Wahoo Kickr x Zwift: Indoor cycling nirvana?
Jasmijn Muller recently smashed* the Zwift Distance Record with a Wahoo Kickr, Zwift and her Specialized Shiv TT bike. After 62 hours getting intimately acquainted with the kit, she’s pretty well placed to tell us how they perform under pressure…
For a woman who only took up cycling in 2011, Jasmijn Muller is one serious over-achiever, boasting a brilliant solo win at Le Mans 24 Heures Vélo in 2013, the Best British All-Rounder title in 2014 and winning the National 12-hour time trial in 2015.
Nicknamed Duracell Bunny On A Bike, she is focused on breaking Lynne Biddulph’s incredible LEJOG (Land’s End to John O’Groats) record - 52 hours and 45 minutes - and has prepped her body and mind by taking on, and then breaking, the Zwift indoor cycling Distance Record, a feat that used the combined kit of a Wahoo Kickr indoor trainer, Zwift software and her Specialized Shiv TT bike.
The record, which was previously held by Chris Hopkinson and stood at 1,010 miles in 72 hours and 36 minutes, was beaten by Jasmijn doing an incredible 1,135.9 miles with a ride time of 62 hours, 4 minutes and 30 seconds (and total time of 70 hours 11 minutes). Here she tells us how the kit fared under pressure.
I was really impressed by how compact the Wahoo Kickr is. For a smart trainer that packs in Bluetooth Smart connectivity and all sorts of other bells and whistles, it is only 7kg heavier than my old, dumb trainer.
Digging deeper (what rocked, what didn’t, best features)
Getting the Kickr set up was pretty straight forward and I was glad to find you can adjust the height of both 'legs' individually. That comes in handy in a crooked London flat. Even better, the Kickr comes kitted out with a cassette, so all you need to do is take out your rear wheel, place your bike on the turbo and off you go.
A few minutes after pairing the Kickr with the Wahoo Fitness app and performing a 'spindown' test to calibrate the unit, I was ready to start my first ride. I wouldn't say it's exactly quiet, but it’s considerably quieter than many others I have tried, and it definitely gives a more 'road-like' feel than my old dumb trainer.
At nearly £1,000 the Kickr doesn't come cheap, but if you compare it to buying a bicycle as a longer term investment that gives you mid-week evenings of fun and enables you to pack in an indoor training when you are short on time, then it’s certainly worth it.
£8 per month
The first time I 'saw' Zwift in action was when Chris Hopkinson did his first record attempt back in December 2016. It looked pretty slick and surreal at the same time.
I had heard a lot about Zwift before, but hadn't quite realised how powerful and popular a training tool it is. Within the space of two weeks I went from being a complete Zwift novice to setting a new Zwift distance record of 1828km in one continuous ride.
One of the best features of Zwift is that you can ride with people from around the world, plus the people on the various Zwift facebook groups are really supportive, including a very friendly Ladies Only group. The courses are well designed with beautiful graphics and challenging gradients which the Kickr adjusts to with ease.
Other cool features include the in-game messages and conversations and the various challenges to unlock (e.g. riding 100 miles in one ride, hitting 600 watts or riding 3 days in a row). One of the most addictive features of Zwift are the levels you can unlock to gain faster wheels or bikes and cool new jerseys for your avatar to wear. These interim levels were great interim-goals to aim for during my record attempt. I am sad to say I "only" made it to level 17 during the record attempt.. I would like to challenge someone to ride level 1 to 25 all in one ride!
Zwift will never be able to replace that feeling of having the wind in your face and the sense of adventure you get from riding outside, but it has certainly transformed my indoor cycling and made it a lot more fun. I would recommend it to everyone as a training tool and not just for winter or rainy days. It’s a great way to challenge yourself without having to suffer in your own little pain bubble and the graphics, interaction with other riders and numerous in-game missions and challenges will certainly keep you entertained and coming back for more.
*Like the saddle sores, Jasmijn's Zwift record has meanwhile been and gone. Just two weeks after she claimed the record it was broken by Jessica Beslisle who spent 5 days on her turbo in Canada (covering 3,109 km) and in early March Chris Hopkinson reclaimed the record by 'living' in Zwift for as many as 6 days (covering just shy of 3,143 km).