In July 2018, Wattbiker Paul Downton took on the Passportes du Soleil, a mountain bike event in the French Alps. Although he’d done it a number of times before, he was yet to complete it, and admitted this year had been a challenge, thanks to time spent recovering from an injury and a lack of training hours following a busy period at work.
It was at that point that he decided that if he wanted to start seeing results, he’d have to make a change, so he started to look at his indoor training options.
“Out of all my options, the Wattbike Atom just felt more ‘me’, although I’ll still admit I was sceptical at first. I considered a turbo but had no road bike, and I liked the idea that once the Atom was set up, it was ready.”
“I knew early on I’d need to use one of the many apps to keep me motivated.” Paul admitted, and tried and tested a number of the free trials that came with his Atom.
Paul instantly clicked with FulGaz. “With FulGaz there’s a ride for every moment. There is so much variety. If you only have 30 minutes you can hop on and do 30 minutes, if you have longer you can do 2 and a half hours.”
Since beginning to use the Wattbike, Paul says he’s noticed a number of differences across his performance, weight and mental wellbeing. When he trains he admits to focusing less on data and more on visual results and feelings. “I’ve taken a long approach, focusing on losing weight. Some months [I’ll lose] a few hundred grams, but never more than 1kg. I play averages and worry about it over a month, not the micro daily weight, as the fluctuation can be massive with riding, eating out and travelling,” he says. “Visually, the difference between July 2018 and September 2019 is noticeable. I’ve lost weight before but not managed to improve my fitness, which I have achieved this time.”
“I log all my cycling activities with Garmin so I can easily compare my year on year progress. It’s been great to see the increase in my mileage- just over 300%- since getting my Wattbike.
“A recent physio visit also showed I have some imbalance between my right and left leg, so I’ll be looking to improve my polar view and pedalling efficiency next.”
Comparing his pre and post Atom progress, Paul recalls his recent experience riding the Red and Black at Kirroughtree, where he shaved 40 minutes off his previous time. “That was 20 minutes riding time and 20 minutes rest time,” he says, paying tribute to his newfound fitness capabilities. After making a pact with a mate he later took on two laps of The Beast at Coed Y Brenin, consisting of 46.3 miles with over 6000ft of climbing. “I would have never even thought of trying it before, but my time on the Atom shone through and I was able to enjoy the ride to the very end. At the 30 mile mark, I was thinking, ‘this should be hard’ but that was banished and I was fit ‘til the end. When you get to a climb that should be hard and find that it’s not, it’s quite bizarre, but in a good way.”
“I’ve surprised myself to what I’ve been able to achieve with a consistent approach to exercise,” Paul reflects, “It’s given me this amazing confidence, just to have a go at stuff and see how far I can go.”
Looking forward to his goals for next year, Paul has taken the plunge in buying himself a road bike, thanking his time spent on the trainer for providing him with the confidence to try something new. He’s not made it easy for himself either, his sights are set on Etap Lochness as a warm-up to the Grande Fondo Stelvio in June.
Even after his considerable progress, Paul’s modest approach remains the same. “I consider every ride a personal challenge rather than a race or something to be competitive about. Everyone has different stories and different goals.”
“Even now I’d only refer to myself as a recreational cyclist. Deep down I knew I’d never be at the front, I just wanted to be fitter, stronger and more confident.”
Pauls Top Tips for Motivation
- Set goals- Paul makes sure he remains realistic about what he can manage each month.
- Doing something is better than nothing. He stresses that it’s important to get in a ride, even if you don’t feel like doing as much as originally planned for that day.
- Switch up your training. Keep things interesting by adding in some off-bike work such as weights, rowing or running.
Looking to improve your fitness? Check out the Wattbike Atom.