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!
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"Enter a race. Train to become faster and stronger. Honor the commitment. Reap the rewards." - me
I agree with you. Being on the trainer is more taxing that the road. I find that the ration is 50-75%
GREG C. MORIATES
Owner/Coach - LET ME HELP YOU ACHIEVE GREATNESS!
Team/Club Xtreme Multisports, Inc.
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You have pretty well summed up the best reasons to utilize an indoor trainer.
Nice article that you wrote and this should be really good reading for anyone that may have thought of owning one.
Is that same true of Spinner training. Spinning class can be pretty intense. It is my experience that I work harder in spin class than I have on the road in the same given time period. For one thing, I push harder than on the road. There are no downhills, and no drafting. No stop signs, or red lights.
I am aware of the tendency to "muscle it out" on the spinner bike, but I think I am dilligent to maintain good, smooth form (quiet upper body, fast, round pedal strokes). I have worked spin throughout the Winter, and hope to reap the benefits on the road this Spring. I have always found my pace to be a bit slower than the average serious roadie I experince and hope to be able to "hang with the big boys" this year.
Your opinion. Has spinning helped or hampered my efforts on the road?
I find spinning classes to be a good cardiovascular workout. I use a heart rate monitor and pretty much redline the entire hour or so. However, I don't find it particularly helpful as a road bike substitute. For one thing, the bike fit is different so you use muscles slightly differently. For another, the flywheel does not approximate the feel and tension of being on a bike (at least to me). Finally, (depending on your spinning instructor) the music is way too loud, often awful, and I don't like people trying to then shout over the loud music. I would much rather be on my bike on a trainer. Your opinion may vary.