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6826 Views 8 Replies Latest reply: Feb 12, 2011 8:05 AM by Moriates
fldogwalker Pro 68 posts since
Jan 25, 2010
Currently Being Moderated

Jan 25, 2011 8:00 AM

Bike Trainer Time vs Road Time

Like many of you I have been riding in some capacity my whole life since my father took the training wheels off, guided me down the driveway and set me free.   Bmx during the childhood school years, a few years of long solo road biking in my early 20′s, followed by a decade of ripping up single track on the mountain bike before moving to Florida and rediscovering road bikes which lead itself to triathlon and for the first time in my life, sport specific training.  After a year of firsts competing in 20+ triathlons I found a desire to invest in a bike trainer to supplement my training.


So after 35+ years of riding a bike.. I mounted my bike on a trainer for the first time. (other than 2 short fitting sessions)  It is a Cycle Ops Fluid 2 which we purchased as a Christmas gift from my Fiancée’s parents.   Now I am always one to take the hard route.  In flat Florida, I always insist on incorporating as many bridges as possible into my rides.  I consistently push out intervals and long hard tempo sessions.   The only thing I love more than riding my bike is riding my bike hard while training for a purpose.  Getting faster.  It’s humbling to think that one can love something as much at 38 as I did at 10!


With this being said something happened when I hopped on my mounted bike, clipped in and started peddling.  I realized I couldn’t stop peddling.. LITERALLY!  In addition.. I found the resistance, while adjustable, was incredibly stimulating.  Just a half hour into the session it dawned on me that my time on the trainer had to be equivalent to more time on the road.


Over the past few weeks I have been splitting my sessions between road and trainer.  Most road session between 2-3 hours and trainer sessions around 1 – 1/12 hours.  I realize that everyone reading this has different roads to ride.. some with more intersections, hills, traffic, etc.  Some with less.  I grew up in the northeast with relatively large mountains and low traffic.  I now live in the most urbanized county in the flattest state in the country.  So I think I can speak with some confidence that no matter where you ride..  there are times you are going down hill and times you are sitting at a red light.  There are times you have a 20 mph wind at your back.. and times you are fighting traffic for your 2 feet of the road.


I can also speak with common knowledge that there are no tail winds, declines, or stop lights in your living room while in the middle of a training session after you just busted out a 10 minute interval.  I know with confidence I can go ballistic and push as hard as I can without constantly hoping a car doesn’t cut me off.  I can set a time for a temp session without concern of red lights or stop signs.


In my opinion at this point I would have to say that apples to apples, time on the trainer is equal to 1.5 the same time on the road at a minimum.   They are two different animals, no doubt.  Of course you can’t stimulate the balance and roughness of the road.  If training for a half or full ironman, you would be a fool not to put the necessary hours on the road.  But for pure muscle and heart rate training, the trainer I believe also deserves the necessary investment.


Enough said here..  let’s hear your opinion.   Pour it on!


Pleas post comments HERE>>

"Enter a race.  Train to become faster and stronger.  Honor the commitment. Reap the rewards." - me

  • BT.ROB Legend 270 posts since
    May 12, 2009
    Currently Being Moderated
    1. Jan 26, 2011 8:42 AM (in response to fldogwalker)
    Re: Bike Trainer Time vs Road Time

    First, I think it is helpful to reply on the Active site since you posted here rather than your website (which is hard to read by the way). Second, here in snow country working out on a trainer is a fact of life. Sitting and spinning can be boring as anything and not very productive. Use the time specifically to do intervals, one-legged drills, tempo rides, simulate climbing, etc. I frequently use the Spinervals series to follow and keep my mind from exploding. Come warmer weather, the longer road rides are more for seat time and enjoyment than a hammerfest. At least I've got long mountain roads to climb rather than overpasses!


    Have fun and good luck!



  • drmiles85 Pro 84 posts since
    Nov 5, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    2. Jan 26, 2011 9:47 AM (in response to BT.ROB)
    Re: Bike Trainer Time vs Road Time

    I generally agree with BT.ROB, but wanted to add that I feel like trainer time is psychologically about 2x as hard, and physically about .9x as hard.  And I do intervals, climbs, etc. as much as I can.  I just can't go climb a 4kft hill if I'm sitting in my spare bedroom.  Maybe it's a psychological shortcoming, but I can't drive that hard, for that long, in that situation.  60 degrees Friday - maybe I'll get in a good ride after skiing.


