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!!