A newbie needs a bit of help

I am a novice biker, new to Sufferfest and working with a smart trainer. I have my setting on erg. I have done the full frontal test.

I see my goal for cadence is 90 but when I try to meet that it makes my power more than that target.
Which should I aim for - cadence or power. Ideally it would hit both.

Here is a general guide to power vs. cadence.

If you are truly in Erg mode, the trainer should match the power to whatever cadence you pick. You do have to keep the cadence steady, otherwise the power out put will oscillate as it tries to match your cadence to power.

It sounds like you may need to shift into an easier gear. All trainers have a minimum resistance, and if you are riding in a big gear, you may exceed the target power (especially in recovery intervals) when pedaling at the target cadence. ERG mode should control the power to the target, even as you change cadence, but there are some limitations to its capability.


Another thing to try is increasing the cadence slightly ahead (1-2s) of the power change. If you try and change cadence just as or fractionally after the change you’ll sometimes find the trainer adds a lot of resistance.

Welcome to Sufferlandria :slight_smile:

Hi @SallyB and welcome.

Lots of advice above.

Another thought … when new to all of it (smart trainer, riding AND the app as well) I’d suggest just doing a few normal workouts, possibly not at full tilt to begin with, to get used to how all this stuff behaves together as a ‘system’.

Many of us here will have been through that early learning process before we had such good apps and so on and we’re lucky enough to get used to one thing at a time

One really basic advice thing: you don’t need to ‘chase’ numbers if you’re using erg. And it really is best not to.
All trainers are different as well, and then even trainers made my the same company but different models are different. Which means erg reacts faster or slower. But ultimately it works.

(There are some workouts that really test erg if I’m honest like Violator but let’s leave those ones alone for now - though you can make them work too)

Generally speaking while you’re getting used to it, just lower or increase cadence calmly and ignore what the screen says … the power will stabilise eventually. Remember as well - all through your pedal stroke you’re exerting different power and the trainer is aggregating that and averaging it but it does change from second to second. Let the trainer do it’s thing though and it’ll always catch up - and it doesn’t matter if you’re then fluctuating around that number fir the next minute or two in your interval - that’s normal.

Unless you switch (in the SUF app settings) power smoothing on, in fact you can never see the number consistently the same on some trainers are they’re reporting the vagaries of our pedal stroke so well. Smoothing (the app setting) actually can help here - all that does it average out what the app is getting from the trainer so you see an average power over (might be 3s) rather than instant. Doesn’t actually change what you’re doing just displays it differently.

In short, just pedal away, get used to how it al hangs together (so say, do some video workouts that maybe have less constant changes and do them at less than 100% so you can get used to the feel) and after a few it’ll start to become clear

Then you can get in to things like using your gears as well to ‘help’ the trainer and erg work faster. But I’d just play with it first and ask as many questions as you like …enjoy.

Ps. Thinking ahead to future questions - which trainer? (As they have their own foibles)


Thank you. Very helpful.
I have an elite suito.

I’m doing the SF free trial and did “getting away with it” the other day. It looked like we were going up a mountain but it felt pretty easy to me! Felt like I needed to shift to a higher gear.

I’ll just hang in and see how it goes.

Thank you.

Just reread your post. I chose “novice” because I am not a “pro biker” but I ride outside during warm weather and used to do spinning during winter. I am a recreational rider that can maintain good speed on roads. I typically ride over 1,000 miles during our New England summers.
Should I have chosen a higher level?

Have you done one of the power tests - Full Frontal or Half Monty? These are used to measure your individual capability, and then all the workouts are set using those numbers. I think the default power settings (for someone who has not done either of the tests) uses an FTP of 150 W. So if you’re using the default values, and your actual FTP is higher than this, then the workouts will feel too easy.

Getting Away With It is a sub-threshold workout, so it should never feel super hard, but the peak efforts also shouldn’t feel easy.

1 Like

I did the full frontal test.

Gotcha. No, I wouldn’t say so. That FF you did is enough to set things right.
That’s a good session (GAWI) to do as well to get used to things as you wouldn’t expect it to rip you up and throw you out.

There’s a useful metric in the workouts (well lots of them) - the Intensity Factor (IF). It’s provided for each workout and the closer that gets to 1.0 the harder it’s going to be :slight_smile:

You might find that you can retest in 6w or so as often you’ll find improvement coming quickly in the first 6w or so.

After you’ve played around with everything for a week (or however long) maybe do a 4w ‘plan’ from SUF and give yourself some structure to follow? Like a transition up plan for example.

Ask away as always.

1 Like

This is my take on it also. I find within any power + cadence target, there are only a selection of gears that will work… The middle of the cassette in small ring or the larger cogs on the big chainring will usually work for most workouts

Gear thing …
I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of us couldn’t just have a single small chainring on a trainer bike, and a middle cog only, perfectly aligned to the chainring, and nothing else.

Every smart trainer out there can then do its thing to any minimum or maximum I’ll ever need.

At the moment on a Kickr I’m running it on small ring, gear 3 and not changing gears at all. Zero, zip, nada. And the trainer doesn’t seem to care :slight_smile:

I have considered seeing if I can adapt my track bike to work with my wheel-on trainer, at which point, I’ll have exactly that. :wink:

1 Like

While commending your commitment to do The Omnium every day :grin: you might want to read our very own Coach Mac’s view on the subject of (single) gearing and erg before you do…

I’d probably hesitate to use the combination of ERG + fixed gearing, that seems like a recipe for possible injury! So rest assured, if I do get it working for a change of pace, I’d probably only ever use level mode for sweet Omnium work.

Yeah was a bit of an edge case and it’s maybe just the type of workouts I’m doing where it really doesn’t seem to need much gear changing these days.