A few members commented on the state of the podcast in the Chad’s Departure thread. Since I reckon it may get lost, I thought I create a thread dedicated to the podcast. To kick off the discussion, here are a few thoughts of mine:
It seems @Nate_Pearson has taken a step back from the podcast. I am not sure why, and perhaps the reasons aren’t important, but only @Jonathan remains from the old Chad, Nate & Jonathan setup. The three had a lot of chemistry and the setup was very pedagogical as from Chad to Jonathan to Nate, you’d get increasingly simplified versions of Chad’s deep dive. Plus, Nate’s innuendos about air fryers and such made the show more entertaining.
@ambermalika could have filled Chad’s shoes, but she left. She is a natural podcaster and added quite a bit of (positive) energy to each episode.
Even before Chad (“was”) left TR, the podcast tried new lineups. @IvyAudrain has taken over for @Jonathan as master of ceremony at times, and she has gotten good at it.
Lately, there doesn’t seem much stability in terms of the cast. Usually it was Jonathan, Ivy and one or two pro riders. One issue I have is that it seems to me that it isn’t clear whether Jonathan or Ivy are the “host of hosts”. The old “explain things three times, from in-depth (Chad or Amber) to intermediate (Jonathan) to “idiot” (= Nate, no offense intended, this was a role that Nate purposefully played).
Maybe the default hosts burnt out a bit on the podcast. But it seems that the current setup is a bit haphazard and seems improvised. (E. g. it is never clear who will host next and why.)
Jonathan seems to have taken over the responsibility of doing deep dives. I am not sure whether he is putting his best foot forward. His two-parter with Amber on her career or the unstoppable triathlete with dwarfism are spectacularly good. IMHO he is at his best when he is the glue that keeps everything together and on track.
In terms of topics, inviting pros is a two-edged swords: yes, they are experts in a way, but it is not obvious how transferable some of the strategies and learnings are to us regular Janes and Joes. Plus, most of them bring practical experience (as opposed to theoretical knowledge) to the table. Again, that’s not necessarily bad, but just something to keep in mind.
Here are a few suggested improvements:
I think TR should decide on and stick to a format. I’m not against variety, but they could alternate between e. g. a more standard episode and episodes where pros give tips. Listeners should know what to expect.
Try different ensembles and then stick to them. Both, Jonathan and Ivy are great podcasters, but they might be too similar and not compliment each other sufficiently. The old Chad, Jonathan & Nate setup was great because of the chemistry.
The absence of Nate also removed one point from the podcast, sneak peaks of future updates and functionality, for example.
Sadly…I dont see the podcast improving. Every contributor to the podcast has left or been forced out. Jonathan isnt left with any pieces left to manage/organize. Ivy as you mentioned is more of a replacement for Jonathan than an addition to him.
It’s been a couple months at least where I’ve just occasionally popped the podcast on for 10 or 15 minutes to see if it’s improved…then turned it off.
I used to love the podcast, but haven’t listened in a long time now. The instability in lineup was a big part, and there is some limit to how much original material you can generate around cycling, IMO. When I heard Chad was gone and the Jonathan-Chad-Nate lineup was never to be again, I stopped paying any attention until I stumbled on this today. FWIW.
I listen to every episode, and have a world of respect for Jonathan, Ivy, et al. I also recognize the challenge of re-inventing the wheel when the chief architect of the wheel leaves. But I do miss the authoritative deep dives. To me, the selling point of the podcast has been the mix of academic studies and real world experience from current and former racers. I’ve made notes on many a podcast to look up a specific study, and appreciated it when some of my previous beliefs about nutrition were challenged.
I’ve also gotten very concrete results from some of the suggestions on mental tactics. In particular, it was either Ivy or Amber who talked about blowing up in a race and just dropping to 80% to recover instead of dropping to 50 or 60%. That tip has taken me to a state podium twice.
But the show needs a healthy dose of both, and I feel like we’ve gotten more of the latter than the former.
I’ll keep listening either way, and TR continued to guide my training more efficiently than anything else I’ve ever tried. I just hope they can regain some of their former nerd glory to supplement the great competitor perspective they offer.
Yes, and to re-emphasize, the contributors are great, especially if they gel with the other hosts, but the whole feels less than the sum of its parts. And there doesn’t seem any obvious strategy to what TR wants the podcast to be.
I like their deep dives on one athlete, but the execution isn’t quite there. I feel this would work better on YouTube with them going through the athlete’s TR workout history and all.
I think I’m no longer the target audience for the podcast. Aside from the host(s) and general guest lineup not being my favorite, I don’t care about gravel or mtn biking. I do have a passing interest in tri, but having obvious amatuers talk tri from a position of authority is ridiculous.
There’s nothing left of interest. Time to move on, I guess.
I came to the podcast later… but watching back episodes I think the podcast was at its best when they were in the same room together, just talking bikes. As Covid hit and everything went virtual and everyone moved away to work from home, the banter (“chemistry”) kinda was lost. Virtually the deep dives turned into just reading notes after reviewing some articles rather than discussion (this was both Chad and Amber).
