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Wahoo Adds Voice Chat to RGT Racing & Training, Further SYSTM Expansions

Wahoo has announced its major changes for the Wahoo SYSTM & RGT apps (Wahoo acquired RGT this past spring), including new routes in both platforms, as well as being the first major platform to add integrated voice chat between riders (complete with private channels and more). Additionally, Wahoo is announcing a Wahoo trainer & Wahoo X monthly subscription bundle for a single price.

All these changes go live today, immediately, across all platforms that Wahoo currently supports. Meaning, you’ll be able to download the new versions of these apps right away, and get right into using the new voice chat or new routes without waiting for a future update months down the road.

Let’s dive straight into things!

RGT Voice Chat Hands-On:

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RGT’s new voice chat feature finally implements something that countless indoor cycling platforms have been touting and discussing for nearly a decade, without ever actually doing ‘For Realz’. Up till now, teams have had to use 3rd party solutions outside the game, such as Discord or others. And while that works fine, it adds a layer of complexity that many users won’t bother with.

Now, it’s all built-in. Though, you don’t have to use it – it’s an option. The way it works is that there are different ‘channels’ and configurations based on what type of ride you’re doing. You can create private channels, or use proximity-based channels. There’s also a race radio channel. The new voice chat feature is immediately available to all platforms, and includes the ability to control it from the main app, or the companion app.

First up, your hardware; you can use any audio device you want, that includes:

A) Bluetooth headphones
B) Wired headphones
C) Just the mic/speakers on your computer
D) A parrot tied to your computer via twine

In my case? I simply used the mic on my MacBook Pro computer. I joined an event where most others did the same, and one person also used AirPods. At this point you’re probably thinking that you’ll pick up the sound of a trainer or other weird wind noises. And the answer to that was a resounding ‘No’…well…mostly. In three different rides I did, I couldn’t hear any trainer sounds at all, nor could anyone else hear my trainer (one ride on a Zwift Hub, another ride on a Tacx NEO 2T). Obviously, the half a dozen of us on this event were mostly using quieter trainers. If you do use headphones though, you’ll actually hear stereo left/right which will align to the correct side of you that the rider speaking is on.

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(Sadly, my screen recording from one of the group ride sessions seen above apparently did not save properly, so I’ve re-done these screenshots without everyone else. Though practically speaking there’s no difference visually.)

The reason you can’t hear these noises is that RGT implements a noise suppression/canceling filter. That filter is built by Unity (the game engine RGT leverages), which is the same game engine used by boatloads of other games in the industry, with likely tens of millions of concurrent users daily using it – most with voice chat already. Point being, it’s tried and true. You can toggle it on/off if need be, but there isn’t any customization of the noise suppression levels from a user standpoint.

There were two cases where others could hear sounds:

A) One rider was riding a pre-production Wahoo KICKR Bike V1, which has a weird resonance issue – that cut through the noise gate in certain scenarios when he was talking and sounded non-awesome. That person could use manual mute if they needed to.

B) For fun (sorta), I did a hard shift jumping down the cassette under load, which made a large clang. That was audible while I was talking, but not otherwise.

C) All of us had fans on and pointed at us, and we didn’t hear that sound at all. However, one of us had AirPods on, and you could hear some wind noise from that person’s fan (because it was pointed at their head).

But any other sprints for example resulted in zero sound.

Ok, with that, let’s look at this control panel. Note the control panel disappears when you don’t touch it for a few seconds, and instead there’s a mini-monitor to the upper right that shows the name of the person talking, as well as the channel. See the mini-monitor in the upper right corner below the elevation gradient. It’ll show the channel name, and the name of the person actively talking.

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You can always mute an individual person if they’re being abusive, or simply have a KICKR Bike V1.

Looking at the channels, you’ll see a few options:

Main Channel: This main channel will let you hear people within 45 meters of you (on the virtual road). As you go beyond 45 meters, the person will quickly fade into the distance. If in an event, then this becomes an ‘all road’ channel, so that everyone in the event can chat.
Custom Channel: This allows you to either create or join a custom channel name on the fly.
Race Radio: This is a channel that’d be used by an organizer, to act as either an event-wide logistics channel, but could also be used for interviews/coaching during a ride (such as having a special guest, or one to many coached ride).

