Friday, October 31, 2014

Taking the "Pain" out of the "Pain Cave" - Part 4: Accessorizing

Image used with permission from Saris Cycling Group.

Well, it's been a little while since my last post, as a family trip to Disney World has kept me busier than I thought.  Thus far, we've covered the different types of resistance used for trainers, along with some of the more advanced trainer options like power trainers and rollers.  As mentioned in part 3 of this series, today's post is all about accessorizing your trainer session.  If you're going to be spending a few hours a week riding and not going anywhere, we might as well make sure we're comfortable.  So, let's look at a few accessories that you should factor into your indoor cycling budget.

Image used with permission from Saris Cycling Group.

Front Wheel Riser

The classic trainer designs will raise the rear wheel off the ground a bit.  This will leave you feeling like you are on a constant downhill, and it can actually get a bit uncomfortable.  The way to fix this is with a riser for the front wheel.  All of the aforementioned trainer manufacturers offer a front wheel riser of some sort.

Elite Travel Block - $12.99 (at Performance Bike)

CycleOps Leveling Block - $19.99
Kurt Kinetic Riser Ring - $29.00
CycleOps Climbing Riser Block - $29.99
Elite Su Sta - $34.99 (Performance Bike)
Kurt Kinetic Turntable Riser Ring - $45.00

As you can see, you can save some money with the Elite Travel Block or CycleOps leveling block to simply get the bike close to level.  You can also get by with a small piece of 2x4 or a few magazines, if you're really not wanting to spend the money.  It won't be perfectly level, but you'll be close enough.

The others offer multiple heights, allowing you to simulate a climb.  The Elite Su Sta has 5 levels, allowing you to simulate up to a 6% grade.  The CycleOps and Kurt Kinetic Riser Ring allow you to stack more than one if you want to simulate a tougher grade.  Of course, this doesn't do anything to simulate the actual change in resistance of a climb - it is more about the position on your bike you will be in for climbing.  

If you choose to use rollers, your front wheel is incorporated into the drive system, so these risers won't work.  Additionally, the direct drive trainers like the Wahoo KICKR don't require a riser.  Since the rear tire is not involved, the height of the hub can be kept lower to the ground.  But, if you are riding a bike equipped with 650c wheels (found on smaller geometry bikes, versus the 700c wheels found on most road bikes) or a mountain bike with 26" wheels, you may still need a riser, depending on the adjustability of the direct drive trainer.

Image used with permission from Saris Cycling Group.
With any of the classic trainer designs, the back tire is going to be getting some wear.  This is definitely an advantage of the direct drive models.  You want to have a durable tire that doesn't slip on the trainer.  Some of today's lightweight, low rolling resistance tires are not the best choice for indoor training - they wear too quickly.  Heat is also a concern.

Additionally, if you have a tire with a tread pattern, such as a mountain bike or hybrid tire, you'll find that the noise levels and "bumpiness" of the knobs will be loud and annoying, and also make it difficult to grip the smooth surface of the resistance unit on the trainer.  Ideally, you want a slick tire - one without any tread pattern to allow for complete adhesion of the tire surface to the surface of the trainer resistance unit.

Some of the trainers also caution of the combination of tire size and trainer - for example, Kurt Kinetic recommends using a Kenda Kwick 1.5" commuter tire when using a 26" mountain bike on the trainer to prevent frame rub.

When it comes to tire recommendations, there are several trainer-specific models available.  Here are a couple of options from the trainer manufacturers:

CycleOps Trainer Tire - $34.99

Kurt Kinetic Trainer Tire by Kenda - $60

Additionally, most of the tire manufacturers offer tires that are either specifically designed for use on the trainer or suitable.  

Using a trainer-specific tire introduces a bit of an issue - if you are the type of person who might ride 2-3 times a week indoors, and do your longer rides outdoors on the weekend, you're going to be swapping back and forth between your trainer tire and your outdoor tire.  That's kind of a pain.  A lot of folks will buy a cheap wheel for use on the trainer so they can just swap wheels.  That's a bit of extra expense (you'll probably want an extra cassette, too).

