Two Complaints from a New Rider

I signed up for the 7 day trial as a RankNoob™ in the hope I could use the expertise of TrainerRoad (TR) experts to get a good quality training program.

Essentially, I want a bunch of experts to tell me what to do.

My plan is to take on faith that if I do what I’m told by TR experts I can get fitter and faster. If that trust is somehow broken, well… I’ll move on.

Not wanting to sink too much into this effort (financially) for now, I decided to get a speed sensor to use with my basic trainer since the main website excitedly informs me that “Your Trainer is Supported!” when I selected CycleOps and Mag or Mag+.

Complaint No. 1

I assumed, as a RankNoob, that the experts had calculated something called a “power curve” for my CycleOps Mag trainer and telling them I had that trainer was all that was necessary.

But no.

Only after I had triggered the 7 day trial was I presented with the following choices:

[Recommended] Mag 3 (Medium)
[Recommended] Mag 4
[Recommended] Mag 5 (Hardest)
[Powertap] Mag 1 (Easiest)
[Powertap] Mag 2
[Powertap] Mag 3
[Powertap] Mag 4
[Powertap] Mag 5 (Hardest)

What? There are 3 recommended setting! Which one do I choose? What is Powertap?

This is not helpful.

I selected the first one. Why? Because it was listed first, and didn’t say Powertap.

I neither know if I selected the right one, nor know if it matters. The experts didn’t tell me.

For the record, when the trainer wheel touches my back wheel I give it 2.5 more turns.

Complaint No. 2

Before starting the Ramp Test I had two key questions.

What gears should I start out in?
When using a traditional trainer do I shift gears, speed up, both or neither? (ok maybe not the last one)

So I watched the How to Test with the Ramp Test video, read the How to Test with the Ramp Test and read the FAQ page for this information.

Neither question is answered.

The sum total of information about using a traditional trainer is as follows: “For traditional trainers, it’s very important to focus on following the target profile to the best of your ability.”

That’s it.

I even did a web search, watched one TR podcast and a TR youtube video and annoyingly couldn’t even get that basic info.

So without that information from the experts, I was left with trying to figure this out mid-test.

I started in middle front gear with a middle gear in the back. My Cannondale has a triple in the front and 9 in the back. One the first ramp I just sped up, but that caused me to overshoot a lot. Somewhere on ramp 3 or 4 I figured that keeping a consistent cadence and just shifting the gears seemed to work the best. I eventually ran out of rear gears and so went to the big front gear, and dropped the a middle rear gear. I then went up one rear gear per ramp, until I ran out of them, then just went faster until I gave up.

I scored a blazing… ummm… 135(!) FTP…. heh… well… at least I have plenty of room for improvement… right?

It would have been nice to have a more complete instruction on how to do the ramp test with a traditional trainer. I have no idea if or how any of my problems during the test affected the result. I will obviously follow the schedule I was given and am very curious as to what the next three workouts I have scheduled for this week will feel like.

End of complaints.

Well, this will teach the TR folks to give away something for free. Lesson learned🤘

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what an awful day to be literate

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I want to be constructive, I really do!
It‘s just I can‘t :cry:

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I was a newbie last year and signed up for TR because, while I don’t have competitive aspirations, I live in the mountains, improving cycling fitness was important to me. I did find it to not be very beginner friendly and have mostly just been flailing around. Although I have found that support is VERY responsive so you might have better luck asking your questions there.

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The above article should help explain things a little better.
Stuffed if I know what the Powertap setting is. A Powertap to the best of my knowledge is a type of hub based power meter.
Best to shoot support an email if you want further clarification.

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Strange…It works for my penny farthing.

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I have no idea if this is helpful or not. I first started out with a Kurt Kinetic dumb trainer and did the 8 min FTP test. One year later I upgraded to a smart trainer and did another 8 min test and was within 5 watts of the Kurt Kinetic. I may be way off here, but I think you would be better served to do the 8 min or 20 FTP test as these are just all out efforts and will not require you to gauge your effort every minute.

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Thank you for providing this feedback. It helps us as a team better identify how to help onboard new athletes more effectively and we appreciate it!