When Ivy showed up and became a regular it added a lot of fresh energy and has been a great addition. Hot Takes are some of my favorite episodes (but you need a full panel and to maybe do it once every few months to keep it fresh). Definitely miss Nate being on the podcast.
Still tons of material for the podcast. Our lives change and with it the direction of the podcast should evolve with it. Embrace the life changes! That said TR needs to “create” some of that content… Ivy was going to do laps with her CX bike and Mountain Bike (or something like that) and see which bike was faster. Jonathan just built his bike and I think did the gravel race in Tahoe? Get back to talking about your training, equipment, bike, etc. Also loved the old race breakdowns. Bring it all back. Let’s get back to training, racing and talking about how that all fits in the work life balance. I do agree that the “Coach” chair needs to be filled. Problem with some of the pros is they are good at being interviewed but not really the extroverted personalities that will volunteer a lot of information.
I guess there will be criticisms no matter what changes occur and what is talked about. I think the easiest fix is for Nate to return and fill the 4 person panel weekly even when he is not able to.
My favourite podcasts these days are a couple of running ones. They both have presenters who are in the thick of it; training, racing, getting injured, having succeses and failures. This is what keeps it engaging.
TR these days sounds like an increasingly desperate attempt to sell the brand. I’ve stopped listening which is sad because I excitedly waited for every episode for years.
Nate got a couple pretty serious concussions, and stopped riding at that time, and he also had some pretty significant personal problems. He might be going through some stuff that makes entertaining us a little lower on his personal priority list than a few years ago.
I mean, he seemed to enjoy doing the podcasts, didn’t he? Who knows, maybe his time is spent working on the TR software.
eta: And to address the thread topic, I’m pretty happy with the current podcast and the players. Miss the race videos, and there is something to be said about face to face banter being a little more free than the WFH one person talking at a time banter, but there’s still fun to be had and we’re getting to know the newer players. Jonathan’s one-on-one interviews are missed, too. Jonathan is busy too, but glad to see him putting a little more focus on biking again.
I couldn’t quite put my finger on it but I think this is it. I’m not sure I should dare to say it, but they almost come off as influencers trying to sell stuff; the stuff being the TrainerRoad platform. I feel like it’s less about making us (the listener) faster by any means to let’s sell you the TR platform. We used to get a wide variety of topics from nutrition to random stories and race reports. And even when giving answers, they’d talk about using the TR app but would give other options for people not using TR. Now it just feels like every “question” is picked to sell the product, and every answer is basically, “use TR.” It’s just felt like an infomercial. It’s like they’ve lost their cycling soul.
Interesting thoughts. With anything like this we’re all going to have different perspectives.
I agree that the lack of a core set of people has been a problem. However, I actually think the absence of Nate is more of a problem than the absence of Chad. When I recently listened to some older episodes I found the periods where Nate was most active were the ones where I was most engaged with the content. He’s a little (ok, more than a little) over the top with things, but I actually found his presence or absence a more direct controller of my interest in a given episode.
Chad’s absence from recent, or older, episodes was less problematic for me - partly because the deep dives were never the focus for me. I got the biggest value from the shorter summaries and personal stakes from the hosts pursuing their goals.
As I said above - we’re all different in what we get from the podcast. I do agree it has lost its way, but for me the issues are different than those most impacted by Chad’s departure.
I doubt that’s the whole point. It is certainly one point. But like this forum, it’s an accompaniment. They discuss lots of tips and tricks about how to use the software effectively, and how to train effectively. It seems like a lot of the questions they answer are ones we see on this forum, so maybe they’re taking some load off the help desk. It seems like they enjoy doing the podcast most of the time. Maybe Nate even kicks them back some $ from the revenue for their time.
I miss the three original cast doing different challenges. Cyclocross. 40k TT, Leadville (so just one of them each year), single track 6.
I prefer to learn about gear, training, tactics etc from the three of them geeking out in their own way on a challenge.
Personally, I’d like to see a few hosts aim for some 2024 goal together. It could be XC Nats 2024, Leadville 2024, NorCal/Reno crit series. I just enjoyed living vicariously through their training plans, gear selection, race tactics etc.
I’m finding the deep dives are just not fitting with my current plans. So I’ve unsubscribed from the podcast, and I just listen if there’s a topic of interest.
That was the peak for me too. Even if it was something I would never do, just having three people geek out over the challenge, brainstorm about it, etc, was entertaining to me. It also informed my own racing, even if indirectly.
I shouldn’t opine too much on the podcast today, because I rarely listen anymore. But I used to listen to the podcast weekly and look forward to it almost like a hang with buddies. When Amber and Pete were hanging, even better. It hasn’t had that vibe in a while.
They ARE a for profit company. All those programmers, tech support folks, and CSRs expect a salary.
But that said, they’re selling the right way- by offering the podcast as a supplement to the training plans and software. If it was simply a commercial, it’d be annoying, but it offers an informational resource that makes using the software more efficient, and coincidentally also offers a free resource to non customers.