Another option is to just go with a really durable road tire.  From my experience, I've had really good luck with good old Conti Gatorskins.  I do about 95% of my riding indoors, and I have over 5,000 miles on Gatorskins and have not yet had to swap out the rear tire.

Keeping Cool
If you plan to spend any amount of time on the trainer, you'll need a fan.  It's amazing how much heat we can put out, and if you overheat, how quickly you'll fade.

For fan choices, get something that will move a lot of air.  The pictured Utilitech fan above is what I use.  It moves a lot of air and is available from Lowe's for around $40.  You can pick up a 20" box fan for less than $20, although they don't provide the tilt that the aforementioned Utilitech does, which is nice for allowing you to point the fan at your body.

I would definitely opt for a 20" or bigger fan.  The 18" and smaller fans just don't move enough air.  If you really want the good life, find a fan with a remote control.

Image used with permission from Saris Cycling Group.

Protecting your Floor
Indoor training involves a lot of stuff that will ruin your flooring.  Even with a good fan, you're still going to sweat on the trainer, especially if you're set up in a relatively small room.  You will also notice black dust around the trainer itself from your tire wearing.  That stuff gets into carpet and will eventually leave a blackened section you can't seem to get clean.

Another aspect to consider is vibration.  When you ride, your trainer is going to provide some form of vibration.  This is fine if you are in the basement or a cement ground floor, but if you are an apartment dweller or have your trainer on an upper level of your home, you might find that the vibration is annoying to your family members or neighbors.  

To solve these issues, once again, the trainer manufacturers have you covered:

Kurt Kinetic Trainer Mat - $69.00

Wahoo KICKR Trainer Floormat - $69.99
CycleOps Training Mat - $74.99

As you can see, these can be a bit spendy.  You can find more affordable options from places like Dick's Sporting Goods, or possibly roll your own.  Just make sure you use something that is relatively dense so it supports the weight of the trainer well and is stable.  A cheap yoga mat could work, if it isn't too thick and it is big enough to cover the surface area below your trainer and bike.

Image used with permission from Saris Cycling Group.

Protecting your Bike

There are a few solutions out there to protect your bike from sweat.  You don't want to be sweating all over your crankset, shifters, brakes, and headset. 

CycleOps Sweat Guard - $24.99

Elite Protec - $24.99 (Performance Bike)
Kurt Kinetic Sweat Guard - $27.00
Elite Protec Plus

I included two links to the Elite Protec products - it appears the version that Performance Bike is different than the one Elite shows on their website.  

I've used the CycleOps sweat guard, but frankly, I prefer just using a towel.  I can drape it over the stuff I want to protect and use it to dry myself as needed.  Just make sure you don't block your fan too much by draping an oversized towel over your handlebars.

Bike Fit

Finally, as a bike fitter, I have to recommend one of the most important indoor training accessories - a good bike fit.  If you don't fit your bike well, the trainer is going to expose any issues fairly quickly.  Since most classic trainers don't provide a lot of side-to-side movement, the bike moves less naturally with you than it will on the road.  This can aggravate any issues you have, such as saddle sores and chaffing.  So, for my shameless plug, come and get ForeverFit at Vector Cycle Works!

That's it for this part.  As you may have noticed, accessories can add up pretty quickly, if you let them.  You can do just fine with a towel, box fan, and something to prop up your front tire.  In the next installment, we'll start looking at ways to make indoor training more entertaining.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Taking the "Pain" out of the "Pain Cave" - Part 3: Drive Types

Image used with permission from Saris Cycling Group.

In part 2 of this series, we discussed the different types of resistance commonly used in trainers, and we also talked about the "classic" trainer design, where the resistance is applied directly to the rear tire.  In this post, we'll delve into some different deviations from the classic design, specifically looking at the different ways the bike connects to the resistance unit.  These include what I would describe as "direct drive" trainers, technologically advanced power trainers, and rollers.

