Some comments on RealRides.ca DVDs
Got them all recently and thought I'd provide some comments about the DVDs. I'm not too impressed with them overall. The terrain is pretty decent for the most part but the production is amateurish. Things I liked about them all are that the camera is pointed up the road all the time which helps with the virtual reality aspect, that they're actually shot at bicycling speed rather than from a car, and that cyclists in addition to the camera man are included on the rides. Things I consistently didn't care for were the monotonous looped music and lackluster coaching/narration. The coaching tends to be directions to change gears to match the terrain or (on flatter sections) simple intervals. Didn't really have a problem with the content of the commentary which is much more sparse than Coach Troy's(the Spinervals guy) constant prattling, just thought the guy on these DVDs sounded a little bored. On to the specific volumes...
Banff --I'd rank this the best of the series. It's a steady climb up Bow Valley Pass with two other cyclists. Beautiful scenery. No additional complaints about the technical aspects of the DVD other than the timer being a bit of a distraction because of its size.
Coeur d'Alene --This is a two disc set that I'd rate pretty close to the Banff DVD in usable quality. The first disc is really good with mainly one cyclist but several other cyclists encountered more or less join the ride during the second half of the disc. First part of the DVD is pretty flat but the scenery and road headed out to Lake Coeur d'Alene are nice. Second half of the disc is more hilly. Camera is aimed down too often toward the end of the disc. The second disc is less interesting terrain, but the main flaw is a 10 minute section with the camera pointed backwards at the trailing cyclist. This disc has one to two cyclists to keep you company. Both DVDs in this set have faulty graphics--which don't bother me much but should be mentioned. The timer isn't placed properly and cuts off the seconds, and on the other side of the screen the gearing graphics are partially cut off. Not really a problem since the audio comments tell you what to do anyway. [EDIT: I just looked at the DVD on my computer and the graphics problem doesn't happen there. May be a problem with my home DVD player or television] Since this set is only $5 Canadian more than the single DVD volumes in the series, it's a pretty good buy.
Banff and Coeur d'Alene are the two volumes I'd recommend if anyone is wanting to sample this series of DVDs, and I consider them to be significantly better than the other volumes. If you don't like those you probably won't like any of the others.
Grand Canyon --This one ranks next. Just one cyclist(besides the camera man) but a decent road along the south rim of the canyon(which you really don't see much of until they stop to specifically show it to you at one point). This DVD also has the clipped off graphics at the bottom of the screen[EDIT: No graphics problem on my computer with this DVD either. Guess I'll have to fiddle with my television or DVD player and see if I can get it to work right on there.]
The next few in my rankings have some glaring problems.
Penticton --This shows you the Ironman course at Penticton, British Columbia. It's a 4-disc set that would have been very good if not for the technical flaws. Disc 1 is fairly flat but scenic with 1-2 cyclists along on the ride. The biggest problem is that the camera is leaned to one side more than I can tolerate without annoyance. Everything leans to the left including the other cyclists. The other problem is a too large timer which is badly placed at the top of the screen. It interferes with the view up the road too much. Disc 2 has 1-3 cyclists on a nice climbing route but has the same tilt and timer problems as disc 1. Disc 3 has 1-3 cyclists. First part of the disc is a series of hills, second part is a flatter section with interval repeats. Less tilt than disc 1 & 2 but still some and still has the poorly placed timer. This disc actually isn't too bad. If the other three had been at least this quality I'd have been satisfied. Disc 4 has 1-3 cyclists on a ride back into town. Camera tilt on this disc is severe for about 1/3 of the disc then fine for the last 2/3. Still has the big, poorly located timer.
Tempe --2-disc set with just 1 cyclist. Severe camera tilt for half of DVD1 and portions of DVD2.
Dewinton Hills --Calgary, Alberta which might make you think the terrain is going to be good, but alas, it's rather uninteresting with little visual interest. And there's some camera tilt. And the big mis-located timer. Two cyclists on the ride. I might move this one up in the rankings. I'll have to see how much the worse camera tilt of some of the other volumes bothers me over the long run.
Overall, this series is an example of promise unfulfilled. The people making the DVDs had the right idea, but lacked the skill or resources to pull it off. They should have gone back and re-shot the portions with the tilted camera, but I'm assuming they must not have had the time or money to do that. In spite of their flaws, I'll probably use all the DVDs from time to time, and I'll probably be annoyed from time to time. (btw, I don't believe these are connected with the people who did the Real Rides Race Day DVD with Robbie Ventura)
Last edited by Pendergast; 12-26-08 at 06:27 AM.