One of the coolest tricks you can do with the Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT, assuming it’s hooked up to a smart trainer, is that you can simulate riding a route you’ve ridden before…or even one you’ve never tried yourself. It’s proven very useful, especially during this past year or so of COVID19-induced lockdown when outdoor riding opportunities are either scarce or not the smartest thing to engage in.
The first step is to map out your route using the navigation app or website of your choice. Strava has long since discontinued route creation on free accounts, so I’m using Ride With GPS instead. For demonstration purposes, I mapped out a route I’ve always wanted to try, but never ridden before: the road from Ternate to Pico de Loro Cove (Hamilo Coast) via the Kaybiang Tunnel.
From experience driving my car along this route, it is a very picturesque road, twisting around Mt. Pico de Loro and offering both spectacular seaside views and mountain faces lined with plant life. It’s also quite the challenge for a cyclist, if the elevation profile is any indication. While there are short flat stretches you can catch your breath on, and a couple of long downhill stretches, the slope peaks at 16% in quite a few places along the way. Finally, it’s a relatively narrow road, so you need to keep your wits about you as you traverse the climbs.
Now that you have your route created, you will need to sync your ELEMNT BOLT to your navigation app or website of choice. This is easiest to do via the Wahoo ELEMNT smartphone app. When the account handshaking is set up, the routes you’ve created will synchronize with the ELEMNT BOLT seamlessly in the background. To check, you simply set the ELEMNT BOLT to “indoor” mode…
…go into the Indoor Training page and keep pressing the Mode button until you get to Route mode. Then press the Route button.
You should then be able to see all the routes you’ve created, and which app/website/platform they were created on.
Press the scroll buttons to select your desired route, start your ride, and you’re on your way.
Depending on the app or website you used for route creation, it will even display navigation and turn-by-turn directions in cue card format (this is the case with both Ride With GPS and Komoot). For indoor training, however, this is mainly window dressing. What really makes this a godsend for me is the elevation profile.
With the route data loaded into the ELEMNT BOLT, it can now control your smart trainer to set resistance according to the slope grade on the ride. On these photos, I have the climbing page zoomed in so I can better see the elevation profile and anticipate changes in gradient, as there are many of those along the route’s 26.3 kilometers, and they can catch you unaware.
How effective this is, is ultimately up to the capabilities and limitations of your smart trainer, as well as the mapping software you use. The Wahoo KICKR SNAP I use tops out at 12.5% grade slopes; any steeper incline will just lock the resistance as if it was at 12.5%, so for best results, you will need to take this into account. Places like the famous Shotgun road climb in San Mateo, Rizal’s Timberland area won’t be accurately represented in its lung-busting, knee-grinding slope spikes of 35% and 45%. In addition, YouTube power meter shaman Shane Miller has noted that routes generated in Komoot, in particular, tend to smoothen out the jagged edges of a route’s elevation profile. This is akin to losing some granular fine detail, although it will retain the general picture of major slope and elevation changes.
Armed with this knowledge, you can imagine the possibilities. Without leaving the comfort of your own home, you can pretty much simulate any route you can find, anywhere in the world. Famously fearsome climbs like the Col de la Madone or the Passo del Mortirolo can be simulated indoors, as long as your smart trainer can handle them. If anything, it’s one of the best ways to train your climbing legs without necessarily living near a climb or visiting one.