Category Archives: Training

Updating my gaming and office set up!

So what brought me to this point in my life? The simple answer is indoor rowing and an injury sustained on a night off when I was taking it easy! Go figure! When rowing in my normal style I had no issues but one night, 10 weeks ago, I decided to not miss a training day and row a more relaxed style – big mistake! I’m now back indoor biking, determined to build up my strength but still 4 weeks away from rowing and all this got me thinking. Should I adjust the way I sit and work at home – everything I can do to protect my back and improve my posture must be good, right?

When I started taking a good look at my setup I saw so many things that weren’t right, in fact most of it was wrong! I have to get a new chair, a new desk, a new wider monitor and while I’m at it, a monitor arm to take the new monitor away from the generic stand and take up desk space.

The chair

After a few weeks of looking at youtube and researching various websites I’ve narrowed the search down to two companies – Secret Labs (The Titan and Omega) and NobleChairs (Hero or Icon). I’m not after anything “boy racer”, I’m far too old for that and to be honest, even though I’m looking at gaming chairs, I’m not a huge gamer! Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the odd session but certainly not the hours and hours most of the gamers do!

I don’t want anything too soft, that’s been my downfall in the past, because if a chair is super comfortable on day one it’s only going to get worse quickly. My current chair of choice is the Eames chair but that really hasn’t lasted well and at well over £3000 it’s not a cheap chair!

From what I’ve heard, none of the chairs from Secret Labs or NobleChairs are soft, in fact they are quite hard but with the lumbar support and a style that encourages good posture they are a must for office work or gaming sessions.

Ordering online is never easy when it comes to a big purchase like this, if you’re miles away from a showroom it’s simply impractical to try these chairs out free of any risk, that’s why it’s taking me so long to decide. I really want to do my homework and make sure I get the right chair. There are so many things to consider – height of the chair, the backrest, does it have inbuilt lumbar support and how far back does it recline?

Over the next month I’ll take the plunge and order one but even then I’ll have the dilemma of whether to order a leather, PU leather or Secret Lab’s new Softweave material – like I said so many decisions!

One thing I am slowly moving towards is having inbuilt lumbar support to help the posture which in itself narrows down the field a little to Secret Lab’s Titan and the Hero model from Noble Chairs – both incidentally come in at the same price point of £349 – not cheap by any means.

I love the way both look but I am concerned about the height of the Titan from Secret Labs, it may well be too tall for me. Using their online calculator they are pointing me towards the Omega model (which comes with a neck pillow and a lumbar support pillow) decisions, decisions!

The Hero from Noble Chairs doesn’t come without any risks either, height is once again a concern but at least I have the option of getting a smaller Gas Lift (both options are class 4). It’s a lovely problem to have, champagne problems! But health is important and it’s all about making sure I do as much as I can to keep training.

The Desk

I had originally decided to go down the Ikea route but after talking toa  friend – who jsut happens to be a carpenter I’m going to make – or rather he is – an Oak desk. It’ll look so much nicer!

So that’s it for the first post, plenty to think about and so many add ons will be required to make it look minimal. It’s so much fun though!

Hit me up on Twitter …NOW! The follow up article to this can now be found here – Harman Kardon & Softweaves!

Wattbike ATOM – Hands on

A few weeks ago Wattbike kindly sent over the new Wattbike ATOM for me to test for a few days and although I was still setting up the home gym, converting the garage, I managed to move a few things around and create enough space to accommodate the bike.

Wattbike ATOM

Indoor cycling has developed a great deal over the last couple of years, especially with the popularity of Zwift (and other third party software such as Trainer Road, Sufferfest) going from strength to strength – more on Zwift in future posts but it’s an incredible piece of software that truly encourages hard work and sweat! Nothing like watching your very own avatar ride up to another cyclist and benefit from the draft!

Wattbike ATOM

My first impressions were incredibly positive, it’s a lovely bit of kit and although not a finished model (number 26 I think) it looks sharp and aerodynamic! When I first saw it, my first thoughts were I hope this is good – I want one! It looks a lot sexier than the Pro or Trainer models.

