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Erg-Mode builds muscle, softens spines.

Yep. I'm going to get all-agro about your indoor trainer. Because I hate indoor training? No way. It's a necessary element of a 365/24/7 cyclist. Would I prefer hero-dirt singletrack every single day, of course, but when I woke up yesterday to rare, gloomy rain in Colorado I boarded the indoor workout train. And a learned a lesson...

Quick download of facts:

  • There are countless indoor training platforms. Let's agree they all provide structured workouts with specific focus: base, endurance, strength building, and torturous maximal output. Most are good.

  • Indoor riding is NOT the same as outdoor riding. No variable surface, wind resistance, weather, clueless geese, rabid dogs, or the worst: a headphone wearing, retractable leash, dog-walker. Indoor assumes PERFECT conditions.

  • That said, indoor riding has no coasting. You are always pedaling. This key factor can make indoor rides seem more challenging than an outdoor pedal.

  • If you can do a session over 3 hours on the indoor trainer, quit reading this post, you're inhuman. Please go to the dark web and read from other robots. :)

On to the wisdom drop.

Here I am, yesterday morning, preparing to do my indoor session. I've found the best way to get my best effort is to go for it straight away. No hem-hawing. So I have my "Do Work" Morning Breakfast:

2 Pieces French Toast (topped w/peanut butter, granola, and 100% maple syrup)

A full French Press of coffee (it was a Panamanian from The Roasterie in Kansas City)

After a coffee-initiated bathroom break, I donned my Pearl Izumi bibs and dhb Shoes. It's go time.

I use Wahoo SYSTM as I use Wahoo head units and I like continuity, also, I enjoy the SUF Cycle programming (formerly The Sufferfest). My next race is the Mohican 100K in Loudonville, OH and the elevation profile looks like the EKG of a lab rat on speed. The punchy climbs range from 30-180 seconds and on my SS require powerful jumps out of the saddle. To simulate this stress on the body I picked "The Model" workout. 4 sets of 9x:30 efforts above 130-150% of FTP with under-threshold recovery :30 intervals. It's a battle. As the sets build, the efforts increase on the top end and the rest efforts decrease incrementally. There's a lot going on. There's a lot of shifting required IF YOU AREN'T IN ERG MODE. HA! We got to the point of this post!

Note: Erg mode is a setting whereby the trainer (indoor bike) adjusts the resistance for you. No shifting is required. You simply pedal against what is delivered. Fancy? Yep. Simpler? Surely. Effective? Read on.

The first 9 intervals went great! I did all of my overs out of the saddle, simulating my SS efforts to come, and the unders seated to work on glut engagement. First set, good stuff. After a few minutes recovery the second set went off swimmingly. I got this.

Then the 3rd set came. And then the 4th.

During both of these sets I had to want to work. More than that, I had to initiate, control, and deliver the strenuous work to myself. Sure the screen showed me what the workout demanded but nobody is watching me watching my screen. There is no oversight. I could've easily said "I know my body. I've done good work. I've got a big next few days outside on the bike and don't need to empty the tank." I could've made the 150% interval only 120%. Still was pretty good work. Right?! And here is the nugget...

When you are given an opportunity for unwarranted grace, err... when you are given the option to bailout, and you choose to stare that option down like Wyatt Earp and shoot it square between the eyes. Dead on the dusty trail! You define yourself. You remind yourself of the athlete that exists not in your FTP number, your hours on the bike, nor your yearly Strava mileage, but the athlete in your heart. That athlete who lines up at the event, drives the pedals, and races hair-on-fire to the finish line. Erg mode delivers the work but doesn't deliver the soul. Turn off your smart trainer's brain and engage your heart. Watch how tough you become. Face that desire for the bubble-bath workout and take the cold plunge. GO NOW!


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