Surviving the winter

As bike riders, we obviously choose to ride bikes, but sometimes the weather dictates our choices and you need to maintain or improve that hard-earned fitness. So you’ve likely got one of those dreaded turbo trainers, or rollers, or both, here’s some tips on how to make winter training less horrific, but no matter what, it’s still going to be a little horrific.

Making a trainer easy to use

Once you look out the window and decide it not a day for cycling outside, try to make the turbo an easy option, so having things always ready is a smart move.

  • The best way to set up your turbo is in its own space, so you don’t have to remove it and then set it up every time you use it. If you’re already put off by the weather, setting up a turbo & bike in the living room while somebody else is watching the Coronation Street or Hollyoaks omnibus episodes is not ideal. So find a corner of a room, the garage, shed, anywhere you can leave it permanently set up. I’ve already blogged about ‘The other half of a racing cyclist’, not making a nuisance of yourself on a turbo trainer is an addition to that.
  • If you can gather the bits together, stick a ‘turbo bike’ on it. If your turbo has resistance settings on it, you really don’t need many gears at all, so ideally an old bike you can set up your normal position on is ideal, even down tube shifters isn’t an uncool thing to have on a specific turbo bike. Damaged frames, buckled front wheels, you name it, stick it all on this bike, it’s not going anywhere and it’s pretty hard to crash if something fails. Just make sure it’s got a straight back wheel, cranks & pedals, then you can both up the rest with old stems & bars, which you likely have lying about.
  • Have an alternative turbo session written down in case you wake up and weather is, well, Scottish. If you’re wishing you we’re out on the road and just intend to ‘jump on the turbo for an hour’, you’ll do 20 minutes max and go and do something else. Have a warm up and specific sessions planned out, on a bit of paper to replace a road ride, put these next to the turbo, you’ll only need 3 or 4 different ones. Maybe some
  • Take a bottle with you, not having a drink is another easy option to give up early.
  • Remember your other bits & pieces so you don’t have to go back inside to get them, pulse strap, towel, computer, pulse meter or Garmin.
  • Regularly spray every part of this bike with WD40, it’ll self destruct in no time if it’s full of sweat, it does need a bit of looking after, but nothing like as much as a bike you use on the salty winter roads. A non functional bike isn’t going to help your training or motivation.

Your trainer, what helps to make it ‘pleasant’

You don’t need a fancy turbo trainer, it just helps. But you can make even the most basic trainer more comfortable with a few additions.

  • A fan. Get yourself the biggest fan you can find, preferably with various speeds. Start it before you start riding so you don’t have to get off and switch it on, because that’s an ideal opportunity for you to go and have a cup of tea, stay on your bike at all costs.
  • TV, video, laptop, iPad, anything that you can watch TV on. Some people like to catch up on Homeland or some other series they’re watching if the session is easy, but once things get hard you’ll need videos of Tour mountain stages. There are also Sufferfest videos you can buy, which can guide you through a session, but ideally a computer with internet access is best, so you have an unlimited supply of online content, just make sure it’s long enough for your session, or in easy reach to play another video without getting off your bike, never get off your bike.
  • If there’s no access to videos, you might have to go for music, this is old school these days, but just be careful that it’s encouraging you to keep an appropriate cadence and isn’t de-motivating. Fast & upbeat is best.
  • A plan for your session. See this link for some ideas. A short google search will find plenty for whatever your discipline is in cycling.
  • Get yourself old school John McEnroe sweat band or just wear a cycling cap, otherwise your eyes will be full of sweat pretty soon, it makes it a lot more pleasant, although you’ll look ridiculous with a sweatband, but happy.

Final thoughts

There really is no better place to be riding a bike than our lovely land on a nice day, with its hills, mountains, relatively quiet roads and the flora & fauna in abundance. Just remember that you need the rain to make the place look this good, so treat each rainy day session on the turbo as a countryside rejuvenation day. While you’re dripping all over the floor, the rain is dripping into the scenery that you love to ride your bike in, it’s keeping it that way, we need the rain.

(Disclaimer: Sweat will not make your wooden floor or carpet look better, clean that mess up once you’re finished).

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