More on Trainer Feel … 🤷‍♂️

I began questioning how accurately FulGaz’s “Trainer Feel” feature reflects the actual feeling of climbing. I decided to do a test this morning.

The test was simple.

I completed the Mirador climb in Mallorca three times with different Trainer Feel settings. This climb is part of a FulGaz ride, which is one of my favourites. It is 2.30 km long with an elevation gain of 151 metres, and an average grade of 6.6%. The first climb I had the Trainer Feel set at 50%, the second at 60%, and the third at 75%. On each climb, I started in the lowest gear, and every 3 minutes I changed into the next higher gear.

This is what I learned.

The lower the Trainer Feel % (50%) specified, the slower the ascent, the lower the average wattage expended, and average speed. Conversely, the higher the Trainer Feel % (75%), the faster the climb, the higher the average wattage expended, average speed.

This finding is not earth shattering.

It is what you would expect. What I didn’t expect was how realistic it felt. The first climb was easy, especially in the lower gears. The last climb was more challenging, although I could have worked harder. This is exactly what I would expect. A 6.6% climb does not fully tax me with the gearing on the bike.

Last week I did the same climb with the Trainer Feeling set to 100%, and recorded a faster time by almost 3 minutes. I enjoy this ride, both the climb, and following fast descent, and plan to complete it frequently, using it as a benchmark to test my fitness.

Strava records the climb portion of this ride as a segment, and apparently I have the fastest time on record for my age group by 30 seconds. You see. There is a benefit to getting older. The fastest time recorded is a full minute faster than mine.

I have work to do.

Trainer Feel (Uphill) …

I completed two more rides in Spain this morning. They are the best. Great weather. Great road surfaces. Terrific scenery. Challenging climbs. Exhilarating descents. And, other cyclists on the road to share the experience.

Yesterday, I spoke of how I was humbled by two monster climbs. Climbs at 15-20%. I battled up these mountains wishing I had a lower gear. A much lower gear. Well, I do.

FulGaz has a Trainer Setting they call Trainer Feel (Uphill). The way it works, is simple. The setting is expressed as a percentage. By default, it is set to 100%, which represents how the climb would actually feel given the weight of you and your bike. The climbs today were ~ 8%. I set the Trainer Feel to 75%. The climb felt much easier. I didn’t need my lowest gears. It felt more like a 6% grade, or 75% of the actual grade. So, if I want to make those 20% climbs feel like a 10% grade, I would set Trainer Feel to 50%.

I think that’s how it works. Correct me if you know differently. It makes sense.

I expect all of the cycling smart trainer apps have a similar feature. It may be implemented differently, but has the same effect of providing lower gearing. This is clever. I only wish I had this on the road. My bikes are set up for the local terrain where there are no 20% grades. Nothing even close. But, when I travel with a bike, I’m never certain what to expect.

One of the biggest mistakes a cyclist can make is to spin in too high a gear. I learned the hard way. I thought the bigger the gear, the better the cyclist, without understanding the damage it can do to the knees and lower back. Over the years, I learned my lesson, gradually adopting compact chainrings, and larger cogs on the cassettes. Today, with the Trainer Feel set to 75%, I generated similar power but with less effort by spinning faster. The Trainer Feel setting will not only help me get up those steep climbs, it will also help to determine the most efficient gearing I need on my road bikes.

The more I use FulGaz, the better I like it. Today there is snow on the ground in these parts, and yet I was able to cycle under blue skies and the summer sun on some of the best cycling roads in the world.