I've spent a fair amount of time on Zwift this year - the immersive online cycling environment that has drawn pro cyclists, pro triathletes, and a large international community of riders. I've had a great time riding, doing programmed workouts, chasing down Sprint and QoM jerseys, and being part of the community of riders.
There's so much realism in Zwift, with one significant exception: no matter the effort, and very unlike my messy real self, my virtual cycling avatar always looks GREAT!
She is perfectly smooth and laser-focused, she never sweats, and she never complains! She doesn't fumble with her water bottle, needs no food, and never stops for a "bio break." You won't find her blowing snot rockets or burping, or shifting in the saddle from chafing. The girl needs no chamois cream riding that immaculate bike with the perfect fit. She never flats and never hits a pothole (causing expletives to leave her mouth). Her kit is spotless and stays put. She clips in smoothly without fail, and shifts gears imperceptibly. She never groans or sighs or shows any signs of distress.
She is totally cool.
Me? Sweaty, messy, and groaning.
The photo at the top was from an FTP test today at Coach Jim's (photo credit: Coach Jim). I had about 3 minutes left (out of the 20) and he captured me very deep in the pain cave, on the suffer bus. I was heads-down focusing on cadence and power with a puddle of sweat below me.
I'll take the sweat and mess of the big effort. The sweat and mess are all part of the "fun." (May I add that I did totally surprise myself and add 12 watts to my FTP from January - #ZwiftEffect + great coach.)
Just the same, I'm glad my online avatar is not a realistic depiction of me. Thank you Zwift.