Turbo your Training with a Wattbike Hire
Posted by Matt Moran on Apr 17, 2012
Today we've got a great guest blog post from Phil Jones, you may recognise his name from the excellent Race-Pace.net blog which is essential reading for anybody wanting to improve their cycling performance. He's also on Twitter at @roadphil and is well worth a follow.
Phil has been training on his Wattbike all winter and it was great to hear he was targeting The London-Paris this summer as his main event of the year. Phil 'de-mystifies' much of the cycling geek talk on his blog which makes it a great read, so it would be wrong of me to not just let him tell his Wattbike story in his own words.
See you on the start line in June Phil!
Turbo your Training with a Wattbike Rental
An indoor trainer is a necessary training aid for anyone serious about their cycling. Our weather systems are becoming ever more peculiar and as the met office can predict a sunny day, you draw back the curtains to see the wind blowing a gale with driving rain - you know what I mean!
I own a turbo trainer, but have to confess I haven’t used it much since owning it; it was an impulse purchase in a bike shop. Preferring to get out on the road at every opportunity, rather than spin away and go nowhere, the turbo trainer has been gathering dust. With the winters becoming harsher and the nights darker, indoor cycling is becoming the only option if you want to enter the Spring with miles in your legs.
Turbo Your Training
I spotted Manchester Velodrome did some spinning classes using Wattbikes, which caught my eye as an alternative to turbo training. I’d read about the Wattbike and how GB cycling used them for power training and coaching. The velodrome is on my way home from work, so I thought I’d give it a go as I love anything techie. I got hooked on the Wattbike after the first session, like a junkie.
Getting home that night, I saw on the web that you can hire a Wattbike for £60 per month, which considering what I’d been spending on kit, stuff, bits, gadgets, gizmos and anything remotely bike related, seemed a bargain. I got one ordered. After having a Wattbike for three months, here’s my assessment of what I’ve learned: -
1. My scrape through was bobbins, bordering on the “non existent”.
2. That my left leg was dominant to the right on the down stroke.
How has the Wattbike helped?
1. I spent the winter mostly focusing on my pedalling technique, above everything else. My pedal stroke is in much improved and hopefully now embedded into my muscle memory.
2. My pedal stroke has balanced out with balanced power through both legs (50/50).
On the Numbers
The big difference between the time on a turbo trainer and the time on the Wattbike has to be data. A bit like golf, there’s no point smashing a basket of balls if you’re not getting the feedback from a coach as to where you’re going wrong.
The wattbike screen has been my virtual coach, allowing me to spend sessions getting the “feel” right in my legs, so that I can spend quality sessions making the right adjustments using feedback from the LCD screen, rather than an hour just turning the pedals. You can also clip in with your cleats, which makes it feel more real.
Having a power output reading with heart rate monitor, allows you to spend sessions working on specific training zones, aligned to power as well as heart rate. This gives you an additional set of data to understand if you are improving. As an indication, my power output has increased by 10% since renting the Wattbike, mainly through a combination of pedal technique and HIIT sessions (High Intensity Interval Training).
Fitting in the Miles
I’m no Bradley Wiggins. I’m short on time, with a BMI a bit higher than I’d like and a diet which is often about what an airline or service station has on offer, plus the usual long list of business and family commitments – hey what’s new. I’m not the fastest rider you’ll ever meet, a long way from it, however, I do love riding my bike and I’d like to try and be the best I can be with the genetics I’ve been given. Having a Wattbike means I can slip in a quick hours training, either in the morning or the evening to keep the miles up, whilst not disappearing for hours, fitting the miles around my lifestyle.
Non-fat Latte or Non-fat You?
If you are one of those people that spend money on bike stuff, I’d thoroughly recommend that before you part with another £60 for a new bit of clothing that promises you an immediate upgrade to the Pro peloton, that you consider chucking it behind a Wattbike rental instead and having a proper look at where you can make some long term improvements. It’s less than the cost of a Starbucks Cappuccino per day when all said and done.
You’ll see far more tangible benefit, be able to do more specific training and have some fun evenings doing power tests with your cycling buddies before realising what it really takes to make it at the top of the sport, or the top of your road.
Phil Jones is UK Country Head for Multi-National Technology business Brother UK (Twitter @philjones40). He also writes a blog about road cycling for those new to the sport at http://www.race-pace.net (Twitter @racepaceblog) and Tweets about cycling related topics via @roadphil.