An Hour on the Wattbike

This is the description of a Wattbike lifted from their home page:

The Wattbike was created with British Cycling to provide an affordable indoor bike for training and testing that is suitable for everyone from school children to Olympic Gold Medallists.

The Wattmeister’s abilities lie somewhere in between these parameters. In his mind though an Olympic medal is still very much on the cards.

The local gym frequented by some of the MHP has recently acquired this piece of equipment. It measures power output with a great degree of accuracy. Iron Mike set the MHP hour bar with 37.5 kms and around 225 watts. TW bettered it with 39.7 kms/250 watts. Iron Mike then ramped up his training and more importantly steeled himself mentally to record 40.1 kms/250 watts.

A few weeks passed. Sixty minutes on the Wattbike is a tough workout. It can be set up to replicate the most comfortable position on your favourite road bike, but there is not much you can do to stave off the sensation of time slowing down as you struggle to maintain cadence and power.

Today, The Wattmeister felt that he had the legs and the inclination to take up the challenge.

The control panel displays a variety of figures, but the important ciphers are: average power: average speed: and revolutions per minute. Heart rate can be, and is monitored, but it is difficult to control after 30 minutes.

TW came prepared for the task with reading glasses and Nexus tablet with earphones. The plan was to watch Muhammed Ali and George Foreman’s Rumble in the Jungle from 1974, plus some Eurosport footage from the 2015 Giro D’Italia in order to distract himself from the pain.

The first 15 minutes glided by with the average speed at around 41.2 km ph, cadence at 92 RPM and average power steady at 260 watts. Meanwhile, on the tablet, Contador attacked, Aru and Porte countered and the minutes slipped by.

By the the second quarter, The Wattmeister had switched over to the boxing and a fight he knew off by heart. Ali pumped Foreman’s head with right hand leads while TW pumped his legs to maintain the figures.

At the thirty minute mark, sweat pouring over his reading glasses and dripping onto the Nexus, Ali was  ahead on points and TW was ahead of Iron Mike.

The third quarter began to get messy as TW started to lose form on the bike. His upper body, normally ramrod straight and still, began to shift and weave from side to side. Taking a drink from the bidon spoiled his rhythm and lost some power. The average speed had dropped to 40.7 km ph and the average watts sat at 258. Maintaining cadence became an annoyance.

TW began to compute how much slower he could go and still beat 40.1 km ph. What would Mike do? Mike would bloody well push harder.

With just 15 minutes to go, TW eschewed the Rumble in the Jungle. He imagined Ali’s knockout punch putting him out of the game. He couldn’t concentrate on the fight anyway, as everything began to unravel both physically and mentally.

But the display panel befriended him. His watts showed as 257, his average speed as 40.7. Impossible! There seemed to be nothing left in his legs but they were still going round and round, mechanically, in another universe, at 92 rpm.

Eight minutes to go, just a steady lap of Regents Park. How much do you want this? How much more pain can you take? Heart rate now at 175 bpm, about 96% of maximum. The gym looks like he is viewing it from inside a goldfish bowl.

Ali knocked out Foreman long ago, over forty years in fact. The Wattmeister was just a boy. He never imagined himself falling to pieces on some gym equipment reliving the fight on something called Youtube. Why couldn’t he have invented Youtube? Why couldn’t he have told Muhammed Ali to hang up his gloves after the third fight with Frazier, The Thrilla in Manila? Another glance at the display….some time seems to have passed.

Two minutes to go. What the hell, that’s only 180 revolutions….but he is only able to count to ten, so count to ten eighteen times.

One more minute, then just thirty seconds…. maybe a sprint? No, maybe not.

Display reads 40.6 kms. Watts read 257 average. He’s done it. He’s beaten Iron Mike.


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