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Virtual Cycling Coach ?


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So like many recent cyclists, I got to a stage where improvements seemed to be hard to come by. In terms of equipment, you can’t really blame a £4k Aero bike for not being all you can be !

2018 included a lot of events from Flanders in March, the Mallorca 312 in April, Tour de Yorkshire in May, Tour of Cambridgeshire in June, Etape du Tour in July and then the World Gran Fondo Championships in late August.

Having used STRAVA quite a bit and logged around 4300 miles with a Heart Rate monitor (no Power Meter as yet), I had a vague idea about Training Zones, over-training, Vo2 max etc. However, there were times I felt a million bucks on some rides and other occasions when the legs simply were not there and I wouldn’t really know why.

So after seeing some friends using more specific training plans and some of them getting one to one coaching (and witnessing them visibly improve) I decided that some investigation was required. Luckily, our partner Vitfor were on hand to assist.

Craig Stevenson is Vitfor’s founder and an expert coach. We both ride in Harrogate out of Prologue so I asked if he had any advice for making my cycling training a bit more structured training in 2019.

His generous response was to have me come into their Performance Centre, located at OTE Nutrition Headquarters in central Leeds in order to do a full on Vo2 lab test!

The advice was to prepare for the test as if it was a serious ride. However December is never a great time to avoid the festive drinking so its fair to say I didn’t follow his advice. 3 hrs, 1 blood test & 1 Vo2 Max test & 1 Ramp test later, I had a massive amount of data which Craig went through. It was highly informative having someone tell you that you should be training in a certain way and then being able to to definitely show you the data as to why!

Without going into too much detail, my results were what was to be expected of someone who had done a lot of riding in 2018 without really having any structure for my training.

He then set me up with Vitfor’s FTW software. This is their revolutionary virtual online training coach. Craig plugged in my results and my 2019 goals before sending me on my way.

Power data seemed to be essential to making the most of the FTW software so I invested in a Kickr CORE for the basement and set up my summer bike as a permanent resident until April at least.

Vitfor’s FTW is essentially your own personal online coach. You take a little time to input your events for the year, any holidays, your weekly availability (this can be tailored for specific weeks)

FTW then gives you your prescribed sessions for the week (or as I call it – ‘homework’) and as you complete them, it will adapt and adjust the remaining sessions. Once you’ve completed all the workouts then you get to see what the next week holds in store.

How am I doing 5 weeks in? Well, it is strangely simple having your week’s training schedule laid out for you. Just do what the FTW software tells you. I’ve missed a couple of sessions and overcooked a couple of outdoor rides however the gains are definitely starting to become apparent. You start to appreciate what a structured training ride should look and feel like and you begin to understand the need to make your easy efforts easier and your hard effort harder.

I’ll update once I’ve got past this years Flanders Sportive in early April. Hopefully FTW & Vitfor will allow some attacking of the Koppenberg !

Vitfor trains everyone from elite level athletes such as Harry Tanfield through to club cyclists. Increasingly, it is the weekend warriors who are turning to cycle coaches and coaching tools to improve their cycling and increase their enjoyment out on the road.

Everyone who books a 2019 trip with All Things Ride gets an extra 50 days on top of the standard 30 day initial trial so you can really get to grips with this superb training tool. Get in touch today – enquiries@allthingsride.com