Over the past couple of weeks it seems that Autumn has crept up on us. Suddenly the leaves are turning and it gets dark earlier each night. For me that means time to think about getting the turbo trainer set up.
To my mind, a turbo trainer is both a blessing and a curse. It is basically a means to turn your bike into a static ‘exercise bike’ meaning that you can cycle indoors. At this time of year, when I am planning my aims for the next year and a training plan to achieve those aims (I do love a spreadsheet), I love the idea of the turbo…possibly because I haven’t been on it yet. By about February, I am desperate to get out and feel the freedom of haring down a hill.
- Once my turbo is set up, I just need to get to my garage to train – no trips to the gym or expense of gym memberships.
- The turbo allows me to be very focused in my training. I have an old Tacx Flow Turbo which measures power, and I use my Garmin to measure heart rate. I don’t have to concentrate on traffic so I can concentrate on numbers. Interval sessions are also much easier to complete when you don’t come across traffic lights or down hill sections.
- I can train in the evenings no matter how dark it is without having to worry about lights.
- I can train regardless of the weather. I don’t really mind riding on the roads in the rain, but I draw the line at ice and snow.
- I don’t need to dig out overshoes, gloves, ear warmers and a billion layers of clothing – shorts and jersey are fine for the turbo as it’s always too hot.
- I don’t have to clean rotten leaf debris, grit or mangled slugs off my bike afterwards.
- I get to watch TV box sets to my heart’s content (more later on setting up a turbo trainer).
- Turbo training through the winter means I hit the spring fit and strong on the bike – perfect for getting back out on the road for sportives and races.
- I love the freedom of cycling…you lose some of that freedom when you’re not actually moving!
- Unless you have a bike (or at least a back wheel) that you can dedicate as a turbo bike over the winter, it can be a bit of a faff switching your bike between turbo and road. And there’s nothing like a bit of a faff to give you an excuse to put something off.
- Sometimes I crave just a bit of ‘alone time’ and I get that on my bike. But when I’m on my bike in the garage, sometimes my family decide to wander in.
- Riding nowhere on a turbo trainer can be really boring (hence the box sets).
There is no escaping the fact that the blessings list is definitely longer than the curses list.
If you have never trained on a turbo trainer, I would highly recommend you give it a go. For me it is a matter of finding a training plan that holds my interest and getting into a routine. Once I get started, I do quite enjoy the focus of winter training.
I am planning to post some more articles about turbo training over the next few weeks. In the meantime, if you have any questions, do feel free to post them in the comments or email firstname.lastname@example.org and I will do my best to help out.