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Thinking about my second winter on a trainer

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Thinking about my second winter on a trainer

Old 10-19-20, 12:00 PM
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Thomas15
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Thinking about my second winter on a trainer

This is me just blabbing.


To set the stage, started riding bikes in late fall 2018, didn't touch the bike all winter 2018-2019 then got back on the bike in spring 2019. Last fall I was being treated for Lymes Disease so I missed riding anything for all of September and October. By November 1st I had remembered that I stuffed a used trainer in my garage and got it out started tinkering with it. By Mid November I had it up and running with Zwift.


During last winter I got my bike outside exactly 2 times. Once in December and then again in the Feb. thaw, both group rides, about a total of 50 miles. The rest of my riding was on the trainer, that lasted until May. From then to mid October 90% of my riding has been outside, a mixture of rail trail on my hybrid and road in the hills on my road bike. The trainer really brought my performance level up, I'm quite pleased about that.


There are nice days to come but I'm finding myself on the trainer more for the last 3 weeks because by the time I get home from work it's dark and it's starting to get cold outside. I'm going to get out on at least the rail trails more this winter than last as time and weather permits but again most of my training will be on the trainer and I'm trying to decide on a plan to train for next year. Thing is I'm not exactly what I want to accomplish next year I think I'm going to plan for big hill climbing for early in the season 2021 then switch to endurance riding by mid summer. I'm planning on riding in the "Ben to the Shore" Bike tour Philadelphia to Atlantic City which should be end of July, this is 65 flat miles. Not a race but I want to get as close to an average speed of 20 MPH as possible with no or maybe one stop, this should put me on the beach by 10:30-10:45 AM. Just something I want to do. I did say from the beginning I was babbling.


I do not like cold weather at all. So would any like minded thinkers would like to discuss training plans for this upcoming winter? Maybe maybe not?
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Old 10-19-20, 05:16 PM
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I convert from road to trainer, and once I do I stay there until the roads are passable again. For me it's a totally different mentality than road riding. And even though it's the same bike, for some reason it feels a lot different. But I like Zwifting. It's a nice change of pace from the usual roads I've been riding for months, so it's like a fresh start every fall. Keep the interest up.

FWIW, I used to ride all winter, as long as the roads were passable. But increased traffic in my area has made it something I no longer want to do. So I Zwift. Which is a shame. Why? The gear. Lights alone have improved drastically since I started night riding about 25 years ago. My first real headlight, a Nite Rider unit, put out 500 lumens and needed a "bear can" battery to last a little more than an hour. Now I have a small and very light unit that puts out 800 lumens for 90 minutes and the battery is built in. The magic of LEDs, i guess. Also, the clothing is way better for cold weather riding. But back then there were no smart trainers or Zwift, so there wasn't a real good alternative like we have now. I liked the peace and quiet of night riding back then, but, well, that's impossible to find now.
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Old 10-20-20, 06:48 AM
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This will be my fourth winter with a smart trainer and Zwift. Before that, I'd ride outdoors when the roads were dry and temperature was above 35 and it was light out. It wasn't that much fun below 40 here in Maryland, started riding less in the winter as I got older.

Now, I'll do Zwift indoors if below 40 but still ride outside above 40. To be honest, there are definitely times when it is above 40 but windy or gray and I'll just do indoor training - Zwift has made me soft!

From a training perspective, my riding indoors tends to actually be better training - I do workouts, push my power on many rides, do races, etc. Outdoors I don't have a power meter, ride longer rides for run but rarely in upper power or heart rate zones when all bundled up!

In the winter of 2018/2019, I planned my indoor training for an early flat century ride - I was in the best shape of my life! Then I continued to mix in indoor training, loosely following workouts in "The Time Crunched Cyclist" to train for the Seattle to Portland 2 day 206 mile ride in July of 2019. I did 123 miles the first day, my highest daily mileage ever and felt great on both days.

