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/ Alternatives to Zwift

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Sam W - on 14 Feb 2018

A cold winter means I'm using the turbo trainer, something I normally avoid at all costs, but I'm now old enough to be scared of icy roads.

Gave Zwift a go, it's alright but definitely not good enough for me to pay for an ongoing subscription.

Any suggestions for alternatives?  I don't have a power meter, so it needs to calculate power based on turbo type and speed at the back wheel.  Will be used primarily for intervals, doesn't need to track my training history or offer custom workouts, would be nice if it integrated with Strava

Yanis Nayu - on 14 Feb 2018
In reply to Sam W:

Could you try following the GCN videos?

Sam W - on 14 Feb 2018
In reply to Yanis Nayu:

Have tried those and like them, but need something that calculates my power output to go alongside them. 

Yanis Nayu - on 14 Feb 2018
In reply to Sam W:

Surely that’s only going to come from a power meter or a turbo with a power estimation facility, rather than software? Sorry if I’m missing something. 

ChrisJD on 14 Feb 2018
In reply to Sam W:

Buy a mountain bike and do some proper winter riding.

> but I'm now old enough to be scared of icy roads.

 

you're only 36 !.

 

 

ClimberEd - on 14 Feb 2018
In reply to Sam W:

From what you have said I wouldn't say there are many (that will deal with your concerns).

For short sessions (up to an hour) just get on the bike and get on it, it's good mental training

Rich7 - on 14 Feb 2018
In reply to Sam W:

Have you looked at trainerroad (https://www.trainerroad.com/) ?

It measures virtual power from the turbo resistance / speed like Zwift dose. It had a variety of different training plans you can follow or you can pick and choose whichever sessions you want. I think they do a free trial. 

Sam W - on 14 Feb 2018
In reply to Yanis Nayu:

> Surely that’s only going to come from a power meter or a turbo with a power estimation facility, rather than software? Sorry if I’m missing something. 

You can calculate power output if you know the rotation speed of the back wheel and the resistance curve of your trainer model. Zwift etc. have these curves built into the software. 

Sam W - on 14 Feb 2018
In reply to Rich7:

Have heard of Trainer road and it's on the list to try, might also give Rouvy a trial spin.

And yes, I'm only 36, but that's old enough to know through experience that you don't stay upright for long when you hit ice on skinny tyres

IMA - on 15 Feb 2018
In reply to Sam W:

I use Trainerroad but it is a structured programme rather than a computer game. App works well on an iPad with a tv show behind if you like that.

What turbo are you on? I'd say it would be a terrible programme without some form of accurate power device. Estimated power of any type is pretty worthless. If you want a free trial for a month let me know I have a few referrals. Sufferfest may be worth a look. Could always just create several workouts on your garmin and go, or basic tabata so you just need a watch.

Post edited at 09:02
ClimberEd - on 15 Feb 2018
In reply to Sam W:

Sufferfest? Won't do power, but will give you a great workout to follow

MGT - on 15 Feb 2018
In reply to Sam W:

I've used TrainerRoad for just over a year and I love it. Loads of structured plans to follow and they definitely work for me. Some can be a little boring (the easier days) and some super tough. I really didn't like Zwift and tried Rouvy but also couldn't be bothered to faff with it. 

I have an ERG trainer with my MTB on it so not sure how it works with a normal trainer but well worth looking into.

Yanis Nayu - on 16 Feb 2018
In reply to Sam W:

> You can calculate power output if you know the rotation speed of the back wheel and the resistance curve of your trainer model. Zwift etc. have these curves built into the software. 

I’m really not sure how accurate and, more importantly, repeatable that would be. I’m sure it would vary according to tyre pressure, temperature, how firmly you have the roller against the tyre, tyre type etc. I know from using my turbo with a power meter on my bike that the power shifts over time for the same cadence and resistance. 

Sam W - on 16 Feb 2018
In reply to Yanis Nayu:

I'm sure it's not as reliable as a power meter, but think it does give you a reasonable representation of power output changes through a workout.  In conjunction with heart rate it definitely gives enough information to structure training.

When I'm rich I'll buy a separate meter, until then, this will have to do.  I'll give the free trials at Rouvy and Trainerroad a go and see which I prefer, they're both a shedload cheaper than Zwift

Chris the Tall - on 16 Feb 2018
In reply to ChrisJD:

> Buy a mountain bike and do some proper winter riding.

Precisely what I was going to suggest - there is so much fun to be had on winter night rides. 

Jon Greengrass on 16 Feb 2018
In reply to Chris the Tall:

especially solo when you start imagining a werewolf breathing down your neck.

RX-78 on 16 Feb 2018
In reply to Sam W:

Curious to know what you are training for and what level? If not competitive events is there a need to measure power? Think of training in many other sports, e. Running, swimming, no easy way to train using power but people still manage it.

Sam W - on 16 Feb 2018
In reply to RX-78:

Fair comment, not training for anything in particular need to do 2 things:

  • Maximise fitness benefit from the relatively small amount of time I do get to ride (2 small kids etc)
  • Avoid getting stuck on a plateau of fitness which is what has always happened when time is available to train

I think intervals are the easiest way to do this, and if I don't set myself some structure I inevitably go too hard to start with and can't manage the effort required at the end.  Have tried using heart rate but run into the normal problems of it responding too slowly, particularly on shorter intervals.

Agree with comments that mountain bikes are great for winter, and I do go night riding already.  Disadvantage is that when it's icy I still have to go on road so ice still an issue, and I find that a ride of less than an hour and a half doesn't let me get to much of the good local riding whereas half an hour to an hour on the turbo can be enough.  Similar comments apply to running.

richlan - on 16 Feb 2018
In reply to Sam W:

Looked at Sufferfest ?

kipman725 - on 16 Feb 2018
In reply to Sam W:

I have worked on bike training devices and can assure you that estimating your power output by measurment of just the back wheel speed does not work.

cathsullivan on 16 Feb 2018
In reply to Yanis Nayu:

> I’m really not sure how accurate and, more importantly, repeatable that would be. I’m sure it would vary according to tyre pressure, temperature, how firmly you have the roller against the tyre, tyre type etc. I know from using my turbo with a power meter on my bike that the power shifts over time for the same cadence and resistance. 

I share the scepticism about estimated/virtual power, but as I understand it, the way a power meter reads is also affected by things like tyre pressure etc. (for many turbo trainers anyway).

I use sufferfest and I use my garmin to read and record data from my HRM, speed/cadence sensor and power meter (sufferfest app on ipad won't measure any of these with my sensors/hrm as it won't do ant+).   I find it's worth the subscription as it gives me access to a wide variety of videos/workouts that helps with the boredom of this time of year.  I'll probably cancel the subscription when the weather gets a bit better and you can do that as there's no minimum subscription period.


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