Birthday (a teaser)

Today has been a good day! And no, today is not my birthday.

I spent some truly wonderful time in an online connection this morning with some men who are vital to my existence; it’s a small group that feeds my soul.

Then, a bike/smart-trainer ride using an online platform, Zwift.com, connecting my trainer to the internet and a community of many thousands of riders. I have found two groups that I’ve liked riding with and, today, 314 of us rode together for 32 kilometres in the hour, completing several laps of a virtual layout of New York’s Central Park, with the city (as it might appear in the future) in the backdrop.

It was great fun. I have ridden with the leader and one other person in the group before, and we and a few others talked with each other through another app called Discord, which was running parallel to Zwift. Discord acts like an online, two-way, voice radio system. 

The hour flew by as we had a conversation on how we all are experiencing the pandemic’s effects, from northern England, Scotland, Texas, Indiana, and other places.  (Only a small percentage of riders in any given group uses Discord; and of that number, some only listen in, so it’s often only half a dozen or so people in actual spoken conversation. Apparently, Discord is very popular with online computer gamers.) 

It was a great ride, and I finished feeling strong and refreshed. The pace was perfect for my current abilities as a recent convert to road riding: a challenge, quite fast, but not crushing. Today’s leader was someone I’ve ridden with a few times on group rides. A good leader, ensuring the pace is as advertised, monitoring live statistics, texting the group as a whole to check in, conversing with those on the radio channel, inviting riders to future events, encouraging “flyers” to fall back to the proper pace, and making sure everyone is having an enjoyable time, while also riding! 

Anyone who knows me has heard much of this before. Ask me about my winter riding and you’d better have (at least) half an hour to spare… Zwift has helped to improve my fitness, and it’s incredibly important these days for other cyclists I ride and or follow in places like Portugal, Spain and Italy where outdoor cycling is currently outlawed. Sometime in the winter of 2018-19, Zwift reached a milestone of having 14,000 riders online at one time. But a week or so ago, 35,000 people were riding at one time in the two available “worlds.” (There are seven worlds in all, and they’re rotated for variety, plus a multitude of routes, as well as structured workouts.)  The company has had to add a third choice of worlds to ride, to prevent a sense of overcrowding, and they’re doing a fantastic job keeping the app running under a load they probably never dreamed of.

Continuing with the activities of the day, we had some connections with family near and far — though all too far, physically, at the present! — and made plans for more family connections tomorrow. 

“We’re gonna come together, we’re gonna celebrate
We’re gonna gather around like it’s your birthday
I don’t wanna know just what I’m gonna do
I don’t care where you’re going, I’m coming along with you”

(from “Birthday,” by Ivan Followill, Jared, Followill Matthew Followill, Caleb Followill) 

Um, yeah… about that, not “actually” getting together…Tonight’s the night that was going to be a big party celebrating my 60th birthday (which is tomorrow). I was very disappointed that we had to cancel the party just as the invites were to go out a month ago, due to the escalating pandemic. But at the same time, I’m grateful for my health, and that Sweety and our family and friends are safe and healthy.

So, you might be wondering, where is the song?

Photo of a man sitting in front of a large computer screen in low light.
Your faithful servant. Note the absence of both a birthday party and my Apple Music library’s ‘Bday Party Playlist.’ Photo © Steve West.

Today’s selection comes from Kings of Leon, a band one of our lads and I saw at Winnipeg, Canada’s Bell MTS Place in October 2011. I remember it being a high-energy show by the quartet of three brothers and a cousin.

Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the official video of the song from Kings of Leon’s YouTube channel:

2 thoughts on “Birthday (a teaser)

  1. Great post Steve. I would love it if there were an online version of golf where you could participate and interact with golfers from around the world. I suppose it would be possible but each participant would need a virtual golf studio in their home which would be rather cost prohibitive, not to mention the amount of space that would be required. Ride on my friend!.

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    1. Thanks very much, Menno! Glad you liked it. I’m actually quite surprised there isn’t an equivalent capability for golf. I remember many years ago seeing a golf simulator and it just seems a no-brainer to advance that into current technological capabilities, like what has been done to re-engineer the old-school turbo trainers to ‘talk’ over the internet with data from speed and cadence sensors, so that people are able to ‘ride’ with hundreds of other riders. Conceivably, if you had a space that big enough for you to swing a club in, the technology could fill in the rest. Anyway, for me Zwift is a great experience that has really aided not only my fitness but also my enjoyment of getting fit. Pro cyclists have used it all along but are relying on it heavily in the current public health situation. Hope someone sorts this out for you golfers soon!

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