This year there is nothing to train for, but I've been doing the indoor trainer on rainy days, will use the 40 degree test over the winter again.
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Old 10-20-20, 11:10 AM
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What kept me motivated last winter on my trainer was anticipation of two rides in particular, the above mentioned Ben to the Shore and I was also going to do the Ocean to Bay (Century) in Bethany Beach DE which was supposed to be April 25th. I was looking for an easy century and a bunch of people from around here were going. They actually had it last Saturday (Ocean to Bay), I know some that went it was chilly and windy.

Anyway I'm going to proceed this winter as if last summer didn't happen, I refer to the disappointments. I did the Hershey PA Beer and Bikes ride in 2019. I got seriously spanked on that day. Had to walk up either 3 or 4 hills, it was a disaster. I wanted to bomb that one also this year, but not going to happen.
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Old 10-20-20, 11:31 AM
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Thomas, Tell me how you integrated Zwift into your training? I'll be on a trainer this winter for the first time. I have cadence, speed and HRM for my bike computer so I'm sure I can get that data to an iPad too.
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Old 10-22-20, 10:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Gary in NJ View Post
Thomas, Tell me how you integrated Zwift into your training? I'll be on a trainer this winter for the first time. I have cadence, speed and HRM for my bike computer so I'm sure I can get that data to an iPad too.
If your trainer or bike has a power meter or is supported by Zwift and is able to give you power in watts and watts per kilogram of body weight then you will be all set. I think all smart trainers have this feature and some not-so-smart trainers such as my Kinetic Road Machine with InRide 3 which uses software to determine watts. So if you don't already have a trainer I urge you to get something at a minimum as the Wahoo Kickr Snap.

The HRM is good/ very useful, the speed sensor is used only if you have a certifiable "dumb" trainer. I put a cadence sensor on to verify the sensor in the InRide and it is quite accurate (the InRide) I've compared my output to Garmin Vector 3 power meters and it is quite close. Just to be clear I'm not suggesting the Kinetic, I have one because I bought it used and cheap before everything bike related prices went nutz.

Ok to complete the above thought all of my ride data is uploaded to Strava from Zwift. So you get the normal analysis of the ride from Strava. My personal set-up: I use an ANT+ dongle connected to my windows laptop (you need 64 bits windows). The laptop is hard wire connected to a 54" flat screen (and sound system) using an HDMI cable. The laptop is on a stand close enough to the bike that I can use it while riding. I have the laptop on my wireless router and my iPhone on the same wireless network where I use the Zwift Companion app. I text other riders and do a few other things via the companion app, I do voice communications using the Discord app on my phone (I lose the Zwift sounds when I do this) and I use a blue tooth earbuds to use Discord or listen to Apple Music. For my complete set up I have all the above plus a plastic front wheel riser and a special rear tire made for wheel-on trainers mounted on a dedicated rear wheel. My iPhone is mounted on the bars using a Quad-Lock mount. I wear the same kit as riding outside except no helmet. I have two fans, one fore the other aft, you sweat like crazy on the trainer. I also have a dehumidifier in the room.

The Zwift program has a lot of functions and programs. You can solo (free) ride or social rides, races, leagues plus a wide variety of training programs. I personally have not used any of the training programs. Zwift has I think 8 worlds to choose from. Each world have a number of pre-defined routes, all together I think there are 76 routes ranging from easy to century rides, pancake flat to 8500 feet ascent. There are currently 50 levels in Zwift, you move up levels by getting XPs. By just riding you get 30 XPs for every mile. Also there are bonus XPs, the first time you complete a route you get close to double the mileage XPs. There are other ways of getting XPs. Also there are challenges, three of them. Two of them (Tour of Italy and Tour of California) are based on riding miles, when you complete them you get a virtual bike, the third (Everest Challenge) is hands down the hardest but once you complete it you get the coveted TRON bike. You also get sweat drops which you use as money to buy virtual bikes, wheelsets, kit and so forth. The gear you use makes a difference, for example use a good climbing frame and wheels to do the Alpe du Zwift (3500 feet of ascent in 8 miles) and a mountain bike for the trails.

