What's Cool In Road Cycling

CompuTrainer Update: Real Rider Reports In

Last November we teamed up with the good folks at RacerMate to give away a CompuTrainer to a lucky PEZ-Reader. Robert Markt won the big prize, and after his first winter using the CompuTrainer he dropped us an email on his first impressions and progress…

Note: To set the stage here – we asked Robert to let us know how things went after he used the CompuTrainer for a while. The words are his own 100% and the content of this letter has not been edited. – Pez


Heeeere’s Robert! In action on the CompuTrainer – his newest piece of furniture. Photo courtesy of Rob’s roomie Ben.

Actual Testimony:
I would like to thank RacerMate for their great product. With the CompuTrainer, they have created a trainer that is superlative in many ways. The overall build quality of the trainer, the accuracy of the power meter and electronics, and the overwhelming array of features makes this thing more than anyone could ever hope for to get them through a long boring winter of indoor riding.

When I first found out I had won the contest I was ecstatic. I’m a poor college student at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, so receiving this huge gift just before Christmas was a great surprise. I had the CompuTrainer shipped to my family’s house in Cleveland, Ohio, where I would be spending 6 weeks over the winter holidays. I admit, I felt a little funny packing my road bike into my car on the way home to Cleveland for Christmas. Anyone from the midwest knows that Cleveland and other midwest towns near the Great Lakes are famous for never-ending winter snow storms.

15 Minutes To Fun!
Upon arrival home, I tore open the box and began the setup immediately. It took only fifteen minutes to get the business end of the machine set up and to get all of the sensors mounted. I realized that I don’t have a serial port on my laptop computer, so I installed the software on an old desktop we had laying around, which was nice because I could then move the computer where it was convenient rather than setting up the trainer in the office where my computer would normally reside. All in all it took less than an hour to get everything up and running. I’ve since bought a serial to USB adapter so I can run it on my laptop at school.

Going For Gold
My first ride was on one of the pre-programmed courses that the software comes with. I believe it was a lap or two of the 1996 Atlanta Olympic race course. I was immediately amazed at how the trainer unit could produce an immense amount of resistance. It almost brought me to a complete stop as I pretended to go for gold on what was probably an over-ambitious choice of course for my first miles on the CompuTrainer. I was also amazed at how stable the whole platform was. I could easily get in and out of the saddle, ride in the drops or on the hoods, sway back and forth like a poorly-balanced, uncoordinated idiot, and the whole unit stayed incredibly still on the floor.

Goodbye Couch
Since coming back to school, the CompuTrainer has taken up a permanent spot in my small bedroom. I live in a house with 13 guys and we don’t have a ton of shared space, so I made the decision to move the couch out of my room, and move the trainer in. The couch wasn’t doing much besides collecting dirty laundry anyway. I’ll be truthful and mention that on some days the bike and trainer fill the couch’s former roll as laundry receptacle, but for the most part it stays relatively free of debris.

My Future’s So Bright…
You’ll notice in the pictures that it slots in between my laundry basket and cabinet, and that I’ve employed a poor college student remedy in using a local phone book to add height to the riser block for the front wheel of my bike. Someday I’ll have this thing set up in a room of it’s own in the huge mansion I’m going to buy using the money I’m going to earn from the top shelf job I’m going to get because of my superior education, right… At any rate the trainer is sweet and has gotten a ton of use.

Winter Fitness Gains
I spend most of my athletic energy rowing with the lightweight crew here at school, and I only got into biking as a fun way to cross-train in the off season. However, the bike and especially the trainer have greatly added to my fitness, especially over the winter months when we were stuck inside rowing in tanks and on ergometers. I’ve used the trainer mostly in its stand alone ergometer mode, just working on increasing my pedal cadence and smoothing out my power output through the crank rotation cycle. The realtime circular power graphing is sweet for learning how to really “spin” rather than mash on your pedals and I can’t imagine a better tool for working on constant power output than the CompuTrainer.

Being a lightweight rower means I have to meet a certain weight standard each weekend, the day before my races, and again the CompuTrainer has become the perfect tool for burning off the extra cookies I ate mid-week. Especially nice is the ergometer mode because it requires that you pedal at a constant power output, which means there is no slacking when you’re tired or not concentrating because you haven’t eaten enough. I find it gets my heart rate up faster and keeps it more consistent than any other mode of exercise I’ve tried.

Overall it was a great first winter with the CompuTrainer. Now that the weather is clearing up outside, I’ve been out for a bunch of rides, and right away I noticed the improvements I had made in efficiency, cadence, power output and general aerobic fitness. I’ve found myself riding higher average speeds, and climbing especially has become easier. I used to dread going uphill on my bike, and now I can power up inclines riding higher cadence and not worrying about killing my muscles by pounding on my pedals.

These improvements came from a pretty simple program of constant power output riding only a couple of days a week on the CompuTrainer. I can’t imagine the improvements I’ll make next year when I’m no longer rowing and can put more energy into riding. I imagine I’ll also explore more of the features including the course creator, the coaching software, and more of the interval training programs. There are a thousand ways the CompuTrainer can kick your butt; I’ve just scratched the surface as far as using all of the features goes.

The Best Things In Life
Overall it’s been a great experience, and I’m not just saying that because it was free. At a retail price of around $1400.00, I wouldn’t have spent the money on it before, but now that I’ve ridden on it for a few months, I can see the obvious improvements in my riding and fitness. Although it might not look as cool, it’s cheaper than a set of bling bling aerodynamic wheels or a sweet new frame, and by my estimation it will definitely improve my times and speed more than either of those purchases will. It’s changed me from a “please, no hills” kind of person into a much more serious and able rider. It’s also a ton if fun. With the on screen animations, custom courses, coaching software, and other things, I don’t look at riding the trainer as punishment when the weather is bad. It’s not the same as riding outside on a beautiful day, but it’s just as entertaining in its own way.

Hopefully in the coming year, I’m going to take a crack at racing and maybe even a triathlon. We’ll see how far the ComputTrainer can take me. Also, as soon as I start my summer job and have enough money I’m going to order my PEZ jersey and hat so I can represent for the web site that hooked me up with this cool stuff. Thanks again for the awesome contest and keep up the great work on the web site. It’s really turning into a world class news and information site while still being cool and not bowing to the common formula of all of the other cycling sites.

Thanks Again,
Rob Markt

P.S. The photography credits go to my illustrious roommate and friend Ben Provan, who at 6’6″ is the best person I’ve ever met to have riding in front of you in a killer headwind.


Read the PEZ-review of the CompuTrainer here.

Get more Info at the RacerMate website.

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