CycleOps Silencer Direct Drive Trainer
Image used with permission from Saris Cycling Group.

Direct Drive

This is a bit different than thinking in terms of how the trainer provides resistance.  The resistance can be provided by different means (fluid, magnetic, or wind), but instead of applying pressure to the rear tire, you take the rear wheel off, put the chain on the directly attached cassette, and mount the frame to the trainer stand via the drops, which are the points where your rear wheel normally attach to the frame.

Direct drive trainers are a relatively new phenomenon, with the LeMond Revolution being the first one of which I was aware.  The Revolution is a direct drive wind trainer, and is known for being loud, but having a good feel.

Advantages of these direct drive trainers include not wearing out tires and not having to be concerned about having your tire pressure just right for accuracy if you are using TrainerRoad Virtual Power or something similar (we'll get to that in a future installment).

One thing to note when purchasing a direct drive trainer is that you'll need a cassette for the trainer.  All of the trainers offer a cassette as an option, and you would most likely try to select one with the same number of speeds and similar gearing as what you have on your bike (usually expressed as 23-11 or 25-12 or something like that, representing the number of teeth on the biggest and smallest cogs on the cassette).  So, you'll either want to opt for a new cassette from the trainer manufacturer, buy one at your local bike shop to match the one on your bike, or steal the one from your bike, if you've got the tools to swap cassettes.

Examples (with MSRP, unless otherwise noted):
LeMond Revolution - $499
Elite TurboMuin - $649 (Performance Bike)
Wahoo KICKR - $1099

A different way of attaching the bike to the trainer.

CycleOps Aluminum Rollers with Resistance
Image used with permission from Saris Cycling Group.


Rollers are another way of attaching the bike to the trainer (or maybe, it's best to start thinking of it as a "resistance unit").  Rollers give a lot more road feel (i.e. people can crash on them in their living room).  They force you to use your postural muscles to keep your balance.  They also allow the bike to move more naturally under you.  You can also do tricks.  As an added bonus, you also get to wear your front tire out, too.

Rollers are a very effective tool, although people new to indoor training might be a bit intimidated by them.  They are certainly harder to ride - you've got to maintain more focus than you would with the solid mount of a traditional or direct-mount trainer.

Resistance is another thing to consider with rollers.  Some of these do not include any kind of resistance unit per se, the resistance is based on the weight of you and your bike putting weight on the rollers.  Others do provide some sort of magnetic resistance.  Essentially, the resistance curve is smoother and doesn't provide nearly the maximum resistance that other stationary trainers can provide.  Because of this, many folks don't feel rollers are especially good for interval training, where you'll vary your resistance dramatically.

Please note that the examples below is a very limited list of rollers available, but these are the ones that are easy to find locally in central Indiana.  The SportCrafters rollers are actually made here in Indiana.

Examples  (with MSRP, unless otherwise noted):
Tacx Antares Rollers - $249 (online pricing)
Elite Arion Mag Rollers - $300 (Performance Bike)
CycleOps Aluminum Rollers - $310
Tacx Galaxia Rollers - $369 (online pricing)

Another different way of "attaching" the trainer to the bike.  Recommended for the more advanced rider doing more steady-state work.
CycleOps PowerBeam Pro
Image used with permission from Saris Cycling Group.

Power/Ergometer/Slope trainers

Training with power can take your indoor training to a new level.  The idea of measuring your power output and adjusting the resistance to simulate a real course is what puts these trainers in their own class.  As you may notice, some of these look like a traditional trainer, while the Wahoo KICKR, as mentioned in the section above, is a direct drive trainer with power measuring and the ability to adjust the resistance, so it gets mentioned here, too.  So, this is where things might get really confusing.  This is also where things tend to get a bit more expensive.  In this section, let's start with a list of examples first:

Elite RealTour - $499 (Performance Bike)
CycleOps PowerSync - $899
Elite RealAxiom - $999 (Performance Bike)
CycleOps PowerBeam Pro - $999 (ANT+.  Bluetooth version is also available)
Wahoo KICKR - $1099
Computrainer - $1629
Elite RealPower - $1699 (Performance Bike)

As you might notice, the Wahoo KICKR is listed here again.  Power is really a separate function from the resistance type or drive type.  Focusing on the hardware, it's hard to talk about this type of trainer without mentioning two aspects of power - measuring your power output, and the amount of resistance the trainer provides.