When I started last November I quickly settled on getting the Tron bike (because of the emphasis on climbing) and finishing all 76 routes (it was 64 routes then). For the Tron you need to climb I think a total of 246,000 feet of ascent, I think. It took me about 5 months to do that. That is what took me from "I can't climb squat" to an individual that will try just about any climb. Before I hated climbs, now I'm a lets do this kind of guy. A lot of the more challenging routes have a lot of climbing, so you get on those XPs, bonus XPs, and on some bonuses for completing say a metric or full century. Other things that I worked for you get a badges for climbing the Alpe 5 times and another for climbing it 25 times. Also a the top of the Alpe there is a prize spinner you get a helmet, gloves and the best climbing wheelset, once you get those prizes the spinner awards bonus XPs either 250 or 1000.

So I made getting all of the routes completed and getting the Tron my motivation and training goal for last year. This year is different, I now have all of that and bonus XPs are slim pickings for me (I'm at level 33), have so many sweat drops (about 5 million) and a garage full of virtual bikes and wheelsets.

To keep things interesting and keep motivation, I will do two or three social rides a week. There are BTW, 100s of social rides and/or races on Zwift every day. The ones I do are usually about 20 miles, I do a warm up of about 10 miles and sometimes an after party so I get in 30 +/- miles on those . I have ridden up the Alpe 40 times to date (since last November), tomorrow I'm riding for the second time VEN-TOP (Mont Ventoux) which is 5000 feet of ascent over 13 miles, this is a race although I'm not going to try to win just survive. I treat some routes as an interval training (such as the Volcano Loop). So I'm going to just try to get in as much miles between now and the end of the year, then in January will set up something like 2 easy rides per week, 2 days days of intervals, one day of big climbing such as the Alpe and one day of "racing" on the flats. My plan is to put more emphasis on climbing Jan-May, then switch over to high cadence endurance on the flats May-July. I'm not good at rigid training programs so I'm not going to take advantage of those.

I hope there is some useful information here.

A great resource you should investigate is Zwift Insider dot com

Another thing not related to Zwift or trainers but something to think about. I belong to The Lehigh Wheelmens Association. They have several group rides IRL (In real life) in the Lehigh Valley every day. I did at least 1 ride a week all summer with them. Things have slowed down as the weather gets colder and daylight less abundant. There is another club Western Jersey Wheelmen in your area. You should check them out. I find club rides to be a bit more challenging than rides sponsored by LBS.

Last edited by Thomas15; 10-22-20 at 10:41 AM.
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Old 10-22-20, 11:18 AM
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Old 10-22-20, 11:34 AM
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Thomas, thanks for the input. Unfortunately my magnetic trainer is not too smart - it's not completely dumb because I can vary the resistance - but it does not have a power meter. I've been thinking of getting a PM for my Ultegra crank...and maybe this is a good reason to pull the trigger. I'll check out the ZwiftInsider website...that's a good suggestion. So is checking in with the Wheelmen and joining them on local rides. Whether LHV or Warren County I don't think it matters.
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Old 10-22-20, 11:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Gary in NJ View Post
Thomas, Tell me how you integrated Zwift into your training? I'll be on a trainer this winter for the first time. I have cadence, speed and HRM for my bike computer so I'm sure I can get that data to an iPad too.
A couple things: Zwift works by power. It can do actually measured power from a powermeter on the bike or trainer, or it can estimate it based on a power curve for your trainer. You'll need to look on the Zwift page to see if your trainer works.

Also, iPads only read BT, so if your HRM and speed/cadence are in ANT+, you'll probably want to run it through a laptop with an ANT+ dongle. If you're set on using the iPad, there are workarounds.

