As the Summer draws to a close, the sun sets earlier, temperatures drop and the rain begins to fall there inherently becomes a change in many people’s training tactics. Gone are the long evening rides, runs along the sun soaked riverbanks and garden based boot camping activities. In its place, during the hard cold winter nights, for me is “Garage training”.
As I have said before, I love my bike (and can tolerate running - just), but I’m not prepared to risk life and limb in the pursuit of fitness on dark, wet icy roads, I'm just not! Therefore a change to lunch break runs and indoor cycling is required.
Indoor cycling comes generally in three forms:
Spinning: Performed on a specialised variable resistance exercise bike (see pic). A line of bikes are straddled by sweaty, panting people, whilst a class leader or “Trainer” barks out instructions such and changes in tempo, resistance or seating position, to give a varied, intense exercise routine. A favorite of middle aged mums and people that don't actually have a bike
Turbo Trainers: Turbo trainers are essentially a bolt on resistance stand for your real life bike. Attached to the rear wheel it will turn pretty much any road bike (or Mountain bike should you wish) into a static instrument of torture (without the need of balance). There are many configurations but essentially they all use the same premise.
Rollers: Unlike other types of bicycle trainers, rollers do not attach to the bicycle frame, and the rider must balance himself/herself on the rollers while training, this is easier said than done. Bicycle rollers normally consist of three cylinders, drums, or "rollers" (two for the rear wheel and one for the front), on top of which the bicycle sits. A belt connects one of the rear rollers to the front roller, causing the front wheel of the bicycle to spin when the bicycle is pedaled.
I don’t have the time or money to either go to a spinning class, or buy my own spinning bike, so that immediately rules out that option for my activity during the winter months. So, initially I purchased a set of Elite Parabolic rollers. I have already extensively blogged about my roller trials and tribulations (here). That was all well and good but it became a bit monotonous and to be honest, after an hour or so of sweat dripping onto the slick plastic rollers, a bit dangerous. I needed something else, easier, safer and with the ability to put in the hours without falling off........
So on my next monthly/weekly/daily trip to wiggle.co.uk I bought an end of line Elite turbo trainer. It wasn’t a top end big ticket item, just an entry level trainer with solid reviews. Not having received the call from Sir Dave to confirm my Team Sky ride in 2014 I didn't have to worry about the upcoming Tour De France, so that’s all I needed to keep me happy. Two days later the slightly dented package arrived (Including the critical complimentary mini packet of Haribo). So it was straight out to the garage that night to give it a whirl.
I took off my Shimano/Continental wheels and strapped my stock Bontranger wheels and Tyres onto the bike to use with the Turbo as I had read that they drastically reduce the life span of a tyre, and with the speed I intended to go, I wouldn't want to melt the good tyres! You can get special “Turbo Tyres” but to be honest I didn't see the need.
Initially I thought the turbo was a lot easier than the rollers to put in the saddle time, however with the built in resistance, after an hour of whirring and wheezing like an asthmatic vacuum cleaner I still found it hard to judge any comparative speed/distance to my ride. This was due to me having to gearing up more than normal.
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