Setting up the bike is simple and anyone used to cycling indoors will know individual measurements, seat angles, height and such and get to it. Adjustments are made by the supplied Allen keys. You may also need to change the pedals, they come with basic key pedals so buying clipless pedals is a must.

Connecting the iPad (you have to supply your own iPad/Tablet/Phone) with the bike is straightforward and following two rides on the first morning, one with Zwift and the other with the wattbike app. The connection worked well, seamless in fact however I did feel as if there were a couple of niggles with it a) it took a lot more effort to get the same wattage I have been getting with the Pro or Trainer b) there is a slight delay in gear shifting and c) I found the resistance slightly strange in that there was more when I didn’t expect it i.e. 0% and when reaching the top of a gradient the resistance grew for a couple of seconds before tailing off. This was using the Zwift application.

Wattbike ATOM

Connections with the bike itself and heart rate monitor are very easy.

Given the small issues I had with the bike and Zwift I thought I’d try it out using the updated Wattbike App – I tried Winnats Pass to see how that was and to see the resistance! I wish I hadn’t! As a rookie, and I mean rookie, I struggled! I managed it in 12 minutes but it was tough going. The app starts on gear 6/22 and I quickly found once the gradient kicked in I’d have to knock it down – ended up at 1/22 (shows how bad I am I guess!) but it appeared more responsive to me. The resistance was tough, I think it went up to 17 or 18% but I might have missed it if it did go higher! I stopped twice!

Feeling a little more confidence from a more responsive connection I did a few more generic rides (just ride) and it definitely felt better and more tuned with the official app than Zwift but this I’m sure is down to the Zwift software. The one thing friends have commented on when they’ve been around is how damn sexy the bike is! It’s very aero looking and definitely has a smaller profile than the original bikes so if space is a consideration then this may suit your needs over the Pro. It’s very sturdy and didn’t move when I went from side to side either in the saddle or standing up doing the Winnats pass climb.

Although I’ve mentioned the gearing above one thing that I’d like to see in third party software is an indication of what gear you are in. When using the Pro or Trainer this isn’t as important because the gearing is visual but with the ATOM, apart from when using the Wattbike App, there’s no way you can tell an given the delay in response time from shifting the gears you can quite easily think the instruction hasn’t made it through and you end up with too high or too low a gear on anything but the inbuilt app. I’m hoping this is something Wattbike and third party software developers like Sufferfest, Trainer Road and Zwift will sort out sooner rather than later.

Wattbike ATOM
Resistance is automatic on the bike, the gear shifting is manual via the right handle bars with an up and down trigger, simple to use and feels more natural.

The main thing about this bike is that Wattbike are developing it purely for the home market, this isn’t a gym bike and you can’t compare the ATOM with the Pro model but the fact that it comes with a 2 year guarantee from Wattbike should alleviate any fears over workmanship. Would I buy one? Definitely, this is a lovely bit of kit. There is currently a 15 week lead time with the ATOM, an increase over the 6 week lead time a month ago. It’ll be interesting to see if cyclists used to direct drive training will jump over to the ATOM, only time will tell.

Specs:-

Smart trainer control: ANT+ FEC and Bluetooth Smart Control
Gears: 22
Gradient: Range 0–25%
Third Party Connectivity: Via ANT+ FEC/ANT+/Bluetooth Smart Control
Height: Max. 150cm (fully extended tablet holder)
Width: 50cm
Length: 100cm
Weight: 44kg
Feet: Rubber feet
Rollers: Transportation rollers fitted
Cranks: 170mm
Seat: Racing seat fitted as standard
Pedals: Flat pedals with toe cage fitted as standard
Tablet holder: Can accomodate from 70mm–240mm in height
Frame: Aluminium
Handlebar fore/aft adjustability: Range 0–7.5cm
Handlebar height adjustability: Range 53.5cm–76.5cm
Saddle fore/aft adjustability: Range 0–8.8cm
Saddle height adjustability: Range 57cm–83cm
Power range: 0–2000w
Resistance: Magnetic
Power required: Mains adaptor

Don’t forget to take a look at Ray’s hands on experience over at DC Rainmaker.

The ATOM is priced at £1,499 – £1,559 including postage.