[Update: Shortly after the announcement today, Wahoo has decided to hold off on proximity-based features. Meaning, for now the proximity bit is turned off, and the Main Channel is instead all-road, akin to how a group works. Hopefully that comes back, as it was actually kinda cool.]

You can mute these channels as you see fit. Note that you can’t currently hear both the Main Channel and a Custom Channel. Wahoo says in their testing this became a bit confusing as to which channel the discussion was happening on. So once you switch to a custom channel, you’ll only hear that.

To join a custom channel, you simply type the name of the channel (e.g. DCRAINMAKER), and it joins it. If such a channel doesn’t exist at that time, it creates it, and then joins it. You’d give out that channel to others to join. There isn’t any list of current channels (since the point of channels is often to be private). You can use the regular text chat feature though if you wanted to send it out to everyone. There is no user management in these custom channels (only the Race Radio channel).

Obviously, this seems like it’d be kinda ripe for people accidentally joining others’ custom channels with simple channel names – thus, you’d want to get kinda creative with your channel names (e.g. instead of DCRAINMAKER use something less guessable like DCRCHATTER).

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As you can see in the screenshots, there are also volume controls and mute. The option for ‘Open Mic’ is what I used exclusively in my testing, which means I don’t have to press any buttons to talk, it’s just open, and uses the magic of noise suppression behind the scenes so that you only hear conversations. It worked great. But, if you’ve got a noise situation that the software can’t solve, then you can just use push to talk. You can either push on the app (e.g. your computer), or, using the companion app, which has the same controls:

Voice Chat Companion App

Ultimately, in using it I’ve gotta say I was surprise impressed. Overall it worked exceptionally well in our test group. Now that group was a bit smaller, and also all of us had relatively high-end trainers that are pretty quiet. Still, the whole noise suppression bits worked super well, even with fans, sprints, and everything else. I’m looking forward to seeing this work in bigger scenarios, and this seems like a massive jump forward on the social side having integrated in. I could actually see myself jumping in on future RGT rides simply because this feature is there.

Finally, it’s worthwhile noting that RGT is already looking ahead and seeing what graphics upgrades might be possible with the newly announced Apple TV edition, which significantly increases both the CPU and GPU. That unit starts shipping next Friday (Nov 4th), and will likely offer RGT a fair bump up in performance. Given RGT is built on Unity, they say that they expect to be able to reap those benefits fairly quickly, though they don’t have a specific timeframe for updates until they get their hands on the hardware.

Inversely, there still isn’t an Apple TV version for the larger Wahoo SYSTM suite (non-RGT). Wahoo says the work is ongoing to get an Apple TV edition out, but that the video player conversion ended up being more challenging than they anticipated. They hope that early next year (2023) they might be able to release it, though, frankly that’s also been the same tune the previous two years as well (both under SYSTM, and then previously under The Sufferfest). But on the Brightside, at least RGT is on Apple TV.

Other Wahoo SYSTM Updates:

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In addition to the big ticket item, which is the voice chat, Wahoo is also announcing a number of other changes today. Here’s the quick run-through, starting first with some software bits.

New SYSTM “On Location” Portugal Rides: These rides are led by Mike Cotty (founder of The Col Collective) and are actually among my favorite rides in the Wahoo SYSTM portfolio. This new set adds three rides, including: Nazaré to Foz do Arelho (28KM), Setubal to Praia da Figueirinha (24KM), and Cascais to the Sintra Rainforest (28KM).

New RGT Real Road – Dunoon Crossover: This is based on the real-world location in Scotland, and is entirely gravel based. This is pictured above.

New RGT Magic Roads– All SYSTM On Location Series: For all of the “on-location” series in SYSTM, these will be added as Magic Roads within RGT. The idea being you can ride them in either location.

In addition, Wahoo is re-announcing their previously announced Outdoor Structured workouts, which they launched with the Wahoo ROAM V2 earlier this month. That basically lets you ride SYSTM workouts outdoors on Wahoo ELEMNT units, the same way you’ve been able to previously ride other platforms (like TrainingPeaks and TrainerRoad) on Wahoo ELEMNT units for a number of years.

