With days shortening and temperatures falling, now’s the perfect time to clamp your Campagnolo-equipped bike to a turbo trainer.
The Covid-19 pandemic sent indoor cycling skyrocketing, making them harder to find than hen’s teeth. Thankfully, they’re a little more available now, so if you haven’t got one, allez allez allez!
You see, indoor riding’s a guaranteed way to keep on cycling, to keep on improving, through the winter months.
And thanks to technology, it’s more fun than ever before. That means unlike days gone by, your indoor trainer won’t sit there gathering dust.
Here’s our top five tips to mastering the turbo trainer (or rollers for the extra keen!)
CHOOSING YOUR TRAINER
Before your indoor adventure begins, you need the right gear. There are myriad indoor trainers on the market, ranging from rudimentary models that simply clamp your bike to an A-frame.
Resistance is often magnetic but, while a great start, these can be rather loud.
If you have the budget, smart trainers are the way to go. These high-tech versions are generally quieter and, as the name suggests, are packed with technology to sync to online cycling platforms.
Many of these are direct-drive, meaning you remove your rear wheel and connect to the trainer that way. This preserves your rear-wheel tyre nicely.
If money’s no option, smart indoor trainers like WattBike should come into the equation as they’re standalone indoor bikes that simply require you to hop on and pedal.
You can also choose rollers. These require advanced skills to balance but, once mastered, improve your pedal technique while strengthening your core.
A BLOCK, FAN AND MORE
It’s not all about the indoor trainer, of course – you need other essentials to maximise your riding.
An affordable front-wheel block’s a good idea to level out your bike, while a water bottle filled with water or electrolyte drink’s a must-have.
That’s because indoor training lacks the air chill that naturally comes with outdoor riding, so can be one hot experience. Which is why further essentials are a fan and a towel.
When it comes to fan placement, you want the airflow to reach your lower parts. The extra heat means extra sweating, making chafing a very real problem.
It’s why a chamois cream’s another worthwhile investment. And ensure you stand out of the saddle regularly even if it’s just for two seconds.
It’ll raise your chances of avoiding the spectre of saddle sores.
THE STIMULATION OF SIMULATION
The final must-have is a laptop, smartphone or similar to tap into the gamification of indoor training. You’d have to have been living in a (pain!) cave for the past few years not to have heard of Zwift.
This is the market-leader, bringing together thousands of cyclists from all around the world on a variety of computer-generated courses. This added competitive aspect adds interest and helps you dig deeper than you more ordinarily would.
TrainerRoad, RGT Cycling and Rouvy are other popular apps. All of them are maximised by smart trainers that measure power output, their resistance changing depending on the parcours to more realistically simulate real-world riding.
If you have a more entry-level model, a cadence and/or speed sensor’s an affordable way to tap into the benefits of these online platforms.
If you’d prefer old-school indoor training listening to some banging beats, high-intensity interval training’s a popular choice.
Not only do studies show that it elevates both speed and stamina, it’s more interesting than easy effort for hours upon end.
One simple effort to follow is to warm up for 10 minutes followed by maximum efforts of 30 seconds. Recover for around one to two minutes and then ride hard again.
Follow this pattern as many times as you see fit before warming down for another 10 minutes.
Just remember to follow a hard day’s effort with an easier ride the next day.
Indoor training’s not all about cranking up your fitness – it’s a great way to play around with your position, too.
Because you’re away from the madding crowd that is traffic, you can experiment with your bike set-up in an effort to optimise energy output and reduce the chances of injury, playing around with seat height and fore-and-aft to achieve your perfect A, B, C and D.
We’re talking Aerodynamics, Bike handling, Comfort and Delivery of power.
Once you’re in a position you’re happy with, take it on the road, making minor adjustments if needed.
When you’re happy with your position, record the measurements of this set-up so you can apply those dimensions if – when! – you buy another bike.
Right, there you have it – everything you need for more bike speed. It’s time to head indoors for 2022 outdoor-riding benefits.