One of the most outstanding features of being a member of a cycling club is the support you get from the other members. During Covid lock-down, I was chatting with my mates on a zoom call. These virtual chats took the place of the weekend club rides that weren’t allowed! It was a throw away comment from me saying “I’m missing riding with mates”, that prompted the lovely Paul to suggest I go to his place and pick up his old Tacx wheel-on trainer, so I could ride around with others on Zwift. He warned me it would take a little mucking about with some bespoke software before it would work. Perhaps I’ll post a separate story about how that went.
Suffice to say, some weeks later, after abandoning the software hack that initially got me going, I acquired a crank based power meter and threw myself fully into indoor riding. This served me very well for a decent length of time and enabled me to engage with the wonderful world of Zwift. Additionally it had the benefit of giving me a crash course in learning how to train with power.
Wheel on or wheel off
It wasn’t a perfect solution by any means. The trainer developed several issues, partly due to its age and the hours of use, but mostly because the technology had moved on. ‘Wheel off’ or ‘direct drive’ trainers don’t suffer things like tyre slip and wear. They also react in real time to changes in gradient. This is an important feature, because when the road pitches up in game, riders on smart trainers instinctively pedal harder. Every time this happens, it leaves people on dumb trainers like me behind. For racing, that’s a deal breaker.
I was now the proud owner of a box of parts previously known as a Kickr. A 2014/ 15, version 1 Wahoo Kickr.
Anyhoo, those I rode with in the club eventually took pity on me. So, a year later, just before a Velodrome session that the club had organised, another member offered me his old broken Wahoo Kickr. In truth, it was an ‘If you can fix that old pile of crap you can keep it’ type of challenge. This was a red rag to a bull…
The Wahoo Kickr take-home
The joys of riding the iconic indoor Lee Valley Velodrome is yet another story for another time. Needless to say, the session was great fun and a good workout.
At the end of the evening, after we trouped out of the track and made our way to the car park, a handover took place, much like that scene you’ll see in movies when an arms deal goes down. I was now the proud owner of a box of bits that were previously known as a Wahoo Kickr. A 2014/ 15, version 1 Wahoo Kickr. There wasn’t much left of this thing. It was basically a heavy box of scrap metal and plastic. Sadly. it was also missing a foot. This would be the point in the movie when the shooting starts and all bar one are left standing. Nevertheless, I thanked Eran hugely, chucked it all into the boot of the car and drove home through East London with it.
That night I’d been using the hire bike at the track, so there was nothing to take up to my flat apart from the box of scrap in the boot of the car. A Kickr is not light BTW. It was late in the evening and after all that track riding I was toast. So, I stashed it and headed straight off to Beddington.
The morning after
Next morning I assessed the situation and took time to identify the shards of metal and understand how this thing worked. Somehow – don’t ask – both the adaptors for use with a quick release, as well as those needed for through axles, were missing!! WTF? How could I have misplaced those. Eran had pointed them out proudly to me and I’d actually handled them before putting everything into the car!!!! #MyBad. One thing I’m glad I bothered to do at this stage was to plug in the power supply and check that the trainer was broadcasting data and that my computer could see it as a Bluetooth / ANT+ device. There it was showing up in my Zwift software. Of course, I couldn’t use it but this was a good thing. I had the makings of a ‘direct drive’ trainer right there. Now all I had to do was fix it!!