My Cycling Journey - Complete Beginner

Update: I’ll be updating this thread weekly with thoughts, feelings and progress with my training. You can find the weekly post hyperlinked at the bottom of this post!

Hi there,

I’ve decided to kick up this thread as I’ve had a hard time trying to find threads that show the developments new cyclists (complete beginner level) have made using trainerroad. My plan is to detail my progress over the course of the base, build and specialty phases so that new riders like myself can get a better idea of how trainerroad can be applicable for them.

So, a bit of background on my cycling “career” so far. I purchased a road bike (2019 Canyon Endurace AL 8.0) back in September for commuting after a few colleagues had begun riding and instantly fell in love. Since then i’ve been riding to work pretty much every day (13-14km each way) and recently joined a local group ride, which was a LOT of fun. During this ride, 50km with rolling hills, I got dropped at the end and made my own way home as I couldn’t keep up with them. This sparked my desire to improve even more, and led me to find trainerroad and the podcast. After listening to a bunch of the podcasts and falling way too deep down the youtube rabbit hole, I invested in an indoor trainer (tacx flux s) and purchased a trainerroad membership.

So with all that out of the way, here is the plan I intend on following and links to where you can follow my progress. I will begin the plan on November 11th.

Base Phase - adjusted
To start, I went back and forth between the sweet spot and traditional plans, but eventually settled on the traditional high volume plan. Reason being that I have the time to commit long term (flexible work) and love the idea of developing the fundamentals as well as I can (form work, single leg exercises etc).

As a new cyclist, it was recommended to double up on the traditional base I, so I will likely do that, meaning it will take 8 weeks. I then plan on continuing through the rest of the traditional plans II & III once, for an additional 8 weeks, 16 total.

After taking the fantastic feedback on board from fellow members, i’ve decided to begin my training with the sweet spot base low volume plan. Over the first few weeks I’ll monitor how my body adjusts to the training and add in rides if i’m feeling good. Depending on how this goes, I may repeat this base phase or give the traditional base low volume plan a shot before moving on to SSB II.

Build & Specialty Phase
My plan is to follow the general build plan, as I am currently in no position to decide what type of rider I want to be, but I think it’s a good starting point.

After that I will likely follow either the road or enthusiast specialty plan, but would prefer to do road and hopefully do my first race.

Overall, my goal is to become fitter, stronger and able to keep up with the people on my group rides comfortably. With a longer term goal of participating in races and going on some cycling tours with friends.

My Strava - https://www.strava.com/athletes/17095517
My Trainerroad - https://www.trainerroad.com/career/alchemisto
Current FTP - 175 (tested on Zwift ramp test in October)
Height - 5ft 10in / 178cm
Weight - 85kg / 187lbs

Any advice, tips, suggestions, questions or encouragement are very welcome.

Looking forward to sharing my progress!

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Welcome to Cycling and to the Forum!

Congratulations on your new bike… the Canyon Endurance will be an awesome and fun tool.

Like you, I am also somewhat of a new Trainer Road rider but I do have a couple of years of unstructured training/riding. I chose to start with the Sweet Spot mainly because the traditional requires so much time.
Over the last 3 months, I have seen great progress on my FTP., so TR works.

Here is some advice:

  • Indoor riding is a bit different than outdoor. The chances for saddle sores and knee pain increase since the bike is not as flexible when on the trainer. Keep this on mind as you ramp up your time.
  • I notices you average ride is about 40 minutes. Traditional base requires almost daily rides of 2-3hrs.
    -I suggest you do a traditional base and then look if you want to pivot your plan… this will depend on how consistent you are in the first 4 weeks of traditional and how your body is feeling.

Enjoy it… remember why you started riding… and training.

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Thanks for the advice! I’m glad to hear that you’re finding success with the sweet spot plan.

I’m definitely open to adjust the plan based on my body’s response to it, in particular the potential for discomfort as you mentioned, due to the long duration of the rides. I’m hoping that by the time i’m a few weeks in, if not through the first phase, then I’ll be able to make an educated guess on whether it’s working.

