Ode to Indoor Cycling
Out of both necessity and personality, I’ve always been a big fan of indoor workouts. For specific intervals and workouts, nothing beats the level of control possible with indoor rides, where there is no traffic or changes in terrain to interrupt your training goals. This is especially true when you add the ability to regulate and record power output levels, as is the case with the CompuTrainer indoor trainer system or when riding a trainer with a power monitor on your bike.
However, one thing that has been missing from indoor workouts is the ability to really ride in a group or racing situation. You can plan as many different interval workouts as you want, but it is very difficult to replicate the highly variable nature of group ride dynamics and power demands. Similarly, when using CompuTrainer’s 3D computer system to ride a multitude of courses, you ultimately can still dictate the pace that you ride at. A racing situation can be enhanced somewhat when racing against a pacer or another rider on the CompuTrainer, but it remains tough to truly incorporate an interactive ride situation.
Enter the folks at ErgVideo, who we first reviewed in the spring of 2007. The concept itself is a no-brainer -rather than letting the rider “control” the ride, what they have done is come up with a solution to indoor racing by taking advantage of CompuTrainer’s ability to rapidly adjust resistance. In essence, just like in real racing, ErgVideo “slaves” your CompuTrainer to its race, taking away your ability to control your workload and telling you when you need to rest and hammer instead.
Even if you’re stuck indoors on a freezing cold day, the magic of ErgVideo can have you doing those base miles while following the CSC pros on a training ride in sunny and warm South Africa.
The original ErgVideo review stands on its own so I won’t repeat it here. However, the 2.0 version that has just been released adds in a huge array of bells and whistles, making for a major improvement in user-friendliness and also in versatility and functionality.
Some of the highlights new to ErgVideo 2.0 include:
• Getting your groove on. Music is a must-have when riding indoors, and EV 2.0 now has direct integration with either iTunes or Windows Media Player. So rather than get saddled with someone else’s soundtrack, you can directly set up whatever playlist you wish for your own workout from a menu within EV 2.0 itself.
• EV 2.0 continues to work off of either CompuTrainer’s Coaching Software or Multirider III software. The preferred choice remains Multirider, even when riding solo, due to the ability to adjust your threshold wattage on the fly. Setup of the entire system is dead simple, as EV 2.0’s menu includes a simple choice of modes that will then open up your choice of background CompuTrainer software.
• New to EV 2.0 is compatibility with CompuTrainer’s Velotron indoor ergometer. This is a fabulous addition, especially for teams, clubs, or training centers now being able to use their Velotron for rider testing with ErgVideo’s library of specific test rides.
Full Customization of Rides
The improvements in functionality are not restricted just to the actual ErgVideo software itself, as the biggest addition is an improved ability to customize your rides. The original ErgVideo permitted you to manually select a particular segment of a ride, and then to repeat that segment as many times as you wish. You can also vary the actual intensity of a ride by manually altering the threshold wattage for that ride. So for example, if your normal threshold wattage is 250 W, you can always adjust the desired baseline threshold wattage to make it harder (e.g. 300 W) or easier (180 W). Again, the benefit of using the Multirider III software is that you can adjust this wattage during the actual ride itself, while you can only set it at the start with the Coaching Software.
The basic ErgVideo pre-ride configuration permits you to manually design your ride from any video by picking particular segments and running repetitions of them.
The EV 2.0 retains these features, but takes this customization a step further by letting you design, within reason, just about any kind of ride using just about any video within its catalogue. This is done using the www.intellicoach.ca Profile Toolbox for ErgVideo. Here, you can choose to keep a ride primarily within a particular effort zone (1-5), how much time you are willing to be above that desired zone (e.g. 15%), and how long you wish the ride segment and overall ride time to be. Once you select which video you want to use, the ride manager will automatically design the ride for you by selecting the most appropriate segments of the video.
So presto, using www.intellicoach.ca, you can design a primarily base-building endurance ride even using a road race or crit video. Alternately, you can also design an intense workout from a “casual” ride in your library.
For those of us using CyclingPeaks WKO+ or TrainingPeaks software, the other treat with the ride designer is that you get a full output of workout data once the ride is designed, including normalized power, training stress score, intensity factor, etc. This is a great way to double-check whether the ride is truly as you wish before clipping in.
A great feature is that you can save these ride profiles and call them up at any time in the future, or else email them to friends. This is perfect for coaches, who can design a plethora of potential workouts for their athlete even if their athlete has only a few videos in their collection.
To complete the do-it-yourself theme, you can also prepare an entire cycle or cycles of training using ErgVideo by filling in a few parameters into the Training Plan Manager. The plans are based around the 9-disk packs suggested for each of three disciplines: road, long course or short course triathlon. You enter the discipline, number of hours available, number of training weeks, experience level, goal of the cycle (base, build, etc.). You get an output of specific workouts for each week, which you can then download into your ErgVideo software. The plans were recently expanded to optionally include ErgVideos from the new Cruiser-base and Hilly-base 3-packs.
A few quick bits of information into www.intellicoach.ca, and you can receive a detailed ErgVideo-based training plan to whip you into shape. This is also a great way to get extra ideas about how you might use and design different ErgVideo rides to modify or spice up your training.
The ErgVideo library of rides has exploded in the past year, encompassing everything from group rides, crits, races, time trials, through to specific workouts. The full catalogue and details on each ride is available at the ErgVideo website, and each is priced at $45.
Besides the races and casual rides, the highlights for me with the expanded catalogue are the specific workout videos. Interval sessions are usually best done solo so that we can control the effort rather than having it dictated to us by a group. Therefore, many of us are accustomed to the physical and mental pain of pushing ourselves hard doing solo interval sessions. Some of us even do many of these specific workouts on an indoor trainer to maximize control of the workout. However, it’s a basic fact that we can usually dig much deeper when in a competitive situation riding with others. Therefore, the ErgVideos become an excellent integration of both a controlled workout in combination with a competitive psychological environment.
ErgVideos are not just for intervals either. One of the newer additions is a sprint workout with the Ride from Rendell boys to get you bathing in sweat AND lactic acid.
The other highlight for me was the team time trial video, featuring an actual filming during the Quebec TTT championships. The noted cycling journalist Samuel Abt once wrote of the 1984 Tour TTT that the event was the best opportunity for a team to mentally shatter the competition by putting gobs of time on them. At the same time, it was also a nefarious means for teammates to put the big-time hurt onto each other. So, for those of you salivating at the prospect of the TTT being reinstated to Le Tour 2009, you can get a great feel for why many feel this is the most beautiful and painful of all road racing disciplines.
Team time trials -maybe the most beautiful road discipline to watch, but perhaps also the most painful to ride. The agony and the glory is all yours for the taking.
If you own a CompuTrainer, then it’s likely because you are pretty serious about your indoor training. The ErgVideo is a simple yet powerful complement to the system. Not only does it maximize indoor training capabilities, it does the seemingly impossible by increasing the fun factor at the same time.
• See the website: ErgVideo.com
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