Author Topic: On-line Bike Touring game  (Read 2769 times)

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Offline raybo

On-line Bike Touring game
« on: February 03, 2011, 10:21:47 am »
I've created an on-line bike touring game that I call Armchair Biketouring.

My goal in creating the game was to give people an idea of what bike touring is like without all that annoying bicycling!

I've included weather, terrain, scenery, calorie usage and consumption, bonking, places to sleep, flat tires, broken spokes, and road angels.  I wrote an article about the game on my website.

I'd be interested in any feedback on it.

To run the game, use the link in the first line or this direct link: www.biketouringtips.com/ArmchairBikeTouring.

Ray
Visit the on-line bike touring archive at www.biketouringtips.com

Offline popeyespal

Re: On-line Bike Touring game
« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2011, 12:08:29 pm »
Excellent game, terrific concept and I applaud your efforts.

Played through the first level. Began the second level and ran into some completely unrealistic situations.

After eating a 1900 calorie breakfast I took off riding.  13 MILES INTO MILD UPHILL RIDING I'M EXTREMELY TIRED? Ate a 250 calorie snack.

34 miles of riding and I'm exhausted and loosing points?

My only option for resting is an expensive hotel? No stealth camping?
NO WATER? only drink option is a can of soda?

The game penalizes you for not taking in MORE calories than you burn. Weight loss in a huge motivation for many bike tourists. OF COURSE YOU WANT TO BURN MORE THAN YOU CONSUME.

Just my two cents.

Offline raybo

Re: On-line Bike Touring game
« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2011, 12:50:30 pm »
Played through the first level. Began the second level and ran into some completely unrealistic situations.

After eating a 1900 calorie breakfast I took off riding.  13 MILES INTO MILD UPHILL RIDING I'M EXTREMELY TIRED? Ate a 250 calorie snack.

34 miles of riding and I'm exhausted and loosing points?

My only option for resting is an expensive hotel? No stealth camping?
NO WATER? only drink option is a can of soda?

The game penalizes you for not taking in MORE calories than you burn. Weight loss in a huge motivation for many bike tourists. OF COURSE YOU WANT TO BURN MORE THAN YOU CONSUME.

Just my two cents.

Thanks for trying out the game and taking the time to respond.

First off, let me say that the game doesn't try to exactly match an individual's bike touring experience.  It is designed to show what bike touring is like.

The game calculates calories expended by figuring in terrain and wind.  It also factors in metabolism (assumed to be 2000/day).  It assumes that half of what you eat goes to maintaining your metabolism.  Thus, the 1900 calorie breakfast gave you 950 calories of energy for biking.  950 calories gets used up quickly riding uphill and against the wind!

I'm interested in what you are calling "completely unrealistic situations?"  You only mention two situations.  One is that you are "EXTREMELY TIRED" after riding 13 miles having eaten breakfast and a snack.  The second is that you are "EXTREMELY TIRED" after riding 34 miles.

First off, what you are calling "extremely tired" would better be called "hungry."  It is my experience that I get hungry after riding 13 hilly miles.  That is certainly the case after 34 miles.  So, I'm not quite sure which of these two is "unrealistic."

Water isn't offered as something to drink as it has no calories.  The game assumes that you always have enough water to drink.  The only purpose of eating food is to gain calories to ride. It is also why coffee isn't included in any of the food menus.

You are correct that you can't stealth camp.  I couldn't think of a way to factor in the issues that stealth camping presents (finding a suitable place to camp, getting rousted in the middle of the night) so I decided not to include it at all.

You are correct that you only score points for calories that you spend biking that you replace by eating.  I have never heard of bike touring as a weight loss method and most of the input I've read suggests that most bike tourists do not lose weight on tour.

Again, thanks for giving me some real feedback.

Ray
Visit the on-line bike touring archive at www.biketouringtips.com

Offline rvklassen

Re: On-line Bike Touring game
« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2011, 04:35:22 pm »
Weight loss in a huge motivation for many bike tourists. OF COURSE YOU WANT TO BURN MORE THAN YOU CONSUME.

Just my two cents.

Maybe, maybe not.  I happen not to have a lot pounds to spare.  Anyone within a reasonable range of their "ideal" weight [defined variously] will find it challenging not to lose too much on an extended tour.  Even 500 calories more spent per day than consumed and pretty soon you're talking serious weight loss.  One pound per week is fine for a few weeks, but not for a few months, if you start at a good weight.

