Ride Along-INside

Ride Along Inside

written by Kevin Feeney

 

Astronomy 101

As Earth spins along its elliptical orbit towards perihelion (the point at which it passes closest Sun), it steezily leans back along its axis, which pulls the northern hemisphere back from the Sun’s warmth and ushers in shorter days and cooler temperatures to a few hundred million of us who live on the top half of the planet.

 

Dilema

For mountain bikers, this means that sunny after work rides with friends begin to wind down.  Some turn on LED headlamps and continue on by going on post work night rides. Night rides can be tricky, though. Ideally you should really find a group to ride with, as riding at night in the woods alone is scary at best. Groups you can night ride with can be harder to find and can also require more travel to meet up with.  For several of us, the lack of sunlight and gloomy weather signals the beginnings of a long lethargic spiral downwards into a more sedentary and angstful existence. This seasonal affective disorder can often be marked by online bike geek forum rants and Netflix binging. It can get ugly fast.

Credit: @Ride Alongside 😀👍 . 🚲📸🏕☕

What’s an otherwise relatively health conscious  and marginally sane mountain biker to do? Well, apparently our more well groomed and also marginally sane road cycling counterparts, aka “roadies” figured out somewhere along the way that you can actually pedal indoors and retain your summer fitness despite the less than optimal lighting and temperatures offered by nature.  These resourceful athletes ingeniously discovered that by attaching their bicycles to mechanisms powered by wind, rollers, fluid, and even magnets to artificially create forces usually manufactured by friction and gravity outside, they can get a comparable workout while never leaving the comforts of their thermostatically optimized home.  Some even argue that by controlling the resistance on the trainer, you can structure your indoor efforts and realistically, you can structure your workouts more efficiently indoors. Without downhill sections, where you coast, or falls, or other scenarios where you wouldn’t be pedalling, when training indoors you are working your pedalling muscles for the whole ride.  This means you get more work done in less time when training indoors.

 

Options

And, just like everything else cycling related, there are way more options than necessary to confuse you, and just enough to analyze yourself into paralysis, ready for more Netflix.

 

Options range from the Brady Bunch era baby blue exercise bike that you find at a yard sale to super expensive high tech smart trainers that while bouncing around like one of those grocery store kiddy rides, upload your watts and download your tracks, or maybe even stream a movie.

 

But this isn’t an ad for Netflix.  This article captures a snapshot of what nine actual riders use for indoor training and why they do it.  From Nick’s rollers to Kevin’s Magnetic trainer, to Cara’s Peloton Bike, to Charlie’s Wahoo Kickr, we’ll give you a little insight into why these riders chose each set up, what their motivation is for training indoors,  and some pros and cons they perceive of each chosen system. Hopefully it will help inspire you to use an indoor trainer to beat the winter blues and help you burn off some holiday calories and stress while you’re at it.  And, if you haven’t tried indoor training yet, you could just find yourself stepping onto a diving board that sends you jumping into next year’s riding season with a fitness head start on those after work riding buddies. You know, the ones reading up on the 200mm dropper post over on Pinkbike and watching “Trailer Park Boys” on their iPad.

Below are the actual setups from the riders themselves, as well as a little information about their training goals and MTB riding disciplines.

Leave a comment at the bottom of this post to let other readers know what your indoor training methods are, what you plan to try, or any questions you might have about riding indoors.

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Rider Profile #1:

Name:

Nick Janssen

Discipline (xc, trail, downhill, etc):

Long Distance XC

Training Goal:

Finishing well in the Whiskey Off Road 50 mile Race, end of April 2019.

Riding farther than I have been able to previously in the same amount of time. I don’t always like to go fast, but there are certain parts of my area I would like to see more often, but it takes a while to get there and I don’t have enough time to ride from home and see them on most days. Getting faster would allow me to see a few more of those places and get there on my bike in the same time frame (2-3 hours). Losing 10lbs would be good too.

 

Trainer Profile:

What bike do you ride on the trainer?

1987 Schwinn Super Sport, Columbus Steel frame racing road bike

Which type of trainer do you use (include brief description of how it works, i.e. rollers, magnetic, fluid, etc.)?

Rollers. Like a hamster wheel for bicycles. Aluminum cylinders that you actually ride on top of as they spin. Great workout that causes you to concentrate on stability and riding in a straight line so you don’t fall off the side. Great whole body workout that makes me exhausted way faster than riding a trainer, outside on the road or trail.