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I think you should say the app, and not a bunch of experts since there’s not a bunch of people sitting inside your device watching your every movement.

So, basically the app needs improvement on interaction/interface side of things, is what you’re saying.

This will never change, even with instructions. It’s up to the individual and how well you control certain aspects, what your natural cadence is, etc. This is very individual, and the more you do trainer work, the better you will get at it, as you figure out your own characteristics.

Which is exactly what you need to do. Experience goes a long way. Instructions for a certain way to do them will probably work for some of the population, but not all.

When you learn any form of exercise, especially with weights, the first thing you learn is movement and how to do it properly. Then the weights go up. In this case, the first thing you need to learn is how to use the trainer, the movements, what it corresponds to and how you (as an individual) control it. Then the power can go up (and will) as you become more accustomed to it.

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This might not be worth much, but I’m not sure any of this matters. Ideally 135 would mean 135 watts, but the reality is all trainers are calibrated differently and slightly inaccurate. 135 is the score for you with that trainer with that setting. As long as you continue to use that trainer and that setting, it should be good for you to set workout power targets. That doesn’t mean your FTP is actually 135, but for anyone using a dumb trainer, I’m not sure how much accuracy you can really expect and it doesn’t really matter. FTP doesn’t mean anything other than as a means to set workout power.

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Honestly OP, TR is a power based training program. Obv the company doesn’t want to lose a segment of potential customers who have no power meter at all so they (and Zwift and others) have power estimator algorithms, but you really should at minimum have a power meter and preferably a smart trainer with power meter.

You can buy a non drive side pm for like $200-350 if you have a shimano drivetrain. You might want to consider that if you want to use a program like TR.

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is this satire?

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When used properly and consistently, a standard (dumb trainer) and TR’s Virtual Power can work extremely well. I am all for power devices (meters & trainers, and use them often now), but they are not what I consider “minimum requirements” in any way.

Bottom line, the simple & low cost option can get people to great results.

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Actually us old timers will remember that TR started out as the king (inventor??) of virtual power back in the day when power meters cost several thousand dollars and were still rare. TR put a lot of effort into mapping power curves for lots of trainers. Virtual power is not a not some afterthought but for a long time was central to TR and there was a time when a huge percentage of TR users were on virtual power.

Sure a power meter is better and now you can buy one without taking out a mortgage but TR is really really good at virtual power and if that’s all you have, TR will work for you just fine.

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Yeah, but unfortunately my 2015 self didn’t actually average 323w for 20mins during an ftp test lol

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Hire a coach.

Seriously

100%, seriously.

This is no different than any other situation where a base level of knowledge is required. If you don’t have that base level you need to learn it first. Just about any difficult thing you will do in your life will require coaching first to even do the basics. School, your job, waking up in the morning, everything has to be taught to you by someone first or learned the hard way through trial and error. You tried trial and error and are upset that you have error.

Maybe the app could be set up better for new people, but most of your complaints are from not learning the basics first.

I have a FSA Vero drivetrain. I investigated the Stages power meter but when I asked them if they had a compatible power meter they said no. The power meters that seems to me to be the best option for me are the pedal based ones. Something like the Assioma UNO, but that’s $428, and the Garmin is $1000. But since I don’t know what I don’t know, I figured spending $20 on a speed meter would be a good test to see if this thing works for me. Also TR seemed like the best option to try as Zwift is too gamified and unstructured.

Per a comment above I’ll just take my initial FTP as a standard to improve from, regardless as to whether it is actually accurate or not. I’ll just keep the setup as consistent as possible. The multiple variable “recommended” settings for the CycleOps trainer confused the hell out of me.

Thanks for all that offered advice.

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The settings likely relate to the level of resistance you have your trainer set to. The power reading will follow the correct curve for the trainer, but may be high or low if you have the resistance unit set to a different level than the Virtual Power setting.

Just remember, Virtual Power is fantastic for consistent training, but the number is not of use to compare against others.

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You might want to do another ramp test with a higher resistance setting first. Running out of gears before the end of the test doesn’t really work.

Read the article I linked above.

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