Offline rvklassen

Re: On-line Bike Touring game
« Reply #4 on: February 03, 2011, 04:42:48 pm »
The game calculates calories expended by figuring in terrain and wind.  It also factors in metabolism (assumed to be 2000/day).  It assumes that half of what you eat goes to maintaining your metabolism.  Thus, the 1900 calorie breakfast gave you 950 calories of energy for biking.  950 calories gets used up quickly riding uphill and against the wind!
My base metabolic rate goes up when on tour (and for awhile afterward).  This is a normal effect of exercise - not only do you use more calories from exercising, but your base metabolic rate goes up.  The assumption that half what you eat goes into metabolism seems unrealistic.  Shouldn't it be more like 1/24 of 2000 (or an adjusted amount to account for metabolic changes) per hour, regardless of what you eat?  Assuming an adjustment to 2400 so I can do the math in my head, this would be 400 calories before lunch, leaving 1500 for biking. 

Offline Fred Hiltz

Re: On-line Bike Touring game
« Reply #5 on: February 03, 2011, 05:01:53 pm »
My physiology training, admittedly rather rusty, would add that a decent first-order BMR computation would burn 2000 Kcal/day, of which about 25% during eight hours of sleep and 75% during 16 hours awake and resting. If you want to get fancy, you could look up values for people of different weights. And yes, it rises on long hard days and for one or two days afterward.

Fred

Offline raybo

Re: On-line Bike Touring game
« Reply #6 on: February 03, 2011, 05:22:06 pm »
The assumption that half what you eat goes into metabolism seems unrealistic.  Shouldn't it be more like 1/24 of 2000 (or an adjusted amount to account for metabolic changes) per hour, regardless of what you eat?  Assuming an adjustment to 2400 so I can do the math in my head, this would be 400 calories before lunch, leaving 1500 for biking.  

The game doesn't operate in "real time."  As such, there is no way to allocate metabolism calories by the hour.

Dealing with metabolism was a bit of a challenge for just this reason.  The statement "that half of what you eat goes to maintaining your metabolism" is an over-simplification. What actually happens is that a full day's metabolism (2000 calories) is accounted for at the end of the day (when the player stops for the night).  That is, the calories available to replace the calories used biking are reduced by 2000 at the end of the day to account for metabolism.

But, points are tracked throughout the day.  So, there has to be some way to estimate the points earned (calories replaced) and I decided to do a two-part estimate.  During the day, I assume half the calories eaten go to metabolism.  Once the player eats more than 4000 calories, anything over 2000 calories is available for biking use.  In all cases, the 2000 metabolism calories are removed at the end of the day.

As for metabolism being elevated during a ride or using different metabolic rates for players based on size and weight, there are some subtleties that will have to go unimplemented.  Oh well.

Ray

P.S. The server's been down a bit today.  Sorry for any problems this might have caused.
Visit the on-line bike touring archive at www.biketouringtips.com

Offline indyfabz

Re: On-line Bike Touring game
« Reply #7 on: February 04, 2011, 09:53:39 am »
"I have never heard of bike touring as a weight loss method and most of the input I've read suggests that most bike tourists do not lose weight on tour."

I lost only about 5 lbs. (out of about 195) on two tours of about 7 weeks each.  During my X-Country+ tour that lasted over 3 months, I actually gained weight at one point.  I went west to east on the Northern Tier.  While in the mountainous/more hilly areas out west, I was scarffing down a lot of calories.  Once I hit the more forgiving terrain of the plains and midwest, I was still eating like I was in the mountains, but I wasn't working as hard.  I was with a group.  For various reasons (e.g., lack of suitable groceries), we ened up "eating out" a tad more.  That certainly helped with the weight gain, especially when we had very few choices other than fried/greasy food.  Even the fish was deep fried.

I certainly would not want to be losing a lot of weight while on tour.

Offline staehpj1

Re: On-line Bike Touring game
« Reply #8 on: February 04, 2011, 12:05:23 pm »
Touring to lose weight is a bad idea IMO.  I don't know anyone who tours for the purpose of losing weight.

I did lose weight on my longer tours.  I had a problem eating enough which I consider a very bad thing when on tour.

Losing a moderate amount of weight over a long tour is OK, but it should not be a goal of the tour IMO.  It is hard enough to stay fueled when on tour without intentionally running a deficit.

