Let’s play a cycling game! Three for 2017

February is an important month for the cycling fan, with the end of the cylocross season, the start of the Classics… and the launch of all the Virtual Directeur Sportif games.  I’ve written about my love for DS games before, so before I tell you about the 2017 versions of the Podium Café FSA DS game, and ChicaBike, this is why I love them so much:

If you’ve followed the sport for a long time, they’re the perfect opportunity to show off your skills.  We’ve all been armchair tacticians, and have views on who’d be the best rider for which race, and this gives you a chance to prove it!  Or not, and then sob all season as your favourite rider makes mistake after mistake…

But if you’re not already a die-hard women’s cycling fan, they’re a fantastic way to get to know the sport.  You don’t have to have a team you can spend hours over – some people pick their FSA VDS team purely on nationality, all the Aussies, or all the Canadians, eg, and one team that did especially well one year was all riders whose names began with E (with Emma Johansson and Evie Stevens, that was fantastic!).  There’s always a huge helping of luck involved, too.  Years ago I played a Tour de France game, and as well as my own lovingly-picked team, ran a “Team Random” that was auto-generated by the site, and it was depressing how well that did – and the person who picked the “wrong Feillu” by accident ended up winning a TdF game stage!

DS Games are such an excellent way to get to know more about riders’ skills – even if you don’t know that much when you choose your team, you’ll definitely learn.  And with so much live women’s racing being shown and streamed in 2017, you can cheer them on in real time.  And most importantly… there will always, always be someone who does worse than you in the game, and hundreds of players, so you don’t need to worry about people laughing and pointing.

So, how do you play?

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Why I love Virtual DS games

After a wonderful-busy 6 weeks of road cycling, we’ve got space to pause, before the Spring Classics start with a bang on 27th February.  It’s a good time to look back on the racing we’ve had so far… and to plan your Virtual Directeur Sportif team for the season!

If you’ve never played DS or other fantasy cycling games, there are a lot of them about, and two particularly good ones for the women’s road racing, at Podium Café (FSA VDS) (including a game for the men’s side too) and Chicabike. I’ll tell you more about them below, but I want to take a moment to sing the praises of playing them in general.

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Let’s play a game! The Podium Café FSA Virtual Directeur Sportif game

It’s that time of year again, as the season is nearly upon us, and a whole crop of Directeur Sportif games.  There are loads of them out there, but I have my favourite – Podium Café’s FSA DS.  There’s a men’s and a women’s side, and as you can imagine, I love the women’s cycling one the best.

It’s a simple premise – you have up to 150 points to spend on 15 riders, and apart from the fact you can’t spend more than 100 points on riders in the 20+ categories, that’s the entire of the rules.  if you want to pick riders from all one country, or all one real team, or whose names begin with E you can – it’s all up to you.  People play this who follow women’s cycling obsessively, or who don’t know anything about the peloton and are using this as a great way to learn – there’s no pressure, it’s just for fun!

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Let’s play a game!

I am a bit lot of a geek, so games always make me happy, but the various cycling games are fantastic ways to get to know more about the sport and the riders.  Back when I was first learning that there was more to men’s cycling than the Tour de France, making virtual teams really taught me a lot – and I set up some home-made women’s cycling games to entice the game-fans I knew into the women’s sport, which worked really well (DS games as a gateway drug – awesome!)

So of course I was very happy when tED and Jens added a women’s game to the excellent season-long FSA Virtual Directeur Sportif game at Podium Café.  This is the third year it’s been running, and it just gets better and better – so if you’d like to try your hand at putting a team together, here’s the introduction post with all the information.  The deadline is 22nd February, and it’s completely free to play….  don’t look to me for useful tips, I always choose heart-over-head, but there are some great posts by Café members on playing the game over on the site – I like sebastiandeluded’s ABCs for those new to the game, which is men’s game focussed, but still counts, and Straw Dog’s guide to picking your first women’s team.  And our very own Dan has written a beautiful post on how beer helped him pick his women’s team (you can also read how beer helped his men’s team too).  There are lots of useful and not-so-useful tips in the comments sections too!

Go on, give it a go – and if you have geeky friends who like these games, but aren’t yet into women’s cycling, point it out to them.  Now, I’m going back to trying to work out the answer to the big conundrum – to have Vos in my team, or not…