Measuring your Power
Similar to a crank- or hub-based power meter installed on your bike, these trainers incorporate some sort of power measuring device.  These meters allow you to know just how much power you are producing (usually expressed in watts) and train or race accordingly.

The accuracy of power measurement comes into play, with some devices more accurate than others.  So, don't get to wrapped up in how your number might compare to the numbers you might hear about pro riders or what your friends are posting on Facebook.  The key is that you have a number based on your output on your setup, and you can then improve that number.

Power measurement by itself can greatly improve the effectiveness of your training, as you now have a number that you can work with, using your bike computer or software.  Future installments in this series will delve into the software options available today and in the near future, but I'll give a couple of quick examples here now.

For example, in TrainerRoad, you can choose workouts based on your FTP (functional threshold power, the average power you can hold for one hour).  The workouts can use a variety of power levels to put you in appropriate power zones for effective training.  As you ride, the measurement will be recorded in the workout, as shown in this screenshot:

The blue area represents the prescribed power - what the workout expects me to do.  In this case, it is a shot of the results of me doing the Sufferfest video, "There is no Try."  The yellow lines are the actual measured power and the red line is heart rate, as measured from an ANT+ heart rate monitor.  In my case, this power was measured by my power meter, but you'll get similar output using a trainer that can record this information.

Providing Resistance to your Power
The second aspect is the resistance.  Resistance can be thought of the force that your legs need to overcome to move the bike.  With the traditional trainers, resistance is increased with greater pedaling speed.  From the user perspective, this is dynamic in the sense that it emulates the feel of the road based on your wheel speed.  Most of your trainers are going to be able to provide plenty of resistance, although they will have some sort of maximum resistance.

Magnetic trainers can provide some variable resistance, usually with some sort of handlebar mount control connected via a cable to the resistance unit.  You adjust the resistance level manually.  You'll usually see this on spin bikes at a health club.  Manual resistance adjustment is a nice feature, but frankly, it's not all that meaningful by itself.  It just makes it easier or harder to pedal at a certain speed.  That can be appropriate for interval training.

These ergometer trainers take adjustable resistance to an entirely new level.  They allow the level of resistance to be controlled by software, based on your output and other parameters intended to emulate real world conditions, such as hills.  This intelligent resistance not only takes your training to a new level, but it can also make it really fun.

Referencing the screenshot from TrainerRoad above, you can see a lot of variation in the measured power output (the yellow line) throughout the workout.  That power output is a function of my pedaling speed, gearing, and the resistance provided by the trainer.  In order to increase my power to match the prescribed output expected from the workout, I had to either increase my RPMs or change gears.  If I had used an ergometer type of trainer, I would feel the resistance increase as I hit those taller parts of the blue area.  I could then shift accordingly.

Justifying the Costs
As you can see, these are expensive, but are they worth it?  The Computrainer is the one most people have heard of, and has been around for a long time.  This is what I would like to have in the fitting studio, but they tend to be expensive and when it comes to bang for the buck for my customers, it's hard to really use the data output objectively.  That's another story.  For training purposes, the power/ergometer/slope trainers are amazing tools, but can the cost be justified?

There is a different way of looking at that justification.  You can get the benefits of training with power without the huge initial cash outlay:  CompuTrainer studios.  I did a little "field trip" to The Cycle Studio in Carmel, IN, earlier this week, and plan to discuss this very compelling option in an upcoming post.  In the meantime, get in touch with The Cycle Studio and try a session - they'll let you try it out for free.

