Indoor Trainers are not for 3 hour rides
Much of the fun of going on a cycling adventure with SportActive happens far in advance of the event itself. The anticipation of the trip and the preparation add much to the entire experience. But what's a cyclist to do when living in a part of the world that has enough winter to put a stranglehold on outside riding for months on end? That's where an indoor bike trainer can become a cyclist's best training partner.
A bike trainer may be just the ticket as we prepare for our eagerly-anticipated cycling holiday.
But What About The Tedium?
Let's face it. No matter what you do to spruce them up, indoor workouts can't compete with an exhilarating ride outside. But there are ways to minimize the monotony. Group rides (that's right...indoor rides don't have to be solo) of various sorts can be fun. Whether it's a spin class, a bunch of riders getting together at a bike shop, or merely two friends riding side by side in front of a TV...riding with other cyclists combats boredom. Making a commitment to ride with other cyclists also supplies the motivation that'll get you onto the trainer an extra session or two per week. Not only will you be motivated to keep your indoor riding appointment, but you may find yourself riding by yourself on other days of the week just to gain the conditioning that will make your group rides more pleasurable. Speaking of TV, there are plenty of cycling DVD's on the market for you to pedal along with. Not only do they instruct you to 'pick it up' at various times throughout the ride, but some of them take you along on some of the most breathtaking virtual rides in the world. Think of them as a foretaste of what you'll experience on your cycling holiday.
Sweat And Saddle Soreness
Two of the greatest pitfalls of indoor rides are an abundance of sweat and discomfort on the saddle. If you've ever wondered how much you're sweating on a ride (it's hard to tell on an outdoor ride since sweat evaporates almost as soon as it appears), just do a workout indoors. That's where a strong fan can 'make or break' a ride. Even with a fan you'll most likely be sweating quite a bit, so keep a towel handy. You may also want to protect your bike from drips by putting a CycleOps 'bike thong sweat catcher' over the handlebars and top tube. Something else you'll begin to appreciate after riding indoors is how much you're able to shift around on your saddle when you're outside. The monotony of the same pedal stroke over and over again while on an indoor bike trainer will soon make even the finest saddle uncomfortable. Varying your position by periodically standing during an indoor workout will help out immensely.
Indoor Trainers Are Not For Three Hour Rides
I've tortured myself with a few three hour rides on a trainer...and even one four hour ride, but I wouldn't recommend it. This is where some well-thought-out interval workouts come in. In order to get enough resistance for a hard interval-style workout, you'll be best served using a quality fluid trainer like the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine, or a mag trainer like the Cycleops Magneto. Wind trainers aren't likely to produce enough resistance to make hard efforts practical.
Doing a pyramid style workout is a popular variation. Here's how it would look:
- 10 minute warmup.
- One minute of very hard effort followed by one minute of recovery (easy spinning).
- Two minutes hard at a slightly lower effort, followed by two minutes of easy spinning.
- Three minutes hard, lowering the intensity level, followed by an easy three minutes.
- Four minutes hard, lowering the intensity level, followed by an easy four minutes.
- Five minutes hard, lowering the intensity level, followed by an easy five minutes.
- Four minutes hard, increasing the intensity level, followed by an easy four minutes.
- Three minutes hard, increasing the intensity level, followed by an easy three minutes.
- Two minutes hard, increasing the intensity level, followed by an easy two minutes.
- One minute hard, increasing the intensity level.
- 10 minute warm down.
That's a pretty intense interval workout, with 25 minutes of hard effort. It may be a bit too ambitious for starting out, but it can be altered by reducing the intensity of the 'hard' efforts or by eliminating the five minute effort...or even the four and five minute efforts. Another variation of the pyramid style workout is the descending ladder. This workout would start with a warmup and then consist of efforts of 10 minutes, 8 minutes, 6 minutes, 4 minutes, and two minutes. Each of the hard intervals would be followed by an easy spin of two minutes. Of course, a proper warm down would finish the session. The advantage of the descending ladder workout is that after doing the 10 and 8 minute efforts, the remainder of the sessions are psychologically much easier to accomplish, and seem like a piece of cake.
Indoor Trainers Now For Tremendous Rides Later
There are some lucky souls who live in a climate that is conducive to comfortable outdoor riding most of the year. But for the rest of us, a bike trainer may be just the ticket as we prepare for our eagerly-anticipated cycling holiday.
About the author: Ron Fritzke is a cycling product reviewer with a passion for ‘all things cycling’. A former 2:17 marathoner, he now directs his competitive efforts toward racing his bike…and looking for good cycling products.