Unless you are one of the lucky few who lives in a climate suitable to ride outdoors year round, chances are that you will have to do some of your winter training indoors. As a northwest native I am no stranger to training indoors. Indoor training shouldn’t be dreaded, it can be a great opportunity to work on specific sports skills and come into the spring ready to rock. With that in mind we will cover the basics of indoor cycling.
For those of you who are new to indoor training you will have three options :
- Indoor Trainer
- Spin Bike
This is the option that I typically use. An in door trainer is a device that holds your bike stationary while applying resistance to the back wheel. This is a great option for days when the weather is to wicked to venture outside. You will still get experience riding your own bike and building muscle memory appropriate to your bikes’ geometry. The down side to indoor trainers is that they to hold your bike in place so you do not have the opportunity to work on balance or bike handling. There are several different indoor trainers on the market with varying price tags. The main difference between the models is the mechanism by which they apply force to the back wheel. If you are looking for a quiet, smooth ride be prepared to pay a little more. I personal have used the Kinetic Indoor Bicycle Trainer for years and love it.
Admittedly I have not mastered the rollers, but this is the go to indoor option for many cyclists. Unlike the indoor trainer, rollers do not support your bicycle. Rollers are basically a series of three cylinders that you ride your bicycle on top of. Rollers tend to be much lighter than many indoor trainers, and typically collapse to a decent size making them easy to transport. This ease of transportation is why you often see rollers in the parking lots of triathlon and cycling races, it provides an ideal space to warm up those legs. The main advantage to using rollers is that they help cyclist to develop balance and bike handling skills in the off-season. Because of this rollers are also more challenging to use, and are often intimidating to new cyclist. They boast the same benefit as the indoor trainer in that you are riding your own bike and adjusting to your bikes geometry.
I would save this option for when you are hitting the gym for an intense spin class with your favorite instructor. While a spin bike is a better pick than your standard cardio machine, it is generally best to spend time in your own saddle when ever possible. The only way you will get used to your bikes geometry and gain the strength specific to ridding it is to spend time hammering your own peddles. Don’t get me wrong, a spin bike can be a good place to gain conditioning and if you haven’t taken the plunge into buying your own bike yet by all means train away on the spin bikes at the gym. I did most of my bike training for my first triathlon through spin classes. A good class can be a great place feed off the good vibes and stay motivated through the winter.
Making The Most Of Riding Indoors
Now that you know your options ad how you will be training through the winter months let’s talk motivation. The allure to cycling is the great rides. From fabulous views and trails, to flying fast through mountain canyons, indoor riding just can’t compare. If you have tried riding indoors through the winter then you have no doubt felt the dread of boredom setting in as you peddle away in your living room. before you throw in the towel and vow to wait until spring to get your biking on consider what a great tool indoor cycling can be. In fact there are many competitive athletes that do the bulk of their training indoors. The main advantage is your ability to control the workout. With an indoor ride you are in ultimate control of how that workout turns out. If it is a strength day it is up to you to crank up the resistance for your intervals, and like wise you can perfectly time your rest intervals. The same is true for speed skills and endurance days. Outdoors you are at the mercy of the terrain, not to mention traffic, stop lights, and weather, cross winds anyone? Take advantage of the cold months to really dial into your cycling skills and hammer out the sessions you need to improve as a cyclist. Here are my favorite ways to make the most of those indoor sessions:
By far my favorite indoor riding tool are The Sufferfest videos. These videos have it all. They offer punishing workouts that will push you to your limits while offering inspiring cycling footage from world famous cycling events like the Tour de France. Just a warning for you ladies, if you go with the sufferfest videos they talk to you like you are a dude, sorry, that is the reality, there just aren’t that many female cyclists. I personally think it’s fun, plus the dialog is not only motivating, it is hilarious.
2. Spinning Class
Make the most of that gym membership and pop in for an early morning spin class. Make sure you find a good instructor, they are not all created equal. While many gym goers are looking for a cardio dance class experience these classes often don’t target cycling specific skills. My favorite instructors have always been triathletes or cyclist, they know how to set up a good indoor ride, often give cycling specific cues, and know how to push you in ways that will translate well to the road. If you are new to the gym ask around, it shouldn’t be to hard to dial in to the class that will fit your style.
3. Movies and Music
Another great option for at home workouts are simply motivating movies and up beat music. While this is completely subject to your own preferences, I have found that watching old Ironman World Championship DVDs paired with heart pumping tunes really keeps me motivated. Maybe it is just because I am a Macca fan but my absolute favorite DVD to watch while training is the The 2007 Ironman World Championship. Seeing the pros and the age groupers alike grind it out in the lava fields, and hearing the announcer dub them ironmen as they cross the finish line really pushes me to keep peddling.
Keep it Cool
Now that your motivation is at an all time high and you are ready to hammer it out to the finish your final consideration keeping it comfortable. When cycling indoors you do not have the same air circulation as an outdoor ride. As a result you will most likely find your self dripping in sweat, while this has the immediate feedback of confirming you are a bad ass, and and working hard, it can also get uncomfortable. If you are cycling at home take a little time to set up a fan and make sure you have enough water bottles handy to keep you hydrated without hoping off your trainer. Along these lines I suggest not using a towel to wipe your sweat. sweating is integral to your cooling system, if you are sweating buckets it is because your body is HOT. By leaving that glysne on your skin and instead pointing a fan your direction you are helping your body eliminate that extra heat. If you take your sweat out of the equation are are going to get hotter. If you are worried about it put a towel under your bike and sweat away. Just think of how awesome you are going to feel after your intense sweat session!
Now that you have the basics down get in that saddle and ride! The only way to come into the new season ready to tear it up is to work through these cold dark day’s when we would all rather be in bed!
How do you keep motivation high when the weather is keeping you indoors?
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