Stuff Fatty Loves: TrainerRoad

02.12.2015 | 2:51 pm

A little while ago, I posted about how I cleaned out my basement, put in Wahoo Kickrs and bikes for The Hammer and me, then set up a TV and a Mac Mini for us to stare at.


Tying all this together is TrainerRoad, a subscription-based library of workouts and training plans designed to help you hit your cycling goals for the season.

And since, this season, I want to be the fastest I have ever been—I want to finish the Leadville 100 in under eight hours—I’m counting on TrainerRoad (and a really, really fast, lightweight Cannondale) for help.

It’s time for an update on how that’s working out.


The promise of TrainerRoad is that it’ll make you faster. That promise doesn’t mean much —and won’t keep you on the program — if you don’t really trust the guys behind it. 

But I do. I’ve been talking pretty much constantly with Jonathan Lee, the Marketing Director at TrainerRoad. You wouldn’t think a marketing guy would be deeply knowledgeable about training and racing, but Jonathan’s an outrageously strong rider (his racing objective for this year is to win the XC Cat 1 National Title) and total physiology geek. 

And he’s nice, too. And smart. And as obsessed with training right as I’ve ever seen a person be.

And then there’s Chad Timmerman, Head Coach for TrainerRoad. He’s a Level 1 USA Cycling Coach and a Cat 1 Dirt / Cat 2 Road racer.

These guys know what they’re talking about. I’ve been learning a lot from them.  

Come Talk With Us

So I’ve asked them to share the love with my friends. Meaning you.

Meaning, I’m going to do a webinar chat with them, and you should totally join us. Here’s the info you need:

  • When: Thursday, February 19, at 8:00pm (Mountain Time)
  • Where: Register (for free) at GotoWebinar. Attendance is limited, so definitely don’t wait to sign up.
  • What About: The topic will be training tips, techniques, and myths, my upcoming attempt at the Hour Record (yes, really), and anything else that we feel like talking about. 
So if you’re training and want to be better, or if you’re just thinking of getting started, you should probably click here to register.

The Big Surprise

This next bit is going to come off as a little bit commercial-y. But it’s not. It’s actually how I feel. Because initially, both the Hammer and I expected to tolerate TrainerRoad. To put up with it. To, basically, survive it.

We did not expect to love it.

But we do.

We actually love the intelligent intensity and variety and automatic simplicity of TrainerRoad workouts. We love the way we have a plan that takes into account how much time we have for exercising (and that this amount sometimes changes), and how we’re given varying workouts that build us up and make us stronger, little by little.

We love how the workouts are super-easy to download, and then—thanks to the way the TrainerRoad software talks to our phones or computers, which talk to the Wahoo Kickr—get the right amount of resistance for the effort we’re supposed to be putting out.

Which means that all the Hammer and I have to do is show up, follow instructions, and do the work.

In exchange for which we’re promised we’ll get stronger and faster.

And you know what? It feels like it’s working. These guys are really pretty amazing at building plans, at building you up, at a reasonable pace.  

The Problems 

This is not to say that everything’s working exactly perfectly with the setup we have. There are some equipment issues that can be pretty frustrating.

The top issue is bluetooth flakiness. Specifically, if I were starting over, I would not use a Mac Mini as the machine to capture the bluetooth signal from six different devices (two cadence sensors, two heart rate monitors, two Wahoo Kickrs). It’s really really uncommon for everything to pair on the first try. And uncommon enough for everything to pair at all that we’ve kind of given up running two instances of the Mac version of TrainnerRoad, and instead run mine on the Mac, and The Hammer’s on her phone. 

I’ve talked with TrainerRoad about this frustration, and they say that Apple, when it released the Yosemite version of their OS, changed bluetooth interaction. They’re working on working around it, but it’s still kind of clunky.

The workaround would be to get ANT+ USB dongles for the computer, using them instead of bluetooth to read data. This is what we’re going to try next, because it really is awesome to be watching Netflix and be able to see your workout profile and stats and get audio cues and video and video instructions. 

The next gap in TrainerRoad is it is really just about the training part of getting faster. And as I have learned through years and years of sad experience, you can’t out-exercise a bad diet.

So in spite of the fact that I feel like I’m pretty darned strong for mid-February, I have a bunch of weight to lose…and I’ve still got a lot of work to do that (today’s weight: 168.8). I’d really love it if TrainerRoad had a diet plan as thorough and well thought-out as its workout plans. Better yet, integrated with its workout plans.

