By Kristin Andrews FFT/IOS Pro Development Team
Before I got my Computrainer last year, my limited experience with it included casual indoor rides at our local bike shop where it provided a fun diversion from normal winter trainer rides at home, gave you something to look at while riding, plus the fun of “racing” your friends and riding different courses. While these are all great features and perhaps the more well-known aspects of the Computrainer, I have since come to learn about the Computrainer’s other features that are an extreme value as a training tool.
I think the most useful aspect of Computrainer is it’s ability to not just measure power, but to demand a certain power output from you. This can be done in “standalone” or “erg” mode, and makes Computrainer even more valuable than just having a power meter on your bike. I currently do most all of my Comutrainer workouts in standalone/erg mode, which is similar to using a treadmill, where you set your speed at a desired level and have to maintain it, or you’ll fly off the back of the treadmill. In the Computrainer’s standalone or erg mode, you set your desired power output in watts at a certain level, and Computrainer will require that you maintain this power output, otherwise your pedalstroke will slow to a halt (but, like a treadmill, you can also easily adjust the power up or down in 5 watt increments as desired). For doing interval training, it’s extremely motivating to know for certain that your effort level is where it needs to be, and just have to focus on your form and making it through the interval, not on wondering whether you’re going hard enough. Erg/standalone mode his is also the simplest way to use the Computrainer—you don’t even have to have it hooked up to a computer, making it great for travel and very user-friendly for use right out of the box, especially if like me you are impatient to use your new gadget right away without reading through the entire instruction manual or going through detailed steps to get it functioning properly!
Even though it’s no longer winter and the Washington DC weather has become perfect for outdoor rides, I still prefer to save my outdoor riding for easy days or long rides, and get my hard workouts done indoors (ok, or maybe outside on the backyard patio) on the Computrainer. It’s been great to see improvement in watts I can hold for certain workouts as time progresses, and gives me a better sense for what I’m capable of in races. I definitely would not be able to push myself quite as much on the trainer or on the roads, and for this reason I think Computrainer is one of the best training investments you can make in terms of speed gained for your money spent. I’m honestly not sure how I trained before I had a Computrainer!