Set up Your Trainer for TrainerRoad and Zwift

What You Need to Get Started with Indoor Training with TrainerRoad and Zwift

“Winter is coming” as the Starks would say.  Which means its time to set up your torture chamber for indoor training.  Whether you are using TrainerRoad or Zwift or some other app or training program, here is what you need to set up a kick ass training room and get the most out of your indoor training this winter.

Trainer

Besides a bike, the most important part of you indoor training set up is a trainer.  No matter what trainer you have, whether its interactive, smart, or “dumb”, cheap or expensive, you can use it with apps like TrainerRoad or Zwift with the right accessories.  More on that later.

If you are looking for a new trainer and need some help, check out my indoor trainer buyer’s guide.

Computer

Next you need something to run the app of your choice on which can be a computer, a cell phone, or a tablet.  Most devices will be capable of running programs like TrainerRoad and Zwift but due to the graphic demands of programs like Zwift and more powerful computer can create a better experience.  Zwift just released the beta of their iOS software and TrainerRoad now offers an Android app meaning you probably have something around your house that will work for you.

Tip: If you are using a phone, do yourself a favor and pick up a Quadlock case or mounting kit so you can mount your phone to your handle bar or stem.

Sensors

In order to transmit your ride data to your computer and the app you are using, you need a series of sensors on your bike.  If you are using a smart or interactive trainer, additional sensors are not necessary, but if you are using a basic trainer, a speed and cadence sensor is required and a powermeter is optional.

Apps like TrainerRoad and Zwift are power based meaning they base workouts or your avatar movement on your power.  The inexpensive route is to use a speed and cadence sensor for virtual power which uses your cadence and wheel speed combined with the known power curve of certain trainers to calculate power.  The more expensive option is to purchase a power meter which will transmit your power date right to the app.

ANT+/Bluetooth Key

Depending on what sensors you’re using, you will need either an ANT+ or Bluetooth USB Key so that the device of your choice can receive the transmitted data.  Some devices will not need a Bluetooth Key but if your sensors only transmit using the ANT+ protocol, a USB Key is necessary.

Tip: If you are using a computer, purchase a USB extension cable so that you can bring your USB Key as close to your sensors as possible.  If your key is right next to the sensors, you will be less likely to loose the signal especially if you are in a “noisy” environment with lots of other signals bouncing around.

The Environment

Now that we’ve gone over all the things you need to get started with the app of your choice, we will now cover some of the things to make your training environment as conducive to work as possible.

Fan: Nothing ruins your indoor training faster than over heating.  Without the cooling effect of moving through the air, its easy to over heat indoors so investing in a couple good fans will improve your riding performance.

Mat: A floor mat for underneath your bike and trainer will help reduce noise, reduce vibrations, and absorb sweat.  It can be a trainer specific one, an old yoga mat, or some rubber flooring from the hardware store but it all works.

Towel: You’re going to sweat while riding indoors so having a towel close at hand to wipe up some of the sweat is a good idea.

There you have it.  Everything you need to get your training cave set up this winter for riding indoors with TrainerRoad and Zwift.  There is a lot of flexibility and personalization available in your setup but these are the basics to get you started.  If you have any tips or hacks from your torture chamber, feel free to share it in the comments.