How do you measure power, HR, Cadence, Speed?  Anything else?

Heart rate (HR) sensor, cadence, speed, and time elapsed are all equally crucial. I use a Garmin Edge 500 with all the sensors connected to it, but when on the rollers, I put it into GPS Off mode. Then I upload to Strava so my Fitness and Freshness stays updated. Learn more about how I keep motivated, measure my fitness, and train (even during outside riding) by watching this video:

Where in your home is your trainer set up?

In the basement where its cold and I can concentrate without bothering other members of my family. Its also set up in front of a pretty powerful fan. If I am chilled to the point of shivering when I start, it means I won’t overheat as fast. I sweat a lot, so an old beach towel is under the middle section of the rollers to catch the drips.

What do you watch/ listen to while you train?

Mostly listen to fast paced bluegrass music from artists like Greensky Bluegrass, Trampled by Turtles, and The Steeldrivers, or hip hop from artists like Beautiful Eulogy, Sho Baraka, Jackie Hill Perry, and Braille.

How do you structure or plan your workouts?

I either plan a distance/duration at a certain speed, or more commonly, I ride intervals at a certain cadence. E.g. Spin at 90RPM for 5 minutes, then a set of 120RPM for 30 seconds, 90RPM for 60 seconds for 10 repetitions, followed by 90RPM for 5minutes. Often I use indoor training to supplement my outdoor riding and I have a goal of riding 40 miles a week with at least 4,000ft of elevation gain during the winter months. Often riding indoors is just a way to finish off my weekly goal because its too wet/cold or I am crunched for time. I always make sure to follow these intense workouts with recovery nutrition, so I can get back to training as soon as possible, as I explain in this video:

 

Pros:

Rollers are awesome. You don’t need to hook your bike up to a trainer or spend anytime getting much ready. The rollers I use can fold up and store in a corner of a room, in the closet, or keep flat and they fit under the bed. They allow you to REALLY ride your bike in place and help your abdominals work really hard to stay balanced. When you are at your physical limit on the rollers, it becomes extremely hard to stay riding in a straight line. It is amazing how much I notice the benefit of training on rollers once I ride on the trails again. I am so much more efficient after rollers training!

Cons:

The downside is you need to learn how to not freak out when starting/stopping. Often I have a chair back right next to the rollers I can use to hold with my hand so I can get started and stop easily without having an awkward moment. Also, your bike can’t just sit in the upright, ready to go position like a dedicated trainer, or other system that is always ready and waiting for you to climb aboard.

What would you change?

Nothing, except to someday maybe get a bigger display for my HR, cadence, speed, etc.

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Rider Profile #2:

Name:

Kevin Feeney

Discipline (xc, trail, downhill, etc):

Trail

Training Goal:

My goal is to train enough to stay relatively fit during the winter months and build base fitness for the Spring/Summer Riding Season Along with coping with the dark gloomy weather.

 

Trainer Profile:

What bike do you ride on the trainer?

My Surly Karate Monkey mountain bike with 29” wheels with a slick tire on the back.

Which type of trainer do you use (include brief description of how it works, i.e. rollers, magnetic, fluid, etc.)?

Ascent Mag3 Magnetic Trainer

How do you measure power, HR, Cadence, Speed?  Anything else?

I use Wahoo Blue SC Speed and Cadence Sensor, and Wahoo TickR Heart Rate monitor which connect to my laptop via Bluetooth. .  I use Trainer Road which calculates “Virtual Power” based on the trainer’s resistance

Where in your home is your trainer set up?

Basement

What do you watch/ listen to while you train?

I watched the entire season of “The Punisher” on my laptop.  Now I’m watching concerts on YouTube while I figure out what I will  binge watch next

How do you structure or plan your workouts?

Trainer Road.  I finished the 6 week low volume Sweet Spot Base Program and am moving on to the Sweet Spot Base II program.  I may try to do the medium volume this time.

 

Pros:

It is convenient to have the trainer downstairs while there is limited sunlight and uncooperative weather.  I live having the structure of the Trainer Road workouts and I feel the drills have been helpful

Cons:

My setup is very finicky.  I often have to fiddle with the Wahoo Blue SC to get both Cadence and Power.  It can also be difficult to get Trainer Road and Youtube or Netflix both running on the laptop and playing on my Bose SLII Sound Dock, which is time consuming and frustrating.