Summary So Far

This part ended up being a bit longer and deeper than I hoped, but as you can see, things get quite a bit more complicated as we start looking at the alternatives to the classic trainer.  We've mentioned quite a few different options already, but this list is by no means extensive.  For example, one brand not mentioned here is Tacx, because I am not aware of any local dealers for them.  I've heard very good things about them.

So, what's the best option?  Obviously, budget comes into play.  There are really a lot of good trainers available, and I'd be lying if I said I've tried them all.  I've been on my SuperMagneto Pro, a CompuTrainer a couple of times, bought and returned a wind trainer, and once had a supercheap magnetic trainer.  I do know one thing - the supercheapie magnetic trainer was awful.  It was loud and the resistance was strange.  It wasn't fun to ride it, and having a better magnetic trainer later in life made me realize how bad it was.  Wind trainers are something I don't think I'll be able to ever justify based on a very quick realization that they were too loud.

I don't see the manual variable resistance of some magnetic trainers as being worthwhile.  Having multiple resistance levels is kind of nice with the magnetic units, but unless you're maxing out the resistance of your trainer during intervals, it's a bit gimmicky.  I've played with it a couple of times on my SuperMagneto Pro, but that's about it.

For the direct drive trainers, I have a hard time justifying their cost for direct drive alone.  The direct drive trainers, like the Wahoo KICKR, that have power measurement and computer-controlled variable resistance are much more compelling.

With all that said, I'll try to stay impartial, but break things into three categories based on budget and goals.

The Budget Trainer
For a more "budget" trainer, I would stick with a no-frills magnetic like the CycleOps Magneto ($290) or Kurt Kinetic Magnetic ($299).  But, there is one fluid option I find compelling - the Elite Qubo Fluid+, which can be had for $229 at Performance Bike.  I have zero experience with this, but I like the price.  I also wouldn't rule out rollers, if you're comfortable with them.

The Premium Classic Trainer
If you can afford a bit more, fluid drive is generally worth looking at for smooth and quiet.  Even though I own one, I don't think I would opt for the SuperMagneto Pro again.  I never use the different resistance settings, so that seems to be wasted.  Once again, I tend to gravitate towards simple and no-frills, so the CycleOps Fluid2 ($349), Kurt Kinetic Road Machine ($349), and CycleOps JetFluid Pro ($399) all have good potential.  Is the JetFluid Pro worth an extra $50?  I am not sure.  I do know that the CycleOps Pro models have a very solid frame.  There is also the Kurt Kinetic Rock-n-Roll ($579), which allows for more movement on the bike.  I've heard that people love them.  The fact that the bike can move with you more might mean less chafing and saddle sores.  Is it $180 better?  I'm not sure.

A+ Training
Don't get me wrong - you can get an excellent workout in on an affordable trainer.  Any of them can earn most of us a solid B on our cycling report card, assuming we've done the work to earn that B.  The first part of indoor training is simply getting on the bike and riding, and a lot of people have a hard enough time doing that (hence the reputation of the "pain cave".  All of these options allow that.  The onus is on you to make the effort to ride.

But, if you're more Type A and want that A, using power is the way to go.  If you don't have a power meter, a power trainer can get you a long ways.  Many pro cyclists and triathletes are using CompuTrainers or similar power tools to maximize the effectiveness of their workouts.  At this point, it's not fair to say which of the aforementioned power trainers is the way to go.  We're going to continue to discuss this in a few more posts, as the software provides a lot of what will take your training from a B to an A or A+.

In Part 4, I'll wrap up the elements of solid B training with some thoughts about how to accessorize your trainer for comfortable and safe training.  In Part 5, I'll discuss some ways to make the training more entertaining.  In Part 6, we'll look at alternatives to the home pain cave.

After that, we'll start to get into different ways of using software and power to maximize your training.  The way it's looking, this will probably be about a 12 part series.  I hope you find it useful!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Taking the "Pain" out of the Pain Cave - Part 2: Resistance

Image used with permission from Saris Cycling Group.

