Every year the same thing happens: I’m usually in pretty good cycling shape by the time fall arrives, only to have the cycling season come to an abrupt end once Daylight Saving time hits and I’m cast into cold and darkness for the next 6 months. I tell myself, “I’m going to ride my indoor training this winter so I don’t have to start over again in spring.” I start riding my rollers a few times and those few times become less and less with each passing week to the point where I’m typically not riding at all by January. Then that first warm spring day comes a few months later, I get on my bike, my legs don’t work and my butt is sore for the rest of the month as I try to get my legs back. Ugh.
Why does this keep happening, despite my best intentions? Because riding indoors is mind-numbingly boring. Not only that, most bicycle trainers don’t come remotely close to simulating real-world conditions, adding to the misery created by staring at my basement walls for hours on end while sweat drips out of every pour. Some local bike shops have indoor trainer rides, like Wheel & Sprockets Training Hub, which I can only guess would be a bit more fun than suffering alone, but I know me and I won’t want to pack-up my bike and trainer and then drive to my local bike shop every time I want to work-out.
Not looking forward to riding my rollers again this year but not wanting to lose all the fitness I had gained over the summer, I started looking for alternative trainers this fall. Maybe a fluid trainer might somehow magically make me want to ride indoors again? Or what about a new “floating” roller system? While there are a lot of options these days for indoor cycling trainers, almost all of them fail at the same thing: Keeping one’s mind entertained while one’s body is exercising.
While there are a lot of options these days for indoor cycling trainers, almost all of them fail at the same thing: Keeping one’s mind entertained while one’s body is exercising.
If you stare at the Internet long enough, you eventually find what you’re looking for. In my case, I searched for a pretty long time before I stumbled across a new type of trainer that not only appealed to the cyclist in me, it appealed to the technology nerd in me. That new type of trainer is the smart trainer. A smart trainer takes the decisions regarding resistance away from the rider and gives it to software that can vary the resistance to simulate riding in the real world.
The most popular of the current smart trainers is the Wahoo Kickr. After reading countless reviews of the Kickr, almost all of them very positive, I began wondering what all the fuss was about. The “fuss” is all about the fact that using the Wahoo Kickr along with software like Zwift suddenly turns one’s uber-boring indoor training session into an interactive video game. The Zwift software controls the Kickr and presents you with a virtual world to cycle in, either by yourself or with hundreds of people around the world. Bingo! An indoor training solution that incorporates mind-stimulation! I could feel my wallet starting to come out of my pocket.
However, as exciting as it may seem to have an indoor trainer that creates a virtual environment, this technology doesn’t come cheaply. I originally started my new trainer search thinking a $500 trainer was ludicrous and ended up purchasing a refurbished Wahoo Kickr for almost $1,000. What?!?! Have I gone mad? What if I don’t like it just like I hated all my other trainers!?!?!
In the two months I’ve owned the Wahoo Kickr and have been riding on Zwift, I really like the combination. I almost find it hard to believe that I want to ride my bike indoors now. The header image is a screen-capture of “virtual me” on Zwift.
In my next post, I’ll show my “Zwift Island rig” (i.e., how I have my bike setup to ride on Zwift). It’s by no means pretty, but involves quite a bit of technology that I’ll explain for those who are thinking about preventing boredom this winter. I’ll also explain why I’m starting to think the hefty price tag of the Wahoo Kickr is justified.