What would you change?

I don’t get enough resistance.  I either need a better trainer or better gearing or both.  I think a more advanced trainer would make things easier. I’m having trouble getting back in to a routine of regular training because riding the trainer is incredibly boring.  However, I just went for a ride outside today and was struggling so that was motivation to get back to it.

***Update I ended up sticking with Trainer Road, doing their low volume plan (about 3 hours per week) and went into the season with a significantly better level of fitness than any year before. This year I bought a used cyclocross bike, which makes things much better on the trainer I already have, and I don’t have to spin as fast to generate enough power.)

 


Rider Profile #3:

Name:

Martin Henry

Discipline (xc, trail, downhill, etc):

XC

Training Goal:

Become more fit, race VT 50 and survive, lose 20 lbs, ride stronger

 

Trainer Profile:

What bike do you ride on the trainer?

Specialized Tamac road bike

Which type of trainer do you use (include brief description of how it works, i.e. rollers, magnetic, fluid, etc.)?

Use Computrainer hooked up to a computer. I occasionally use their programs, but mostly use Zwift. It syncs better with Strava.

How do you measure power, HR, Cadence, Speed? Anything else?

Trainer monitors all four items (chest strap to get the HR).

Where in your home is your trainer set up?

Room above the garage – I guess you would call it a Rec Room.

What do you watch/ listen to while you train?

Watching Star Trek DS9 and Voyager. Listen to music on hard days (easier to concentrate on intervals, etc. if TV is off)

How do you structure or plan your workouts?

Mostly interested in miles right now. Let my base deteriorate over the past few years and I’m trying to build it up. I keep a log of miles and generally base my week off the prior week. For example – I rode 150 miles last week so this
week I will try for 165 then 180 the following week. I’ll step it back in week four and then build again. Time is an issue, so I doubt I will get much over 200 in a week.

Pros:

Can do structured workouts, can ride when the weather turns bad, don’t have to leave the house (saves time).

Cons:

Lonely existence, Hills workouts – only real hills can give you the workout you need, some days its hard to get motivated.

What would you change?

Nothing right now, but if I did more research before buying the trainer, I probably would not have bought the Computrainer.


Rider Profile #4:

Name:

Cara Regan

Discipline (xc, trail, downhill, etc):

Trail

Training Goal:

Overall fitness (still working on the last 15 lbs of baby weight….), Cardiovascular
and leg strength fitness for mountain biking AND skiing.

 

Trainer Profile:

What bike do you ride on the trainer?

I “invested” in a Peloton Bike about a year ago.

 

Which type of trainer do you use (include brief description of how it works, i.e. rollers, magnetic, fluid, etc.)?

The Peloton is basically a spin bike but with connectivity to live or OnDemand
classes.

How do you measure power, HR, Cadence, Speed?

The bike is equipped to do all that for you and show it on the display in front as you ride. At the end of the ride, you can view your final results. Those results remain in your profile and you can go back to it if you want to compare fitness.

Anything else?

The Leaderboard! As a competitive person, I love tracking the leaderboard
(which they put on the screen for you, but you can hide) and filtering the board to see how I stack up against other ladies over the age of 40 (did I say over 40??).

Where in your home is your trainer set up?

The basement – the only place safe from the 3 year
old….

What do you watch/ listen to while you train?

The main “entertainment” while riding the Peloton
is the instructor you choose and their music selection. I can choose whatever instructor I feel like riding with for the day (personalities, music preference, their “mantra”, all differ). Peloton also offers scenic rides where, I believe, they must have used a drone to let you ride anywhere in the world. They also offer “Beyond the Ride” workouts: yoga, stretching, strength training,
cardio, etc.

How do you structure or plan your workouts?

It depends on how much time I have and what
else I am doing for the week. As an avid skier, I do not ride the bike much on the weekends during ski season, but off season, I try to ride both days while my son is napping (unless, of course, my husband can watch the little one and I can put actual tires to dirt!). During the week, if I am not outdoors riding my mountain bike, I’m riding the Peloton at 5:15 a.m. – this usually
allows me a 30-45 minute ride, depending on how I’m feeling (and before you give me a medal, I average about twice a week during the work week….goal for 2018…get that up to at least 3!).

