As the daylight hours shift to less vs. more and the temperature plummets from the mildly chilly to the “DAMN! What was I thinking” on the thermometer, you are faced with a few options to maintain your cycling fitness. The obvious and least likely for the vast majority of us is to move to Arizona from November to April. If that’s not a reality for you, and you live in a climate that forces you indoors, you are in luck. There is an ever growing list of options to play on bikes inside.
If you have not made the commitment to carving out 1-2 hours, 3+ days a week to training indoors either on a stationary trainer or rollers, I’m here to tell you that it’s worth it. If done properly and progressively over a 6 -18 week period, you can make significant improvements in your cycling fitness.
It is without a doubt the very best and most effective training method that will, if done properly, improve your fitness and by proxy your outdoor performance which you will get to display when this big blue marble we ride finally warms where you live and riding outdoors becomes a seasonal reality again.
My first introduction to training inside came in 2008 when my good friend Maryann invited me to attend a class where I measured my FTP (Functional Threshold Power: basically the max sustainable power you could maintain for an hour). My initial FTP was 208 watts and with nothing to compare it to other than the other athletes, I knew I had some work to do. Over the course of that first winter, I was able to grow my FTP from 208 watts to 236 watts. This translated into me climbing faster and easier in the spring. Holding on in a paceline where I would get popped before. Most importantly, I learned how much pain I could tolerate. I have said to myself countless times, “yeah this hurts, but I know I can dig deeper” because I had indoors.
For those not in the Reno, Sparks, Carson City area, I would recommend that you check out TrainerRoad.com. They have everything you need to suffer in the comfort of your home or garage. Using an ANT+ Speed/Cadence sensor to send the signal, an ANT+ Stick plugged into the computer to receive the signal, a trainer and the wickedly easy to use TrainerRoad.com software ($10/mo), you can choose workouts to ride from a fantastic library; including many workout video’s like Sufferfest and the like. No power meter needed. Once set up, it will display very accurately, your real time power (watts) and the rider must focus on producing the power needed to meet the target power the TrainerRoad.com workout calls for.
Here in Reno, there are three viable options. Each one has their own take on how to train inside. The beauty of all of them is that they provide the key to pushing yourself that TrainerRoad.com sometime lacks. The key is the person riding next to you watching and suffering right along with you. It has made all the difference in countless indoor rides for me that I cannot emphasize enough how crucial it can be.
Indoor Training at Reno Cycling & Fitness: Capable of 10+ riders each using Kurt Kenetic Rock-Road Machines. Utilizing a Speed/Cadence Sensor (rider must provide to get virtual power as described with TrainerRoad.com) and PerfPro Software, this system can accommodate a wide variety of interactivity. With this system, like with TrainerRoad.com (read above), it uses virtual power and can accommodate the same interactivity with Sufferfest video’s and other interval based workouts.
IndoorPower at Velo Reno: 1 – 8 rider CompuTrainer system set up mostly using the ERG mode, meaning the trainer dictates the load or resistance each rider must match and is based on each riders own FTP. In this set up riders stay in one gear and the computer dictates the profile based on a % of FTP. For example you would ride 3, 12 min. intervals at between 80-85% of FTP – or 5x7min. intervals at 90-93% of FTP.
CompuTrainer Sessions at Great Basin Bicycles: 2 – 8 rider CompuTrainer systems set up mostly using the Non-Erg mode in which riders are represented on the screen by a bike icon that tacks progress of all riders. 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc… as the riders all follow the same profile. It gets harder when the grade goes up hill and easier when it levels and/or goes downhill. In this set up rider shift gears as needed.
There you have it… Motivation and incentive to get fit and strong to achieve your next cycling goal.