Un-official LEVEL MODE MARCH MADNESS Challenge

With only about a year of indoor training under my belt I come to realize
I’m a slave to ERG-mode …and I’m done now.

All my bike trainers so far could handle even the quickest changes in intensity SUF has to offer, so I never ran into problems taking the “easy road”. The only time I touched level mode was during the Full Frontal Fitness Test.

Now I’m re-reading Coach Mac Cassin’s excellent article about:

I want to change this and go back to the roots (for a while).

I want to invite you all, especially the newbies like me, to join me on a personal challenge.
No matter the workout, let’s ride every video in level mode.

Un-official LEVEL MODE MARCH MADNESS Challenge
When: Every workout in march 2021

Going all out will finally mean all out, and not just hitting a number.
When we feel great, our numbers will skyrocket,
when it’s just not our day, let’s power down a bit - without feeling guilty.

I’m certain we will learn a bit more about ourselves in the process.

who’s in? :slight_smile:

Of course seasoned sufferlandrians are welcome to join, but I am pretty sure you already know what it’s all about.

PS: There is already a general discussion on this topic in → this ← thread.

PPS: Want to join but don’t know how to do level mode? Check out this help article: Erg or Level mode? – Sufferfest Support


I’m in. Not least because I never use erg and my seasoning is definitely of the old spice kind :wink:. Best of luck and enjoy real mode :grin: p.s. The Omnium


Good luck finding more than one to join you. Sharing this comment for all those who are 100% erg 100% of the time


That’s great. I was actually searching for this comment and almost thought I dreamt it up.

When you start out with a smart trainer it’s just so tempting to succumb to ERG-mode. I really hope this experiment will help some more users to try and look at the other side.

If not, it’s all me. :slight_smile:

Maybe the fun doesn’t have to end in march… We’ll see.

I have two pristine shifters on my KickR Bike that need some attention.

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I think this challenge is a good idea, but when the weather starts to warm up (around now), I like to ride outside which means I am effectively riding out of ERG mode.

Hence, when I ride inside I want a structured environment because I am trying to focus on a particular strength or weakness.


I’m keen! I’m fairly new too but have been sticking to erg 99.9% of the time except FF (x1) and end of HM (x2).

I’m actually starting to wonder whether I can even putout the same power in level mode that I am forced to maintain in erg mode. Will be good to practice level mode and might even improve pacing and confidence for FF test plus general feel for outdoor efforts.

My last HM heart rate constrained section was all over the place and made me think I need to get a better feel for putting out a consistent power.

Going off topic now … but last HM was actually a comedy of errors. I’d switched to level mode after the ramp and had been recovering in the small ring on front but then had mechanical and found I couldn’t select the big ring once next section started. Didn’t want to quit test having just buried myself in the ramp so stuck it out. I was so angry my bike wasn’t working my heart rate was shooting up. Had to cross chain, making awful metal-on-metal noises for full 20 minutes with RPM at 100+. Each time I tried to change gear it failed pushing my temper to boiling point and then I started getting advice messages saying my heart rate was out of zone. That was week before ToS so I stuck to erg mode for ToS!! Bike now at workshop for new derailleur!

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Not sure I’d like to do all workouts in level, but for quite a while I’ve tended to do MAP workouts (9H and AVDP I’m looking at you!) in level mode, plus those workouts with particularly short intervals. It’s definitely a different experience, I can only think of it a bit like the difference between running up a hill vs running without someone pulling you back. The resistance might be the same but how it feels (and muscle groups engaged will be different).

I’m in! After reading that exact article from Coach Mac I’ve tried to do at least a few workouts a week in level mode and did large chunks of the tour that way.

I’m particularly keen to ride Norway again in level mode with all the numbers turned off and ride purely by race context.

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Yes I was thinking of doing a 4 week MAP block as the next training schedule so good to hear that’s well suited to level mode.

I’m in. I psych myself out with ERG mode anyway and discovered I perform better with level mode.


Haha. I’ve literally just started using a smart trainer after years of using a dumb trainer where naturally every workout has been in level mode.

I could be in … :thinking:


Those of us with dumb trainers have essentially been doing this forever! Good luck to you all with this challenge! I recommend Norway and Team Scream to start. :grin:


Yeah, mark me down as a rider who was on a dumb trainer up until the middle of September when I finally got a smart trainer.

In fact, I wore holes in BOTH shifter cable covers back in 2019. Suddenly found at the end of one of my workouts that I couldn’t shift gears on my rear cassette. While inspecting the bike I found that I was just minutes away from not being able to shift rings in the front, too.

So, I’m enjoying doing all the workouts on ERG that I had previously suffered through in “level mode”. And also enjoying having “real” power numbers that aren’t directly pegged to my trainer speed.

I was supposed to do “Getting Away With It”, today, but instead I did “that other app” so I could ride simulated hills at my own pace. That meant I actually got to shift gears again. It was quite a nice change-of-pace getting re-acquainted with my gears. Especially since I’ll be doing a new 4DP test the end of next week. So, I’ll at least be doing level mode the rest of this week and all of next. So, maybe I’ll give a tentative “I’m… in?” to this challenge? :crazy_face:


For that matter, for years before I got any trainer, every ride was in level mode. :smile:

This presents fantastic opportunity, a group ride called “Norwegian Scream”, aka Team Scream + Norway (+ Long Scream? :hear_no_evil: )


I’m in, actually having similar thoughts and was planning to switch to level mode

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I decided to get a small headstart on this challenge yesterday.

Doing Getting Away With It in level-mode definitely kept me more engaged during the workout. Sometimes, on lower intensity sessions in erg mode, I almost zone out.
I liked keeping an eye on the changes and dialing in the proper power.

I felt good and overshot my targets by a fair bit a couple of times. Don’t believe that’s a bad thing.
I’d say I’m off to a good start.

Glad some other people are joining in. I’m interested to hear about your experiences.


I’m in, all I have is a Keiser Spin bike so level is all I do. It took a couple of months for me to dial in the shifting but I’m pretty good at it now. Norway was a bit of a challenge but I only missed 2-3 shifts all in the recovery (if you can call it that) parts. I have to say all those shifts made the session go by fast.

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It depends. It’s not always a full effort, sometime you can go harder but the aim is to spend time at lower intensity.

For Getting Away With It the advice is to leave the intensity alone even if you feel good.

That said, great start! I do find it takes more concentration when in level mode but that can help distract from the suffering.


Thanks for posting this.

You are definitely right about the full effort comment. Taking RPE values of the workout into consideration I‘m pretty optimistic I was still allowed to go as hard as I did. I‘m pretty sure my 4DP needs an urgent update.

Proper recovery is indeed something on my mind while I get acquainted with level-mode.

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