    This, coming from a girl who’s MP3 player is almost surgically implanted in her ear (yes, MP3 player, I’m not cool enough to own an ipod).

  6. Comment by cheapie | 01.15.2007 | 12:06 pm

    Would there be a wheelsucker mode? Or a way to launch a virtual snot-rocket if someone’s attaches themselves to your backside without announcing their presence?

  7. Comment by Halverde | 01.15.2007 | 12:25 pm

    There was an accessory released for the PS2 virtually identical to the one you’ve just invented. I think it was called the GAMEBIKE, which is a wonderfully utilitarian name for it. No games were released especially for it though, you could just use it to play driving games (presumably shuffling your car around the track at 30mph).

    Adapters to use PS2 peripherals on Xbox aren’t hard to come by. The technology exists, all you need to do is make the game (the easy bit, obviously).

  8. Comment by SYJ | 01.15.2007 | 12:59 pm

    I’ll grant you awesome, pending an answer to this(ese) question(s):

    Without purchasing specialized equipment (variable resistance unit keyed into the gaming console), how do you account for the varying degrees of resistance provided by various trainers/rollers. Even better, how do you prevent a savagely sprinting Fat Cyclist, flailing away, spittle flying, from falling off his rollers, whilst his fitness challenged but securely fastened adversary hammers away on his trainer?

    Solve these issues, and you’ve got a winner.

    oh, and keep it affordable, if you don’t mind.


  9. Comment by Born4Lycra | 01.15.2007 | 1:30 pm

    Well I thought It was awesome then KatieA brought me down with a thud. I was going to suggest under race the legends you could even ride the legends. Stages of the TDF and of course TDU but it sounds like it has already nearly been done.
    Anyhow speaking of the TDU – Adelaide must be the centre of the cycling universe right now. Talk about power to the bicycle they are everywhere its fantastic to see the number of bikes on the streets at the moment. The racing starts tonight with the Classic followed by the 5 stages of the tour and reportedly over 3000 amateurs riding stage 3 on Friday. This is a huge turnout for little old Adelaide. We are like most of Oz in the grip of drought at the moment (max today 40degC plus) and can you believe it they are forecasting rain on Thursday and Friday.
    I’ve been working in this place for 30 years and I am looking out the window at a flock of Sulphur Crested Cockatoos (the big white parrot in Colombo – I think it was) on the fire escape. Never seen that before. Magic

  10. Comment by the weak link | 01.15.2007 | 1:37 pm

    It’s a great idea.

    I also think they should be able to wire the trainers at spin class to show just how much effort people are REALLY putting out. Midway though a spin class I’m soaked with sweat, yet none of the ladies are even glowing. I think they’re cheating. Your device would catch them red-footed.

  11. Comment by KatieA | 01.15.2007 | 2:18 pm

    Born4Lycra – Thanks for reminding me about the TDU – are they putting it on the telly again? I always forget it, and only manage to flick over by accident sometimes!!

    Apparently it’s going to be 42 degrees here in Sydney on Sunday, before the usual summer storm. I will NOT be riding my bike in that.

    And you’ve never seen a big flock of cockatoos?? They used to sit on my trampoline and eat the berries off the trees as they bounced.

  12. Comment by Nathan | 01.15.2007 | 2:45 pm

    I think they actually use this method at one of the TT races in Atlanta to seed people accordingly. Its a series of trials the night before on CompuTrainers (which hook up similar to what Fatty says but I think they cost a bundle, which he also mentions). I might have to check out gamebike though, anything to make the trainer more interesting is a plus.

  13. Comment by Rob | 01.15.2007 | 4:14 pm

    “virtual” crash?….that’s a little weak. Why not have the rollers integrated in the game so if you touch wheels, the rollers lock up instantaniously. I had to think about what would actually happen and I think you would go from 0-25 mph in less than 1 second.

    Aaaand to up the ante, you could put a large saguaro cactus in front of you before you start the game. You know…to help “simulate” the bleeding after a crash….just a thought.

  14. Comment by Born4Lycra | 01.15.2007 | 6:08 pm

    KatieA – the TDU will be in a highlights package late each night on channel 10 starting tonight with the Classic I believe- no guarantees tho. For some reason they provide better coverage overseas than what we get. I believe stage 5 on Sunday in our parklands will be live.
    As for the Cockatoos the surprise was they were on our 8 storey office block just a metre away from my window not in the trees some distance away. Big buggers they were too!

