Wahoo RGT – My First Magic Ride
It’s a rainy day. My bike is clean. No one else is using the iPad. It’s obviously the time to create and complete my first magic ride.
My Wahoo SYSTM subscription is fully cranked up to WORKING and so that means I automatically get the Wahoo RGT cycling features free. It’s the same login.
In A Nutshell: Magic Roads are a great idea but are clunky to get started with. That’s compensated by a prettily-presented interface. Wahoo RGT’s Magic Roads are definitely on the right track and I’m sure Wahoo will quickly get them to the destination.
Wahoo RGT – Setup and Impressions
Everything looks extremely well presented. You would expect no less from Wahoo (RGT).
The initial page reminds me of what I can accomplish in SYSTM plus educates me on what I can expect from WAHOO RGT. And there I see it…Magic Roads. Yep, that’s what I want to do.
I’ll start things rolling on the PC as that’s easier for me, so I go ahead and load up the Wahoo RGT Windows 10 app.
I could immediately choose a pre-canned ride and sample the delights of the Canary Road tarmac or instead join 50+ others on the 26km drag up Mt Ventoux. Nope, none of that. I want to upload one of my own routes and create a Magic Ride.
From the Home>Menu I find the Magic Roads option. It’s perhaps not the Wowiest of names but the end game is clever so let’s continue.
The instruction clearly says to mail an accurate GPX file to email@example.com ensuring that the total distance is less than 100km/62-miles. So I obviously ignored that and sent a TCX file that otherwise met the criteria ;-). I had one to hand that conveniently had corrected elevation data in it. Almost immediately, I was sent back an email saying that the team were on it. Good!
For a special first ride, you might have imagined that I would re-live former glories over Ride London, perhaps a favourite bike leg of one of my more successful duathlon ITU AG rides from the good old days. Maybe a cycling-holiday memory of the Tourmalet or even the Tour de Yorkshire? Nope, it just had to be a lap of nearby Richmond Park. My choice was influenced by the file I had to hand plus the fact that I know every single bump and twist of the entire 11km loop. So it will be a good test route albeit a wholly uninspired one.
Sadly 4 minutes later it was confirmed that you really DO need a GPX file. #UserError
Luckily I use Fit File Repair Tool which manipulates any sports file, fixes any error, adds any feature and, well let’s put it this way: It definitely CAN convert a TCX file into a GPX file. So that’s what I did.
Another short but impressive, 4-minutes later and my course is ready. The distance, elevation plot and ‘map’ look good so let’s ride. I can even share the course ID with friends and create an event for us all to simultaneously join. Not this time. It’s just me.
Once I start the route/ride, I couldn’t just GO. There was a 5-minute delay presumably to enable any other riders to join.
But no one did 😉 so it was always going to be me vs. The Bots.
Here’s where things got a bit weird. I would have expected to be able to start my ride from the screen where I created it but I had to go through a convoluted process to get the ride ID and then go back to my list of scheduled rides. That, I think, is a short description of what you need to do. But I’m not entirely sure! I erroneously went to many other places and clicked on many other things. There were instructions that popped up but they were too small and I couldn’t read them. (I couldn’t read them at all on the iPhone and on the iPad I could only read some of them)
The navigation/flow inside the app definitely needs idiot-proofing.
But Finally one of my random clicks worked…
Starting the Ride
I got to the start line and there was enough time to quickly check I had all my sensors paired up, the fan on 11/10 and my wits about me. I used a Garmin HRM-PRO; Wahoo KICKR Rollr as the resistance controller and source of speed; plus the Shimano R9100p as a power meter and source of cadence.
At some point, I had to re-enter my personal details and FTP which I would hope Wahoo eventually links to the corresponding value I already had in Wahoo SYSTM.
Let’s go. There was me and 40 Bots on the start line all of whom headed off at various paces. Thus there was always someone to ride with, chase or try to drop which added a nice competitive experience.
I did glance at some of the other Wahoo RGT courses and some of the environmental graphics (building, trees, etc) were great. On my lap of Richmond Park, there were a few trees and boulders. Fine. But not especially inspiring.
