"Despite its fearsome reputation, we won't do anything too strenuous", said Wattbike's Matt Moran in an email the day before we were due to meet in person. I vaguely guessed what he was getting at. Cycling as a recreation is open to everyone, but as a sport it's infamous for being a hardman's game. Under Matt's guidance, I would be testing myself against a professional calibre cycling training machine. His warning was like an executioner saying: "This is where people get hung, drawn and quartered – but don't worry. We'll only be hanging you".
The Wattbike was first developed back in 2008 when British Cycling requested an indoor training bike that could record extensive data for pros and amateurs alike. Crucially, they wanted the machine to feel like a real bike. That may sound a bit odd (surely all bikes feel like a bike?), but at the time if you wanted to train indoors you either had to attach your road bike to a turbo trainer, which is boringly impractical, or cycle a 'spinning bike', which causes your body stress by forcing it to push against an inert weight.
Like many home turbo trainers, the Wattbike measures your speed and power output. Unlike those same turbo trainers, however, it also analyses your pedalling technique. Each and every rotation is stored in the bike's software, illustrating where and when you apply power through your legs. For the amateur, this is incredibly instructive, as you can save a huge amount of energy just by pedalling efficiently. Unsurprisingly, as soon as I start turning my legs over on the machine, Moran can spot the problems.