Next, we’ve got a non-software bit of newness, which is that Wahoo is launching a new Wahoo KICKR SNAP + SYSTM/RGT subscription bundle in the US. This bundle is $29.99/month (for 12 months), and includes a full subscription to Wahoo X (so it includes both SYSTM & RGT), as well as the Wahoo KICKR SNAP. At the end of the 12-months you own the KICKR SNAP outright. That would mean that 12 months at $30/month is $360, which is a pretty solid deal given the trainer normally retails for $399. Of course, the KICKR SNAP is a pretty old trainer these days (5 years old), so this is somewhat a case of Wahoo trying to offload those trainers as new direct drive entrants/competitors have arrived at $499 with substantially better road feel/accuracy/etc…

Wahoo says that they plan to do other trainers in this model as well, including the Wahoo KICKR CORE and eventually any other Wahoo trainer, where you’ll just pick the subscription package and then choose your trainer. That’ll come soon, but wasn’t ready for launch. The cynic would point out that this tact is exactly the opposite of what Wahoo just tried to argue in their lawsuit that selling a product direct to consumers would hurt bike shops and the health of the cycling industry:

“Further, Wahoo sells its products through various channels, from its own web site
and other online stores, through national retailers like REI and through independent bike shops
throughout the US and Europe. Each channel plays an important role in Wahoo’s go-to-market
strategy and in the cycling industry overall. The selling of a copy of Wahoo’s product only direct
to consumers, thereby eliminating the retail channels, hurts the overall health of the cycling
industry.”

And I’d further argue this is basically just going to set off a bundled hardware/subscription arms race with all the major players, which probably benefits consumers’ wallets, but will absolutely hurt the aforementioned retailers Wahoo previously said they were trying to protect. Keeping in mind Zwift did not actually bundle anything with the Zwift Hub.

But hey, we’ll save that lawsuit fun for another day. Alternatively, I discuss said lawsuit with DesFit in more depth in the most recent DCR Supporter Quarantine Corner that’s going live a bit later today for DCR Supporters. (Update: Now available either in your e-mail inbox, or, at the end of the DCR Supporter ‘Exclusives’ page).

Wrap-Up:

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While RGT is no doubt not the behemoth that Zwift is, they’re delivering a feature that countless people have basically begged for. And more important, they’re doing it in a way that seems to work super well in my trial of it. There was no complexity involved in using it, I just opened my laptop up, and set it in front of me, and started using it. In two different positions near my bike, it picked up my bike perfectly and everyone could hear my voice without issue. It’s literally the perfect execution of a feature that ‘just works’, with no to minimal learning curve. And I think it’s one of those features that will substantially increase engagement in the platform.

The other Wahoo SYSTM updates are slightly more minor – especially for what is essentially their big annual update. Undoubtedly, creating the new Portugal ‘On Location’ rides costs a fair bit of money and time, since these aren’t just “slap a GoPro on the front” type real/outside rides, but ones filmed from multiple angles with drones/mics/etc… The production value is high. And of course, while there wasn’t much else from a headliner standpoint new in the Wahoo SYSTM suite, they are always adding more content, apparently up to 700 workouts now in the entire platform (across different sports including strength training, etc…).

Finally, as for the bundled offering – it’ll be interesting to see where this goes. Setting aside Wahoo’s double-speak on the implications of only direct-to-consumer products, this is a good deal if you want both a trainer and training platform bundled together. You’re spending less for this bundle than you would for just the Wahoo KICKR SNAP itself, but this includes a year’s worth of Wahoo X, all while only having to pay it monthly (versus upfront). As noted above, I think this will ultimately trigger the bundled subscription arms race. Where that ends up for consumers is anyone’s guess, though clearly it’s going to cut out the middleman of retailers. That’s simply the way that concept works, regardless of industry.

With that – thanks for reading!

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46 Comments

  1. Graeme

    Poor Kickr V1 😂😂

    Just replaced mine after I’d had enough of the noise

  2. Tom

    Damn. I was hoping for immediate visual improvement when new ATV arrives. It is the sole reason I ordered one. I guess this means it isn’t entirely a hardware limitation?