I’m sure I’m not the only guy who’s wished for this, and I expect it’s something TrainerRoad has considered. So if you’re reading this, TrainerRoad guys, consider this my vote for a really useful upsell. I’d be all-in.

So, yeah, room to grow, room to improve. But here’s the thing I’m wanting to drive home here: I’m a full-on convert. And so is The Hammer. This is the first winter we’ve ever looked forward to our indoor trainer workouts…and I’m saying this months into winter, so this isn’t just a “new owner pride” kind of thing. 


  1. Comment by BostonCarlos (formerly NYC) | 02.12.2015 | 3:06 pm

    are there cheaper trainers that trainerroad would work with well? the kickr is beautiful, but it’s $1000 USED. I can’t swing it.

    Yep, there are cheaper options, specifically going with Virtual Power. Check out:

    Also, the Wahoo Kickr isn’t the only electronic trainer TrainerRoad works with. Check out:

    - FC

  2. Comment by Scott | 02.12.2015 | 3:29 pm

    Hour record? Tell us more.

    Oh, I will. Endlessly. And soon. – FC

  3. Comment by wharton_crew | 02.12.2015 | 4:09 pm

    Carlos beat me to the question about the Kickr, but I’m more concerned about a quiet trainer. How’s the noise level of the Wahoo?

  4. Comment by Isaac | 02.12.2015 | 4:34 pm

    I started using TrainerRoad for the Tour of Sufferlandria (which was my first foray into the Sufferfest videos as well) and I love it.

    Love. It.

    It basically makes training into a game. Since I don’t have a fancypants Kickr, I’m using a Kinetic trainer and Virtual Power. And because I’m using Virtual Power, the trainer isn’t adjusting it for me. And because it’s not adjusting it for me, I get to play the “how close to the power curve can I keep my output” game.

    I have a big race coming up in August (the Maah Daah Hey 100) and am really just getting started on the trainer, so I emailed the TR support. One of the guys there (Trevor) responded the same day with some specific plan recommendations, including what to skip to get to the taper point at the end of the training plan just in time for the race.

    They’re pretty much awesome.

  5. Comment by Papuass | 02.12.2015 | 5:15 pm

    This is my third winter on Trainer Road, all on virtual power. I can completely agree with you on this – there is no way I would stick to any plan without TR.

  6. Comment by Justin L | 02.12.2015 | 6:12 pm

    after I read last time this set up, I went all in. I had a MacBook Air bought a wahoo and got trainer road, I love suffer fest videos and had been doing them at the club on a spin bike. I love how simple trainer road and sufferfest work hand in hand, best indoor training setup. I will keep trainer road but really looking forward to trying zwift with the wahoo

  7. Comment by Miles Archer | 02.12.2015 | 6:21 pm

    Fatty, are you paying your own way?

    I bet your basement smells a bit different now than it did before you started. ;-)

    TrainerRoad provided me with the Wahoo equipment to get me started, but I am paying for the monthly TrainerRoad subscription. It’s an incredibly good value at about $10 / month. – FC

  8. Comment by Shane in SLC | 02.12.2015 | 10:43 pm

    Srsly? All this freakish 65-degree weather we’ve been having in northern Utah, and the stubborn refusal to snow, and you’ve been riding a trainer indoors in a dark basement? Weird…

  9. Comment by davidh-Marin,ca | 02.13.2015 | 12:30 am

    Well like Boston Carlis beating Wharton Crew, Shane beats me on the weather. 70degrees and sunny today in NorCal as we rolled the tandem around the Marin countryside. And, I do have a basent….for the bikes.

  10. Comment by Gary | 02.13.2015 | 12:34 am

    I like trainer road too. And I noticed bluetooth issues as well. But all in all, I think it is an awesome workout. I coupled it with The Sufferfest and used it on a Kinetic Road Machine. Pretty cool — can’t wait for the next ride. I did a brief write-up on my experience:

  11. Comment by Dazzle | 02.13.2015 | 2:49 am

    I have been using Trainerroad now for about 10 weeks and absolutely love the software. I bought an Elite Turbo Muin, wahoo speed and cadence sensor and Suunto Movestick Mini USB. You get an occasional drop in signal, if other Bluetooth devices are close by, but otherwise works perfectly. My FTP has gone from 190 to 222 and is increasing every week, in readiness for the TT season. Hoping to be over 250 after the build phase and push on to 300 longer term. Can’t recommend it enough!!!!!

