It’s that time of year again, the nights are closing in and you begin to feel that you have become nocturnal, you dust off your trusty winter steed and tuck your number one bike up for its annual hibernation. This will feel all too familiar to a lot of you. I am the first to admit that I am not a fan of riding in the winter, riding in the dark and cold is not something that fills me with the usual joys of the ride. The issue I have is that I need to stay in shape (more like get into shape) over winter to have a full season of racing next year, fortunately for me (and the many other riders like me) there are a new wave of fantastic indoor trainers to help you really focus your training.
Before I get into the details of this training guide, you should probably know a little about me and why I have decided to do this. It is a full 10 years since I last raced and I am now considerably heavier than I was, add in to that my love of real ale (Wychwood Brewery has a lot to answer for!), food and dislike of the winter weather and you can see why I need something to keep me on track through the doom and gloom. Working at Wiggle makes it very hard not to be competitive so it’s time to focus and see where I can get back to, we have some really fast riders at Wiggle so there is a lot of work to do.
Wahoo KICKR Smart Turbo Trainer
This year I will be doing the majority of my winter training on the Wahoo KICKR Smart Turbo Trainer - Version 1, I am very lucky to be in a position to be able to test this amazing product and I aim to share with you my experiences of using it.
The vast majority of cyclists will be aware of turbo trainers, they range from the basic trainers that you simply attach your rear wheel to a roller and go, to the high-tech trainers that give you advanced training functions, detailed session analysis and interactive features. Upon first setup I can confirm that the Wahoo KICKR Smart Turbo Trainer - Version 1 is most definitely high-tech and it looks ultra cool too.
The first impression when you get hold of this trainer is the weight, wow this is a beast of a product! The flywheel alone weighs near enough 6 kilo’s (more on this later) with the full trainer weight nudging past the 20 kilo mark! It actually folds up into a surprisingly compact package so is not as difficult to store as I expected it to be. Thanks to the solid build quality and equally solid weight you can be very confident that when your bike is attached you certainly won’t be toppling over and all of your efforts are transferred well into the trainer.
Calibrating the Wahoo KICKR Smart Turbo Trainer
With the trainer setup, my bike attached and the power turned on now came the moment I was concerned about, calibrating the trainer and syncing it. I had read stories in the past of the tests you need to do and as normal, you tend to read more into the bad than the good, I soon learnt that the Wahoo KICKR Smart Turbo Trainer - Version 1 is very simple to use for such an advanced product. Syncing to phone was a breeze, all you have to do is download the Wahoo Fitness app (other apps do work with this trainer, more on these in a future training guides), search for the sensor and you’re away. Calibration is done by performing a spin down test, you pedal the unit to a preset speed (22.36mph) and then let it coast to a stop, this works out the amount of resistance you encounter through the drive system and ensures that you get accurate power figures from your workout by taking this into account, the heavy flywheel means that its run down time is extreme but it really does add to the feel of the trainer. Setup has gone without a hitch, time for my first session.
First and foremost I decided to use my first session to mimic what I would do on my regular trainer by simply riding to my numbers for a preset period of time. It won’t surprise you to hear that when you just jump on and go it is no more immersive than any other trainer, although it is so much quieter than anything I have used before, you can easily watch a film and be able to hear exactly what is happening. I started to play with the settings, again using the wahoo fitness app and the KICKR really started to make sense. I plan on doing a lot of interval sessions over winter and the KICKR makes it really easy to hit your targets. Being able to choose the power output that you want to ride to is a fantastic feature, no matter what cadence you ride, or the gear that you ride in, the trainer will changes its resistance to keep you putting the hard yards in. For the first session I rode a basic 10 min warm up, 40 min constant effort and 10 min warm down, I was using around a quarter of the resistance that the Wahoo KICKR Smart Turbo Trainer - Version 1 can put out and by the end of the session I was broken, it seems that the KICKR is a very apt name!
Onto session 2 and finally I got to use the KICKR for what I imagine most riders would want to use it for, virtual riding. I decided to try using the Kinomap app first off as I had heard good things about it and decided to see for myself. I synced the KICKR and my cadence sensor (Wahoo BlueSC if you want to know) to my phone with ease and then selected one of their free trial videos to ease myself in. A lap of Central Park took my fancy so I loaded it up and off I went. The KICKR works with Kinomap really well, on the left of the screen you get the data of the rider that recorded the ride, on the right you get your own real time data including speed, cadence, power and heart rate. This element of competition soon made me forget that I was on a turbo trainer and I focused solely on beating the other rider, the route was over before I knew it. I think its safe to say that winter training has just got a lot more interesting and I have only just scratched the surface of what the KICKR can do.
With such a vast range of apps now available for the Wahoo KICKR Smart Turbo Trainer - Version 1 I plan to try as many as I can over winter to try and help make that choice easier. I’m really looking forward to trying Zwift so maybe I will even see some of you on there. Winter training has never looked so good!