    • Generally speaking, for Apple TV, most apps basically have preconfigured scenary/detail levels that are preset for each model of Apple TV. Because those models don’t change once known, app developers can fine tune for them to get the best experience. So apps have those definitions largely preset.

      Once a new version comes out, you’ll see app developers test out the new hardware and see what they can increase/get away with. For popular apps (or those with fast devs), that typically only takes a few weeks to a month or so.

  3. JB

    Ray, will you be doing a test with the new Apple TV with different platforms? e.g. Zwift, RGT to check out how it looks better/worse… or wait until the major app players have their updates out?

    Thanks

  4. Tyler

    “these outdoor workouts aren’t tweaked though to be outdoor-specific (like they are for TrainerRoad), so they can be a bit more complicated to do outdoors than in some cases (for example, if super-precise intervals that are best done in ERG mode on a trainer)”

    This isn’t true, many SYSTM workouts the outdoor version is substantially different than the indoors one. Here’s Pro Rides Strade Bianche for example.

    • Nice, good to hear. Will update the post.

      Though, disappointing that despite three different conference calls over the past 6 weeks with Wahoo, where I asked and got clarity on this exact item three times, all three times Wahoo said there was no difference. Obviously, there is on some workouts. Sigh…

    • Simon

      Actually, it’s not just “some workouts”. The vast majority of workouts have tweaked outdoor versions. I can only see a handful (< 5) that don't have an outdoor version.

    • rich rutishauser

      You’re right that most of the outside workouts are different, but I have been riding them for a couple weeks now and the differences are mostly minor. The big difference is having a target wattage range available vs. a single value target. I find this handy on the road when you start to get tired and the terrain is forcing lots of changes to your power.

    • Maxim

      It looks like the outdoor version of this workout is actually indoor version of Blender.

  5. Otto

    Trying not to sound hyperbolic but Zwift had best get its house in order.

    Wahoo is starting to leverage the Unity platform to improve RGT – in game voice comms is a HUGE deal. Zwift by contrast, likely buried under a spaghetti plate of legacy code, looks like they’re standing still.

    Maybe I’m just old but I can not wrap my head around Discord – it’s so user UN-friendly I haven’t bothered, despite a lot of Zwift clubs using it for voice comms.

  6. David Chrisman

    New gravel course is really nice–would definitely be a fun one for some races. Really love getting workouts + virtual with one subscription. Did not give audio a go but excited to try it.

  7. Ivan

    Would it not make more sense for events, especially races, to have voice range limitation? That way a group off the front could talk tactics without being heard by the chasing group etc?

    • I’d agree. In theory, the breakaway group would create a private channel on the fly, but practically speaking the logistics of that mid-ride seems awfully complex when holding on for dear life.

  8. I host a Northern California based RGT ride Tue nites @ 6pm. Turnout varies but if I can get more than 20 that’s a good week. Most are regulars so it’s like riding with friends, a feeling I don’t get on Zwift, but I wish there were more riders. The new feature of gravel and MTB skins for Magic Roads opens new possibilities for custom route building.

    For bigger fields, there’s a 9-week Wahoo/Le Col race series taking place every Wednesday. The Europe-time race got 170 riders in week 1, while the US time zone event got 52 riders. These made for good racing, but are far from the multi-thousand fields you find in Zwift.

    I really think RGT has a bootstrapping problem where it would get more riders if it had more riders. As a racing platform it’s clearly superior. Zwift has the advantage in it’s surreal, supernatural landscapes, while in racing, counting the dogs and cats on the side of the road is less important.

    • Madmalkav

      Currently getting into RGT is the most expensive of all available subscriptions, that are already pretty expensive IMHO, far more complex videogames with more concurrent users have cheaper subscription quotes. Wahoo needs to convince people that is worth the price, or sell a lot of those new bundles.

    • Wahoo X (inclusive of RGT): $14.99
      Zwift: $14.99
      Rouvy: $14.99
      Bkool: $9.99

      In some cases there are substantial savings for doing annual/etc plans, but those are the monthly prices above. Further, in the case of RGT/Wahoo, there’s also the free offering too.