Pros:

1) Never bored! Numerous options for types of classes, instructors (I avoid the one who flips her hair all the time), and music (they now show the play list PRIOR to the class).

2) After the initial purchase of the bike, it is less than my closest local gym which is $65/month and 15 minutes away.

Cons:

It’s stationary so I’m not able to work on my balance on the bike (kind of key for mountain biking…). The inability to pause an OnDemand class. They say it’s because they want you to really feel like you’re riding live, but sometimes you just wish you could hit pause to get off the bike to adjust the seat height (or something) without losing your (my) spot on the leaderboard.

What would you change?

Nothing – I absolutely love this bike – it is a solid piece of equipment
and for someone who doesn’t have free time like I used to, it gives me the ability to get a great workout in without leaving the house.

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Rider Profile #5:

Name:

Charlie Richmond

MTB Discipline (xc, trail, downhill, etc):

Trail

Training Goal:

Get faster, improve cardio capacity and power, all to have more fun on the bike and be healthier.

Trainer Profile:

What bike do you ride on the trainer?

2015 Giant Defy Advanced SL 1 Endurance Road Bike

Which type of trainer do you use (include brief description of how it works, i.e. rollers, magnetic, fluid, etc.)?

Wahoo Kickr 2017 smart trainer, direct drive

How do you measure power, HR, Cadence, Speed?  Anything else?

Wahoo Kickr measures the power output and estimated speed, which is projected on the app in use like Zwift or Sufferfest. I use a HR strap for HR and a cadence pod on my shoe.

Where in your home is your trainer set up?

Garage. I have a garage gym.

What do you watch/ listen to while you train?

Depends on the type of training. If I just want long miles on the bike, but I am not pushing myself, I will watch TV while running an app on my iphone.  If I am pushing myself and trying to get in a quality workout, I will project the app to the TV screen from my iphone. I use Zwift and Sufferfest. For Zwift I may add music via headphones. For Sufferfest, it has its own music that is important to the workout.

How do you structure or plan your workouts?

I try to ride hard twice during the weekdays. This will be before work. After work and on days that I didn’t ride in the morning, I may do a slower ride to help me unwind and keep the blood moving for about 1 hour. I generally ride trails on the weekends during daylight during the winter months. The rest of the year I may have a little less time on the trainer and more on the road (with my road bike) or trail (my mtb, of course).

Pros:

It’s easy to fit into your schedule; can stop your training to “take care of something” and then go back to it; no commute time (N/A if you can ride straight out of your house to the trail; I generally drive); can get in a tough workout in less time since you can control the grade and speed at any time and you are not coasting like in the real world.

Cons:

It doesn’t do very much to develop bike skills; not as much fun as riding outside though the apps paired with a smart trainer help quite a bit; can get distracted because your family is in the next room and may not respect your training as much as you would like; a little less comfortable riding for a long time due to the static nature of a direct drive trainer

What would you change?

I am looking forward to the Kickr Climb, which will simulate grade changes. Basically, the more similar you can make indoor training to outdoor riding, the better (minus the cars)

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Rider Profile #6:

Name:

Matthew Mueller

Discipline (xc, trail, downhill, etc):

All

Training Goal:

High output sustainability

 

Trainer Profile:

What bike do you ride on the trainer?

Usually a road or touring bike. Mostly because of how they fit in my trainer and the tires are smooth.

Which type of trainer do you use (include brief description of how it works, i.e. rollers, magnetic, fluid, etc.)?

Magnetic. The tire turns the pulley and the magnets provide resistance.

How do you measure power, HR, Cadence, Speed?  Anything else?

I use a basic heart rate monitor

Where in your home is your trainer set up?

The garage

What do you watch/ listen to while you train?

I sometimes listen to an audio Bible, Lecrae, KB, Imagine Dragons and a host more.

How do you structure or plan your workouts?

Warm up for 10-15 min, move into Tabata type cycles. Usually 2-5 minutes high output 80-90% Max threshold, 1-2 minutes rest at 40-60% Threshold. Sometimes 15 Seconds max threshold 10 second rest, repeated 6 times then 1 minute rest and repeat cycle 2 more times. After cool down for 5-10 minutes. Total time is usually around 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Pros:

Quick work out with good results for climbing capability and longer ability to hold a high output.

Cons:

Doesn’t do much for endurance, sweaty, noisy.

