Virtual cycling – for a cure

Col Brown cycles hundreds of kilometres a week – but his bike never leaves the lounge room.

The Campbelltown resident is the founder of the SAS (Spin and Sprint) Cycle Club, which in a matter of just 10 months has grown to more than 400 members worldwide.

The club allows cyclists to race against one another without ever leaving the home, through an innovative app.

The app – zwift.com – sees riders modify their bikes so they can train inside and connect it to a computer, where their progress is mapped virtually on screen.

The success of the SAS Cycle Club has seen the growth of a strong, dedicated community – 24 of whom will be getting together in real life to ride for a good cause this month.

Mr Brown said it was amazing to see something he started in his lounge room grow to help sick kids.

“We’re raising money for the Children’s Cancer Institute, which I’m on the event committee of, in the Endure for a Cure race,” he said.

“So far we’re already raised $20,685 – and that was with an original goal of $10,000. We passed $10,000 in the first week.”

SAS members are spread across the world and cyclists from as far and wide as the US and Japan have chipped into money to sponsor their Aussie peers.

Mr Brown said the SAS group was all about “having a laugh” and challenging one another.

“We’ve got one lady in the group who is a widow with three young kids and just doesn’t have the time to leave the house,” he said.

“When she first started she said, ‘I just can’t keep up with everyone’, but she’s kept at it and recently she messaged me after a morning ride and said ‘I kept up with everyone today’.

“You don’t know what’s going on in anyone else’s life and to bring everyone together like this is really incredible.”

Mr Brown said another member had serious anxiety and struggled to enter social settings, but had found a place to thrive in the SAS club.

The former Macarthur Cycling Club rider also said racing virtually was a safer way to enjoy the sport of cycling.

“I haven’t ridden on the road since 1994, when I saw a couple of guys in front of me get killed,” he said.

“I don’t think bikes and roads are a good mix.

“Indoor training is a much safer way to go about it and there’s a lot less potential risk.”

Mr Brown said anyone interested in donating to the team’s Endure for a Cure race should visit the event’s website and search ‘Spin and Spring Cycle Club’.