If outdoor cycling is off the cards it doesn’t have to mean the loss of your cycling fitness. Set yourself up with an indoor trainer and you can keep yourself fit, healthy and entertained. Here’s a whistle stop tour of the things you need to get started.
There are numerous ways to get started with indoor cycling. The first big decision is whether to buy a specific indoor bike or use your own. Indoor bikes such as Wattbike are a great option if you have the budget and space. They are permanently set up, saving you time and effort, and making it more likely that you will train. They also provide a huge number of features to improve your fitness and pedalling technique, and easily pair with online tools such as Zwift.
If you want to use your own bike there are loads of options available. Firstly, turbo trainers convert your own bike into a static trainer by clamping around the quick release skewer of your bike’s rear wheel and suspending it in an A-frame where it then sits on a roller which provides resistance. There are two types of turbo, ‘smart’ and ‘dumb’. A smart trainer can calculate your power and connect with online tools, making your turbo completely interactive. A dumb trainer simply offers resistance and are therefore significantly cheaper, but you can still pair these with ANT+ or Bluetooth speed sensors to send data to a computer and take part in training programmes like Zwift.
The other option is the rollers, three cylindrical drums are connected by a belt, which rotate under the wheels of your bike. You place your bike on top of the rollers and pedal away, using the momentum of your wheels turning to maintain your balance. This takes a high degree of skill and concentration! Rollers are cheap, easy to set up and can benefit your skills as well as your fitness.
Fan or ventilation
If it’s safe and appropriate you could move your static trainer into the garden to benefit from the sun and fresh air, but if you have to stay indoors you need either a fan or good ventilation. Without the cooling effect of a breeze you can quickly overheat, particularly if you are doing a tough work out, which will make it feel even harder.
Most forms of static trainer vibrate at least a little, a foam mat underneath will help limit noise, very important if you have downstairs neighbours. A mat will also protect your floor from damage, both from movement of the trainer and sweat. You will sweat copiously when training inside and a mat is much more hygienic and easier to clean than dripping onto the floor!
You can buy specific indoor cycle clothing, if you feel like splashing out, but most people make do with a pair of bib shorts and the lightest base layer or vest they own to help wick sweat and keep cool. When you are riding a static trainer, you tend to move around less so feel more pressure from the saddle in your sit bones. Use your shorts with the thickest padding to protect from discomfort.
Distraction and motivation
There are two ways of tackling the monotony of indoor training – distraction or motivation. If you just fancy a steady ride opt for distraction, audio books, films, even chatting to your friends on the phone can help the minutes pass more swiftly. However, having a plan and doing a challenging training session with high intensity efforts keeps you on your toes and ensures you finish with a sense of well-being, thanks to all the feel-good endorphins hard training releases.
There are loads of online tools to help make your training session more productive, you can follow videos from the likes of GCN or sign up to The Sufferfest or TrainerRoad for an interactive training plan, specifically designed for indoor training.
Then there is of course Zwift, not just a series of training sessions but a whole new virtual world to explore. With racing, Strava segments, group rides and even climbs like Alpe Du Zwift, inspired by Alpe d’Huez, it is the closest to real-life outdoor cycling you can get without leaving the house.