Good analogy Peteski. When I did Full Frontal, I was in ERG when the workout started and if I recall correctly, it popped up with a warning to switch to Level Mode “click here”, which sets it at 3 automatically. Next time I’ll try 0 to see if it makes a difference.
I also realized that in level mode, the previous targets from ERG don’t apply, I suppose because of gearing. For example I’ve got a 10 speed Rival compact and I think the largest cog on the cassette is 28, so I can’t do 90 RPM cadence target with a 60 +/- watt target. I need to pedal way slower to reach that low power output, or continue at the cadence target and overshoot the wattage by a significant amount. In ERG mode it acts more like a mountain bike with a triple upfront and one of those enormous granny gears in the back. It’s one of the difficulties of days and weeks of training in ERG then switching to level mode for the test. All the targets in level won’t mesh with what you’re used to, yet mind and body is trying to obtain them. I didn’t have much trouble at level 3 in terms of resistance and shifting, but the full frontal didn’t like me spinning up, or shifting into a bigger gear to get ready for an effort, (like in real life outdoor riding), because it’s programmed with very narrow windows of time and target based efforts. Going from 60 watt recovery to a 350+ watt sprint, and then back to recovery in 5 seconds is super hard to do while trying to find the right gear, avoid dropping your chain and getting out of the saddle to wrestle that bike
If you are using a smart trainer, you have it a little easier – rather than depending just on shifting into a bigger gear, you can actually “shift” via changing the level in the app. It’s easiest to do while working hard if you are using windows/mac, because you can use the keyboard shortcuts.
When I tackle FF I’ll usually mix and match, pushing the curve up to level 7 or 8 for the sprint sections, then shifting just a gear or two instead of a bunch in a very short time window.
It definitely takes some practice! One thing you could do is go into one of those open sessions, switch to level mode 0 and then run through your gears and take some notes of power and cadence combinations. Pay particular attention to which gears work best for you at FTP, MAP and AC power. Also try a couple of sprints and see if you spin out on level 0 in your biggest gear. If not then you are good to go with the gears you noted for each power metric. Or you may find it easier to sprint with a higher level setting.
It just requires a bit of trial and error. But level mode is no different really to riding out on the road. Except that you don’t have the visual cues for road gradient, only levels.
Thanks everyone! Another idea would be to just have the software setup to where you have to use your gears, just like outside.
The software would need to be able to respond to the rider height, weight and bicycle type, wind, etc. then create gradual GRADUAL resistance, (can’t specify that enough because the “other” virtual training platforms seem to miss this point), for hills, chase efforts, etc.
The integrated customized personal targets based on 4DP would be just that… Targets for heart rate, power, cadence. The rider could attempt to match those targets using all their gears, cycling skills and so on, (like in real life).
I’m not a software engineer so I don’t know what it would take, but it seems that it would eliminate the need to change between ERG or Level.
What you are describing is exactly what level mode is. Okay it may be a little generic, but it is just a simplified road gradient with wind resistance model. Each level corresponds to a simulated road gradient, which are displayed on the settings tab.
This article explains it all in a bit more detail.
Thanks Peteski, So is it possible to just use Level Mode on all the workouts instead of having to worry about switching back and forth?
A bunch of folks have been doing “level mode in every workout” over here: Un-official LEVEL MODE MARCH MADNESS Challenge but sadly I haven’t found any toggle to change the default mode away from ERG. It’s just become part of my checklist while getting set on the bike to change from ERG to Level mode.
Yes you can indeed use level mode for any of the sessions. It just means you have to manage your own power and cadence to match the on-screen targets. In ERG mode you only have to manage your own cadence, with power automatically tracking the target regardless of what gear you are in.
Some workouts with short high power sprint efforts recommend using level mode as many trainers struggle in ERG mode with the sudden dramatic power and cadence steps.
Here’s another great article explaining the pros and cons of ERG vs Level modes:-