For the first "real" post of this series regarding indoor cycling, we'll start out discussing the hardware involved.  Whether you call it a "trainer" or "turbo", the main component of indoor cycling is going to be the device that you put the bike in to provide resistance while you imagine yourself cruising your favorite outdoor routes, free of traffic.  There are a lot of options available, and please don't consider what I list here as an endorsement for particular products, nor is this a comprehensive list of everything out there - these are the models and brands that can be found here locally in Indiana.

The key word today is "resistance".  When you are on the road, the weight of your body and bike, combined with the tires rolling on the ground and aerodynamics all provide resistance.  As you go faster, the resistance increases.   You can think of the resistance as being progressive and is often expressed as a curve.  Going from 15 mph to 16 mph will require additional power, but going from 30 mph to 31 mph will require increased additional power.

In order to provide a road-like feel, trainers need to provide resistance in a way that mimics the resistance curve of the outdoor experience as best as they can.  There are essentially 3 ways trainer manufacturers do this - wind, magnetic, or fluid resistance.  Let's take a brief look at each approach.

The CycleOps Wind Trainer
Image used with permission from Saris Cycling Group.

Wind - These trainers use fan blades to provide the resistance.  They tend to be very loud, and it's not like the wind is actually directed towards you to help cooling.  So, by the time you have a wind-resistance trainer, and a fan to cool yourself, you could just as well have 747s take off in your living room.  That might be OK if you're trying to watch a TV show about 747s taking off.  So, in my opinion (if you can't tell), these aren't a real compelling option, unless you're on a really tight budget.

Examples (with MSRP):

Summary:  Loud, but relatively affordable.

The CycleOps Magneto
Image used with permission from Saris Cycling Group.

Magnetic - As the name implies, magnetic trainers use a flywheel with magnets built in to provide resistance.  Magnetic trainers tend to be a bit more affordable than fluid trainers, although there is some crossover.  Many provide variable resistance, which is kind of neat, but not necessarily all that useful.  Some folks feel that they lack the "road feel" of a fluid trainer, although there is more than just the resistance that goes into that.  "Road feel" is as much the act of balancing yourself as it is the rolling resistance of the tires on the road and acceleration and deceleration.  

Magnetic trainers have a reputation for being loud.  Not as bad as wind trainers, but not nearly as quiet as fluid trainers.  In recent years, some of the newer designs have much improved noise levels.  The trainer I use in the fitting studio and my personal pain cave is a CycleOps Supermagneto Pro magnetic.  The noise level has never affected conversations in the studio.  I think it's pretty quiet.

Examples (with MSRP):

Summary:  In the middle on price and noise levels.  Road feel is decent.

The CycleOps JetFluid Pro
Image used with permission from Saris Cycling Group.

Fluid - Fluid trainers are usually considered the quietest option and to have the best road feel.  This means that they tend to feel a bit more natural as you accelerate and decelerate.  Magnetic trainers are often compared to how much they feel like a fluid trainer, and better magnetic designs in recent years have kind of closed the gap.  I've heard of some fluid trainers leaking before, but have not experienced this personally.  Maybe if I were generating 1200 watts and caused the fluid to boil over, but alas, I don't have that problem.

Examples (with MSRP, unless otherwise stated):
Elite Qubo Fluid - $179 (Performance Bike)
Elite Qubo Fluid+ - $229 (Performance Bike)

Summary:  Quietest, best road feel.  Tend to be the most expensive.

Features of These Trainers

The trainers linked above are all what I would describe as your "classic" trainer - they use a special skewer to attach the bike to the trainer and are good, solid foundations for a safe trainer workout using your complete bike.  Resistance is applied to the tire via some sort of mechanism to tighten it down.  This can be a lever like on the CycleOps or a screw on the Kurt Kinetics.