  12. Comment by Bart the Clydesdale | 02.13.2015 | 7:13 am

    Dietary issues always hit me when I start training hard. Train hard, become hungry, justify eating a large amount of food because ‘hey I am training hard.’ Striking that delicate balance between eating what is needed to gain muscle, and not so much that weight will drop.
    Evidently my current plan of simply cutting out all sugary drinks and sweets doesn’t make the weight drop off like magic. So much for that idea now I need to come up with a plan that evidently will need to contain a larger degree of self control, stupid self control.

  13. Comment by Jay from Mass | 02.13.2015 | 7:30 am

    Been using TR for about six weeks. No question it’s working well just on my outputs week to week, and will do another FTP test in about 2 weeks to see how much it is working.

    My setup – I use a Macbook pro with an ANT+ dongle and have no issues at all with pairing speed, cadence and HR. I also use Sufferfest videos with TR and it has really changed how I approach the sessions. Also I am using a Kinetic Road Machine with the big flywheel (which really makes the spin up and spin down kinda nasty).

    TR Support – When I had a couple of setup questions they were answered via email in MINUTES. Crazy good product, crazy good support, getting faster all for $10 a month. AWESOMENESS.

  14. Comment by Rob | 02.13.2015 | 8:02 am

    Regarding a Diet plan. Personally, I would much rather see these guys focus on the training portion – there are so many diet regimes out there already and they are free. And really, who follows them 100%?

    Big fan of TrainerRoad. I use a clunky antiquated CompuTrainer connected directly to PC and it works flawlessly, so much so that I am stalling on the Kick’r upgrade because the computrainer is working so well at the moment.

  15. Comment by Peter | 02.13.2015 | 8:46 am

    I experienced the bluetooth flakeyness. I finally closed out out all programs on the Ipad that could connect to the sensors and only had TrainerRoad open. The iphone/Ipad seems to keep programs open in the background. This seemed to fix the problem. I think that if an application has a connection to a sensor other applications can have a problem connecting.

    Not sure if this is technologically correct but it seemed to work for me

    By the way I do love TrainerRoad also

  16. Comment by J | 02.13.2015 | 9:23 am

    You weigh in at ~168, that’s not too shabby depending on your height. I’m suffering from lack of sleep, so I cannot recall. I deaire to be under 170, at 181 now, but I am 5′10″. Keep up with your diet, I know that’s my weakness.

  17. Comment by CVR | 02.13.2015 | 10:20 am

    wow that is a lot of technology all coming together..I am just happy when my sufferfest vids download. I think I will just keep using the “free” perceived effort scale.
    Hope to here more about the bike soon!

  18. Comment by Jeff Dieffenbach | 02.13.2015 | 11:16 am

    Fatty, your account of the hour record better not take more than an hour …

    I use Trainer Road with my Specialized Expert on the Kurt Kinetics Road Machine. My bike’s equipped with the Garmin cadence sensor on the chain stay. I use an ANT+ dongle for the sensor and my heart rate monitor to talk to my Dell laptop and TrainerRoad.

    The system works great, and it’s just virtual power (meaning that TrainerRoad infers power from the sensor data and its knowledge of the trainer).

    One thing that I like about the KKRM trainer is that it’s a bit quieter than my old (purchased used) Cyclops Fluid2 trainer.

    As an aside, I was using a 1988 road bike as my trainer bike. On both the Cyclops and the KKRM, virtual power wasn’t working remotely well enough to use. Power readings were low at lower effort and WAY high at higher effort. My tech guru can’t figure out why swapping on my road bike made the difference, but it did.

    Note that KKRM has a power option called InRide. It’s a $150 or so add-on to the $350 trainer that reports power to iOS devices (as of now, no Windows/Android). That’s still about half the price of the Kickr, but I see no reason to use the InRide given how good the virtual power works.

  19. Comment by Mefly | 02.13.2015 | 2:59 pm

    So this review is being done after receiving several thousand dollars of free equipment right?

    TrainerRoad has supplied me with Wahoo Kickrs, Tickrs, and RPMs for The Hammer and me.

