Beginner - help needed on gearing

Hi folks. Today I completed my first training session post my ramp test a couple of days ago. I have a couple of questions based on how the training session went. Hoping ya’ll can help. A little bit about me to help paint the picture:

I have a Tacx Neo 2T and a Specialized Amira Di2. I’m a relatively social bike rider, entering a few sprint and Olympic triathlons though have done minimal riding this last year or so while my wife has been pregnant, and now we have a 9 week old. I’ve bought the trainer and excited about TR because I’m needing to a) get back into fitness and be able to ride 100km+ again b) lose some weight C) have an outlet to manage mental health d) have something that is mine, separate to being a mum. I’m 34, female, 72 kg (thanks COVID) with an embarrassingly low FTP (94) My ego is bruised but I’m motivated to start entering gran fondo events next year as my “me time” and goal going forward.

Anyway. My questions…

The plan asked me in my first interval to get of out the saddle, get into a higher gear and climb. Well, this went horribly. I tried to move up a couple of gears, like outside where it doesn’t take much to get me out of my saddle. But My power went way off the charts and I could not find a way to get my cadence and power both aligned. Either I’d hit the power but cadence would be off - uneven flow and jerky and well, I felt the whole trainer would fall over if I hit 90 rpm’s. I tried a couple of times but could not get the flow. Like I couldn’t get the right gear no matter what I tried to change.

Question 1 : what am I doing wrong??? I was in the small chain ring and middle of the back ring to begin and then tried to get in a harder gear. I was in ERG mode.

Second issue. When changing gears on my back ring after the disaster of the out of saddle drills, I played with my gears. When shifting my back gears to the smallest ring and then going one more (accidentally), the chain clicked over and it was like I was riding on the derailleur. It made an awful noise and I had to move it back into gear (obviously).

Question 2: Is there something wrong with how I have put my bike on the trainer? Or is it normal that the bike “allows” the chain to basically ride the derailleur when shifted to fat when on a trainer? I’ve only ever had rollers before this so having a fancy trainer and putting my bike on it is brand new to me.

I feel like such a noob asking these questions but it seems like there’s some great people on this forum. Hoping to get your advice and get faster and fitter in no time!!

Not everyone likes to shift when in ERG mode. Depending on the power you are at, it can lead to some problems that are unique to ERG and trainers. That said, I am a frequent user of shifting while in ERG mode. I wrote a guide several years ago that covers the basics and aligns with what I think the workout instructions were trying to get you to do.

That said, shifting on the trainer can require a bit more finesse (particularly at higher loads in ERG). One important thing I try to do is “overpower” the trainer at the pedals for just a moment right before I make the actual shift. This is to get a bit of lower force on the chain and make the shifting easier.

For a shift to harder gears for standing, try to make those quick shifts if using the rear, or one firm shift if moving from small to big ring (my personal preference in ERG). Get it done swift, THEN you stand at the lower cadence.

I need more time to review and reply, but this is a start.

Thanks @mcneese.chad for the link (and the quick response). In my mind I did those four steps as it’s what I do on the road and don’t know any different but in reality perhaps I didn’t. I’ll have a go before my next workout being mindful of the steps you mentioned and try again. I’ll also try not shifting and see if the trainer responds as I don’t have a preference on shifting or not - I just want a method that works!

That trainer in sim mode on Zwift (or RGT) is almost like riding outside. But you aren’t doing that.

My first experience with Erg mode left me thinking “Erg mode is weird” and I actually put that in my Strava workout title :smile: Erg doesn’t always behave like outside. Erg likes you to maintain cadence. It’s a tool and you’ll get used to it with time. Or decide you want inside to be like outside and let Zwift control in sim mode. You’ve got options!

Good luck and have fun!

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First of all, don’t feel embarrassed by your low power numbers or you being a noob. We all started somewhere. Plus, in your position, you might see rapid improvement that others can only dream of.

Another thing you can try is to ride in resistance mode. Make sure to move the resistance slider to something suitable. I set mine so that in my second easiest gear I put out 40 % FTP, which is a common power in the rest intervals. Having trained on dumb trainers and outdoors for years, I find I just prefer resistance mode for hard workouts. Everything works just like outdoors: in a fixed gear raising your cadence raises power. You can shift to an easier gear to lower power, too.

It takes a bit more concentration, but you’ll get used to it rather quickly.


Thanks Oreo for this idea. Maybe another silly question, but does activating in resistance mode rather than ERG mean I’m not using the trainer to its full potential? Or is this a misled thought?

Appreciate the support from those who’ve replied. I’ve been Listening to the AACC podcasts and reading many forum posts over the last few weeks in the wee hours of the morning when nursing my newborn. This is such a great community <3

I used Zwift today “in the background” with the trainer not controlled by zwift and used ERG in TrainerRoad. Managing a newborn as well I think I can only get away with the three TR training sessions a week (at best!) for a while and won’t be able to play around in Zwift.