What would you change?

I would use a fluid trainer if I had one. My equipment and work structure are not really intentionally crafted, its more of just a blind squirrel searching for a nut, so don’t take any of my stuff seriously.

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Rider Profile #7:

Name:

Michael Travers

Discipline (xc, trail, downhill, etc):

XC, Cyclocross and endurance 12/24

Training Goal:

This year I have concentrated on cyclocross with only 1 endurance race and the odd XC race to keep me going over the summer. Previous years I have trained 50/50 outside/inside but this year I have tried to be more focused, increasing my short efforts/recovery and found the indoor trainer easier to replicate efforts on.

Trainer Profile:

What bike do you ride on the trainer?

Travers Road Elite Stealth

 

Which type of trainer do you use (include brief description of how it works, i.e. rollers, magnetic, fluid, etc.)?

Elite Direto, smart trainer where you remove the rear wheel

How do you measure power, HR, Cadence, Speed?  Anything else?

I only have a power meter on my trainer, which also read the cadence and speed, on and off road I just use my heart rate for a more relaxed less structured session.

Where in your home is your trainer set up?

Its setup in the Travers Bikes workshop

What do you watch/ listen to while you train?

I normally listen to the radio, my dog Busta normally comes and lays next to me and we have a chat.

How do you structure or plan your workouts?

Up until September I was using Training Peaks but was getting a bit bored and needed some extra motivation, so I swapped to Zwift, initially I thought it was a bit of a novelty as I am not the kind of person that plays computer games. Since then its really grown on me. The group work outs are great for motivation or just a free ride around the world when time is short. At the stat of the CX season I used a workout plan to increase my FTP along with a few specific short hard effects each week I combined with free rides on Swift as well as outside. What I did find was when the workout plan finished I lots my way a bit as I didn’t have anything in place to follow it up.

Next year I will plan the training better with sessions planned out for the season in advance (before it starts). This was only my second season doing Cyclocross and I have a much better idea of what I am weak/strong on and what need targeting.

Pros:

Its easy to just jump on the trainer when time is short, structured training is much easier and repeatable, there is no excuses for poor weather

Cons:

Its less sociable, before I would do 3 rides a week with groups out on/off road. Its easy to get caught up in the game side of it, moving up the levels or Everesting when its not beneficial to your training

What would you change?

Better planning, having the sessions planned in advanced. Target specific events during the season, rather than the season as a whole.

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Rider Profile #8:

Name:

Scott Holland

Discipline (xc, trail, downhill, etc):

Gravel, XC, and Endurance XC

Training Goal:

5-7 Short ~1hr XC races and 3 4+ hr Endurance event in 2018

 

Trainer Profile: 

What bike do you ride on the trainer

Marin Cortina Pro 

Which type of trainer do you use (include brief description of how it works, i.e. rollers, magnetic, fluid, etc.)?

2009 Tacx Flow non-smart trainer but has mag adjustment and power meter.

How do you measure power, HR, Cadence, Speed?  Anything else?

I use a Stages Dura ace power meter for power and cadence and a Garmin HR strap for HR

Where in your home is your trainer set up?

Garage

What do you watch/ listen to while you train?

I use zwift and tend not to watch movies or tv like a did 2+ years ago

I tend to listen to angry music like Rage against the machine or Dropkick Murphy’s

How do you structure or plan your workouts?

My trainer time is 100% structured.  I schedule trainer workouts for days when I am short on time so I can take full advantage of the time to do have.

I have also found that highly structures efforts are easier to do on a trainer with out the added worry of stop lights or changes in terrain.

Pros:

100% structured workouts are easier to focus on and help maximize my limited time.

Cons:

I find it difficult to hit the same power numbers indoors as apposed to outside.  I have read much about why this may happen. There isn’t a great rule of thumb as to why.

This can be tough when doing really high end wotrkouts as I do not hit the power number I would hit outside.

POOLS OF SWEAT, I have yet to find a way to combat the sweat in my eyes and the puddles I create indoors…  maybe I just need an industrial fan….

What would you change?

Pie in the sky?  I’d get a direct drive smart trainer like the Wahoo kicker.  I have tried them and the sensation is very different.  Less of a fighting resistance feel and a much more “outdoor” feel.

Here is a great read I have benefitted from on indoor training from Sonya Looney
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