On long tours I tend to struggle to take in enough calories for the first month or so and then do better from there on.  I lost more weight than I would have liked on the first 30 days of the Trans America and gained maybe half of it back in the remaining 43 or so days.  The portion of the Sierra Cascades that I did last year was about 30 days and again I lost too much weight, but was doing better about when we finished.  I wish I could just manage to eat more right from the beginning.

Offline popeyespal

Re: On-line Bike Touring game
« Reply #9 on: February 04, 2011, 12:46:57 pm »
That's all well and good for you folks that are near your optimum weight already. However I am 6'2" and weigh just over 250lbs.

A primary goal of, and motivation for, my tour is weight loss. My intentions are to take in CONSIDERABLY less calories than I burn while riding. My target is to be close to 200-210lbs after 7-8 months of riding.

My note on the game stands regardless. I don't know anyone who would be near exhausted after 13 miles of MILD UPHILL riding after consuming a 1900 calorie breakfast.

The OP asked for folks to play and post critiques.  I did.

Offline raybo

Re: On-line Bike Touring game
« Reply #10 on: February 04, 2011, 01:26:41 pm »
My note on the game stands regardless. I don't know anyone who would be near exhausted after 13 miles of MILD UPHILL riding after consuming a 1900 calorie breakfast.

The OP asked for folks to play and post critiques.  I did.

I agree that the thread seems to have gone off-topic and I, again, want to thank you for taking the time play and critique.

However, I dispute your report.  First, the experience you report can't be completely accurate since the game doesn't create 13 mile long terrain sections.  Terrain sections are between 4 and 9 miles in length.  According to the game's calorie tables, mild uphill requires 50 calories a mile or 650 calories for 13 miles.  Note, that a headwind would increase this.  If you ate 1900 calories (950 if metabolism is accounted for) and spent 650, the Fuel Gauge would show Full, so that can't have been the case.

So, the question I have, and there is no way to go back and know, is what kind of terrain constituted those 13 miles?  If some of the early miles were uphill (85/mile) or steep uphill (158/mile), then it isn't hard to see how you could quickly use up those calories.

As an example, if the 13 miles you "rode" was 4 miles of Steep Uphill followed by 9 miles of mild Uphill, it would equal 1,082 calories (you'd be hungry, if metabolism was added in).

This is one obvious problem with using a computer program to simulate bike touring.  On the bike, terrain is obvious.  On a computer, riding up a hard uphill is only a click away!

Did anyone else try out the game and have any comments?

Ray
Visit the on-line bike touring archive at www.biketouringtips.com

Offline staehpj1

Re: On-line Bike Touring game
« Reply #11 on: February 04, 2011, 01:47:48 pm »
Yes I tried it.  It is kind of cool at first, but I lost interest pretty quickly.  I don't think all of the rules are what I would have picked, but It didn't seem totally unreasonable to me either.

I guess it didn't click with me because touring is for me about being in the moment more than anything else and that probably isn't possible in a game.  Maybe I'll give it another shot at some point and report back again.

It would be nice if you were able to make the experience more like riding, but I am not sure how.  Simulating the passage of time with something to approximate sensory feed back might make it more interesting if it is possible.  Remember the old "Oregon Trail" game?  If it could be a bit more like that it might be more interesting.

Offline popeyespal

Re: On-line Bike Touring game
« Reply #12 on: February 04, 2011, 03:59:24 pm »
I'm afraid you may be correct. I only recall giving up the game at the 34 mile point when I was in the "red zone".

I was already heavily yellow at 13 miles but other than noticing "mild uphill" I have forgotten the mileage for that exact segment.

I will try to play the game again and increase my intake even though that is not what I would PERSONALLY do at this point in my riding / physical condition.

Just on a smiley note  :) I would NEVER pay $80 for a night in a motel while on tour. That's 3 days budget for me! LOL

Offline raybo

Re: On-line Bike Touring game
« Reply #13 on: February 05, 2011, 11:15:32 am »
popeyespal,

I see that you posted a score for the game.  Thanks for trying it again.

Was your experience any different this time?

Like you, I'm loath to spend $80 for a night in a motel (though, I have).  But, instead of simply having one type of motel, I decided to randomly provide a range of them.  Only having a choice of an $80 motel would simply be bad luck!

Ray
Visit the on-line bike touring archive at www.biketouringtips.com

Offline popeyespal

Re: On-line Bike Touring game
« Reply #14 on: February 05, 2011, 12:43:40 pm »
I sent you a PM with a few comments....