Over here at TriTown we’re big fans of focused, indoor training. As we head into the winter months, indoor training becomes an even more appealing option as the temps plummet and daylight hours dwindle. This makes cycling in particular really difficult to get in those focused intervals or long rides that ultimate result in racing success next season.
Doing some of your rides on an indoor trainer has multiple advantages: it’s convenient, safe, time efficient, and every minute spent training indoors is spent training - meaning there are no stops for lights, flat tires, etc. Also, bike trainers (or treadmills for the run) can provide a constant resistance- forcing you to hold pace and/or effort. This is very hard to replicate outdoors but does wonders for building strength and rhythm in your pedal stroke (or run form). Below features Kate Bevilaqua, professional triathlete and Computrainer sponsored athlete using our Computrainer during a bike fit adjustment.
Bike trainers come in a lot of varieties. The most basic trainers use the air or magnets to create the resistance you feel on the pedals. They can be loud and may not create a 'progressive resistance' curve - meaning that the resistance will not increase exponentially as your speed increases. So on some of these trainers, to go from 10mph to 20mph, you may have to pedal twice as hard, while in the real world riding conditions it actually takes more like 8x as much effort to double your speed. A better option for the serious triathlete would be a 'fluid trainer', which works not too different from a boat propeller in water, creating a more progressive resistance curve. These fluid trainers also tend to be much more quiet than wind trainers and most magnetic trainers. Our favorite fluid trainer is the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine, retailing around $350.
Possibly the best option for the serious triathlete would be an electronic trainer like a Wahoo Kickr or Computrainer. These trainers create resistance electronically, and you can control the resistance depending upon your goals for that workout.
Dozens of great Apps exist for the Kickr in particular allowing you to create your own workout courses or try out workouts created by others. All of this data can be quickly uploaded to your training platform of choice too - so keeping track of all your workouts in one place is still possible. Additionally, the Kickr and Computrainer have built in power meters, allowing you track actual fitness gains and help guarantee you're working at your ideal intensity. All these features come at a price - the classic Kickr will set you back $1,100-$1,200, while a Computrainer is closer to $1,600 depending upon options. The Wahoo Kickr Snap will only set you back $850, the lower cost reflecting that it is not a true power meter, using an estimate of power that is accurate to within 5%, but still provides all the other options of the standard Kickr.
A final training aid we're asked about regularly are rollers. Rollers are have been used by road cyclist in particular for decades, and promote a smooth pedal stroke by providing immediate 'pedaling feedback'- essentially you'll bob around a bit if you have a rough pedal stroke while riding them. Roller require a certain amount of practice and skill to ride, and unlike a trainer you have to actively 'steer' to stay on them. They're a great workout and blast to ride once you get the hang of it, but due to their unstable nature rollers are almost impossible to ride in the aero position. Focused triathletes are going to want to spend a lot of time riding in the "aero-tuck" and it's just not practical to do this on rollers. For this reason we recommend most triathletes invest in a good, traditional trainer first, and consider rollers a secondary option.
No matter what you decide to do, any trainer will improve your cycling if used appropriately. You'll spend more time riding, more time in your ideal training zone, more time in the aero position, and less time getting dressed for a cold ride, all within the safety and convenience of your home. Stop on by to test ride and check out all of our in stock trainer options including the Computrainer, Wahoo Kickr, Wahoo Kickr Snap, and Kurt Kinetic Road Machine.