    FC Rob’s idea of the cactus and performance enhancing penalties for any errors has some merit.

  15. Comment by axel | 01.15.2007 | 6:20 pm

    what I want from that game is mario cipolini’s leadout train guiding me to the win over eternal second erik zabel (except the 197 times when he was first). So how can you add that into the game – drafting, cruising at high speeds without having to peddle too hard?

    Maybe a power meter is the answer – you generate the power on your rollers – in the game based on your positioning and the simulated race course that gives you the speed to get to the finish first, right after Mario Scirea peels off. Or, since in anticipation of future weight loss you entered in the weight of kate moss, you are able to launch the decisive attack up Alpe d’ Huez as an overweight Lance cannot hang on.

    I guess a power meter isn’t cheap either.

  16. Comment by Jsun | 01.15.2007 | 9:40 pm

    Off topic- last night I dreamt you were the host of a TV show. You were very, very fat (dream inspired by a hugely obese character in prison on an epsiode of Monk) and your show only came in on the CCTV security system monitor.
    Feel free to analyze.

  17. Comment by Nanget | 01.16.2007 | 12:42 am

    The advantage with xbox is that you could have leaderboards and see where you rank in the world. All the time knowing that the top 1000 guys probably cheated by putting a motorbike on the rollers. Although a motorbike vs someone like Ryan Bayley in the sprint would be interesting.

  18. Comment by Tom Stormcrowe | 01.16.2007 | 1:07 am

    Elden, is there a bike/PC Wireless link system?

  19. Comment by barry1021 | 01.16.2007 | 6:53 am

    Man this blog is great. Until this very moment, I never knew that Sulphur Crested Cockatoos traveled in flocks…hey how do the cook up in a crockpot??


  20. Comment by Al Maviva | 01.16.2007 | 10:33 am

    The virtual crash stuff is nice, but to make it really like racing, you need to add some totally random wierdness. For instance:

    - About once a year, you get pitched from the bike by an inexplicable, totally wierd, freak, unforeseeable mechanical failure. Hincapie’s blown steering tube at Paris-Roubaix was a good example, but you could also simulate a blown chain, a shredded bottom bracket, a pedal that snaps off mid-sprint, or a frame that snaps in half. How ’bout a saddle that falls off? Or a brake handle that snaps in half? There’s a lot of potential here.

    - About once a month, it screws up your workout in a totally unpredictable, race-like manner. Say you get on, and it says in a robotic, emotionless, uncomprehending voice, “Sorry you drove all the way out here, we already have 75 people registered for this simulation. Try us next year.” Or, “We’re going to go to max resistance for the next five minutes because you crossed the yellow line to make that pass.” Or, “Hey, I’m mistaking you for the guy on your team who just made a dangerous mid-pack move. You’re disqualified from this workout, and for the next two weeks. And if you complain about it, it’s for the season.” Or it just breaks down and you (the manufacturer) refuse to refund the purchase price, but offer the purchaser a couple tubes of Gu, and some T-shirts commemorating last year’s model.

    - The simulated crash idea (SimulCrash? You could trademark that) needs some work. Tipovers don’t get it… unless the simulation features ten of your friends, on video, jeering your low speed tipover. Now that’s realism! Or perhaps there’s a floor-mounted, upside-down belt sander, and when you go over, it takes a 12″x3″ strip of skin off your thigh, for instant roadrash! “So real, it hurts!” would be a great advertising campaign. Or if it was in ‘gym’ mode adjacent to a bunch of other exercisers, it could have the “Cat 5 Phred Shred” where one bike would go down for no apparent reason, and everybody else in the room would get taken out suffering horrific injuries, except for one little dude at the back who would miraculously avoid the pileup and go on to “win” the simulated race. You could even have simulated riders get up from the crashes and threaten to sue, or to ‘kick your skinny white @55.”

    Yeah, this has real potential.

  21. Comment by Robin | 01.16.2007 | 10:46 am

    I’d buy it!

  22. Comment by Chad | 01.16.2007 | 1:25 pm


  23. Comment by Alister | 01.16.2007 | 2:50 pm

    Fatty: the temp this morning when I got on the bike at 0530 this morning was 31 degrees C. I think it was the hottest night ever in the city.

    Can you send us some snow…

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