As for working it into your training, some people do races on Zwift, some just ride around, and others do structured workouts. I signed up for a structured plan that has 4-5 workouts a week. A lot of these can be done outside when the weather is nice, but it's also great to just be able to hop on the trainer and do the work. And some of the workouts might have lots of power and cadence changes that make them easier to do on the trainer than on the road. The biggest thing for me is the structure. I like checking off boxes and having the next workout to look forward to.
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Old 10-22-20, 01:42 PM
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Caloso, more good info. I have two laptops; one is fast and capable but it is company issued and fairly locked down (I can't add any software to it) and the other is a 10-12 year old boat anchor. I'll have to see if the boat anchor can run the zwift software.
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Old 10-23-20, 11:12 AM
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My set up is to use the iPad on a music stand next to the bars, with the video mirrored to a bigger monitor with a Lightning to HDMI connector. Bigger monitor means more immersion means I can stay on the bike longer.
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Old 10-23-20, 12:01 PM
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This will be my 22nd winter on my zero-electronics resistance rollers. (I took one winter off and vowed to never do that again.) I have a Garmin on my road bike with power, HR, speed, cadence, and time displayed. I'm doing a completely different training plan this winter. I'm trying to work up to riding five 2-hour sessions/week at a steady 75% FTP, without HR drift, by January, starting from approximately zero as I had to be off the bike the whole summer, not my choice. I'm also doing about 80' of full-body dumbbell work twice a week. In January I'll start doing some intervals whether I make that 10 hours/week on the rollers or not. So far, so good, making good progress. I'm at 5 1-hour sessions with 2 beats of drift, plus of course the dumbbell sessions.

So far, it's not boring at all. I have to pay very close attention to power, pedaling, balance, position, leg stress, and of course not falling off by being distracted by unnecessary inputs. Concentration is everything. Rock music helps.

Music's been good this Covid year. Totally off the wall, I recently streamed "What happened, Miss Simone," and then found her song Mississippi ******** on youtube with Russian subtitles. Fun.
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Old 10-23-20, 01:12 PM
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i'm impressed that you can keep your HR so steady for so long. Mine seems to do just what it want to do when it wants to do it. although i'm in erg mode on the trainer my peddling is not at a fixed rate so i'm sure that is it.

listened to Mississippi ***. seems appropriate for the times...

here is something i've listened to, yes rock music helps.
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Old 10-23-20, 01:21 PM
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Originally Posted by caloso View Post
My set up is to use the iPad on a music stand next to the bars, with the video mirrored to a bigger monitor with a Lightning to HDMI connector. Bigger monitor means more immersion means I can stay on the bike longer.
Thanks for the tip. Just ordered two.
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Old 10-25-20, 10:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Gary in NJ View Post
Caloso, more good info. I have two laptops; one is fast and capable but it is company issued and fairly locked down (I can't add any software to it) and the other is a 10-12 year old boat anchor. I'll have to see if the boat anchor can run the zwift software.
My laptop is old and runs 32 bit Windows so I couldn't use it with Zwift. I spent some time on the Dell Auction website and found a refurbished laptop with a 64 bit Windows OS for less than $150 Took some time and effort but worth it. I use this laptop only for Zwift.
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Old 10-25-20, 11:51 AM
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Originally Posted by spelger View Post
i'm impressed that you can keep your HR so steady for so long. Mine seems to do just what it want to do when it wants to do it. although i'm in erg mode on the trainer my peddling is not at a fixed rate so i'm sure that is it. <snip>
Cadence is very likely what it is. In erg mode, lower cadence should produce a lower HR and vice versa. So put on a cadence sensor. If you don't have a head unit either on your bike or integral with the trainer which will work with a cadence sensor, then there are is a plethora of inexpensive bike computers, both wired and wireless, to choose from.

My HR isn't perfectly stable, not at all. It'll go up and down maybe 3 beats, probably depending on whether I'm in a meditative state or thinking about something, but when I'm in good condition the average will stay steady as long as I don't go over 75% FTP or 70%-75% MHR or ride longer than my current conditioning allows me to hold it steady. It takes me 30' to warm up to a steady HR, so I only measure drift from there on out. When one has drift, it will increase the longer one rides.

