Whats Hot - December 2017

Well it's December so unless you are suffering the luxury that is some sunshine outside of the UK or the heating is turned up to the max there is only one thing that gets any of us hot and that is indoor training! Particularly so when it comes to cycling, ice and rubber just don't go well together. 

The preference for indoor bike training is only getting more popular for many reasons including weather conditions, time restrictions, local road quality/infrastructure, traffic volume and unfortunately at times, intimidating behaviour from other road users. 

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Indoor Training Options?

Rollers

Rollers are fantastic for working on basic skills and improving confidence. They do however require a little concentration, okay a lot of concentration to start with! This has the added benefit of making the time pass a little quicker as the challenge of mastering even the simplest task of basic balance is engaging. Here is a little list of stepping stones to mastery of the rollers should you wish to look at this option;

  • Trainers with your shoulders in between a door frame
  • Trainers with a wall on one side and a sturdy chair (without wheels on the bottom!!) on the other
  • Trainers with a wall on one side
  • Bike shoes (or even one bike shoe) with a wall and a sturdy chair on side
  • Bike Shoes with a wall on one side
  • Bike shoes with a chair only

As well as all of the above you also need to master; changing hand positions, riding single handed on both sides, drinking whilst riding, spinning, riding very slowly, riding very quickly, high cadence, low cadence, standing, riding with no hands, riding with one leg and clipping back in, riding with no hands and one leg. Then finally ride up and bunny hop onto the rollers and start pedalling immediately. (Seriously there is a lot of tricks you can work on with rollers YouTube can be entertaining, but make sure you do this in a logical and progressive step by step order). 

Quite often these can be found lying unloved in a shed after an upgrade to a trainer once the skills are mastered so why not ask a friend for a short-term loan for a little variety in your training stimulus. 

Turbo Trainer

A simple wheel on magnetic or fan resistance trainer. An old wheel can be really useful here to simply swap in for your race wheel on a second bike or race bike. The indoor trainer is a great way to maintain some familiarity with riding a race bike throughout the winter. So if you have this luxury do take advantage of it and when not on group rides do get out on the road on it as well. 

A Turbo Trainer is a simple clamp your bike in and push down on the pedals process. However, this simplicity can mean boredom. Fixed stationary pedalling with no other stimulus than the wall can be very tedious.

But when combined with a bike based power meter this is all you need to complete some precise training loads in interval based sessions. The advantage here is that a power meter can also talk to your computer via ANT+. This opens up a world of options in terms of enhanced training experience or more simply put entertainment to help with the tedium. The list below has a few of the more popular apps you can use;

  • Trainer Road
  • Zwift
  • Sufferfest

In workout mode using any training platform or application, you are riding on the flat anyway so the programme doesn't need to be able to talk back to the trainer so this really is all you need for great interval training. You can then also use your power meter out on the road and this is generally the best spread of investment.

With increasing cost, many trainers of this type also offer the ability to talk to your computer themselves and provide an estimation or measure of power, but you can't ride your turbo during a race so it has its limitations. The trainers also start to offer more resistance as well so there is a natural relationship between your improvements in physical capability and also that of your indoor trainer.  These are the so-called 'Smart Trainers'.  

Smart Trainer (ANT+/Bluetooth)

If you don't have a power meter mounted on your bike the options in this category start to provide power readings through the trainer itself. The accuracy of these readings and the ability of the trainer to provide resistance naturally increases the cost of the trainer. The trainer is also able to offer automated resistance via communication back from the computer programme. On a basic ride, when you go uphill the resistance goes up and you have to change gear or work harder much like you do on the road. This becomes much more interesting if you want to do 'normal' riding indoors as you actually have to 'ride' the virtual or video-based environment you are in. 

Through the programme and trainer communication, this also allows you to use 'Erg' Mode. In Erg mode if you are pedalling you are following the session correctly as the trainer will in effect keep you honest during a workout. If you set a session of warm-up then 5x 6min at Threshold with 4min Easy Spin in between the trainer will change the resistance to match the required effort of the workout and you either do it or stop pedalling. This also means you won't be changing gear and rather cleverly it also means you can't go out too hard or too easy. This can be useful as you can learn what the perceived exertion, RPE or feel of a particular intensity should be like, but you don't get to judge it yourself which you have to do on the road.

Basically, ERG mode is like a little assistant coach, looking over your shoulder keeping you honest and on it during both efforts and recoveries. It has other pros and cons but that isn't for this blog. 

Direct Drive Trainers

At the next level of expense, we move into direct drive trainers. These remove the need for a wheel as you directly mount your bike onto a cassette attached to the trainer. This can simplify things in terms of wear and tear and also offers up the possibility of increased levels of power measuring accuracy from the trainer itself and more resistance should you have the legs of Lionel Sanders. The power of simulation also increases so you can simulate bigger climbs and in the case of some trainers they will even propel your rear wheel down the descent. Although this sounds good I can't imagine the descending buzz is the same in your sweaty garage, spare bedroom, shed or even front room. 

Group Workouts

So why write this blog? Well, the really interesting thing for us as coaches are the extra incentives to complete consistent training. It is surprising how motivating sticking to each block of a workout can be when it is displayed on the tablet, TV or computer screen right in front of your eyes. This can also in some cases be carried over directed from the Session Builder within Training Peaks there really are few excuses to not nail the workout or at least be acutely aware of the session plan.

Zwift now also the possibility of completing group workouts whereby you can all complete the same session as a group at your own personal specific intensities. This brings me to the idea of TTH Group Workouts! The idea is to try and get coached athletes, guests and anybody else who wishes to join in and even the coaches to complete some rides together. We will try to set up one informally before Christmas and see how this idea develops but for now please let us know if you are a Zwift user and would be interested in joining one of these sessions?