If it’s too much, then I plan on giving sweet spot a go. Which volume plan are you currently using, and how have you felt with the load it has put on you? My main concern was going too hard, too soon and burning out from the high intensity training.

Welcome! Great to see a new enthusiastic cyclist. :slight_smile:

First of all I think it’s a good choice extending your base period as you’re fairly new to cycling, but a few things you might consider:

  1. Choosing a high volume plan right of the bat may do more harm than good. Few weeks ago I decided to do a ssb mid volume and by 3rd week I felt very fatigued and had to take a break for 3 days and then decided to drop down to low volume which was a good choice looking back.

  2. Completing traditional base HV is very challenging. Long workouts on the trainer at the same pace are mentally tough and I would personally consider doing trad. base only outside (at least the long workouts).

My main concern was going too hard, too soon and burning out from the high intensity training.

As was mentioned many times on this forum and the podcast -> it is always better (especially for beginners) to start with low volume and then add workouts if you feel good.

If I were you, I would consider starting with SSB LV I and repeating that -> so 12 weeks of SSB I and then move to SSB II, or do the traditional base first (1, 2 or all three phases, but consider going for low or mid volume) and then move on to SSB.

I think you made a great choice joining TR, so keep training and enjoy your journey! :wink:

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Welcome to the sport and to TR!

I would second the comments above about going straight into a HV plan. Assuming Strava is accurate you’ve done a total of 12 hours riding in the ~2 months since you bought your bike. You are talking about a training plan that involves doing nearly the same volume in a single week! This is way too ambitious in my opinion. You might get through TB1 which is all endurance (though mentally very boring). I think it unlikely you will get through TB2 which has a lot of Tempo and takes a lot out of you. I would bet very good money that you won’t get through TB3 which includes 14 hour weeks with a load of Sweetspot and Threshold work. This isn’t to be disparaging - I have an aerobic base built over 20 years of endurance sports, average 10-12 hours/week over the last few years, and I wouldn’t consider trying to do TB3 HV unless I had a month off work and no other serious commitments and so could spend as much time sleeping, stretching and recovering as I wanted.

Ease your way into the sport and learn as you go, don’t try and build Rome in a day. I’ve seen quite a few people get into cycling, try to do too much too fast, and 6-12 months later their bike is gathering dust in a garage (or is for sale on eBay) and they’ve completely fallen out of love with the sport. If you really feel the need to do 12+ hour weeks, then honestly I think the best approach would be an SSB LV plan, and then the rest of the time just go do relatively unstructured riding outdoors. Go discover the best cycling routes in your area, learn how to handle your bike well, start building up a wardrobe of kit for all weather conditions.

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Hey Ondrej, thanks for the insight into your training experience!

After reading up on the load of the high volume plans a bit more and seeing these comments, I do agree that it probably makes more sense to start low and build from there. My initial thought process was mainly based on time commitment, rather than my body’s ability to cope with the consistent long rides, especially indoors.

I will probably switch to SSB LV to begin with, testing the waters and seeing how my body reacts. If it’s positive then i’ll add in more workouts. I do also want to continue riding with my local group, so the lower volume will probably also enable this more in the long run.

Looking forward to getting started! :smiley:

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Hey cartsman, thanks for the welcome!

This sentence really painted the picture for me, and I agree it’s a bit too ambitious for the time being. As I mentioned to ondrej24 in the post above, i’ll be looking to switch it up a bit, starting at a lower volume in the SSB plan. This will hopefully give me the time to see how my body reacts to the training, so I can avoid the common trend of early burnout.

I’m really looking forward to getting the plan started, and loving what i’ve done so far. Hoping to keep it going long into the future! :slight_smile:

Welcome! Any advice I’d offer has already been given, but good luck and look forward to seeing you progress!

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Welcome!!

I would echo comments above re high volume plans. Thats a huge amount of work and the issue I had in the past with medium volume plans was that if you missed one or two workouts it has potential to spiral. Youre probably better off going low volume initially and add in the occasional extra workout as you can.

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Also unless theres an event youre planning i’d start off with traditional base, then do ssb etc. I wished id done that when I started but im going to do it every winter.

