Beginner with issues on toughness of riding

(Mark Walker) #1

Hi All,

Have only just set up Zwift with a Tacx Vortex smart trainer and I am stunned how hard it is to ride. I thought it best to start with the FTP short test to get Zwift working at my level but I could not complete it, by halfway I was utterly exhausted and had jelly legs.

OK I don’t often ride but I run 20 odd miles a week and don’t think I’m that unfit.

Am I doing something really stupid? I’ve read all the set up guides, calibrated the Tacx but it is just so tough?

Thanks for any help

(Paul Allen) #2

Running and riding a bike work your system differently. They may use similar muscle, but being fit for running does not mean you are fit for biking.

What is your weight and what kind of watts are you putting out?

I am guessing that everything is setup correctly and you just need to build your biking fitness.

I am much better on the bike then I am running (or swimming for that matter).

(Ron Kramer AGE:60) #3

not sure how the initial FTP is set?  Gut I did the FTP test too (one of the first things) and I couldn’t do the 220w for 20 minutes part.  I lowered my ftp to around 140 and it then got bumped up automatically after some rides to  178.  I’ve had hard times again so it’s settled around 150.   I don’t know if the software takes my age (59) into consideration?  

How does the tension on the bike feel when riding on a flat road?  (like out on the road?) Or does it seems like excessive pedal power is needed?  

(Mark Walker) #4

Hi Paul,

I’m 16 stone and in the FTP test it was asking me to hit 150w then 230w which I managed for a while but could not sustain.

The feeling is nowhere near being on the road, it is far harder work.

I struggle to believe that a beginner cannot complete a basic test?

Thank you

(Mark Walker) #5

Hi Ron,

It’s far harder than being on road

(Paul Allen) #6

Riding on a trainer has a different feel then riding on the road. On a trainer you have to continually input power, on the road you can coast and take breaks. On the road you get momentum which you really don’t get on a trainer.

I have been using Zwift for over a year and have never taken the FTP test. I will be taking one soon to test my new training program but until now I had no real reason to.

What is your average speed when you are riding bike on the road?

(Paul Allen) #7

Before doing the calibration make sure you pump your tire up to 110psi and make sure your trainer is warmed up a little by riding it in a easy gear for 5-10 minutes. Warming it up will also allow your body to warm-up so you can hit that 40kph.

What type of bike are you using (wheel size is what is important here)?

(Ron Kramer AGE:60) #8

something doesn’t sound right.  Yeah it’s a bit harder and you can’t coast like on the road. But shouldn’t be much harder than real bike on the road. You have a multi gear bike? I assume… but if not that would be a major factor.  My Cyclops fluid 2 works nicely, I think the feel is more like riding on the road than any other trainer I’ve tried.  What wattage do you get after an average ride? 30-60 minute average?. 


(Mark Walker) #9

I’m using a hybrid bike and the tyres are not road bike style but have a little bit of tread (which the Tacx is chewing off as I ride, there is a big pile of bits of tyre behind the trainer) could this have something to do with it?

To be honest I’m not sure what speed I ride on the roads as I don’t ride with anyone other than a few friends for fun.

(Mark Walker) #10

Ron, I only set it up tonight so not done any long rides… mainly as it just feels so difficult. So I can’t really answer that yet. I will give it a try tomorrow night and see what I can manage in half an hour. Any more than that and the burning in my legs will probably be too much :-) 

(Paul Allen) #11

Your tire could very well be the issue. 

You should invest in a trainer tire, they will not be chewed up like you are seeing. I would suggest buying the trainer tire before riding on the trainer again, you might be gumming up the trainer with the rubber.

After getting the trainer tire I would suggest just riding on Zwift and then report what your average speed is and watts for a 30min or 60 min ride. We should be able to see if the numbers are realistic or not.

Just remember running fitness and biking fitness are different. 

An FTP test is a stress test for your bike fitness and if you have not bike much trying to put out 230 watts is going to be hard. I spend most of my rides at 120 watts range and my weight is 155lbs and I have no idea what my FTP is right now.