I started out using a power where I didn't have any drift in an hour's ride, by experimentation. Then I gradually increased the steady power in the last 45' and then trained enough days to establish enough fitness to get steady HR again at that power. I continued this power increasing and stabilization workout until I had increased power to the above figures. Now, I'm trying to gradually increase the length of these workouts at that same power. My research says that above those effort levels, HR is always going to gradually increase due to lactate buildup.

Erg mode greatly simplifies the exercise but is more boring than having to hold power steady by oneself.

All this said, you can see by the forgoing that this isn't everyone's cup o' tea. Which is a little odd, considering that every training plan says to develop a deep base in early winter. So this year, I'm doing that.
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Old 10-25-20, 08:28 PM
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On Friday I participated in a "race" on Zwift, it was up Ven-Top, Zwifts version of the famous Mont Ventoux. 13 miles of climbing, 5000 feet of ascent, average 8+/-percent grade. I've done this once before and swore never again even though I've climbed the Alpe about 40 times.

Although it felt like I was dragging by backside all the way up the hill, I still took 20 minutes off my previous run. Saturday I was so sore, haven't been that sore in a long time. Ended up doing a 38 mile rehab ride today on my local rail trail.
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Old 10-30-20, 04:15 PM
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Originally Posted by caloso View Post
My set up is to use the iPad on a music stand next to the bars, with the video mirrored to a bigger monitor with a Lightning to HDMI connector. Bigger monitor means more immersion means I can stay on the bike longer.
Agreed. I just mounted our old (circa 2004) flat screen tv to the wall down in the Pain Cave, and I’m using a Lightning-to-HDMI adapter exactly as you are. It works GREAT, and does indeed make the miles easier to bear than just watching the iPad. Ooof, that was hard. Also, good music whilst Zwifting = good times.
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Old 10-31-20, 04:48 AM
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I went with Apple TV to run Zwift on - doing so also enabled me to stop paying for a cable TV box on the TV that is down there to be in front of the treadmill my wife uses, so it eventually paid for itself. Now, unless I want to run the Zwift companion app, I just bring down a water bottle and ride.
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Old 11-11-20, 08:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Gary in NJ View Post
Thomas, thanks for the input. Unfortunately my magnetic trainer is not too smart - it's not completely dumb because I can vary the resistance - but it does not have a power meter. I've been thinking of getting a PM for my Ultegra crank...and maybe this is a good reason to pull the trigger. I'll check out the ZwiftInsider website...that's a good suggestion. So is checking in with the Wheelmen and joining them on local rides. Whether LHV or Warren County I don't think it matters.
I tried using Zwift with a magnetic trainer, and wheel speed and cadence sensors only. But that wasn't enough to enjoy Zwift, for me at least... So last year I bought a used Kurt Kinetic fluid trainer ($90), and added their InRide ANT+/Bluetooth sensor ($50) for power output. I jokingly call it my "Half Smart" trainer. Otherwise my setup is a laptop with Bluetooth, added a ANT+ dongle and a USB extension cord so the dongle sits under the seat on my bike, and also reads my Wahoo Tickr X heart rate monitor. And that got me through last winter. I have a 1998 Cannondale R200 that is permanently on the trainer. I have other road bikes for outdoor use. A 1986 KHS Fiero I updated to Shimano 105 10 speed a few years ago. But also my reward for 140 pounds weight loss, a 2006 Cannondale CAAD8 that is currently running SRAM mixed group 10 speed stuff. And a couple of MTB bikes, mostly vintage bikes, but my 29er is a with drop bars...

