I must admit that I didn’t think I would enjoy the Computrainer workouts. Me and my bike strapped to a trainer without moving, BORING! Then I opened up the program, chose a course and on the screen I had a virtual road ride around Atlanta. I also had data showing watts, speed, rpm, pretty cool stuff.
Before I go any further with this, let me back up. For the past 9-10 years, I have ridden my road bike a handful of times. The only time I gave it much attention was to duck under the seat so I didn’t hit my head on it as I was walking into the garage. My mountain bike, not much better. We would take our mountain bikes with us on vacation to the mountains of New Hampshire and ride a bike path with the kids once a year.
I loved riding my bike. I never “gave up riding.” My priorities changed as I became a father for the first and then second time. Time was short. Now that my kids are older, I can get back on the bike a little bit more.
One afternoon as I was setting up my bike on the Computrainer, Mike Smith, said he wanted to do a power test on me. I was game. Bring it on. After a 10 minute warm-up, he proceeded to have me ramp up my gears and told me to push it out for 10 minutes trying to give everything I have to the end. My heart rate was at 180 for the last 5 minutes and I was pretty tired. I ended up with a max wattage of 167. Not bad for a guy who hadn’t been riding for the past 9-10 years, I guess.
Armed with this knowledge and determined to increase my wattage, I have been riding the Computrainer for the past few weeks and have been feeling good. The courses are actually fun. Knowing my watts, I determine where my watts should be for each workout. The few times I have been able to get into a class, the instructor has told me what my watts and rpm should be. I find myself staring at three numbers constantly: watts, rpm, hear rate, watts, rpm, heart rate.
These three numbers tell me if I need to shift, back off, or push harder. I become so focused on these numbers that the course I am doing almost doesn’t matter. It becomes an addiction; what are my watts?, what is my heart rate in relation to the watts?, should I shift to make it easier or push through?
Yesterday I decided to try a course that does some hill repeats. The desert theme was chosen as my riding backdrop with a 3 mile warm-up and then 6 half mile hill climbs with recovery in between and then around a 4 mile flat to the finish for a total of just over 15 miles. Each hill was steeper than the last and I found myself grinding up the hills pushing my legs, watts, and heart rate as I went. After the last hill, I recovered for a little bit and then decided to push the last 4 miles as a tempo ride. I wanted to keep my watts between 165-170, if not higher, but my legs were burning!
At the end of the course, my legs were tired, I was breathing pretty hard but I felt good as I had accomplished my goal.
Once the computer saved my results, I uploaded the results into my TrainingPeaks account and received an email from them saying my lactate threshold HR improved. It had increased by 2 beats in the few weeks since I started training. I don’t know if that is good or not, but it is progress and I was thrilled with that.
I can’t wait to ride my bike on the road again and put my new found bike fitness to the test, but I will continue riding the Computrainer as well. It is pretty fun after all..
post written by Dave Radin, CSCS. Dave is a personal trainer at Precision Fitness and a former mountain bike race in the mid 90’s. Once he moved to Charlotte he started road riding a lot more, except the past 9. He just started riding sporadically over the summer of 2014 and looks forward to writing about his experience on the computrainer in the upcoming months.