Thursday, March 24, 2016

PCG Coach James Schaefer Reviews ErgVideo

So are you suffering from the trainer blues? No motivation to once again climb aboard and watch a stale video of other guys ride in the warm weather? Yup, that's me too!  Until a month ago I was riding a fluid trainer and watching old Tour of Battenkill videos. That has all changed!! Three months ago I made the best winter investment I could have, next to a snow blower… I got a CompuTrainer. What a great way to ride indoors. Until last week I thought indoor training couldn’t get any better, then I got a set of 3 ErgVideos, and that changed everything about indoor trainer riding… TrainerTainment! 

My first ride up L'Alpe d'Huez – yup, an hour and a half of climbing with a couple of pros. 

What makes this so different from any other trainer ride I have ever done is the "ERG" in the ErgVideo. When you start an ErgVideo you input your FTP into the program and your computer and CompuTrainer do the rest. You don't change gears, you ride at the same percentage of FTP as the guys on the screen. So if their FTP is 350 and yours is 250 the program creates enough resistance for you to ride at 250watts. At first this just didn't sound right… how do you change your cadence to pedal slower if you want to stand up… we are not changing gears, right? You just slow your cadence and the resistance is adjusted and you are still generating 250 watts. Yes, it’s that easy, and it feels as close to riding on the road as I have ever done on a trainer. The scenery is spectacular. You see every landmark that you see on the Tour. About 15 minutes from the end you climb into the clouds and just as you enter the Village of Huez the sun comes back out… just like in the Tour.

The next day I tried a different ErgVideo, microbursts and a tempo ride. I thought, "How is this going to work?" Climbing is one thing, but a workout on rolling terrain that has three by ten minute efforts that are 30-seconds at VOand 20-seconds at endurance, then a 30-minute tempo ride in a rotating paceline? Yes,this workout christened the pain cave - it is a hard workout. Remember,changing gears does nothing. The program sets the power output you need to produce. If you miss the beginning of the 30-second VO2 effort you really struggle to get the cadence back up before the end of 30 seconds. Well, there is a way to give yourself a little relief from these really hard efforts. You have the ability to adjust your FTP with the CompuTrainer handlebar controller. That is what I had to do near the end of this sufferfest.

This is my ride data for the microbursts and tempo. Check out the last 30 minutes at tempo.  The ErgVideo recreates a rotating paceline and the undulating terrain of Bedford, Virginia. You feel every pull you take and every change of road grade.  

Last but not least was the two by 20 minute under/over. This has a nice set of fast pedaling at the end to work on your efficiency. After the first two days of riding I was really intrigued as to how the fast pedal section was going to work. This is another really cool feature of this set-up. The power is kept low so you can really spin up. You see the guys in the video accelerate and there is just enough resistance so your knees don't hit you in the head at 180 RPMs.

You can get all these videos at, the Hunter Allen PowerPack. All of the ErgVideos run on PC but according to Paul Smeulders can run on a Mac with the proper Windows interface software.

Looking for some more motivation to get through those tough trainer sessions? Take a picture of yourself and give it the #onmytrainer, and see how everyone else is suffering along with you. Just think, some of the most significant snowfalls on the East Coast have occurred in March. So far the rodent was right!!


  1. Great review James. A compelling reason to get a CompuTrainer and these videos.

  2. I have to say I love these videos, I had a major accident in a race in Australia May 2014. I broke both legs and smashed my tibia plateau, pelvis was broken in seven places and broke three vertebrae. I was not sure I would ever walk again properly let alone ride my bike. I was lucky enough to meet an orthopaedic surgeon who was a cyclist and an extremely gifted trauma surgeon. Once he took over my case he assured me he could get me back on the bike. After many operations I ser the bike on the computrainer and would sit on it and pedal backwards because I did not have enough rotation in the left knee to get over the top of the pedal stroke. This went on for weeks the more I pedalled backwards then forwards I would get just a little further. Then one day the knee rolled over the top and I was pedalling forwards again.
    I already owned a decent library of Ergvideos and once I got the all clear to start pushing a bit I bit the bullet and grabbed the Hunter Allen set. I still could not walk properly but I could pedal the bike, I needed a crate to stand on so I could get on and off the bike but I was so excited everyday to get on it.
    After not riding at all for thirteen months I did my first 20 minute test of 207 watts, followed the training plan from the Ergvideo website with Hunter Allan videos religiously and after 15 weeks my 20 minute test was 301 watts. Moral of the story these videos and training plans work if your prepared to suffer indoors for a while.
    I'm back racing my bike even though walking is still a struggle compared to riding. I cannot thank Ergvideo and Peaks Coaching Group enough for the compilation of videos and training plans, it saved my sanity and got me back racing when I never thought it would be possible again. I still use them 3 times a week to keep me on track with my training.

  3. Congrats Mark! That is super exciting! I am pumped to hear about your improvements and what a huge gain!!! That is super inspiring!!!!!
    Way to go. More proof that “smart, hard work” equals success! You rock!


  4. Mark Thanks for sharing your success story. As Hunter already said this is really inspiring. Your comeback takes guts, determination and a love for the pleasure of riding a bike.
    James Schaefer