Heading into the "off-season" - inside options

I have to use quotes for "off-season" because many of us will continue to ride outside for quite some time if this fall/winter turns out anything like last year.  However, we are dealing with less sunlight and the weather may not cooperate as much, making those outside rides tough to schedule and stick to.  But we still want to improve our power/skills and enjoy the camaraderie that we've built up over the spring and summer.  That's where the trainer comes in, and love it or hate it - many of us will log silly amounts of hours on it over the next 5-6 months.  Luckily, our options both on the trainer side and the software side have improved dramatically over the last few years.  So as we go into this off-season, I want to make sure club members know what others are doing:

Applications - Zwift & TrainerRoad

Zwift:  Many of the club sign up to this, which is a solid cycling simulation with training plans to choose from that also allows for good social interaction.  I also know of at least a few times where a group has set up a Skype group call while they're riding to increase the enjoyment factor.  I have less experience with this platform, so invite current users to add in all the features they enjoy.  To my knowledge though, setting up friends lists so you know when other club members are on is easy to do.  The graphics here are very good, and they've both made their own virtual worlds as well as recreated a stretch in London.

TrainerRoad:  This is a training focused application, with an emphasis on making you a stronger cyclist.  Training plans are in-depth and can be chosen depending on your time commitment.  The social element is near zero here, but the Beaches Cycling Club does have a "Team" set up where you can view other members statistics, the rides they've completed, and review what training plans they've chosen.  The graphics are limited to essentially bar charts - this is a "train by number" program, so many of us throw on a Netflix show or watch cycling race replays while we train.


I'll leave what to train on to the go-to web guru, DC Rainmaker.  He just posted his winter trainer recommendations (which is what triggered the idea for this post) here: http://www.dcrainmaker.com/2016/10/annual-winter-2016-2017-bike-sma...

I use a budget Elite trainer I picked up from MEC with zero electronic control (plus a set of rollers for low-key rides and skills) and that works fine, but I know the KICKR is a favoured option by many if you've got a budget for it.

I encourage others to chime in with their experiences and recommendations to club members on trainers.  Please remember that this is in no way trying to convince you to stop riding outside!  If anything, enjoy the good weather for as long as possible and invest in some nice warm layers so that you can make the "season" even longer.  As helpful as a trainer may be, nothing beats a good ride with a great group - which is what this club is all about!


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Comment by qb on October 16, 2016 at 8:19pm

Personally I use Mindset Cycling all winter, using computrainers, perfpro and programs developed by Peter Oyler. If you prefer to train on your own, he provides a home program. I find working out with like minded athletes keeps me focused throughout the winter - and delivers me to the spring in the best shape possible. With that said, i have not utilized some of the newer virtual peleton products, which can give you the feeling of riding with others, but can't replicate the coaching.

Comment by James Eaton on October 16, 2016 at 9:01pm

Great point!  There are a number of good coaches and studios in town and definitely worth exploring that option if you're able to.  Completely agree on the value a good coach can bring; probably the best way to maximize performance for most athletes.  

Comment by Jorge Chaves on October 20, 2016 at 2:37pm

Yesterday I actually just asked Zwift what is needed if you have a Garmin (810 in my case) with cadence/speed sensors and a basic cheapo magnetic trainer and this is their response.

"HI Jorge,

If you get a USB2 or USB-m dongle you will be able to use Zwift right away. If your trainer is on this list of supported trainers, it should work pretty well. If your trainer isn't on that list it is not compatible with zPower yet, you can pair your speed/cadence sensor and select the "Not Listed" trainer option - while it won't give accurate readings, you'll be able to ride."

So essentially I you are inclined to go the Zwift route all you need to pick up is a USB Ant+ dongle for your computer that will talk to your Garmin and sensors and you can take part in the fun.

Comment by Jeff Kirchner on October 20, 2016 at 5:50pm
To add to the discussion, I've been working with the VeloReality product for several years now. This is actually a Canadian product, who have developed a strong following in Europe. They use 1080p videos (now heading toward 4K options), which are recorded with HD cameras and telemetry data from 100's of routes around the world, including several routes in Canada.

Their software is free. There are 4 short demo videos available. Additional videos can be purchased online and downloaded, as well as bundles of rides or full harddrive options can be purchased. Difference from Zwift is that it's real footage, not a gaming engine. Group riding is also possible. Oh.. and there are over 150 rides available, with more on their way. Not your average routes, you can ride everything from Rattlesnake point, to the Stelvio, Col de la Madone, l'Alpe d'Huez, Ventoux (several routes), Majorca (where you even see a pro team riding on the videos) and so many more.


The software is compatible with any ANT+ devices (with a suitable USB dongle); system requirements and Mac compatibility options are discussed on their site. Compatible with nearly every major trainer on the market, including resistance units.

If you're really interested in going for a full-blown simulator, you can use an FE-C compatible trainer, Computrainer, or the Velo Reality "LYNX" trainer.

Personally, I use the LYNX trainer myself, having helped them with development. The LYNX is a high-end, electronic resistance trainer, combined with the benefits of fork mounted rollers.

Let me know if you'd like to give it a try on my setup. Shortly will have access to 2 demo units of the latest model, for those who have a serious interest.

No problem helping you get the perfect ride simulator going. The resistance itself is very precise, and the roller-drum rear wheel allows the rear wheel to track freely, which makes a significant difference. Ever get pain in the hips, lowerback, knees after riding on a dropout-mounted trainer? This is a result of the bike being a fixed object. Overhead shots of race footage demonstrate the natural tracking of the rear wheel, particularly under power. Without the ability to move laterally, your body compensates. The oversized roller also doesn't require a dedicated trainer tire. The wear rate is very low on normal road tires. Easy calibration ensures that bike/wheel/tire combo won't be an issue.

Bonus of being in Toronto, there is no shipping cost if you'd like to arrange getting a unit (it's actually made in Ontario).

Drop me a note if you want to check out the LYNX, or simply try out the software. I can probably help swing some competitive pricing for BCC or the odd free video coupon code if you're interested.

Jeff (jeff.kirchner@gmail.com)
Comment by James Eaton on November 2, 2016 at 9:05am

DC Rainmaker just posted a list/semi-review of 20 training apps - including VeloReality, Zwift, TrainerRoad and a ton that I've never heard of.  So lots to choose from for everyone.  Plus outside. Please don't forget outside, especially as its still forecast to be warm (+10 or better) until at least mid-November.  That's barely arm-warmer weather :).



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