  9. okrunner

    Ray,
    Any chance we’ll get a smart trainer app guide update going into the trainer season? Mostly a Zwift guy but the improvements to Rouvy and RGT are interesting. I’ve used both when they were free or on a trial basis. Sometimes a change wards off the boredom. Anyway, thanks for the update.

    • That’d be the goal. Not sure if I’ll hit said goal, but hey, goals be there!

      First on the list is a trainer (hardware) round-up. I was hoping to get through the Saris H4, but they’ve run into some technical snags and it’s somewhat all-stop there. Which reminds me to poke them again to see what’s up.

      After that I could see a trainer app roundup on the radar.

    • okrunner

      Sounds great. Thanks!

    • Chris D

      I obviously don’t know the readers and their training buying habits, but I imagine an App guide may be more useful as once you have a trainer you are less likely to upgrade in a while whereas you may flip around to try different apps – that’s a lot easier than getting a new trainer – especially on the wallet!

    • Doug Scott

      I’d concur with that

    • It depends a bit on the season, people annually around now are mainly looking at trainer purchases – especially with Black Friday sales and such. Though, with basically everyone having bought a trainer in the last 3 years, that’s been tweaked a bit.

      That said, some may be interested in seeing if the waters are worth an upgrade.

      The app recommendation post does well – though, it’s probably the singular post I despise putting together more than anything else. First, it’s an absolute beast trying out all the apps for real trainer sessios (which, I do). And then, I find many companies are constantly asking/demanding for updates when things changes x days/weeks/months down the road. Which, is fine, but sorta ends up being super high maintenance since I’ve gotta figure out a companies ‘claim’ for something, versus how it actually works in reality (meaning, when marketing says one thing but a feature is less meaningful in real life).

      But yes…on the to-do list for sure!

    • Madmalkav

      When I tried it here in Spain the app said 14,99€ + taxes, the only one to give a price without taxes included (that is excedingly rare in Spain for end user products), so I think at least here it will be 18€, if I haven’t misunderstood anything.

  10. Tim

    I think this is one of the voice options provided within a race. It automatically creates a voice group for riders with 40m

  11. Johan

    Hey Ray! Just received an e-mail from Wahoo X that the annual membership prices are going up, with an offer to lock in at the current price. Got any backdoor details on what will happen, and how long we have to jump on this “deal”? I’ve got a recurring yearly plan that renews in January, and I’d prefer to make this purchase next year for workplace reimbursement, but I’d also rather not pay a higher price.

  12. Colin

    Would be nice to get all/some of the improvements they promised for the end of last year, I like the On Location and RGT, but I mix cycling and running and there isn’t an easy way to do this on the platform. I mean “Please write this running workout and follow it” – really!

  13. Dave

    Oh God. The skeumorphic radio…nooooo

  14. Mattv

    RGT racing is awesome. So much better than Zwift. I just wish there were actually people to race against. Why aren’t people seeing this is better?

    • Adrian

      I agree & find it really difficult to understand why RGT is not more popular. Most of my friends use Zwift & won’t make the jump to RGT. One sometimes joins me on RGT & agrees it’s better but then continues to use zwift. To me the only thing Zwift offers is the volume of users but I dislike big events IRL as well.

    • I think for racing, perhaps, but I think the fundamental lack of other people on RGT is the major stumbling block (and almost always has been).

      I get that it’s a chicken and the egg thing, but ultimately, it’s a hen house that Wahoo has to solve. Realistically, the easiest way to solve it is to throw enough money at (meaningfully visible and high enough) pro athletes and others to be on there for rides and such, just the same as other platforms have done. Or, they have to introduce big features like this – but faster.

      As a reminder, when Wahoo bought RGT 6 months ago, they talked a lot about a torrent of big-ticket new features coming fast. This is the first such feature. This type of feature will attract people to the platform, but it’s just a flash in a pan. Wahoo/RGT needs to essentially follow the Hammerhead model of notable new features every two weeks, which has fundamentally shifted the game. That might not be sustainable long term, but like most tech-company things, it’s about jumpstarting the near-term.

    • Eric

      I too find it a bit of a mystery. With RGT a single club member can take out a subscription, create group rides/races that all the other club members can join for free! That surely should be a game changer that Wahoo/RGT could use to jump start the use of the platform. It’s crazy they don’t market it much more prominently

    • Mattv

      Exactly! There are a lot of people racing on Zwift, so I know the market is pretty big (but definitely not the average joe/jane)..

