Getting up close and personal with the RevBox

Here at Jam Cycling, we want to impart as much knowledge as possible about the products we work with. And the best way to do that is… to use them.

I started cycling about 4 years ago, when I moved to London and, in that time, have mainly done my riding in the great outdoors. Cue lots of laps around Regents Park and Richmond Park, weekend adventures out into Surrey, Kent, Brighton and further afield (to sunshine) in Fuerta Ventura, France and Tenerife. However, I never once climbed onto an indoor trainer.

I just didn’t need to. I was improving all the time just by riding my bike, riding it lots and sometimes riding up hills. I was doing structured interval sessions – but that was for running, which I used to do a lot more of. Recently, however, I’ve become interested in the structured side of bicycle riding (probably something to do with working at Jam Cycling…?!) and have decided to start adding some interval work into my riding routine.

I’ve always been the kind of person that revels in a really tough work out. I find it super satisfying and invigorating to know I couldn’t have worked any harder (sweat in eyes, huffpuffing all over the place, need to lie down stuff). So, in that sense, the RevBox has always appealed to me.

Initial impressions

The purpose of my first session on the RevBox was mainly to help me get a feel for it. What zones and cadence I could achieve in what gearing. After a 15-minute warm up, I liked this thing already. The whooshing noise the fan makes is pretty helpful, the more balanced your pedalling is, the more rhythmical the sound. It’s quite meditative.

I was soon pulled out of my reverie though. For sets of 5, every 90 seconds, I had to drop a gear and up my cadence, with the aim of holding on for 15 seconds if I could, but 10 seconds was fine if that’s all I had. This was interesting. As I increased my cadence, the lactic flooded my quads within 5 seconds and I struggled to maintain a decent rpm for even 10 seconds. The session should have been taxing me aerobically, but because I’d geared it all wrong, I was stressing my anaerobic system.

Figure 1 - Max cadence: 128 rpm

That’s because my go-to move is to grind away at a low cadence and higher gearing – I blame it on a lack of fast-twitch fibres, but George would argue otherwise; it’s just a bad habit. I should have warmed up in the little ring, then moved onto the big ring for the efforts. So, for the next set, I adapted how I was doing the reps and the recovery, and managed a much better cadence with much less lactic.

Figure 2 - Max cadence: 146 rpm

Interesting. Lesson learnt.

Session 2: The real stuff

Now I was more au fait with the feel of the RevBox, it was time to try something a little more challenging. I’d connected myself up to Zwift and loaded a session from Training Peaks. It contained a warm up, some short efforts in zones 4-6, then two sets of 15 minutes at sweet spot, followed by a final set of 1-minute zone 5 efforts and a warm down.

The challenge isn’t just doing the session; it’s doing the session right. My first rep (a 10-sec sprint) was way off the mark. I really underestimated my ability to achieve 385 W so heaved myself out the saddle for the first few pedal strokes. In so doing, I achieved my second highest ever 5-second power, which was nice and everything, but not required in this session… I managed it a little better the second time round…

Figure 3 - The blue is the planned output and the pink is the actual...

I found that I really needed to concentrate. In order to nail each part of the workout, I had to be 100% engaged, constantly moving through the pedal stroke to keep my watts where I wanted them. The moment my brain drifted away, my output wavered.

Figure 4 - Concentration lapses... oops

I really enjoyed this session; it was hard work, but as long as I remained focused I was able to achieve all of the targets. I had an irrational fear of capsizing the RevBox, but it was unfounded – it’s sturdy enough that, when I needed to throw my weight into the final reps, I could; that thing wasn’t going anywhere.

The next day my quads felt tender to the touch.

Yep. I like this thing…

Check back in a few weeks to see how I’m getting on. We’ve planned an FTP test, so it’ll be interesting to see where my numbers are at.