You may want to pay close attention to how that mechanism works.  You want to be able to apply consistent pressure to the tire to give yourself a consistent workout (especially if you want to use TrainerRoad's Virtual Power, which we'll discuss soon).  The CycleOps lever takes a bit more getting used to, and if you somehow mess it up, can be hard to get back to where you had it.  The Kurt Kinetic's mechanism is a little bit easier to reproduce pressure - turn it so it touches the tire, and then give it a certain number of turns to prevent the tire from slipping on the roller attached to the flywheel.

With the exception of the Kurt Kinetic Rock-n-Roll, these really don't allow any natural movement side-to-side, which can sometimes aggravate the aspects of your bike fit that aren't ideal.  There are some bikes that are not necessarily compatible with being mounted in the trainer.  The Quintana Roo Illicito, for example, is not recommended for use with a stationary trainer.  So, you may want to check with the manufacturer of your bike before you purchase a trainer.

One aspect of road feel that can also be considered is the flywheel weight.  A heavier flywheel can provide a more naturally feeling acceleration or deceleration.  Kurt Kinetic offers an add-on flywheel for their fluid trainers.

Finally, most of these have frames that can be folded for storage or travel purposes, and usually have some sort of adjustment for ensuring they are level.  If you watch pro cycling TV coverage at all, you may have seen the pro riders warming up before the time trial on trainers.  I've seen quite a few elites amateurs at cycling events also warming up on their trainers.  So, depending on what kind of riding events you may do, a good solid frame is especially important.

What's Next?

Beyond the resistance type and basic features found in trainers, there are also different ways of attaching the bike to the trainer and providing the resistance.  In the next installment, we'll look at alternatives to the "classic" trainers discussed here, including what I would describe as "direct drive" trainers, technologically-advanced power/virtual trainers, and rollers.

If you made it this far, thank you - I hope you found something useful here.  As always, comments and feedback are greatly appreciated!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Taking the "Pain" out of the Pain Cave - Part 1

The Pain Cave.  Image used with permission from Saris Cycling Group.

Winter is coming, and for many of us who like to ride bikes in Indiana, this could mean our opportunities to ride outdoors might be coming to an end soon.

In the fitting studio at Vector Cycle Works, I often have conversations with customers about how they can improve their fitness and cycling efficiency.  This inevitably leads to talking about indoor training and how to make trainer time more effective and fun.  I spend a lot of time on the trainer year-round, and I really enjoy it.  I've recently done quite a bit of research for my customers, and thought it would be nice to share it with everybody.

So, this is the first of a series of posts intended to discuss indoor cycling options.  A lot of people find the trainer to be an awful experience, but a lot has happened over the last 3 to 4 years to make it better.  I thought this might be a good time to take a look at what trainers are available today, software options that can be used to enhance the experience, and alternatives to the pain cave.  

I don't claim to be an expert on all things regarding indoor cycling, and I don't have hands-on experience with many of the products discussed here.  So, please don't expect this to be an in-depth review of every product out there (although if anybody wants to send me stuff, I'll gladly review it as long as you let me be honest!).

The goal of this series is to promote awareness of what products and services are available today.  Regardless of whether you are a Cat 1 roadie or someone brand new to cycling, maybe this will inspire you to find a way to make this your best off-season ever.

As we move through this series, here are some of the questions I hope to address:

  • Which Trainer is Right for Me?
  • What Else Do I Need?
  • How Can I Make my Workouts More Effective?
  • How Can I Make my Workouts More Fun?
  • I Don't Want to Die in my Basement Alone.  What Other Options are Available?

That's just a start, although it's already looking like a lot to cover.  Who knows?  Maybe some more topic ideas will come up.  I do plan to do another series at some point regarding training and racing with power.  So, there's a lot coming.  Feel free to leave comments with some ideas or suggestions for additional topics.  

I'm a bike fitter, but I'm a cycling advocate first.  I got into bike fitting because I honestly love seeing people finding happiness in cycling.  I enjoy spending time with the people who come to me for a bike fit - every one has been an inspiration.  The cycling community has a lot of great energy, and I hope this blog can give back something positive.  This is all about sharing the cycling experience with anybody who wants to ride a bike.  I hope you enjoy the upcoming articles.