Total Cycling Noob Erratic Watts

Erase all cycling jargon and pretend you are explaining to a toddler.

I’m new to cycling as a more serious endeavor. I have the Wahoo Kickr, Zwift and a Garmin HR monitor and I’m trying to do one of the beginner training plans.

I know about the FTP test and adjusting the bias. I’ve been trying to research stuff but here is the issue I’m having:

My watts are absolutely everywhere. I will think I’m pedaling smoothly and my watts are up and down and all around. I keep to a pretty steady cadence but I can’t seem to control my watts in any way. I have erg and I’m in a middle gear. Hubby set up the bike and presumably did it correctly. Does anyone have a resource or a good explanation of how to control watts (vs what they are - I get it in theory but I can’t seem to have much success with training or FTP test results when it’s all over the place like this - which may totally be my fault but I need help to remedy because I’m trying to just move legs, not body, and be steady and push and pull and all the stuff I’m reading but it’s still every freakin where!).

I’m not clipped in - does that matter? Would that help? I don’t really like the idea of clips in the wild.

I’m just looking to build fitness - to lose some weight and to be able to keep up with my disabled husband on a bloody hill when we go for rides. We enjoy riding. Not trying to race or like speak racing or anything - just want to smooth out my training.

Thank you!

How much are your W moving around. When on ERG, I see my W moving +/- 10 W instantaneous, averaging around where the ERG is set. For non ERG it depends on the route profile. Same cadence will give way higher W at 10% road gradient, and way lower W at -10% road gradient, than at 0%. Changing gears will allow you to keep approximately same W for same cadence.

I’m trying to hit a target say 110 watts and I’m jumping like 150 to 70 watts and really struggling to hit my targets.

It’s good to know that it’s not entirely unheard of for the watts to flux a good 10 or so even for people who know what they are doing.

I’m garbage at using my gears correctly (which will be a whole other issue to resolve for outdoor rides and those hills I was talking about) so I was trying to just use the erg so I could focus on building endurance/speed/general fitness before tackling why I’m so dumb with gears :grimacing: Maybe this is not the best idea?

When doing training you get around plus or minus 20 watts and if you are within that you are considered meeting the target. When I’m doing training in ERG mode I don’t try and reach the power output, by that I mean I let Zwift/my trainer figure it out. So if the target is 150w and I’m only doing 100w then I just keep my cadence the same and the resistance will increase until I’m at 150w. Likewise if I was doing 200w the resistance would ease until I’m at 150w. If I’m under the power and I try and increase my power I find the trainer increases resistance at the same time and I overshoot and then I just yo-yo around the target.

As to clips they are certainly not required. I find they really help with either big power efforts and/or high cadences where they keep you feet firmly on the pedals. If you are just doing more relaxed riding then they are probably more hassle than they are worth.

Thank you for that response. I do have an update:


After some discussion here I thought well let’s check the ERG. I thought it was on but it was possible it got turned off or kicked off or something… let’s look. It was off. No ERG and I wasn’t compensating with gear shifting. Turned it on and it smoothed out today’s ride.

Boyo. So while I am slightly embarrassed, I did still get something out of the conversation so thank you all.

Maybe later someone can help me figure out how it’s possible to be so gear incompetent lol!