World champs!

Cyclists Michael Templeton left) and Brad Hudson, along with four international team mates, have won a Zwift world championship title.

Michael Templeton and Brad Hudson, of Ashburton, have joined an elite list of Zwift world champion cyclists.

Under the team name Dirty Sprockets, the duo, along with four other team mates from Australia and USA, won the recent Zwift Racing League Season Three Mixed Division B Championship.

The team name hailed back to an online community of ‘dads indoors riding trainers’ which had thousands of members worldwide, Templeton said.

While Templeton, 37, was a lapsed cyclist prior to covid, Hudson, 40, was a regular social rider. They both embraced the Zwift app during, and after, covid lockdown last year.

It was a great social event “cruising around during covid”.

They were fully set up in their cycling spaces – complete with cooling fans – and now cycling anywhere from 200km to 276km a week.

Zwift is an social media riding app conveniently done from the comfort of home.

It has a number of members in the Ashburton district and links thousands of cyclists on smart trainer stationary bikes to an online community around the world competing in racing events.

Michael Templeton left) and Brad Hudson use smart trainers to Zwift race.

The men race in Zwift events which feature the graphics – and ascents and descents – of well-known international routes. There were around 150 rides loaded on the app.

The smart trainer measured the power used by the riders and there were also real racing events such as bunches, drafting and pack dynamics.

Riders also talked to each other in real time through messaging apps.

Since joining in March 2020, Templeton had cycled 12 days and 18 hours covering an impressive 11,319km.

“I’ve burnt the equivalent of 732 slices of pizza,” he said, reading the data collected from his profile.

The men started socially riding as a way to connect with others during the early days of covid restrictions but the more fitter they got, the more competitive they became, Templeton said.

Initially they tried to complete each route on the programme but then opted in on race events.

The Dirty Sprockets placed second in the Asia Pacific division to qualify for the championship.

The championship was the culmination of eight weeks of real time racing, riding for around 45-minutes and covering distances between 30 to 40km. The races took place every Tuesday at 9.30pm, due to the majority of the other riders being European teams.

The world championship – which involved weight and height verifications done with real time video links – were a two day event over Queen’s Birthday weekend. The races were done on Sunday and Monday at 6.30am.

It was the perfect time for us, Hudson said.

There were others in the races who were competing at 2am (such as those from Thailand) or 4am (riders from Melbourne), they said.

The Dirty Sprockets won the final one point ahead of second placed German team ZRG#03 and two points ahead of third placed Kirchmair Honey Bees, also of Germany, Templeton said.

Templeton and Hudson plan to defend their title and will be back on the starting line when the Asia Pacific Division Three competition restarts at the end of September.