I find the CompuTrainer to be a great tool for bike workouts. It is particularly well suited for doing interval and power work, as you can see in real time your power, cadence, HR, etc. without having to concentrate on the road. It also gives you the ability to create power workouts, where you simply put in varying power levels and time values, and then it adds the appropriate resistance to meet your specified workout.
As part of the CT package, they also have some pre-defined courses. One on cold and rainy day when I was scheduled for a 112 mile ride, I decided to do the entire ride on the CT on the Coeur D’Alene Course. This gave me a frame of reference from my upcoming IM CDA race, and then a comparison point after the race. The following show smoothed data from the CT and the actual race course:
The quick take is that the CT course does not have the variability that occurs in reality. The power peaks are not as high and you never really rest/recover on the CT, which tends to flatten or average the data more than reality.
How do the stats and averages compare?
|5/15 CT CDA||6/26 IM CDA|
My average times and HR data was fairly close between the CT and reality. Again, the big difference is the smoothing factor that you get from the CT, which can be seen in the differences in my power zones. For the CT, it was much easier to maintain Z2 pace consistently, than it is in reality. On the CT, you can put it a high gear and pedal down the hills. In reality, there are corners on the decent that prevent you (or at least me with my bike handling skills) from pushing down the hills. Likewise, to maintain balance you need to ride a little faster up the hills than you do on the CT.
The bottom line? It’s hard to be conclusive with only one data comparison point, but I continue to believe that the CT is a fantastic training tool for dialing in specific power values. In terms of using the courses as a predictor of reality… I think the courses are probably “okay” for providing a general view of time and/or effort (HR), but not reflective of the power peaks and valleys your legs will see on the actual course.