Had my first go with TrainerRoad tonight.
I first heard of them from the Sufferfest who mentioned they were partnering with TrainerRoad for the Tour of Sufferlandria. I had heard mention of them in the past but decided to sign up as I was keen to ride the Tour.
In one sense TrainerRoad is another online repository for your cycling workouts, so in many ways the same as Garmin Connect, Endomondo, Strava etc. However, TrainerRoad has one killer feature; it uses known power curves for hundreds of trainers (turbo / rollers) to calculate real-time rider power. You simply pair an ANT+ device with the software, tell it what trainer you are using and start pedaling. It displays cadence, power, heart-rate on a computer screen as you workout. Of course, such technology has been around for a while now, only it costs £1000 plus. This service only costs $10 a month.
To get started is simple, you need an ANT+ device, an ANT+ receiver of some kind , a trainer (see here for currently supported list – they add more all the time) a bike and a computer.
The ANT+ device I have is the Garmin GSC 10 that came with my Garmin Edge 500. The only bit I had to buy was the ANT+ receiver. After some research I went with the Suunto Movestick Mini after reading about it here.
Then it’s a case of creating an account with TrainerRoad, installing their software on your PC, pairing your devices (speed/cadence sensor and HR monitor), selecting a workout and off you go.
Here’s a video that explains it better:
The first thing TrainerRoad recommends doing is one of their Functional Threshold tests. This is an hour long session that helps calculate your Functional Threshold Power – which is the maximum average power you can hold for one hour. So if you can hold 300 watts for one hour, that means your FTP is 300.
Here’s me on my test:
It’s tough! You have a few warm-up spins and some higher power efforts, then basically have to hold full power (or just below) for 20 minutes. Hard work!
Here’s what you are looking at:
(Apologies for the crappy pic, I used my phone and I was pedalling at the time).
And here is my test result:
(click pic to go to full test result).
From this, TrainerRoad calculated my FTP at 234 which is OK I guess.
The blue sections on the graph are what I should have been doing using the default FTP setting they start you off on (200). The yellow line is my actual power output (the red line is heart rate).
Looking at the test now I would say I could have put more effort in on the big 20 min effort, I started off at too high a level, had to back off a bit and then ramped up at the end. I know I was completely spent by the end and was counting the seconds down to the finish, but this was my first try and I would aim to do better next time.
The great thing now is that I have an accurate FTP value that I then use when I next do a Sufferfest video. This means that the video will be ‘tuned’ to my ability, when the video says 90rpm and 7/10 I will have an exact value on the screen that I should be hitting.
Here’s what it looks like when used in conjunction with a Sufferfest video:
You can see that the TrainerRoad software ‘knows’ about the particular video and has the segments set up. When a segment changes on the video your FTP target changes, and it counts down until the next segment. All you need to do is pedal; or like TrainerRoad say “Just make the line stay green, we’ll do the rest.”