No stranger to the bike, Alex Dowsett has raced at cycling’s top tier all of his adult life. A love of time trialling is evident among his impressive palmares, with six British national titles to his name, spanning nearly a decade across his 12-year professional career.
In 2015, Dowsett also broke the hour record – an event that many might argue is the purest expression of human performance on a bicycle – beating Twice world Time Trial champ and close friend, Rohan Dennis.
Although Wattbike began its journey in performance with GB’s track program back in 2008 – while Dowsett was with the British Olympic Academy development team – as a road specialist, Alex didn’t come into contact with Wattbike until now, making him a unique prospect: a novice Wattbike user with a wealth of extremely in-depth professional experience.
“It's pretty much plug in and play, isn't it?”
Alex has recently received his Wattbike Atom, which will replace his previous smart trainer. What was he most excited about? Not having to faff around, for a start, which is a pain that anyone who’s used a wheel-off trainer can relate to.
“You have to get everything out, set it all up, then you're sweating everywhere onto your bike. And then when you want to go for a ride outside, you take it all off. And all the bits and pieces, whether you’re thru axle or quick release, if you’ve got the right adapters. One of my biggest gripes was getting a new turbo trainer and there not being a cassette on it."
At least now everything he needs is in one box. With a reputation amongst his former colleagues for having an extremely keen eye for details, it’s no wonder the performance data available from the Wattbike Hub appeals to Alex. With his past success, you would expect he has some idea already of what does and doesn’t work – and also how he might learn more.
“I've got respectable power output – you know, you need to, to operate at the level I've operated at – but I've been able to beat people with fewer watts. My overall economy is good in a race. It's going to be interesting to see if the Wattbike can explain that a bit better. The pedal dynamics has always interested me, but I’ve never spent enough time on it to really get down into the nitty gritty of what's going on.
That questing mentality can be seen on Alex’s YouTube channel. Recently, he did an experiment with Zwift’s ramp test showing how different conditions affect output – whether that’s a long time off the bike, or a room that’s too hot, or not having eaten enough. But in doing so, he also noticed another phenomenon in his former trainer setup.
“What a lot of people noticed was actually how much modulation I was having to make just to keep the power within the band. Normally ERG mode should do that for you. But I was having to control that quite a lot – I think it's going to be interesting to jump on the Wattbike and do another FTP test and see what it gives me.”
Beyond that, what’s next for Alex – and his new Wattbike?
“I'm going to be stepping back into the British time trial scene, just from an enjoyable aspect, some of the national TT championships. Then I'll be doing The Gralloch gravel race, which is a bit of a new venture for me. A lot of my training for that will be Wattbike based.
I also think I'll step back into road racing in some capacity. I've got a lot of friends that race and I might try and help them. I'm going to sort of feel my way into that one. Time trialling is my love, so that's something I'll really be focused on. And if I enjoy the gravel race – which I think I will – there’ll be some more of that.”