Image: ©TDW Sport
Being a professional cyclist means you are on the road a lot. You are always traveling to different places, catching trains, buses, planes, taxis and of course, riding endless miles on the bike. Being a professional cyclist also means you have a lot of time to kill and think while you are traveling.
This combination can have a dangerous and sometimes sad result: PokemonGO.
I will happily admit that I have downloaded the app. I mean, my news feed has basically been the Tour de France & PokemonGO for the last three weeks so it's difficult to avoid it. I will proudly say though, that I have no idea what I'm doing when I open it.
My age puts me just outside of the Pokemon era... I'm more of a Voltron guy. However, my younger teammates fall right into the PokemonGO riptide. My Belgian teammate, Kevin 'The Mess Maker' de Mesmaeker, spent 3 hours last night trying to 'catch 'em all' and complained that the owner of the closest gym was too strong... Whatever that means.
There is one problem with cyclists becoming hooked on a location-based augmented reality game: Cyclists hate walking. The game requires you to get outside and explore the area around you, walking around a virtual reality map in real-time. I could hear some guys from other teams in the rooms underneath me last night, complaining that there was a Pokestop too far away and they didn't want to walk that far. After all, we do have a stage to race tomorrow.
What results is a bunch of guys sitting in their rooms or hallways, waving their phones around trying to fool it into thinking that they are moving around. It's a great sight to see.
Even my teammates who I would least expect to play PokemonGO had succumbed to the pressure and were out in the hallways last night. When questioned about what they were doing, everyone says the same thing... 'I'm just killing some time.' Sure you are, guys, sure you are.
So what's next for cyclists vs PokemonGO??? I can only imagine that training rides may become the perfect opportunity to play the game. How many Pokemon could there be in a 180-km ride? My teammate also explained to me that there are some components of the game that require you to walk a certain distance to complete them. Not just small distances either but up to 5km! Imagine how fast you could knock that over on a bike!
The difficult part is going to be explaining to the coach why you have 2 hours of pause time during a 6-hour ride! But at least you don't have to walk anywhere!!
Chris Williams rides for Team Novo Nordisk - the world’s first all-diabetes professional cycling team