    So yes.

    That said, before anyone ever sends me anything, I let them know (always this phrase): “I’m only going to write about this if I love it or hate it. If I’m indifferent to it, I’ll ignore it.”

    Companies have sent me expensive stuff before, and I’ve either sent it back or kept it without writing anything. Because I didn’t care about it.

    In other words, sending me stuff buys a company the promise that I’ll try their product. It doesn’t buy the promise of a good review or even any review at all.

    - FC

  20. Comment by john | 02.13.2015 | 5:11 pm

    My only gripe with tr after 2.5 winters… It got me to but a power meter for the road bike to track ftp post winter. :)

  21. Comment by Jason | 02.13.2015 | 6:21 pm

    I thought you lived in AZ? There is a winter there that requires riding indoors?

  22. Comment by Jason | 02.13.2015 | 6:24 pm

    I guess it is in Utah. Nonetheless, the weather there looks awfully nice for February as well. When we see 40 degrees on a weekend, we rejoice and go out on a epic ride pretending it is spring.

  23. Comment by Miles Archer | 02.13.2015 | 7:20 pm

    Thanks for the clarification.

  24. Comment by Jeremy | 02.13.2015 | 11:49 pm

    I absolutely love TrainerRoad, but I need to heal up and get back on the bike. It’s so simple and there are training plans for pretty much any level of ambition, except for maybe no ambition.

  25. Comment by Ray Wright | 02.14.2015 | 1:39 am

    LOVE TR and my Kickr! Have you done Ansel Adams yet? That one is just MEAN!

  26. Comment by Chris | 02.15.2015 | 9:38 pm

    Nothing wrong with your post per se, but this is the kind of stuff you should really consider STARTING with:

    “TrainerRoad provided me with the Wahoo equipment to get me started, but I am paying for the monthly TrainerRoad subscription. It’s an incredibly good value at about $10 / month. – FC – See more at:

  27. Comment by BigRedClydesdale | 02.16.2015 | 8:47 am

    I’ve been a big fan of Trainer Road. It has really kicked up my training a notch.

    That being said, virtual power is not all it’s cracked up to be. My VP readings have been sky high off the chart.

    I opened up a ticket with Trainer Road about it, we went through every diagnostic possible. I have everything set up perfectly. I’ve even video’d myself setting it up and sent it in.

    So either the software is completely wrong or I should start looking for sponsors for my pro racing career, lol.

  28. Comment by Jeff Dieffenbach | 02.16.2015 | 11:09 am

    @BigRedClydesdale, per my comment above, I had a similar problem. I never went back and tested my Specialized on my Cyclops Fluid2 trainer, but the combination of that trainer and an old road bike didn’t work for a reason that I can’t fathom.

  29. Comment by BigRedClydesdale | 02.16.2015 | 9:16 pm

    @Jeff Dieffenbach, Did that old road bike have the exact same size wheels as your newer bike? That’s the only difference I can think of.

    I made sure my wheel circumference was set perfectly. My bike isn’t exactly old, its a 2014 Norco Valence A1. I’m using 700×25 wheels.

    I wish I had the cash lying around for a second road bike to test it out… but if I had that kind of cash lying about I’d have a real power meter. :D

  30. Comment by HyperSprite | 02.20.2015 | 1:52 pm

    This is my second year on TrainerRoad with Sufferfest videos using a KK trainer and powertap. I use it all year long and I do almost three times as many trainer rides than outdoor rides just so I can stay in shape.

    Given that, I struggled with my diet because all the nutritional recommendations for cycling assume regular outdoor riding or racing which is not really the same as the high intensity training.

    Last year, Sufferfest came out with nutrition plan, Eating to Suffer written by Alan McCubbin of Next Level Nutrition, that tackled this type of training. It is excellent, focussing on a RoS, Return on Suffering, approach and how best to eat for results. Based on a lot of my other research, it really is the latest from the nutrition science perspective and I thought it was well worth the $10 I paid for it as I have revisited in numerous times to keep me on track.

  31. Comment by Adam | 03.11.2015 | 8:52 am

    Never heard of this before. I just scoured their website and amazon and I’m going to give this a shot. My Kurt Kinetic has been collecting dust because I cant stand just going in the basement and spinning. Maybe this will be the kickstart I need to make sure I hit the pavement the way I should when this snow melts


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