TrainerRoad kicks your ass

Let’s face it, I’m a bit of a wimp. There’s no way I’m going to take my bike outside when it’s below 40°, but I also will not allow myself to slow down in the offseason.

I’m also cheap. I don’t mind spending money to help achieve goals, but if there’s a way I can spend less to achieve the same goals in mostly the same way, even if it requires more work on my part, I’m going to less expensive route. (I think my wife thinks both routes are too expensive.)

TrainerRoad allows me to achieve these goals in the comfort of my own pain cave, I mean basement.

In case you’re one of the uninitiated, TrainerRoad (TR) is a subscription-based online service that pairs your computer with your bike, allowing you to take on hundreds of power-based workouts, or as TR puts it, “TrainerRoad picks up live power, heart rate, speed, and cadence data while you workout on your trainer. We monitor your output and give you live power targets during a structured workout.”

It’s really easy to setup. If you already have wireless speed and cadence sensors you just pair them with your computer (possibly with the help of a $15 Bluetooth or ANT+ dongle). Same goes for your heart rate monitor. Drop your bike on virtually any trainer (dumb or smart; fluid, magnetic or wind), pay TR $10 for a month and you’re ready to ride. It works on your Mac or PC as well as iOS.


For me, I bought the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine. It was noted on the TR site as having a well-known and predictable resistance curve, as well as universally noted for being high in quality and virtually indestructible. The one above is the updated model. Thankfully, and fitting my aforementioned goals, I found a company looking to unload the old version for cheap to make room for the new. As I already had wireless speed, cadence and heart rate monitors, I was ready to go.

TrainerRoad running on my custom-made laptop stand.

I was, and still am, impressed with the app. It’s quit simple in nature, but give you all the info you need at a quick glance. The numbers up top show your power output, cadence and heart rate, while the blue “chart” below shows the workout program. As I have a “dumb” trainer, the onus is on me to meet these power levels. I like this, as it keeps my head in the game, unlike a smart trainer which would automatically apply more/less resistance as the workout dictates. It’s hard to see in my crappy shot, but there is a line drawn showing your output and heart rate. All of this is recorded, so any slacking is obvious. You kick your own ass, the way god intended. To that point, TR keeps every ride you’ve done, so you can look back (in shame or triumph) at all the work you’ve done.

TrainerRoad will kick your ass. I highly recommend a fan, otherwise you're going to get wet.
TrainerRoad will kick your ass. I highly recommend a fan, otherwise you’re going to get wet.

Every year TR does a 10-day Tour of Sufferlandria (click the link to see my Tour feed). This is a chance to kick your ass with thousands of others across the country doing 1-3 rides over 1-3ish hours a day. It’s a great chance to support a good cause, get motivated, and to really burn some calories while increasing your fitness. If you’re not a cheap-ass, there are even videos you can ride to, but they cost extra money.

For instance, on the second-to-last day of the Tour, TR had me do Sufferfest Revolver, Sufferfest Violator and then Sufferfest Half is Easy. In one day. 2.5 hours of near-FTP, ≥1.0 TSS riding. In laymen’s terms, it was a two and a half hour ass kicking:

When not doing the Tour, TR is an integral part of my offseason training regimen. I’ll ride one day, run the next, rinse and repeat throughout the dark days of winter. Some rides will be hard, asking a lot from me both physically and mentally, others will be easy, goal-less rides hat just give me saddle time. Looking back at my ride feed, I did way too much easy and not enough hard, but at least I did something.

While I really like TR and the workouts it helps me log, there’s nothing better than the day I put my subscription on hold and head outside for my first road-ride of the season.