Five weeks ago I had m right knee replaced, the trainer is going to be a big help in this recovery. I've added a second laptop power supply to stay with the trainer, and a hardwired network connection at the trainer site. I had a couple issues with wifi last year, wife streaming Netflix bogged my system down during group rides with my local club. Not going to happen this year. I will use my older phone as a sort of permanent Zwift Companion App device, and keep it plugged in. I was hoping for a new tablet for this, easier to see and read. But not in my budget.
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Old 11-12-20, 09:24 AM
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Originally Posted by zjrog View Post
I tried using Zwift with a magnetic trainer, and wheel speed and cadence sensors only. But that wasn't enough to enjoy Zwift, for me at least... So last year I bought a used Kurt Kinetic fluid trainer ($90), and added their InRide ANT+/Bluetooth sensor ($50) for power output. I jokingly call it my "Half Smart" trainer. Otherwise my setup is a laptop with Bluetooth, added a ANT+ dongle and a USB extension cord so the dongle sits under the seat on my bike, and also reads my Wahoo Tickr X heart rate monitor. And that got me through last winter. I have a 1998 Cannondale R200 that is permanently on the trainer. I have other road bikes for outdoor use. A 1986 KHS Fiero I updated to Shimano 105 10 speed a few years ago. But also my reward for 140 pounds weight loss, a 2006 Cannondale CAAD8 that is currently running SRAM mixed group 10 speed stuff. And a couple of MTB bikes, mostly vintage bikes, but my 29er is a with drop bars...


Five weeks ago I had m right knee replaced, the trainer is going to be a big help in this recovery. I've added a second laptop power supply to stay with the trainer, and a hardwired network connection at the trainer site. I had a couple issues with wifi last year, wife streaming Netflix bogged my system down during group rides with my local club. Not going to happen this year. I will use my older phone as a sort of permanent Zwift Companion App device, and keep it plugged in. I was hoping for a new tablet for this, easier to see and read. But not in my budget.

I have the same set up also purchased used. I call it my "semi-smart" trainer.

Kudos for the 140 pounds of loss. Good luck with the knee.


Tomorrow, Nov. 13, 2020 is the 1 year anniversary of my first ride on Zwift. As of now, 4679 Zwift miles, 358,225 feet of ascent. I need 92 miles to level up to level 34. I would like to do that tomorrow but that means a lot of riding today and tomorrow. I'm going to attempt 70 miles tonight, flat courses, this will allow me to hit level 34 without riding till midnight Friday. I have all of the routes completed and no easy bonus XPs available to me so it;s really just miles to level up. The only other goal I have on the books at the moment is to hit 6000 miles (IRL and trainer combined) for the year. I'm at 5300 right now so should be able to do that by the end of the year.


I want to start January 1 with some kind of plan for training. Not sure if I want to do a canned Zwift plan or devise something myself. I'm conflicted because I'm deficient in just about every aspect of riding. On the one hand I want to do an epic climb next spring, on the other hand I want to do a flat metric century next summer holding roughly or as close to 18 mph. as possible. I'm probably comparatively speaking a better climber than endurance rider but that is not saying a whole lot. A couple of things I don't do, I don't pay attention to my diet and I don't do any other workouts except biking. I should, if nothing else, start working on core strength training.

Last edited by Thomas15; 11-12-20 at 09:28 AM.
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Old 11-12-20, 10:37 AM
  #22  
zacster
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What I found really helpful with Zwift was to also have an alternate program to use. It is really easy to get into a habit of not quite pushing yourself with it, and just riding along. I use The Sufferfest myself as an alternate and go back and forth between the two. Some of the Suf videos are real killers.

I guess I'm old, but I've never been a gamer so all the game aspects of Zwift escape me. I see when I level up but I don't really pay attention to it. My kit is still pretty basic too. Maybe if I ran Zwift as a secondary program while I do Sufferfest I'd be a lot further along.

With the beautiful weather of the past week I put off the trainer again. Maybe today I'll go back on.
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Old 11-12-20, 04:02 PM
  #23  
Ed Wiser
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I found Rouvy to be a great other program to go with Zwift.
Found that most of my Local bike club rides have been uploaded using the map search function. So I can ride the ones that I ride all the time. I use zwift for the training programs.
I am an old timer so racing not a thing for me riding with a group of club members is. So
using both gives me options.
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Old 11-18-20, 11:38 AM
  #24  
abourgault 
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Excuse my ignorance but to use Apple TV with zwift, is there a subscription to pay for Apple TV?

Thank you,
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Old 11-18-20, 11:51 AM
  #25  
Ed Wiser
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You log into Zwift on the app on the Apple TV
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