How does a bike racer motivate himself to train through crappy and cold weather? Inside on the trainer. How does a cyclist ride for more than 45 minutes on a trainer without getting so bored he commits suicide? He invites lots of friends over, sets up a big screen t.v in the garage, and blows a lot of air around with fans.
Today felt like the first day of the indoor riding season. It was about 28 degrees at 8:30 a.m. when I usually go riding outside with my buds, but that’s just too cold for us in Chapel Hill. My teammate Ken has converted his garage into a riding studio for the winter with a projection screen onto some naked drywall in his otherwise unfinished garage. It is insulated, but we tend to keep the garage door open a crack to keep the cool air coming in because lets face it, riding a trainer in a hot room sucks.
By the time I got to Ken’s place, there were 3 people including Ken already riding. I set my stuff up pretty quickly and then got changed. I’m not riding any special type of trainer. I think it’s a Performance Brand fluid trainer. Pretty cheap. I like it because it’s quick to set up, break down, and doesn’t weigh too much so it’s easy to lug around. It has no upgrades to it. I just put the rear quick release in the axle holder, tighten it down and then bring up the resistance by bringing the roller surface into contact with my rear tire. My trainer wheel is an older mavic ksyrium elite. Nothing special. I don’t run special tires for the trainer either. During the outdoor riding season, I go through a fair amount of rubber. Once a tire gets a decent slice in it or fairly worn, I usually replace it. I don’t wait for it to dry rot or wait till that point where I get multiple flats on it before I bite the bullet and replace it. As a result, I end up with a decent stockpile of worn, but not too heavily tires by the end of the riding season. These are my “trainer” tires.
Yesterday, I did an hour on the trainer. After a 15 minute warm-up, I found myself in the big ring up front and in the 5th hardest cog in the back. (shimano 10 speed). I held that gear for the last 45 minutes of the workout. It wasn’t a terribly hard effort to maintain.
Today when I got on, my plan was to warm up and push that gear again and see if I could hold it for 3 hours. Well, after my 15 minutes of warm up, I switched it into the 4th hardest cog (19T I think), and I knew right away, that I wasn’t feeling quite as fresh as I was feeling yesterday. Sometimes it just takes a while for my legs to come around though. To help that process along, I cracked open a Monster energy drink and proceeded to put that down in about 15 minutes or so. By about 45 minutes into the workout, I found myself much more easily pushing the 19T gear around and then shifted up to my 18T. I basically spend the next 2hrs and 15 minutes switching between the two gears. As I tired a bit in the 18T, I’d switch back to the 19T till my legs recovered a little bit, and then I’d go back and repeat. Heart rate was about 140 to 150 for the last 2.5 hours or so of the 3. Riding the trainer for a lot of people is a lot harder than riding outside. There basically is no coasting on a trainer. This is how I normally train though, so to put out constant power for 3 hours is a normal thing for me. It’s also a good thing to practice for riding in a long breakaway or for doing rides with a lot of climbing.
Caffeine is pretty amazing. A well timed dose of caffeine can really change how you feel on a ride. It can bring tired legs back around and help you to get going if the body is not responding as quickly as you’d like. I once read this book about training for bicycle racing that told you to stay away from all performance enhancers except caffeine. It’s been proven to show improvement in performance from a variety of angles. I personally believe in that author and the research. Another note on caffeine. It has a half life of about 12 hours in the human body. If you have trouble sleeping at night, you might want to check when the last dose of it is your getting. 12 noon is too late in the day for many people. My wife works in sleep medicine as a Nurse Practicioner and is always talking up better sleep hygene.
Anyway, in the time of that 3 hour trainer ride, we managed to watch the entirety of Full Metal Jacket. Pretty intense movie. A lot of funny stuff at the start, but it gets pretty intense in a couple of scenes. Next on the playlist was Cruel Intentions. I personally don’t find sexually provocative films as motivating to pedal my bike as action type films, but it passed the time nontheless. Our ride finished sort of the finale of the second movie, but most of us stuck around for the end of the film. Didn’t end the way I thought it would.
It’s looking cold for the rest of the week, so it’ll likely be more inside riding for the time being. I’ll also be in the gym Tuesday and Friday this week. Only about 17 days till I head north for xmas, so I’d better make the most of these days while I can. December 21st the days start getting longer!
Thanks for reading,