Indoor cycling is probably the only consistent workout a road cyclist will get during the winter months, given the unpredictability of weather conditions, shorter days and lack of time, indoor cycling will give you the same flexibility you generally get during the summer months with the added benefit of structuring your workout with a little more precision.
As a cycling club, we consistently organise club rides throughout the season but the number of riders who attend those club rides certainly fluctuates between the summer and winter months for obvious reasons. Club rides double during the summer with the addition of a mid-week ride and it’s fair to say that human nature governs the fair weather riders, that said, when you log in to Strava it’s obvious the amount of cycling by club members doesn’t ease up in the winter, this is down to indoor cycling!
So, out of interest, we thought we’d reach out to our members with some simple questions about indoor cycling and here is the response we got:
What’s your primary motivation to train indoors?
“Training for an event so need to cycle and weather isn’t always good enough.”
“Keep some level of cycling fitness through the winter. I looked at getting all of the kit for winter riding (in the dark, wet, ice, etc) but decided it was simply safer – and often more comfortable and convenient – to ride indoor.”
“To stay cycle fit during the winter AND I actually quite like it.”
“FUN & FITNESS together. Getting or keeping fit for club rides, Mallorca breaks and racing (time trials) and having fun while doing so. Zwift racing is super motivating and great fun. I confess I’ve not tried Trainer Road or Sufferfest but I’ve stopped at Zwift because, firstly, its a game and secondly, I like it.”
In your opinion, what are the benefits of indoor training?
“Easier to heart rate train as no hills unless you want them!”
“Keeping fit on the bike, at my convenience and safety.”
“You don’t have to worry about the weather, it takes less time than going out, e.g. if you only have half an hour spare, that is enough, you don’t have to clean your bike afterwards, easier to follow more structured training with apps like Zwift, TrainerRoad and Sufferfest. e.g. a 6 week plan to improve your FTP, or interval work to improve your general fitness
it’s still the cheapest way to reliability measure your power output if that’s something that interests you. If you do measure your power, you can use it to see what kind of rider you are (e.g. sprinter, climber, TT) and aim to improve those areas you are weak on. Zwift allows you to ride with others and take part in group rides and races”
“I’ve done my share of riding in the rain, the cold, numb feet in the winter on a 70 mile ride and frankly I get more from fun and fitness from a one to two hour session indoors than I do from four hours slogging it out in the cold and wet. Not mention the wear and tear on a bike on a winter ride with the muck and salt rubbed into the bearings and chain. During the winter, I look forward to the days of Mallorca club trips, time trials, or club rides where I won’t get dropped because I’ve watched too much and eaten too much.”
“When the days get longer and warmer, I don’t worry if I’m fit enough to go out with Smudger or Biff because they are a bit quick. I may not be the fastest but I’m certainly not the slowest either, because I’ve kept fit and had fun in the process. I have great fun climbing Col du ’Nam because I’ve kept my fitness ticking over.”
What advice, suggestions, tips would you give to a new member looking to cycle indoors?
“Make sure you have a tablet and films or a box set to watch. Time seems to slow down when training indoors!”
“There’s no way around it, riding indoors is spectacularly boring, so look at options to keep things interesting. A lot of people I see riding indoors use virtual reality tools, like Zwift, to make things more interesting by allowing you to ride particular routes, or get together and ride (virtually) with friends or in races. There’s a good review of what’s out there here: https://www.cyclingweekly.com/fitness/indoor-cycling-apps-364282 These apps/ tools work with most rollers and turbo trainers.”
“It can be expensive. The up front cost has come down recently with good smart trainers becoming cheaper.
Would recommend spending enough to see if you enjoy it first. Maybe get a 2nd hand smart trainer. It’s worth getting a smart trainer with a power meter if you can. The very basic trainers are good but lack the power meter. The most costly expense that’s difficult to avoid is the monthly subscriptions to Zwift, Trainer Road etc.. Zwift is now £12.99 a month ! Recommend using the 1 month free trials to see if you enjoy each app. Cheapest half decent hardware to run Zwift is Apple TV. Otherwise an iPad runs it pretty well. If using a laptop, it needs to be a reasonable spec (e.g. a good graphics card). It is possible to train to power with no subscription app at all, since there will be free apps out there, just not as featured as the big ones.””Be careful using your good bike on the trainer because you’ll sweat more than outside and the sweat can easily get on the bike and cause corrosion. Best to use the winter bike or a even a dedicated cheap 2nd hand bike that only lives on the trainer.””If you using a wheel on a trainer, you don’t need a dedicated turbo trainer tyre. A hard wearing tyre is fine. I used a continental gatorskin tyre for at least a couple of years with not much wear.”
“Don’t try it half-heartedly and say I don’t like it. Get a [_BIG_] screen and some big sounds. Don’t try and use an iPad mini or other similar small screens. Get an old TV put it on the wall of the garage or on a stand. Get some speakers. If you don’t have the computer to do it, the cheapest way for Zwift (as I understand it) is an Apple TV and it doesn’t have to be a new one. A smart trainer is nice to have, but you can quite happily use a dumb trainer to start with.”
Some of our favourite Do’s and Dont’s
“Do… commit to giving it a go for at least a week or two.”
“Do… start by taking an FTP test.”
“Do… spend some time training your FTP.”
“Do… take part in a zwift race preferably two or more.”
“Do… finish by taking an FTP test and consider what you have gained.”
“Don’t… use too small a screen”
“Don’t… overdo it in the first week”
“Don’t… spend a fortune on kit that you might not need”
And without a doubt the funniest contribution was…
“Personally, I believe riding a bike is an outdoor pursuit. The greatest gym in the world is amongst the hills and valleys in the countryside”
Thanks for that one Paul Day 🙂