YOU EITHER LOVE IT OR HATE IT
By Wojtek Sebzda #mowobici
Three weeks ago, one of my Friends bought an indoor trainer. He’s a sporty type doing all kinds of physical exercise. Because of his injuries and day to day lack of time he thought it will be a good idea to have the opportunity to sit on his bike at home no matter the weather outside. Then came his first time on the trainer… after riding 15 minutes he sent me a message – I remember the exact words as it made me laugh so much – “The trainer is Satan’s work and a sport for the F**ked up!!” I guess that’s one side of the game, he still users the turbo trainer and I hope he will like it as much as I do.
When it comes to me… I LOVE IT!! I bought my Trainer over 2 years ago but my first few rides were a completely different experience. The reason for this is I suffered a fairly serious injury, I sprained my Knee playing volleyball, ACL torn, meniscus torn and dislocated. The first diagnosis was that I was not allowed to do sports for a long time. Happily, after my doctor heard that I cycle and have a turbo trainer he gave me some advice and a plan to get back to normal. I ended up on my trainer and doing some really, really slow training (it was like 5-15RPM with one leg clipped in and the injured one just rested on the pedals). The trainer helped me recover and build myself back up, I can easily say it made me fall in love with that type of training. Looking back at that time the turbo trainer turned out to be the best investment I’ve made.
The Trainer became part of my cycling life. Living in Poland where we have 4-5 months of “good” weather and every other time it is either raining or snowing and cold, the trainer is a great help. To help you better understand how much the trainer helps me I’ll use some statistics (Yes everybody loves some numbers). Last year I rode 6,754 km of total distance, 4106km where done on the trainer! When it’s raining, when it’s cold, when I just don’t feel like riding in traffic, I sit on my trainer.
Then comes the preseason training, not everybody has a power meter in their bike, but most trainers do have one build-in. Of course, you can train using heart rate, but everybody who has tried training on with power won’t go back to HR. It was the same with me, my main plan for the trainer was to train using the power numbers, to get ready for the season to come and to prepare for the races. It’s also great to use when you just want to run away from bad conditions outside. I’m no coach so I won’t go into details with the training part. Instead I will just concentrate on my feelings and adventures with the trainer.
First, what do you need? There are so many articles on building your first Indoor setup (also referred to as a pain cave) so I’ll just say the very first step is you need to want to try it. There are many versions of trainers, some of them don’t even need a bike. Others are used with your own bike, Wheel on Turbo Trainers where you place your rear wheel onto the trainer itself or Direct Mount turbo Trainers where you mount the rear of the frame to the trainer.
Let’s assume were already there, you have chosen the best trainer for you and your budget, what’s next? Now comes the time to choose a software that will help you get into indoor riding. Yes, you’ve guessed it!! There’s many of them to choose from. I went through many options from free software to the paid options to find what was best for me.
Ok, I guess this disclaimer is needed here. No one ever paid me to ride their software, so the next part of the article is mainly my own subjective opinion.
I used the following:
After all that testing and trying I ended up using two of them, ZWIFT and The Sufferfest. I will concentrate on them in the rest of the article but if you have any questions about my views on the other apps, pleas feel free to contact me.
The Sufferfest made me go through some nice and gruesome training sessions without that whole community stuff bothering you all the time. When you want to train and not be disturbed by anything else choose Sufferfest! It allows You to go through their 4DP test (four-dimensional power), consisting of four tests in about an hour. It’s not nice, it’s not easy, but you end up with a great analysis of what type of a cyclist you are from your basic parameters from the test, Your maximal power of 10sec., 1min., 5min., and FTP. You also get some insight about your strengths and weaknesses and a very motivational info about similar profiled Pro Cyclists. It’s great information and it really helps you to get ready for the training plans. The Sufferfest has a big database of race videos that help you get through the workouts and feel a bit like a Pro Cyclist.
On the other hand, training alone and just watching the videos can get boring at a time…
Welcome to ZWIFT!!
Honestly if I would have to choose only one app that I would use for my indoor training it would be ZWIFT! It’s an enormous app with lots of options. The main difference between Zwift and Sufferfest would be that you don’t get videos of races in Zwift, but you do get to compete in a virtual environment which is cool. You not only get one map (world) you get 6 of them (or even 8 if you count the Race only routes)!! From the imaginary land of Watopia with its flats and heights to a big part of London City, the futuristic New York Central Park ending on 3 World Championship courses, Richmond, Innsbruck and Yorkshire. There are also two maps accessible only for races, Crit City and the 2019 Giro d’Italia Bologna ITT stage. Zwift is growing all the time so by the time this article goes live… there may be something new added. The Worlds occur interchangeably, you can always ride Watopia and one other World. I’ve mentioned the Giro Bologna ITT stage, but the Watopia World has something nice to offer… Mainly the virtual Alpe d’Huez route!! Yes, people tired comparing it to the real one and say it’s pretty accurate.
Ok we’ve gone through the worlds part, but that’s not everything. If you’re mainly an MTB rider you’ll find some MTB Tracks in Watopia (where you must maneuver the bike using you Smartphone attached to the stem), haven’t tried that yet but seems like lots of fun!
The biggest power of ZWIFT! It is the community, the virtual cycling world with many bike brands to choose from, there are also many kits, helmets, wheels etc. You can be yourself or someone else in ZWIFT, you can talk with other riders, you can get a ride with your friend form the other part of the world (as long as one of You will go sleepless one night :-)). You can do group workouts to get motivated and you can do races!! But races in Zwift is a topic for another time.
As you can see, I’m all in this world of indoor cycling, I love it and really love spending time on my bike in front of the computer. Whether I’m training, just roaming around new parts of the ZWIFT worlds or getting to ride with friends living far, far away. In my part of the World, a trainer is part of getting fit for the season if you don’t like riding in wet and cold conditions then this could also be for you. In others it may be hard to think about getting yourself stuck to a bike in you living room, but I would say TRY IT! There’s a chance you’ll hate it, but I really think most of you will change your mind and give it a try.
Thanks for taking the time to read my article, you can find me on Instagram @wojtek_sebzda
P.S. Big thanks to Craig (@velolegion) for proof-reading and giving some sense to the text 😀