  15. usr

    Nice, even good for those who stick to the apparently increasingly outdated Zwift (those like me, comparing current watopia rides to those of previous off-seasons is the least boring indoor feature I could imagine).

    Why even good for them? Because the of lack of good push-to-talk controller offerings hurts discord users as well. Titanlabs’ Kommander seems like a good start, but I would like to see alternatives. Stacking all three of board, buttons and battery seems just too clunky for me (my personal approach is battery inside the bar, nrf52 in the bar end and buttons under bar tape, but I haven’t come to add a BLE mode to the firmware and ANT+ control profile has far too much latency to be useful for push to talk)

  16. Carlos Vazquez

    Any chance Wahoo Systm goes on sale for the annual subscription for Black Friday?

    Also, any chance you’ll talk about Kinomap’s recent changes to add more free features?

  17. Gianni DV

    I really like RGT / Systm but the only thing holding me back from switching from Zwift to Wahoo is the fact that I can’t do my own structured workouts / training plans on Wahoo. They have a fair amount of different workouts, but in the end I create my own workouts based on my goals and it’s just so easy that my Trainingpeaks workouts are directly uploaded to Zwift. Plug & Play 🙂

    If Wahoo would have such feature (or just a simple workout creator), than I have no reason anymore to stay with Zwift. Fingers crossed that this will come one day.

    • John

      You can already do your own workouts from TrainingPeaks on RGT, exactly the same as you can on Zwift. If you have them linked then you just go to workouts and pick “scheduled” on the dropdown to see your trainingpeaks workouts.

    • JSampson

      You can email your structured workouts to workouts@rgtcycling.com and then do them in RGT as you do currently in Zwift. Once done they will appear on the SYSTM calendar.

  18. Paulo

    Hi Ray…..I note that Wahoo Systm are flagging a price rise …any ideas on where it’s about to go…or whether annualemberships are about to go live in the UK (currently not an option)

  19. Andrew, Fan of loud music but also voice

    Hi Ray, thanks for the super interesting update on the audio. Lovely to see this top request becoming a reality. Do you have a feeling for how this works when, say, hypothetically I might be blasting an auditory assault of industrial and punk rock music in my earbuds and then someone talks over the voice channel? Does it squelch the music temporarily or is music + voice not an option here? Cheers mate.

    • Adrian B

      I tried the voice channel last night with a mate & it was very impressive. Very clear & background noise completely eliminated. Wasn’t playing music at the time so can’t comment on that.

    • Johan

      I tried it out yesterday, using the RGT Remote app on Android. As soon as I opened the app, the music volume was turned way down and the quality was greatly reduced. When I joined the voice channel, the music was muted entirely. All of this without the phone’s actual volume settings being changed. Same behavior with Spotify and native Music app. What’s worse, just having the RGT Remote installed on my phone caused the same behavior when opening Discord, I assume since that also has a voice feature. After uninstalling RGT Remote and restarting the phone, Discord and music functionality returned to normal. Needless to say, I will not be using the remote for RGT. Have not tried to use the RGT radio with a headset on PC, though.

  20. JimC

    Hey Ray,

    One of the things you didn’t mention was the very slick integration with the updated remote phone app – very neat.

    Cheers!

    • JimC

      I take it back – I searched for “remote” and didn’t find anything, but you definitely did mention the app. Sorry!

  21. Carl

    Thank you for the review. Seems we all should switch simultaneously to make it happen.
    Surprised they don’t run a “Let’s all switch now” campaign. Could make an incentive, like: move over with 10 friends and you all get 3 months for free. I assume that once we’re all there it will be as sticky as Zwift

  22. AC

    What Wahoo really needs to do is lure some event promoters over to RGT, or create some race series similar to what Zwift has. So many users are frustrated with the pace of Zwift development (user customizable HUD, new roads?, new UI that took forever and still sucks?), yet they stay because that’s where the other riders are.

    Now if wahoo could just make products that don’t fail when they’re actually used.

  23. J.B. Phillips

    Wahoo !