Here is a comparison of the buildings of the public Canary Whary route plus the trees and grass of my Richmond Park route.
It’s perhaps worth looking at the various charts on the screen at this point as they inform your efforts and add to the gamified experience
- Elevation Profile and Rider Positions – Across the bottom of the screen there is a colour-graded elevation profile and some white dots representing the positions of all the riders. Nice
- To the Right of the screen there is a pencil-line course map and above that some info on your speed, the slope, elapsed time, relative position on the current segment and a few other basics.
The leader board is on the left and the chart above it is more interesting. Look at these…
The info changes slightly depending on whether you are drafting or chasing. A stat shows you how much power you save when drafting (17w in the images).
Finally, there is a pop-up menu where you can look behind or view as if you were riding or view as if someone were watching you riding.
I’d already linked to Strava and my ride appeared nearly as if it were a real ride over Richmond Park. The giveaways that it was a virtual ride were that an image from Wahoo RGT was included and the ride was classed as Virtual thus no Strava segments were shown.
I’m not a huge fan of Zwift so my personal opinion of Wahoo RGT is always going to be swayed by my current preference for real riding. That said and having obviously used Zwift, I was quite happy with the in-ride experience of Wahoo RGT on offer.
Here are some specific issues I encountered on my first two rides. There’s nothing insurmountable for Wahoo RGT but the initial experience was not as good as the reality turned out to be ie the setup and Magic Road creation might put some people off continuing.
- Despite knowing the route really well, most of the time I didn’t know where I was by looking at the road ahead. The twists and turns didn’t match reality BUT
- I did a re-test with a file from Strava of the same route. The result was MUCH more realistic. Why? Strava smooths the bends more correctly than my GPS recording.
- Junctions: I don’t expect Wahoo RGT to get building and tress in the right place from a simple GPX file I send them. However, I would expect my route to be overlaid onto a real map and the junctions represented on the course I have to ride. Other than the map, this would be the one single thing to help me know where I was on the course.
- In-game metrics like drafting power and power to overtake were good though I spent 10 minutes on the Wahoo RGT platform to get a detailed explanation of all the screen elements and couldn’t find one. I’m sure one exists but…
- The upcoming perspective of the road ahead is not quite right and doesn’t reflect real life. The experience was similar to Zwift and to a complete newbie either they might seem highly similar. However, the landscapes and effects around the course on Zwift are clearly superior but Wahoo RGT is perfectly fine.
- The iPad experience is fairly good and I imagine it’s even better on a bigger screen. The experience on an iPhone wasn’t great on the small screen.
- The bonus of having bots to ride with was good. There seemed to be some that were shooting off ahead at an effort similar to my FTP and others that were loitering around me, behind me or ahead of me. It felt like I was racing realistic raiders to a good degree. See: Wahoo RGT RCP, I’ll say that works.
Wahoo has obviously got some great digital assets here. Something awesome will pop out in months or years’ time but will enough of us jump on board and stump up the subscription for their flavour of gamified cycling?
Zwift may be dealing with internal distractions as they try to create hardware to sell to us. Whereas Wahoo has a different distraction which is the integration and improvement of SYSTM and Wahoo RGT into a unified cycling platform. Wahoo RGT is going to keep Wahoo suitably distracted for some time as there are several significant enhancements that will be made to it – for example, I understand that they are working on adding more representative scenery, like building in the right place.
However is that what we, the indoor cycling public want? After all, a mischievous blogger might load up a Zwift GPX and use it on RGT, there’s probably a story there somewhere. You would see how much better Zwift looks right now but would it really matter? What really matters to Zwift is the social gamification…ie having lots of real people there with you but in a digital world. Wahoo perhaps can get a critical mass but if they rely on that critical mass coming only from Wahoo owners it’s going to be tricky. There are simply WAY more Garmin Edge owners that Wahoo will need to reach out to.
Maybe Wahoo is playing the long game and this is just one more step toward that.
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