Ramp Test: What's Up With That

Just joined TR as it had been on my to-do list for some time.

To the point, started the Sweet Spot high volume plan yesterday with the ramp test being the first workout. I went into it with a reasonable amount of enthusiasm and optimism with hopes of getting a fairly accurate measure of my current FTP. I’d had a lactate profile test performed at a local university sports science lab not too long ago; not to go into the numbers too much, the final value of this particular test was lower than what I was expecting and yeah, I know, it’s what they all say, ‘It must be wrong!’" :smile:

Anyway, notwithstanding the lower than expected result, what I did encounter was that after the first step or so of the ramp test, I noticed that my trainer, an Elite Direto direct drive unit, was anything but constant or consistent in terms of resistance during any given step. My trainer would fluctuate between very low resistance, <150 watts to greater than 400 or more in less than a couple seconds. It would continue to do this every 10 seconds or so. It would create a low resistance and then suddenly jump to a much higher resistance. It kept doing this throughout the entire ramp test which needless to say, affected my ability to ‘hang in there’ as long as I would have predicted otherwise. Not allowing for a reasonable warm up to due to the almost immediate resistance fluctuations combined with an equally sporadic cool down created a less than positive experience overall. That said however, after the test, I immediately got set up for an outdoor ride, went out and got a bit of good cycling time in. All was/is good.

FWIW, I’m using PowerTap P1 pedals. My head unit’s a Wahoo Elemnt Bolt, the latter of which might have played a part in the fluctuating resistance as it was powered on during the test. It was set to ‘Indoor’ in its settings and after the fact, I did notice that the resistance level page displayed a value of “1”; whether or not that may have conflicted with TR or otherwise affected the test, I don’t know…

Regardless, I’m glad I (finally) joined TR. Up until now, I’d been watching and learning from TR YouTube video podcasts (thanks to Nate, Jon, Chad and others). The major factors that were holding me back was that I’m so used to and enjoy training outdoors here in northern California (like duh, right?) and up until now have been totally NOT enthusiastic about training indoors at all. Also, I’d purchased my Elite Direto more than a year ago and had used it less than 1 hour in total; it had become a $900 paper weight. In part, that had to do with the thoroughly miserable trainer software that came with the unit (shame on you, Elite). With that said however, I did find the very structured and controlled training that’s specific to indoor cycling through TR to be appealing and have little doubt that it will be a net positive in the end not only in terms of allowing for me to make use of the trainer but in making me a better cyclist as well.

-Glad to be here, finally.

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Welcome! That fluctuation will not have helped you at all and sounds like something might be amiss! The ramp test has its issues, but if performed consistently should give a good trackable baseline measurement. LOADS of info to search on here debating the nuances of different testing protocols.

FWIW, I struggled at first when using my PowerTap P1s on my Wahoo Kickr, using TR’s powermatch. When I turned Powermatch off and just relied on the Kickr everything stabilised immediately. What I then did was set my Wahoo head unit to read the power from the pedals indepently so I could verify that the Kickr and Powertaps were tracking consistently (they are, although my pedals tend to read a consistent 5w lower, no biggie).

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You should change the title to something that would get those that can help you to notice, like:
Elite Direto power fluctuations or PowerTapP1s and Elite Directo issues

I don’t have that trainer, so I can’t give you a solution though I imagine someone here will have some tips to directly help you. I would suggest though: turn on/off powermatch and compare your results, also would recommend testing it with the “Intro workout - smart”, or something low consequence but will give you a good feel for how the resistance is.

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@DavidLucas I also use an Elite Direto. There is an Elite Direto ‘Team’ on TR as well if you’re interested in how everybody else’s Direto behaves during ramp tests you can poke around that ride feed.

First of all, you’re cadence is a little bit more variable than might be typical during a ramp test. Since the Direto is in erg mode the power is oscillating with your cadence variation in an attempt to keep power constant. And then your brain is probably responding with cadence variation in an attempt to keep the power constant.

This is what we call a positive feedback loop! :rofl::rofl::rofl:

If you keep a more constant cadence through the test you’ll see a more constant power. But with the Direto you’ll never see the super smooth power tracking that you do with some other SmartTrainers. This isn’t because the other SmartTrainers hold users at a more constant power…it’s because the other SmartTrainers smooth the reported power over a longer period of time. If your trainer is reporting a 2 second moving average power number it’s going to look a lot smoother than if your trainer is reporting a half second moving average power number.

Instantaneous power meter readings vary by quite a bit. Don’t let it freak you out. Just try to keep a constant cadence and keep breathing.

Here’s one of my ramp tests…you can see the power line is moving around quite a bit but not as much as yours. Note the little white cadence line at the bottom is a little more constant than yours.

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Here is a close up of cadence/power oscillations from your ramp test:

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Thanks and yeah, I’ll have to check out the ED ‘Team’ here on TR. No doubt there’s a ton of valuable resources I’ll be discovering and making use.

I get the feedback loop thing. Thing is, I would be turning over a fairly consistent cadence once the resistance would stabilized but again, after about 10 seconds or so, the resistance would all of the sudden either jump way up or down and then stabilize for another 10 seconds… rinse and repeat. Hard to keep any sort of uniform cadence with that going on.

I’ll try turning off power match in TR as suggested in another comment and see how that affects things. Regardless, appreciate your suggestions. Thanks!

Ha-ha! Yeah. I see what you’re saying.

The oscillation is NOT critically damped. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Thanks for that! I’ll try turning off power match.

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Send an email to TR support with a link to this thread.

Hear ya on this one. I’ve been on TR for a year, started with HV SSB last December and saw great results. But I struggled integrating inside and outside riding a bit. FWIW I’ve settled on doing low volume plans inside, and adding outside rides.

Stabilize your cadence and the Direto will handle the rest for you.

I have a Direto after having 3 wahoo products and vowing to never use another one. At first I was just like you, power swings that left me scratching my head.

BUT, I figured it out for me. I use the big ring up front and a cog in the rear that gives me a direct chain line, about in the middle. I don’t shift gears, ever. I pick a cadence that I want, say 90 rpm, and that is all that I focus on. I do not try to ride harder to drive my watts to a target power. That is key. I ride at 90 RPM and the Direto does the rest. When my cadence jumps around, the trainer tries to compensate and I get uneven power. When I only focus on cadence and let the machine do it’s part, I have zero issues.

I run my elite with Assioma pedals and I’m super happy with the consistency. I zero my pedals for each ride and haven’t zeroed the elite since December as it hasn’t needed it.

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Seems like your head unit might be fighting with TR to control your resistance, or maybe there’s an issue with power match. I suggest trying without wahoo and P1 pedals and continue debugging from there.

A ticket with TR support is surely a good idea if this doesn’t work.

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@GPLama has a excellent YouTube video on the Drivo and this very issue with Erg mode.