Surviving the Indoor Trainer

Our bikes on our new CycleOps wind trainers

Slowly winter is creeping up on us in southern Wyoming.  Maybe not so much in a snow way, but definitely in a cold temperature, low wind chills type of way!  It’s slowly been driving me indoors instead of enjoying the open roads and trails on my bikes.

My first time on a trainer I wanted to bang my head into the wall repeatedly after 5 minutes.  I was using Matt’s Blackburn fluid trainer, and it just SUCKED.  Horribly.  I did 20 minutes of torture and called it quits.  Just wasn’t worth it.

This weekend we decided to head down to our local bike shop and see what they had in stock for trainers.  I read about wind trainers, and how they mimic real riding conditions the best, so that’s what I was aiming to get.  The LBS threw a road bike up on the floor model so we could try them out.  Matt liked the CycloOps wind trainer so much we decided to get two of them.  For some odd reason, I was even excited to try it out!

Wind trainers aren’t for everyone.  They are loud.  Loud actually doesn’t even begin to describe it.  The loudness is a wind noise, though, and nothing mechanical or clunky.  But if you live in an apartment, I wouldn’t recommend one unless your neighbors don’t mind hearing it.  Watching TV is also out, except maybe if you have surround sound.  Or headphones.

But what do you know… riding in an indoor trainer is still torture, but so much better now that I have this new one to ride on.  I can easily do an hour without wanting to run out into I-25 traffic, which is a good start!

I pedal and pedal… yet never go anywhere

So I’ve decided to compile a list of what is needed to survive the indoor trainer in my opinion:

1) Music
Since I can’t get my TV loud enough to make it worth it, I settled for the iPod and headphones today.  I really really really like to use ska music while working out.  In particular, I like a CD from a local ska-core band I hung around with in high school.  It’s just over 30 minutes long, and just has a great tempo.  I do intervals to certain horn solos and uptempo parts.  Less Than Jake also works.  I’m sure the typical rap and dance stuff would work as well, but I just always fall back on ska.  Maybe because it varies and I can turn these into intervals?  It’s just all boils down to picking your poison and going with it.

2) Towel/Headband
Does this even need an explanation?  I sweat like whoa on a trainer because there’s no moving air to evaporate it from me before I notice it.  I love my Halo handband for keeping the forehead sweat river dammed up, and always throw a hand towel on the bike for wiping up the drips the Halo doesn’t catch.  (Which leads to the question… do I seriously sweat this much when riding a bicycle normally?!)

Pedaling hard and going nowhere fast

3) Water
Yes, duh.

4) Wish to torture thyself
Even with a smooth riding trainer, the best music in the world, water, whatever, riding a trainer still isn’t like riding a bike.  There’s always a mind numbing boredom aspect to it, as you never see the wall in front of you get any closer.  Even time seems to slow down, especially if you’re a clock watcher like I am.  Some pros refuse to ride trainers (Georgia Gould! ), and I can see why…

5) Cycle computer
What’s the point of torture without seeing how long you ride or how many miles (or heartrate)?  I use a Garmin Edge 500.  Using the wheel speed/cadence sensor I can actually get a rough mileage estimate (I say rough because I have a bad relationship with the speed sensor portion of the speed/cadence sensor on both of my bikes, but it does seem pretty accurate on the trainer), which is nice.  And of course I use a heart rate monitor, so I can do my intervals or try to ride in certain zones.  Not that I know anything about training in zones, but I like to pretend I do 🙂  My files all go on Strava, which has a stationary trainer option.  Strava is great and doesn’t put the miles into your overall totals (still 145 miles left to 1000 for me this year… gotta find pavement time eventually!), but does add the miles to the specific bike (if you have them profiled).

Once I have the extra funds, I am going to try some of the Sufferfest training videos, and at least make my trainer time worthwhile.  The trainer came with a training DVD, but it’s of a crit race and is super intense for the whole thing.  I want more options, and Sufferfest has ones that mimic climbing even.

My trainer and I are going to become bestest of friends this winter, you just wait and see!  And by that I mean the type of friends that want to kill each other secretly.  😀  As much as I wish I lived somewhere where you can ride year around, it’s not possible at this exact moment so I gotta make due with a trainer like most of snow state residents have to!

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