Dear friends !
After living in a warm / hot climate all year round for the last twenty years, I am going to move to the northern hemisphere by the end of the year. So far I was able to cycle outdoors 12 months a year, now this will change, and I am considering the purchase of an indoor trainer.
I am a multiple Ironman finisher and have some experience in Triathlon, but unfortunately I have no experience with INDOOR BIKE TRAINERS.
I am doing roughly around 4.500 miles a year.
Thanks for your help !
Welcome to the north! I have used various trainers for 30+ years as I live in snow/rain country during the winter. Bicycling magazine probably has some reviews in the fall, maybe even currently on their website archives. Roadbikereview.com has various forums that people can weigh in on with their experiences. What to look for:
Depending on your budget, you can find basic ones for under a hundred dollars and Computrainers run over $1500.00! Most of the trainers, except the computer ones, won't give you distance. You may be able to switch a front wheel sensor for a bike computer to the rear to get speed and distance (even if you haven't moved an inch).
I bought a Computrainer last year. Although I live in Texas, where it's nice and warm (today? 109 degrees, thanksverymuch), I also work for a living, and on winter weekdays I needed a trainer since I am not too fond of riding in the dark! I agonized over the cost, but IMO it was well worth it. I used it a LOT training for my first 70.3 and now I plan to use it to train for my first full Ironman.
You hook your own bike up to it, of course (I actually use my "back up" bike on the trainer, so I don't have to deal with the hassle of hooking it up each time), and I recommend byuing a rear trainer wheel as the friction can tear up a good tire quickly. It's pretty easy to follow the directions to set it up. A large computer screen helps because you are looking at at computer model of the ride you choose. If you have a big screen TV that is computer attachable (I don't) that would be even more awesome.
The downsides are that the computer model views are pretty boring (they only have about six different scenes that play over and over again--I got really tired of never reaching that paddleboat in the distance), but you can now buy actual video of real races to plug in (I just bought St. Croix 70.3 but haven't tried it yet), and that even with a lot of calibration, your times and speed are not going to be equal to what you ride outside, even factoring in that you don't have wind and heat and pedestrians (the program allows you to add a windspeed, but all that means is a percentage drag on the flywheel, which as you know, just ain't the same feeling as pedaling into a 35 mph wind). I find the speeds and times are slower on the trainer than my outside riding speed, so I have learned to adjust that mentally. Some of the courses are fun to try (they track lots of famous rides and races) and some are weird, but there are plenty to choose from. The computer picks the flywheel tension for you based on the race route--uphill is more tension, downhill less, as you can probably figure.
The system also calibrates your pedal stroke and speed, but I've had a lot of technical trouble with that part of the system and have spent more time on the phone with Computrainer than I would like on that part. Sometimes I just blow it off, and you probably know your cadence anyway by now so that may not be a big factor for you.
If you are going to spend a lot of time on a trainer, like you probably will, this one may be worth the $$ for you.
Don't despair! Next August you will be out riding comfortably while those of us in Texas are sweating the 109 degrees.
One more thing: get a good fan, preferably a model on a stand. You will sweat buckets and not have the wind blowing on as you ride down the road. Ok, a second thing; a rubber floor mat helps keep the noise down, especially on hard floors, and keeps your sweat, chain oil, gatorade, etc, from messing up the floor.