I’m also a newbie, but I’m going to go with “misled thought.” I only use ERG mode, and only without shifting because I’m too lazy to figure out why my indexing is so far off on the trainer. I’m pretty sure that by only using ERG mode, I am not using the trainer to its full potential.

That said, have you tried just riding ERG and letting the trainer do its thing without shifting? I find that when I am trying to deal with kids during a workout, just letting ERG take control is the only way I can still get in the assigned work in despite my divided attention.

Keep it simple and hope you are getting some sleep with the newborn in the house!

Eventually when you try it, the simple way to have Zwift control the Neo 2T is to tell TrainerRoad its an outside workout, just ride in Zwift, and use your bike computer just like outside.


It is true that you are not using one of your trainer’s functions, but that doesn’t mean you don’t use it to its full potential. Some people just don’t like erg mode while others prefer it.

I’m ok with erg mode for my endurance workouts, because I can then really zone out. But for hard workouts I don’t like how it interferes with me trying to hit my power targets. (Part of the reason is that overpowering the trainer to e. g. increase my cadence at 60–75 % FTP gives me plenty of room. But for anything at threshold and above, I’d need to go beyond threshold to overpower the trainer. And when that happens, I’m usually already fatigued.)

I’d just try it and see whether you prefer it. At the end of the day, it is all about hitting your power targets and keeping fluctuations under control. Don’t expect that to happen over night, it takes a bit of practice to keep your power steady.

That’s a precious, if sleepless nights. Our youngest is just being weened off, and my wife is quite happy about that, especially since the little one got two teeth now. Ouch.

I think this is where I was getting frustrated too because other than the drills that got me out of the saddle I was +- 2ish W off the target power and around 85-90 rpm for the entire rest of the session. I’ll give the slowing down rather than shifting a go, as well as trying resistance mode.

With this being my first session I hadn’t thought about switching between erg and resistance depending on the session.

So appreciative of this group!

I do still have my shifting / derailleur question which I’m quite confused about. shrugs

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I bet! I don’t envy my wife. Breastfeeding every 2-3 hours is so much hard work. I’m off work for 6 months on parental leave and trying to do as much around the house and nap times to even the score. Grateful to be able to have a low volume plan to be working on to get me fit and strong again. 3x 1-1.5 hr workouts a week with the option to decrease/change with adaptions in case time doesn’t permit or I’ve had a rough night is sooo amazing!

Watch this space and hopefully I’ll be reporting back a good FTP gain at my next ramp test!

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It makes me feel a bit useless. Our first wouldn’t take her breast for the first three months, and we actually split night duties into two shifts. The second is less fussy. On the other hand, it means that I have to take care of our older one, our daughter, while my wife takes care of our baby. So less sharing this time.

The first year is rough, because the schedule changes a lot. I think I had to change my schedule three times after our first one was born.

That is amazing, and I wish I had had that option. But in Japan you only get two weeks of paternity leave plus a day for the day of birth. This will be a great time. Some of my favorite memories is me being “useless” while the little one is napping in my arms. (Useless means there is a long laundry list of things I should be doing, but babies come first …)

I hear that. When babe is fussy and will have a hard time relatching, just sitting watching and not being able to help is so hard. And then even harder for the birth mum having to keep persisting. All parents are superheroes, there’s no two ways about it!

I’m so grateful for my time off. I am in awe of families who get less time (and angry at governments for not providing better maternity/parental leave support).

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Babe is laying on my chest fast asleep as I type. She had her first set of vaccinations to day so is very clingy and tired. I’m not complaining though :wink: like you said, these cuddles are the best

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Is the cassette on the trainer the same size as the one on your bike/wheel? It sounds a bit like it might be different, and you might need a different length chain?

The easiest way for somebody to help is if you’d post a picture.

Also, erg mode - I think about it as a smart form of cruise control in the car. It can read speed signs and adjust accordingly, but it doesn’t like it when you override it by shifting or changing cadence. It might also not be the right tool for every job.

Thanks for the suggestion, @splash . I think I’ve solved this issue. I took my bike off the cassette and gave the cassette another good tighten and then I spent a good 45mins giving my bike chain and derailleur a good clean. It had been a while since I’d done that…

Now that it’s back on, I jumped onto the Tacx app quickly and did a 5min spin and the gears seems to move normally again. One gear change is a bit clunky but overall it seems pretty good. My next training session is tomorrow so I’ll double check then.

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I find the erg great for training. It’s one less thing to think about (which you probably need at this time, and I often need even now just because of life!). I’m surprised the work out instructions weren’t slow your spin if using erg? There’s people who hate it and/ or very experienced riders that will say use resistance, but find what works for you.

For the front, I just use what I will be using in my A event/ most outside. So when I was doing climby sportives/ audax it was inner ring, now I’m racing I use the big ring. On the back, I just aim for straightest chain line/ best indexed. I don’t really change in a workout at all.