It’s not something that everyone enjoys, but more of a necessary evil. I first started using an Indoor Trainer or Turbo as a winter training tool 20ish years ago. It wasn’t something I took to with any kind of consistency until around 9 years ago; I was Road racing for Activ Cycles at the time and wanted to have a methodical structured program that wouldn’t be weather dependent.
To those that don’t know there are different types of trainer but the most simple is the mag trainer which uses a moving magnet alongside a metal flywheel. The nearer to the flywheel the magnet sits the more resistance there is, so similar to climbing a steep hill rather than more gentle terrain.
Over the years the trainers have become more complex measuring more of the metrics we expect from the Cycle GPS computers that many people use. Apps like Zwift, Sufferfest and TrainerRoad seek to make the experience more realistic. Many of the higher specification trainers have routes with visual representations and adjust your resistance to match the virtual terrain. These are quite good as many of them have training plans that can be followed according to the aim of your training or time that you have a week.
You should always aim to be consistent as one week you may have 4-5 hours but it’s better to do the 2-3 hour plan and top up with some further rides if you have extra time. I’m trying out Zwift and have been happy with it so far, and I’m now on week 2 of a 4 week plan, riding 3 hours a week.
It’s not the easiest thing to ride many hours, so break it down into manageable chunks, such as 30-45 minutes. There are also many good training books. I‘ve used Joe Friel’s “Cyclists Training Bible”, and although I would only suggest this for more experienced cyclists, as it’s really written as a year-long plan for racing cyclists, that’s not to say that good Sportive rider wouldn’t find some useful advice here. The book I really like is called Chris Carmichael’s “Time Crunched Cycle Plan”. It contains plans for Cyclocross/Criterium, 100 milers and racing cyclists and uses a system very similar to HIIT. There are useful plans even if you don’t intend riding an event of 100 miles and it builds on the level of difficulty throughout 10-12 weeks.
So whether you want to keep a high level of race fitness or just something structured to keep you away from dangerous winter conditions, there is something for everyone. An hour or 2 a week spread over x4, 30 min sessions starts to sound not too bad if it protects that good condition you worked hard for in the Spring, Summer and Autumn.
If you’re a complete indoor training novice and think this would suit you, Steel Town Cycles can help you find the equipment – and plan – suitable for your aims.