Welcome to full scale geekdom

Riding in Lake Placid, thanks to the interactive real course video. As you can see from the Spin Scan data - I have plenty of room for improvement!

It was Friday, and I awoke like a kid on Christmas morning – or like a triathlete about to receive her first CompuTrainer. You know, same thing…

Having checked the UPS tracking information, I knew it “out for delivery,” which caused me to keep checking the front door to see if it had arrived. (Hmmm, obsess much?)

Around 3 p.m., I heard a rustling on the front porch. It was Jolly Ol’ Saint UPS delivery driver.

I walked to the door, and what to my wondering eyes did appear: the CompuTrainer.

“It’s here! It’s here!”

This exclamation was complimented by a spasmodic dance of sorts that involved some jumping up and down and wiggling my hips. It was all very elegant, as you might imagine from this description. Thankfully, my neighbors are used to us. They know we’re nuts, and they seem to be okay with it. It’s great that I don’t even have to try to pretend that I’m normal.

I hefted the box inside – at 42 pounds, this trainer is not the lightweight variety. It’s sturdy, and it’s ready to take some punishing. Hmmm, wait a minute. I forgot: I’m the one that’s going to take the punishing.

John is the mechanical genius of the family, so I was happy to sit back and be the assistant for this part of the set up.

If Friday morning was the equivalent of Christmas morning, then Saturday morning was certainly as good as the day after Christmas morning: it was time to settle in and play with the new toy.

I installed the various software programs onto my computer (easy and quick with the directions).  After surveying the many course options that were loaded into the software, I decided to go with the Lake Placid course (shocking, I know!). As an added bonus, the generous folks at CompuTrainer supplied me with an interactive real course video for the IMLP course–which is positively incredible!

As you can see from the picture at the top, these videos are filmed on race day, and you get the feel of being there. If you can’t test ride a course before a race, these videos are a useful way to get a sense of what it will be like. I loved how you could see the aid stations, staffed with volunteers, other people on the course waving, spectators getting ready – it was very cool.

The best part was seeing that course again. If you’ve done the race, then you know how spectacular the scenery is. I smiled as I saw the familiar landmarks, and I hooted and hollered as the endorphins started to kick in. (This time the crazy behavior was safely confined to the living room. My neighbors don’t need to know exactly how nuts I am.)

Lest I forget how ferocious some of those Placid climbs can be, my trusty CompuTrainer was there to remind me. Within 10 minutes, I was sweating profusely, my heart rate and power were climbing, right along with the elevating grade. While I’ve tried to mimic hills on my basic trainer, it never really feels like climbing, so much as just a heavy load.

With the CompuTrainer, I really had the sensation of climbing as the load generator increases the resistance. Because the force is being applied to the wheel, I can gear for the resistance, rather than shifting to create or reduce resistance. This is a very important difference and one that should result in improving gearing on race day, especially since there are zero hills in Southern New Jersey.

My training schedule included a 2 hour ride for Saturday, and while I wanted to keep riding (I mean, I had 24 miles left on the loop…), I followed the plan. This week is a recovery week for me, and because I know I’ll have plenty of hard training coming up (including a functional threshold power test), I wanted to respect the recovery. So, I hit stop, and saved the data.

The data that the CompuTrainer captures makes the ride even more interesting. I spent at least another hour analyzing the information. While I’m still learning what some of the terms mean (John gave me a mini-lesson on “torque”), I’ve already realized that my right leg does not seem to pedal as efficiently as my left leg, I don’t pedal as efficiently in aero or the drops as I do when I’m on the cow horns, and my average power (watts) needs to improve dramatically if I hope to meet my goal of a 6:30 bike in Placid. I got all of this just from my first ride.

This data is precious. I’ve been a numbers geek with my running, and the CompuTrainer data take it to an entirely different level. As my friend Joe (@jskells314) tweeted, “Welcome to full scale geekdom.” Oh, yes, it’s good to be here. Thanks so much for having me.


If you have a CompuTrainer, what tips and/or experiences have you had? I’m interested in learning as much as I can to get as much as I can from this tool. Thanks for sharing.

One Comment

  1. Ian

    What a fantastic toy! You’re going to be in such a great position come race day with all the experience from the virtual course in your legs. Fabulous. Look forward to keeping up with your progress (better than I have done lately!) and seeing the numbers get lower and lower.

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