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I was at a similar situation as you as far as height and weight are concerned, when I first started cycling recreationally.
I lost around 15 lbs just by sticking to SSB LVI, LVII, Sustained Power Build LV and then Century Plan LV.

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From your post it seems you already have a zwift membership, so you will probably combine zwift and tr like a lot of users do. You might want to try watching something else (like movies/series) as well to figure out which is more motivating for you while you work out. Maybe it’s music even.

Oh, and also, have you got some good fans/ventilation yet?

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At the moment I’m not planning on competing in a specific event, but will definitely be looking to get into racing during the next year.

Do you feel like there’s much difference between starting with SSB or Traditional? I’m planning on doing a longer base phase and will probably incorporate both of these at some point.

That’s awesome, happy to hear that. I’m definitely looking to slim down a bit as I’ve been enjoying the culinary delights of Berlin for a bit too long now.

My target is to get back down to 75kg where I was a couple of years ago, but not in a rush for that. It should come with the training and a better diet.

Yeah, I am planning on doubling up but have also heard that it can get a bit boring on the longer rides. My setup is near my PC and luckily I have two monitors, so I’ll probably watch some anime or Netflix.

After the first few rides in Zwift I invested in a couple of decent fans, it was rough without them. I luckily have some large windows bear the trainer which helps with getting cool air flowing.

I am coming off my first block of SSB. Been training and racing seriously for about a year, but riding bikes my entire life. So FWIW, here’s my 2 cents.

What is going to be tough going from no training to SSB is spending a lot of time at Sweet Spot. SSB I eases you into it and everything will be based off your FTP so it may be doable, but it will be challenging - both mentally and physically.

In the grand scheme of things, Sweet Spot and Threshold is not a TON of intensity but for someone who has never spent time in that zone it is definitely challenging. You need to teach yourself how to ride at that intensity for long periods of time. In just 6 short weeks, you would be doing Galena which is 20 min efforts between 90-94% of FTP.

I would double what @jamieborg said and start with traditional base. If it is boring, do it outside if you can. If you respond well to the training stress, mix in SSB LV I after that. If you want to race, you will need to learn to spend time at Sweet Spot, but in my opinion, jumping right into efforts as long as 20 min with no cycling experience is a recipe for disaster.

There is no shame in going for it, you will know pretty quickly if you bit off more than you can chew. Then again, you might crush it and love the challenge. Only you will be able to figure this out. It’s all about trial and error and what works with you.

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The point about sweet spot is very true! One thing I found difficult when first getting into cycling was doing SS work at a (for me at the time) “high” cadence like 90+RPM. Easing into it with Traditional Base (or maybe just a few weeks of it) and really nailing your form, cadence and position before going for SS and Threshold work is the way to go.

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How about doing Traditional Base LV1 outdoor as much as possible? Specially the longer rides. You have a great advantage that you live in Berlin and can ride your bike to Tempelhofer Airport and ride on a runway! I remember doing that 2 summers ago while visiting Berlin and that was an awesome experience. I can’t imagine a better place to do steady state training than a perfectly flat long runway. Go early in the day where there is less people and get in a good workout. Be respectful of those walking!

In the end, keep on mind that as a new cyclist, the best bang for your money will be learning to ride and enjoying the time on the bike! That will get you ready to structure training and in the future to racing!

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Hey ejthoms, appreciate the advice. It’s definitely a tricky decision, the more I learn, the more I realise that there are pros and cons for both.

I think I will stick with SSB I to start though, as in the end one of the things that excites me the most is the challenge of doing something that will push my limits. However I’m definitely not going to be too stubborn enough to change if I feel it’s not working out.

I’m really interested and excited to share how it goes now, especially between these two plans :smiley:

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For longer rides I’m definitely planning on taking those outside now. As you said Berlin has a ton of great options for cyclists, so I’m planning on checking out a few routes that would be good for my needs, and there’s always Tempelhofer field haha!

I’m curious though, what’s the best way to make sure I’m riding in the right zones when outside? I have a Garmin 520 with HR, cadence and speed sensors, but would you need a power meter of some sort to train effectively outside?