I first learned of PowerCranks during the first glorious age of bicycling, back in 2002. Back then, much as I do now, I spent most my free time perusing the Internets for fancy training tools. The PowerCranks were one of the most intriguing devices I saw, and though I could not afford them at the time, I knew I would eventually have a pair, one day.

Frank Day, the inventor and founder of PowerCranks, firmly believes that PowerCranks are the only way to train particular muscle groups effectively. I got a chance to meet him twice: the first time, at the expo accompanying the New York City Cycling Championships, and the second time at the track world championships in 2005. There he was, both times, with a trainer and those PowerCranks, mocking me.

So, what exactly are PowerCranks? You won't like the answer. Most bicycle cranks are connected to each other, so that one crank turns the other crank. It's the standard setup that everyone knows and loves. PowerCranks replace that lovely connection with a one way clutch, making the cranks independent. Have you ever tried riding a bicycle with only one foot clipped in? It's hard. Well, riding with PowerCranks is like doing the one-footed drill, with both feet at the same time, all the time.

I finally bought a shiny used pair of PowerCranks in December off of eBay, after reading all of the testimonials of how already world-class athletes got even faster by training on these cranks. I fell for it, and put the cranks on my training bike. Since I got the cranks in December, which is bitterly cold here in New York, I was forced to really start using them on the rollers, after a test ride outside to make sure the installation was successful.

PowerCranks, or pOWercranks as I prefer to call them, are hard.

The very first time I used the pOWercranks on the rollers, I was in a world of pain. I had put in a solid 40 hours of training time on the rollers, but riding these torture devides was hell on earth. I had gotten quite skilled at riding the rollers, but I was only able to ride the cranks for about 5 minutes at a time before having to stop. My feet kept getting out of time. I kept missing strokes. I think I fell over once. It was hard.

I've now logged about 50 hours with the PowerCranks on my rollers, and have to say that these were the wisest purchase I've ever made. True to Frank Day's promise, my hamstrings and hip flexors have gotten stronger than they ever have been. I can hold down around 300W on the rollers for the better part of 45 minutes on the rollers. I'm nowhere near my potential, but I don't think I'm insane enough to take them on my trip this summer.