By Fred Matheny
Most cyclists love to be outdoors, even in winter. After all, fresh air, sunshine and scenery are big attractions of the sport. If we wanted to exercise inside, we'd all become gym rats.
Indoor cycling is usually considered a last resort when weather makes it unpleasant to ride outside but many coaches recommend trainer workouts even if the sun is shining. "I'm a big fan of indoor trainer," says Chris Carmichael (a top American coach). "Indoor training is a necessity in winter, but I prescribe it to my riders all year round."
The benefits can be great, but there's a big problem: boredom. Watching sweat drip off your nose while hammering in your basement isn't quite as much fun as a spirited training ride in midsummer. But if you know a few tricks, indoor training is not only bearable but almost enjoyable. Because the trainer makes workouts predictable and repeatable, it's a great workout tool as well.
Tips for successful indoor rides
Does it sound like I'm trying to talk you into something? Despite all the advantages I know that indoor training can be terminally boring. Time passes at a snail's pace because your mind isn't occupied with everything necessary to keep a 2-wheeled vehicle upright and on course. Indoor riding creates sensory deprivation equal to any devised in a psychology experiment. However, with the right approach, time on the trainer can be coaxed to flow along at normal speed. Here are some effective ways:
EXAMPLE! Steve Johnson, the head of USA Cycling, used to do his winter training in a janitor's closet at the University of Utah, where he headed the Human Performance Lab. Without air flow, his body heat would have quickly turned the closet into an oven. But with 2 big box fans blowing directly in his face, he kept his cool — and was able to build on his winter fitness to win the masters world road championship.
TIP! This article is devoted to making the most of indoor cycling, but you should know that experienced riders usually don't get on their trainer frequently in the winter. They know that stationary cycling can be mentally taxing. If they use up their store of enthusiasm in January, they'll hate getting on the trainer in spring when bad weather interferes with riding the road. Instead, they crosstrain in winter and save the trainer for spring. Then when they need a hard workout but can't get outside, they don't mind climbing on their nowhere bike.
This Signature Series article is provided courtesy of RoadBikeRider.com. It comes from RoadBikeRider's bible of training for cycling, Fred Matheny's Complete Book of Road Bike Training by Fred Matheny.
From the cover: During three decades as a road rider and cycling writer, Fred Matheny has built an international reputation for his contributions to the sport. In this, his thirteenth book, he amasses his knowledge and that of many other experts in what is truly the complete book of road bike training.
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