Indoor training, part 3: Entering the pain cave

So we’ve got the turbo trainer all set up. How is it like?

First things first: The variable resistance does work. Cranking the shifter all the way up to H results in the feeling of pedaling through molasses, the trainer absorbing your watts like a sponge.

It’s interesting how slacking off on the resistance feels though. Sure, effort gets lighter, but you can never really freewheel with your bike mounted on this thing. Most of it is the drive roller squeezing down on your rear wheel the whole time.

Ramp-up of effort feels pretty natural, so transitioning from warm-up to the meat of a workout is seamless. It’s when I warm-down and dial the effort back in the closing stages that the trainer feels just that bit unnatural. There’s always at least a bit of resistance on the rear wheel, so my legs feel pretty much “dead” afterward.

One concern I had going was the noise generated by the LR340. I’m glad to report I didn’t need to be, at least on the slick 700C x 28 mm tire I used. At higher cadences and harder efforts, the resistance unit’s whine becomes a little more audible, but nowhere near the point where I could wake up neighbors.

A common recommendation with turbo trainers is to use them with some sort of mat. Indoor training will turn you into a sweaty mess, and depending on your model of trainer, the vibration may have a detrimental effect on your floors. That said, once the bike is properly set up, the LR340 felt very solid and stable as I cranked out the watts, even out of the saddle. In the initial training days when I didn’t yet have a cheap yoga mat, the trainer’s large rubber feet form a well-damped parallelogram that didn’t threaten to crack any of my floor’s large tiles.

TURBO TRAINING TIPS

In conjunction with the suggested floor protection, I suggest using at least one large electric fan for ventilation purposes when you do your indoor training. On an indoor trainer, you lose the rush of oncoming air. That means your body heat will build up very rapidly as you do your intervals. Point the fan at you head-on or at an angle to help cool you off.

With the harder thermal load on your body, you get reduced into a sweaty mess very quickly, and you need to replace all that fluid running away from your skin. Don’t forget to hydrate, and often. It’s a good idea to drink before a workout too.

All that sweat has to be dealt with, too, so draping a towel over your handlebars and top tube is a good idea. After a workout, a cursory wipe-down of the frame should stop the sweat salts from corrosive action. Tiny bits and pieces of your rear tire will inevitably end up scattered just behind your trainer, so you’ll want to wipe these off too.

One other reason why I went the turbo trainer route was the availability of relevant workout videos, even on YouTube. There’s quite the variety, too; there are those that emulate climbs up famous and not-so-famous mountain roads, and there are videos that simply emulate a gym-style environment with structured training zones and beat-driven music. These don’t really work as well on a roller trainer. On cold and gloomy days when the urge to stay under the blankets is strong, at least there are options to keep your motivation. When all else fails, you can resort to a workout or two pre-programmed on an interval timer, and your own choice of music.

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