Overlooking the well-to-do suburban sprawl of Palo Alto, California, the climb of Kings Mountain ascends to a heady 670m. Through the trees you can glimpse views down towards the Pacific Ocean.
The Strava KOM up here is held by ex-pro turned serial KOM hunter and YouTuber Phil Gaimon at 18-02. The climb is a steady regular 7-8% gradient, perfect training territory, which is good because Palo Alto resident and billionaire Meta (formerly known as Facebook) owner Mark Zuckerberg is going to need it.
Or at least that’s the message I'm choosing to take from the giant tech firm’s latest branding exercise.
Last month, Meta released an advert showcasing the possibilities its virtual reality universe could bring to your Zwifting sessions.
A series of dizzying blurs and quick cuts combined with offering western cyclists the prospect of riding with cyclists from Team Amani in far flung places like Uganda was clearly meant to get us excited at the prospect.
To some extent I am. I was a late adopter of Zwift but when the weather is inclement or intervals are required it’s a great tool. Plus, being able to chat to your friends along with a ride in the garage makes it infinitely more bearable.
No doubt having the ability to look around me and be immersed in the world would only improve it further. I’ve never ridden through an active volcano or under a deep sea tunnel, it’s appealing.
But let’s be honest, if we’re that close to replicating riding outside I might just, you know, ride outside. If I’m to strap on a clunky VR headset at a cost of around £400 and instantly contaminate it with gallons of my own corrosive sweat (it has previously destroyed two sets of headphones in short order, disgusting fact fans) then you’re probably going to have to up the ante.
The best way to do that is to offer up a chance to dispatch Mark Zuckerberg on the punishing slopes of the Epic KOM climb like I’m Marco Pantani on the Galibier in 1998 and the would-be World King is Jan Ullrich, or well, anyone else.
Zuckerberg is, after all, a comic book supervillain it’s easy to dislike. From providing a hub for conspiracy theories and misinformation on elections; to serious questions over the handling of user data, there’s a long laundry list of reasons to feel he and Facebook are not an overly positive influence on the world we live in.
That’s why for the opportunity to race him I'll train hard, get a coach, maybe a nutritionist, plus the most expensive set of VR goggles I can get my hands on - I’d like to see this in full 4KHD glory. Throw in a former British deputy prime minister and tanker of Lib Dem opinion poll ratings turned Meta head of global affairs Nick Clegg and I'll put a semi-pro squad together.
Until then I’ll enjoy my Zwifting in 2D thanks.
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Having trained as a journalist at Cardiff University I spent eight years working as a business journalist covering everything from social care, to construction to the legal profession and riding my bike at the weekends and evenings. When a friend told me Cycling Weekly was looking for a news editor, I didn't give myself much chance of landing the role, but I did and joined the publication in 2016. Since then I've covered Tours de France, World Championships, hour records, spring classics and races in the Middle East. On top of that, since becoming features editor in 2017 I've also been lucky enough to get myself sent to ride my bike for magazine pieces in Portugal and across the UK. They've all been fun but I have an enduring passion for covering the national track championships. It might not be the most glamorous but it's got a real community feeling to it.
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