I have been using TrainerRoad since 2012, I am a fan, its effective training. I have logged over 700 rides, nearly 700 hours. I have used several of their training plans to see me through some of my main events including my Everesting ride last year and Dirty Kanza 200 this year. I have a very traditional set up using a PC and monitor/TV. I haven’t moved over to the mobile app version as my set up was pretty permanent in the garage and only got torn down once or twice a year when on vacation. You can read more about the set up here, it’s a slightly dated post but the fundamentals remain the same. The one area that I felt was lacking was the ability to track my outside rides within the TrainerRoad website. This is no fault of TrainerRoad it’s strictly an application that is designed for indoors, attempting to ride along to one of their workouts is an accident waiting to happen!
So when listening to the TrainerRoad Ask a Cycling Coach Podcast was presented with a solution the resolved the issue; the Wahoo ANT+ dongle. Ok this is nothing new, it’s been around for years and I am sure that many readers (maybe 4 of the 10 or so who follow this blog) have figured this out a long time ago but to me it was a revelation.
The Wahoo dongle is a bit hard to find, Amazon still carry them but they are still quite pricey at $45. I turned to a Facebook Online Swap Meet group that I have been using for the last year posting an “In Search Of” post, with the byline that the 30 pin adaptor to Lightening convertor would be nice too. Not ten minutes later I had a couple of responses and 3 days later a parcel arrived with ANT+ Dongle and Converter and all for the less than the price of two venti lattes and a shared morning bun from Starbucks!
I downloaded the app and logged in, my history synced in a couple of minutes. The next thing was to pair my phone to my Sensors. I still use a HR strap and that was picked up in seconds. My Garmin Vector2 pedals took a little for finangling and I have learned that giving the pedals a good 10 spins to make them wake up and pair does the trick. With that done I was good to go.
Some things to note;
- All of this applies to my iPhone 6. I realize that some Android have Ant+ baked in natively, alas Apple has not done this yet.
- As you can see in the photo the convertor is a cable. This actually works better than the little plastic dongle as it allows you to continue to use a phone case. I simple use a couple of Becca’s hair ties to “attach” to the phone which stops it from flapping around.
- If your phone goes below 20% and into Low Power Mode it may shut off the app. I have only had this happen once so I am not 100% certain but it seems it could be a possibility. I have an open question to TrainerRoad on this.
- It is a bit of a battery drain, approx. 10-15% per hour. Good practice is to kill all the other apps. That said I am usually using 3-4 other apps in the background for communication; Slack and safety; RoadID or Garmin Live Tracking, so the 10-15% includes them too. As I say to the kids ABC…always be charging so start your ride at 100%.
- I have only used the FreeRide rides, this simply captures the data. I am not following a workout.
- For this to work outside you need a Power Meter. For me this means I get not data on my MTB or Gravel bikes. Also Virtual Power indoors will not translate to the open road.
- A battery charging case will not work, unless it has the Lightening port. I found this out the hard way!
- Overestimate your ride, riding for 2 hours, choose the 150 minutes ride, it’s better to finish early than lose data.
Having used this 90% of the time for the last 3 weeks or so I very pleased. It’s filling the gaps in my TrainerRoad history and I am getting a better visual of my weekly TSS.
There are some gaps, my Sunday long ride was not captured due to the external battery case. Yesterday’s ride was lost with the app turning off when the battery dropped below 20%, although as mentioned that may have been pocket gremlins!
My ride of the Vineman 70.3 course in TrainerRoad
Same ride in SportTracks with Elevation and Power filters turned on
Same ride in Garmin Connect with the same filters
Additionally I was able to use my phone and the dongle to maintain my training in a hotel room when on vacation in Las Vegas where riding outside was just too hot and I didn’t have to break down my garage set up, which is a pain!
So if you are looking for an easy way to solve the same problem, ditch the Starbucks line a couple of mornings a week and you could be sorted too!