After a run heavy fall where I barely touched my bike, I’ve turned a page over the past month and have been gradually ramping up my bike training. I have a lofty goal this year – I want to ride a sub-2:35 bike leg at Vineman 70.3 in July (56 miles), and building a strong early-season base is a crucial aspect of my training this year.
Taylor and I have consistently attended spin class since we joined the Bay Club in July, however I’ve recently started riding on the CompuTrainer at Shift – a local cycling studio, along Breakaway Performance – the Bay Club’s endurance sports arm. I’ve really enjoyed riding on the trainer, however it’s a much different animal than riding outside. Here are some of the things I would recommend for indoor rides – especially on the trainer.
1. Prepare to drink. A lot – When I ran into Taylor halfway through my trainer session on Saturday, I looked like I just got out of the pool. Between the studio temperature, ventilation, body heat from the class, and your own exertion, you will sweat – a lot. Follow the same hydration plan that you would on a hot day of road riding: for me, that means ample Skratch (electrolyte drink) and plenty of water. I easily put down 2 bottles per hour.
2. Focus on pedal stroke – Use the trainer as an opportunity to work on building a strong pedal stroke. Unclip and practice with each leg individually – the trainer will help expose “dead zones” where your power is lacking. Over-exaggerate pushing with your quads and dragging with your hamstrings and hip flexors. Alternate between low and high cadence until you get it right.
3. Ride at your own pace – Much like a race setting, resist the temptation to hammer despite what others are doing around you. I’ve found that I sometimes have a hard time holding back on the trainer, but it’s important to liken a group training session to a group ride outdoors – minus the visible separation in the pack. Unlike road riding, there’s no such thing as coasting on the downhills, so fatigue builds quickly. There’s no shame in deviating from the class – whether it’s dropping the intensity or adding more gear – to maximize your workout.
4. Dress the part – I wear a bike jersey for indoor rides. If I’m simulating outdoor riding by spinning on my real bike, I also want to make sure I’m using the same gear I will on the road – bike shorts and bike jersey included. I stuff my jersey with bars and gels just like I would outside, and I try to approach the ride
5. Assume the position – Whether you’re riding in the aerobars on your TT bike or learning how to ride in the drops on a road bike, use the trainer as a way to practice the position you want to be in on the road. You don’t have to compete with cars or worry about the road conditions – dial in on your ideal position and practice before you hit the road.