Ergvideo 2 – Threshold Test

19 01 2009

Last week I got a few more videos from Ergvideo, including the Threshold Test Video, which both, my wife and I used over the weekend.

What is it? Basically you fill out your best guess for FTP (Functional Threshold Power) or the value from your last test. It will be used only to determine how hard the warmup session will be. Then there is another video for the actual test:

  1. Warmup: 26 minutes video in Erg mode. The video has a series of intervals, including a 5 minutes at threshold power and a few other intervals. Since the video is in Erg mode, the output power is predetermined and the Computrainer will make sure it has enough resistance to generate that power.
  2. Threshold test: the threshold test is a time trial of 20 or 60 minutes (you chose). It is performed in CRS mode, with a constant 2% grade. This time, it is up to you to determine the power. The faster you go, the more power you generate. So you can actually shift gears to go harder. The video is just to “inspire” you, the effort/grade does NOT change with the grade of the video or effort of the rider.

At the end of the time trial, the software produces the following report (please don’t laugh out loud regarding my FTP, I’m pretty disappointed myself!):

Threshold Power Test Results

Date: Saturday, January 17, 2009

Test duration: 20 minutes



Weight (lbs)

Weight (kg)

Threshold Power (W)


  Hans Winter





Well, when I looked at the table from Hunter Allen and Andrew Coggan (Training and Racing with a Power Meter), I’m classified at Cat 5, just above Untrained Individual! 😦

Anyhow, what I like about the threshold test, is the consistence that it will provide me. I find that performing a consistent warmup and test will give me a good baseline. Every 4 weeks, I will test myself again and hopefully see some improvements.

I’ll use the FTP to customize my bike training, since I’m using Power Zones, instead of Heart Rate Zones:


%Threshold Power


Power Zones





Active Recovery  














Lactate Threshold










Anaerobic Capacity





By the way, if you give your best (as I did), you basically want to die at the end. I started at an average of 250 to 260 Watts, but unfortunately at last few minutes, I fell to 240 Watts, and trust me, I tried to go harder. Anyhow, it is a good experience to next time, when I’ll try to a bit easier in the beginning and harder at the end.

Oh, yea, Beatriz tried it too and she is still swearing at me, since I was beside her during her whole test telling her that she could go faster! She was dead at the end too… and not very happy with me either! 🙂


Guess who is going to be in Muskoka?

13 01 2009

beatriz-saida-p-corridaIt was only a rumor, but it is now official: Beatriz (my wife) has signed-up for the 2009 Muskoka 70.3 Ironman. 

Completing the Half-Marathon last year really wasn’t enough. Lets face it, what is 1.9 km swim and 94 km bike anyways? It’s like warming up for the half-marathon!

I’m so proud, but what she doesn’t know is how much I will bug her to train and train hard! By the way, did you do your workout today?!

Well done Honey! You really have guts!!! It runs in the family, you CAN DO IT!

Now I know why she let me buy the CompuTrainer last year…

Visit the confimation page at:

Running in the winter

12 01 2009

I just came across this old picture, which was taken in June 2006 just before my first Try-a-Tri (yes, 375m swim, 10km bike and 2.5km run). As you can see we knew exactly what we were doing! We were basically pros warming-up for a “long” course! You have no idea how nervous I was.

Pros stretching!

Warning: Pros stretching!

Well, we came a long way! It is still time to start training for 2009, the year has just begun.

The winter can be challenging to train, not only to find motivation, but also a good place to train. Running in the winter is not easy, but once you’re used to it, it is actually not bad. I just ran 15 km on Sunday… yes, there was some snow on the ground!

Here are a couple thoughts:

  • I don’t want to run on snow! Well, most people don’t want to run on the snow because they think they will fall. However, it is easier to fall when you are walking than running on snow. It is like running on sand, just a bit colder! It is slower, hard work, but not that slippery as one would think. Personally, I try to run on the actual road or on a sidewalk that has been cleaned. The city cleans most of the sidewalks on the major streets here, so you might want to run there. Just watch out for black ice.
  • The cold will freeze my lungs! Trust me, if that was the case, a lot of skiers would have died! Running in the winter is not any different than any other winter sport, such as skiing or skating. Your body will handle it, just take the same precautions you would doing any other winter sport. 
  • What to dress? I like wearing a long sleeve Under Armour shirt with a fleece jacket on top. If is is windy, I’ll add a shell (like a Gortex jacket) on top of it. As far as pants go, I’ll wear a tri-short under a long pants, to avoid any friction and keep the little guys warm! Gloves and hat are also indispensable, although I only wear a really thin pair of gloves that I got at running room. I usually have cold hands for the first 10 minutes, but as the heart rate goes up, they warm up again. Oh, don’t forget to use sunblock on you face and wear sunglasses, since the snow is pretty bright!
  • Nope, not for me! OK, if you still not convinced, go to the gym and use the treadmill, maybe you can see a nice view too! 😉

Just get out there and try it out. It is not as bad as you think!

ErgVideo 2 – Second Impression!

8 01 2009

It’s not about WHERE you ride, it’s about HOW HARD you ride

Yesterday I rode the Muskoka Half Video from ErgVideo for 6 minutes and posted my First Impression. Today I had planned a Brick workout (1 hour bike, 20 minutes run), using the same video. 

If you read the First Impression post, you probably noticed that I wasn’t thrilled with the product… 54 minutes later, I loved it! Here is the thing, when I first bought the Video, I had a complete different idea in my mind. I thought it was just another video that wasn’t available for the Interactive Real Course Video (IRCV), so I was getting it from another company. Well, as it turned out, these two products are not exactly the same. As I pointed out in my previous post, IRCV simulates the course and it is up to you to perform. (Nothing wrong with that!)