(Rob Broekhuis (A)) #12

Ron, I use a Fluid2 as well, and find that the zPower wattage isn’t anywhere near accurate. It’s somewhat high when I first start going and the hydraulic fluid is cold, then is well below my real output when the trainer warms up. By the end of a one-hour Zwift race the fluid compartment is too hot to touch, and I can’t sustain 200W in-game, while my actual output (based on self-calibration, riding with a Powertap for years) is well over 250W in those conditions. I’ve resigned myself to not being able to compete in Zwift races until I buy a power meter (hopefully next month!)

(Ken MacPhail) #13

Mark, I have the Vortex Smart as well and I found out that the cadence readings are wonky (I did some research online). I bought a cadence monitor and set that up and it made a huge difference. Early on when I joined Zwift I also did the FTP test and failed miserably even though I have been putting in 1500 to 2000 road km a year the past few years. So yes it is harder than the road…age probably makes a difference (I am 56) and the Vortex Smart is probably working against you somewhat. Hang in there though…it is worth it.

(Ron Kramer AGE:60) #14

Rob - thanks for that.  Makes sense. Though I don’t feel a difference in cold vs warm.  I tend to feel I’m really doing well (cold) and later when sweating hard I feel I’m not doing as well. (I chalked it up to being 10-15 miles in.  ??? I seem to have to work harder as I’m more in.  Is this what you’re saying? 

What is my best (cheapest?) but accurate option in power meter? something I can use on road rides would be nice. 

Im 5’ 7" - 159 lb, I typically cruise on the flat outdoors around 20mph.  On this trainer, I can at times hit 25-28 which seems unrealistic on the road. I’ll have to see this summer.  I would think that getting it warmer would thin the fluid and make it easier once hot?  Are you saying it’s the opposite?    After last night’s group ride it boosted my FTP to  171.  Well wasn’t a group ride really - just me on the flat course. I did break 20 miles in under a hour which was my goal.  = )


(Ron Kramer AGE:60) #15

Oh is it determining power? I have speed and cadence (ANT+) it’s using those and my age/weight?  Is there a way to calibrate the fluid2 without a power meter? 

(Paul Allen) #16

I would say a Stages power meter is one of the least expensive power meters out there (a little over $500). It is only left side only, but almost all programs/computers (including Zwift) just double the reading. Most people will be a little weaker in one leg, but the difference is usually not enough to make the reading useless. I plan on getting on in the near future.

You cannot really compare speed within Zwift and in real life. Zwift does not have wind and you don’t have to slow down for turns or obstructions.

(Paul Allen) #17


Your age has nothing to do with your speed, power and any other reading within Zwift.

Zwift uses the speed of your rear wheel and the power curve of your trainer and translates that to watts. Your weight and watts are used for watts per kilo to get speed on declines and inclines and to a lesser extent flats (flats are more or less just watts). The type of bike you choose within Zwift also has an effect on speed and climbing/descending.

(Jiri Kolar) #18

from my experience, legs for running use very different muscles…

you can quite simple try yourself, do some hard training on bike, day or 2 if needed , so your legs would be sore on bike, thats usually the day after hard training, then go for run, in my case i noticed my legs felt fresh and not sore

(Ken Clark) #19

Same issue here - hardly a beginner cyclist having done Lands End to John O’Groats (1000mile tour) and completed every tri distance up to half iron man. I’m a big guy at 18 stone and not fast - 30kph on the road is my average - hence looking at Swift to improve my speed. But even the most basic beginner workout is beyond me.

Flat out springing in as high a gear as possible I can just hit 250w for a few seconds and what’s it. Most of the workouts I’m exhausted by the warm up!

Tacx Sirius magnetic trainer with Garmin 810.

Looks like Zwift is for cyclists at a much higher starting point. Fair enough of that’s the case better to know now as I’m still in my trial period.

(Paul Allen) #20


What is your FTP set at in Zwift? Maybe lowering it would assist in making the workouts more manageable.

Or you could just ride the routes while not in a Workout and do your own thing.