David Letterman recently did his last, Late Night Show. So in honor of his career, and our general disdain of riding indoors, RKP presents: The top ten stationary trainer phrases: (insert Paul Shafer drum roll)
#10, “I am really looking forward to pedaling and going nowhere”
#9, “I was on my trainer last night and almost got doored”
#8, “My trainer feels just like the road”
#7, “Riding outdoors is sooooo overrated”
#6, “I like how the sweat pools underneath my bike”
#5, “No helmet needed”
#4, “I love the whrrrrr sound my trainer makes”
#3, “It’s spin class for the recluse”
#2, “Mount up, clip in, tune out”
And the #1 stationary trainer phrase: “Drafting is for wussies”
We make fun but truth be told, you’ve come along way baby, trainers that is. Take for instance, the Wahoo Kickr. Paired with the Zwift trainer video game, they make for a partnership that is a kick in the quads.
I told myself I was going to go easy. Team RKP was entered in the Tour de Pier and I was riding one of the legs. I was wrapping up a rest week that was highlighted by a cold. This was a charity ride on stationary bikes, not a race. I had no reason to ramp it up. My rear wheel was pulled off and the dropouts placed onto the Wahoo’s axle where an 11 speed cassette awaited my rear derailleur. Locked and loaded.
During the warmup, I was keeping to my little plan: soft pedaling, keeping my watts low, admiring the feel of the Wahoo. I like how it freewheels. The Wahoo makes coasting cool, even when riding in place. Then the Zwift screen went from standby mode to go mode. With an animated road on a screen in front of me, my head got lower, my cadence got higher and my governor short circuited.
The Zwift display was the carrot. It’s visuals and data gave me something to chase. A hill would pop up on the screen and suddenly there was a reason to focus and push. Lap times were published which pushed me to beat my previous trip around the circuit. Zwift says it’s a video game. But really it’s a mind game. Just look at the faces in the photos we posted. Everyone, except poor Peter, is engaged. The faces say, “Gonna hold my wattage right here at 275”, “A little burst is all I need to get over the top of this hill;” “Bridge!”
The animated visuals are surrounded by an intense amount of data. Who needs perceived exertion when there’s wattage, speed, gradient, time, distance, heart rate, cadence, on a heads up display. It’s like trainer Top Gun. I took it all in, took aim at the RKP bogeys and put them on missile lock. “Goose, I am going for Cruz”. I know what you’re thinking, “watch out for that bogey’s jet wash”. No worries. In fact it’s a good thing. We call it the draft and on Zwift, if you can get behind a competitor, you reap the benefits of his efforts. Yes, Zwift has made virtual reality drafting a reality.
Trainers are truly a drag. The objective, when on one, is to keep cranking or suffer the consequences of rear wheel stoppage. But the Wahoo was such a willing accomplice, I just kept rolling, and spinning, and shifting, and sweating. And that’s the thing about the Wahoo Kickr, it really encourages not just pedaling, but riding. Sure, it would be nice if out of the saddle efforts were accompanied by some side to side motion. But the Wahoo Kickr does away with a major downside that dogs the very idea of indoor riding: it eliminates the monotony, the mindless grinding that is the stationary trainer.
When my leg of the Tour de Pier was up, there was a pool of sweat beneath my bike and yes, I pedaled a bunch and went nowhere. But if we’re making a top ten list of ways to train indoors and be entertained, then put the Wahoo Kickr with Zwift at the top.