    I will add that I learned that watching political speeches make me work a little harder.  Great workout last night ;-)

  • BT.ROB Legend 270 posts since
    May 12, 2009
    Currently Being Moderated
    3. Jan 26, 2011 10:30 AM (in response to drmiles85)
    Re: Bike Trainer Time vs Road Time

    I agree with the psychologicalIy hard part. I was on a treadmill last night during the SOTU speech! Don't know if I ran harder or longer but I am sore this morning.

  • Anthony5450 Amateur 25 posts since
    Nov 17, 2010
    Currently Being Moderated
    4. Jan 27, 2011 6:03 AM (in response to fldogwalker)
    Re: Bike Trainer Time vs Road Time

    It comes to the basic premise that riding on a trainer - or running on a treadmill - is a much more controlled environment. There are no stop signs, traffic, hills, or other obstacles that can make your HR or cadence fluctuate. But it's certainly not as much fun


    I think a mixture of the two training strategies is best. Certainly, if you need a hill workout then you have to go outside. But both can be really beneficial to your overall fitness and training objectives.

    Sprint Triathlon Training Program

  • KurtinSC Pro 126 posts since
    Nov 23, 2009
    Currently Being Moderated
    5. Jan 27, 2011 6:42 AM (in response to fldogwalker)
    Re: Bike Trainer Time vs Road Time

    I don't think it's really straight forward.


    I much prefer riding on the road to on a trainer... but an indoor triathlon I did recently showed me that I benefit from the trainer... I keep a much higher tempo then I can on the road.


    Why?  Well because I weigh 230 pounds and I have to drag my body over every rise when I'm on the road... but on a trainer it's all about leg strength... you aren't hurt by your weight.  Of course I bump up the resistance when I'm training... but the fact of the matter is at my weight, I get tested a lot more when on the road.  I also live in the foothills of south carolina... so there are always a lot of hills on every ride... which makes the weight a bigger factor.


    I can keep a 18-20 MPH pace for an hour on the trainers... and more like a 15 MPH pace on the roads here.

  • IronMakeover Community Moderator 738 posts since
    Jul 7, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    6. Jan 27, 2011 9:39 AM (in response to fldogwalker)
    Re: Bike Trainer Time vs Road Time

    Hey there,

    Good discussion below & points regarding the trainer. We have the same one & have put a ton of miles on it, sometimes watching movies/spinervals or setting up outside & watching the kids play. The trainer helps me stay flexible as a parent, helping get in workouts when it's too cold, dark or when all 3 kids are at home.


    We also have a bike with power cranks & I like setting that up on the trainer for crank intervals, switching between the cranks & running. Lots of practice slipping in & out of shoes! With the trainer and/or cranks it's one of the few times I use music/DVDs, still able to dig in & focus and get a great workout.


    Happy training to you all!


    Sara Cox Landolt

  • NzAndy Pro 77 posts since
    Oct 23, 2010
    Currently Being Moderated
    7. Feb 11, 2011 2:04 PM (in response to fldogwalker)
    Re: Bike Trainer Time vs Road Time

    My trainer has been instrumental in my off-season workout routines for years.  Yes, it does give a more compact workout than an equivalent road ride because you can never coast.  What the ratio might be is going to be determined by the workout schedule more than anything IMHO.  Personally I aim to use my trainer for set intervals, ladder sessions, LT and power sets with high resistance intervals.  As pointed out earlier weather and other life requirements can make a half hour session a far better option than nothing at all.  It's not a replacement for the real thing, as stated in the OP, but I give it 2 thumbs up and wouldn't be without one.



  • Moriates Legend 292 posts since
    Jul 19, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    8. Feb 12, 2011 8:05 AM (in response to fldogwalker)
    Re: Bike Trainer Time vs Road Time

    The trainer is approx 2/3 of a road ride.  Therefore, you can be on the trainer for less time than the road ride.  Think about it, you have stop signs, lights, traffic, coasting on the road and not the trainer.  However, the time on the trainer will mentally prepare you like no other road ride.



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