Realizing the Benefits of Indoor Cycling

 

DCIM100GOPRO
I always see pictures of nice neat trainer setups, and I wander why mine can’t look like that. But you have to improvise.

 

Over the past few years cycling was has been a seasonal thing. I’d ride all spring, summer, and fall, then just sit the winter out for the most part. Anyone trying to make gains in fitness knows that just doesn’t work. Even worse was I would put on POUNDS of extra weight,  and this just left me spinning my wheels. This year I’ve been more motivated than ever and decided that an indoor trainer is necessary to be ready for the spring race season.

So I started looking at trainers. A friend of mine had just bought a top of the line Wahoo Kickr and he loves it. But I’m not made of money and I need to buy a mountain bike wheel set, a road wheel-set, and I could really use a second power meter. So spending over $1,000 on a direct drive unit was out of the question. Plus I didn’t want to fool with taking my back wheel off and putting it back on all the time. I also wanted something built with quality as I have hear that some people burn out cheaper trainers rather quickly. Tacx had some good units, I really liked there Bushido Smart unit that could withstand the highest wattage and could simulate up to a 15% slope which was the highest I could find on a wheel on trainer. It was also self powering which almost sold me. But in the end I bought the Wahoo Kickr Snap. It just seemed to have a slightly better build quality and was a little easier on the wallet. Looking back  Wahoo’s excellent marketing campaign probably played a big role in my decision. I guess they got me this time, but I am very pleased with my purchase so far. These were my 3 top picks for a trainer and here are links to all three:

http://www.wahoofitness.com/devices/kickr-snap-bike-trainer?acc=5d44ee6f2c3f71b73125876103c8f6c4
Wahoo Kickr Snap

 

kickr-adjust-2
Wahoo Kickr

 

 

 

 

tacx-bushido
Tacx Bushido

 

Zwift is probably the biggest new thing in cycling right now. That’s the default program people are going for when buying a trainer, and I don’t blame them. We need to take a second and appropriate the fact that it is now possible to ride with our friends or race year round regardless of where we are all located and weather conditions. You move away and can’t ride with your friends any more, just jump on Zwift. Group ride has to be cancelled because of weather, no problem, just have it on Zift. When was the last time you could not only race all year round but on any day you wanted too. It true is an awesome piece of software.

Jepson Workout on Traineroad
Duration  01:00:00   kJ(Cal)  452   TSS  72   NP  144   IF  0.85   FTP  170

 

I also wanted to see what other software was available and wanted to try out Traineroad, a program that I read some really good things about. So I paid my $12 for a month subscription (I think you get a free month when you buy a Wahoo trainer now, so I missed out) to test it out and see if it is something I want to keep or not, and for structured interval training I liked it better. While not being as flashy as Zwift, Trainerroad forced me to work harder. Zwift just doesn’t do that.

 

 

20161108_182422
The Kickr Snap came almost completely assembled and only took about 5 minutes to set up.

How Much Faster can you get with Traineroad in a Month?

The first thing Trainerroad does if make you take a 20 minute FTP test and it bases all the other workouts on this FTP number. You can manually change it, it is just what they recommend for you. This first ride was intense! I was dripping sweat everywhere so much that when I got done with the test there was a big disgusting puddle in the floor. I didn’t think I was going to be able to finish it and my power fluctuated a lot. I learned a lesson about indoor training really fast. At a bare minimum you need a fan pointed directly at you at all times, even on your less intense rides no matter how cool you think it is in your house. On my later rides I used my fan, and opened up my windows even though it was 20 degrees Fahrenheit outside. I was still considering turning on the air conditioning at that point. You just can’t cool down indoors.  Outside we really take the air movement for granted. Here are graphs of power, heart-rate, and cadence I generated in Golden Cheetah of first FTP test.

ftp-test
This is a 20 minute FTP test. A rider’s one hour power (true FTP) should be very close to 95% of their 20 minute power. On this graph the actual test is from the 30 minute mark to the 50 minute mark. The intervals prior to this burn off some of your anaerobic energy that may artificially inflate the results of your test.

 

I completed the first 4 weeks of the Sweet Spot Base training program and decide to do another 20 minute test to see how much I had gained in a month of using Trainerroad. My original test put my FTP at 170 watts, and I was expecting to gain 5%-10% in a month. I definitely felt like my power had improved even in this relatively short amount of time. The 20 minute effort felt much easier this time around, and after the ride ended my new FTP was set at 209, a 23% increase! Some of the gains was probably  do to better testing with the addition of the fan and just being more use to riding on the trainer. But I still think the true gain to be somewhere between 15% to 20% which just blew me away for only four weeks of training! I have never gotten so much better so fast, and that my friends is the power of intervals.

2nd-ftp-test
Same test as before, where interval number 10 is the actual test. I really didn’t expect a 23% increase!

 

The weather has been fair the last couple of days and some mates and I took the opportunity to get some real miles in, out on the road yesterday. Over the 40 mile ride the gains just seemed to be magnify even more. For whatever reason it is harder to put out wattage on the trainer. So when you get back out on the road it feels almost effortless. Overall I am very impressed with Trainerroad program and will continue to use it even though that means paying for it and Zwift. I’ve spent way more money on supplements, and lighter equipment anyway so as long as it truly makes me faster I don’t really mind paying the extra for it (Can you tell I have a problem?). It isn’t that all that other stuff didn’t gain me anything, it’s just at the end of the day the rider is the key to being fast and that is what Trainerroad targets. It’s the best bang for the buck I have found so far in terms of making me a better rider. I can not wait to see how much faster I am in the up coming race season. It will be interesting indeed.

 

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