I exchanged a few emails with Paul Smeulders (President and Developer ErgVideo) after my first posting. The first thing he mentioned was “It’s not about WHERE you ride, it’s about HOW HARD you ride“, which is a pretty good way to summarize the product. In Paul’s words:

While you get the feeling of familiarity with the course profile, if you are not training the required abilities or performance factors needed to excel in the cycling leg, simply riding a course profile repeatedly won’t necessarily guarantee you are executing a specific workout designed to get you there efficiently. Many people ride long courses slowly, every time, or according to their daily whims. ErgVideo rather forces you to expend effort according to a preset power plan. In the cases of Triathlon style ErgVideos, you are following how a successful high-level athlete is attacking the course. While it may not suit your tastes precisely, you are going to get a very specific focused workout that you can’t cheat or. Moreover, you can see all of the important details of your ride, and adjust them, using the web-tools feature in the ride designer.

ErgVideo has a different approach then IRCV, it imposes you a pace according to your capabilities based on a real course. I really didn’t buy the concept at first. However, after riding the course for 1 hour, I noticed that the beginning was extremely easy, not because of the profile, but simple because I have the tendency to start hard and slow down at the end (on a good day, it will be the other way around). ErgVideo really forces you to pace yourself, which is something that I need to improve.

Technically speaking, you can just create a erg course and you’re done! Yes, but lets face it, Computrainer Coaching Software (CS) is not the best motivating tool, it is just like a trainer on steroids. When you combine it with a video of a real course profile it adds a new dimension to your workout.

I summary, ErgVideo is not a course simulation tool, it is a workout simulation tool!

What’s next?

I will continue to use IRCV and Computrainer 3D to get familiarized with real courses that I’ll be riding, which will give me a pretty good idea of is waiting for me at each race  (e.g. riding IM France course, made me consider a new cassette). I will also use ErgVideo for my day to day training, specially intervals. However, before I buy another video, I’ll bug Paul a little bit more to find out which videos will best match my workout plans.

Oh, one more thing, my wife used the Muskoka Video for one hour too, I’ll let her comment! 😉

Note: special thanks to Paul for replying to my numerous emails. Great customer service!

ErgVideo 2 – First Impression

6 01 2009

I just got the IM 70.3 Muskoka ErgVideo, which is my first ErgVideo. I also have the IM Louisville IRCV (Interactive Real Course Video), from RacerMate (the company who builds the Computrainer).

Before I even start, let me tell you that I only installed the ErgVideo and rode it for 6 minutes, as I had already done my bike (1 hour and 20 min with 8 x 20 sec Power Intervals/2 min recovery) this morning and I will swim tonight. So, with that in mind…

Unlike IRCV, ErgVideo uses a different  approach to build the course.  It uses an “.erg” file that is synchronized with the actual video. The erg file is build based on the power that was generated by the original rider when riding the course. IRCV has a course build based on the grade of each segment. So what?

  • No SpinScan: Because ErgVideo forces the computrainer to keep a power output proportional to the power generated initially, it can’t calculate your SpinScan. SpinScan is calculated based on the power you generated at each 15 degrees of your pedal cycle, but because on erg mode it changes the resistance to match the pre-set power output, it can’t really tell your efficiency. 
  • Pre-set Effort: in order to make the ride possible for any rider, you can scale the power required to keep up with the original rider. Here is how it works, based on your Functional Power Threshold (FTP) you entered the level of effort that you would like to obtain at the end of the workout. ErgVideo then uses the inputed data and compares to the rider FTP, then for each part of the ride it will proportionally adjust the power you need to generate. 
    • The good: you will be forced to maintain the pace (not effort) of the original rider (unless you set the same FTP as the original rider), so you can’t really rest when you want! If you are training to that specific event, you will learn the course, and be prepared for the difficult spots.
    • The bad: you are not simulating the effort you will require to finish that course, as you are manipulating the intensity, plus you wont have the same weight as the original rider, so you even if you had the same FTP, the effort required would be different. The other disadvantage is that you can’t really plan a strategy for the ride, you must go as hard as the original rider had chosen to go when he/she was riding it.

After trying it out (6 minutes!), I believe that the biggest benefit would be building your plan based on the 9 Pack Video, which would include different rides (base, hill repeats, etc). In that case you would have a different video for each workout, making it quite interesting… but that would cost $300+ for all 9 videos!

In summary,if you want to prepare for a specific course “and” you have the option between ErgVideo and IRCV, I would suggest the latter, as you can pace yourself like you would in the real race. But, if you want to have videos to play while you doing you interval training, then ErgVideo is a pretty cool option.

Again, this is my first impression, I may be missing the point. There are options to build the course (i.e. repeat certain parts X amount of times) that I’m not quite sure how to best use. Ideally I would like to have parts of the video to use with my Power Intervals, Short and Long Hill intervals, etc. But not sure I can do that with one video… I only used it for 6 minutes! 🙂

BTW, I was under the impression that the ErgVideo Software would come with an Automated Threshold-power testing protocol:

  • From the ErgVideo Website: “New Software Release: ErgVideo 2 is here! Fully Automated Threshold-power testing protocol”
  • From the ErgVideo Manual: “Your Actual Threshold Power is a physiological measure which you can determine through testing, or by estimating the average power you could sustain over an hour. ErgVideo 2.0 includes this capability with special testing ErgVideos.”

What was not clear to me was that you need to BUY the actual videos in order to have the Fully Automated Threshold-power testing protocol! It is not a feature on ErgVideo 2!!! If you read the home page, the next bullet is even about the integration to iTunes and Windows Media Player, which is clearly a feature that comes with ErgVideo 2, not a specific video! After reading the manual I understood what they meant… I have to say, I was pretty disappointed with that.

If you read this, please read ErgVideo 2 – Second Impression!