Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Great Indoors

 Kurt Kinetic trainers all lined up at a local drop-in, indoor bike training session.

Full disclosure right up front - I've always hated indoor bike training! I have always been an outdoor-guy. No matter the weather, generally speaking I would prefer to be outdoors. However, living in the places that I have lived most of my life, that has meant dealing with white (with snow) or very wet (with rain) winters.

Back when I was far more serious about my training, my winters consisted of a lot of running and a lot of cross-country skiing. I would sprinkle-in some swimming and, a couple of indoor bike training sessions. In those days, indoor bike training was done, in solitude, in a dark, basement on a "wind-trainer" that roared like a 747 at take-off! Because, I did not really find the whole experience that enjoyable, I made it short and sweet - get-on, warm-up, knock out some really hard intervals, or a 20 min all out TT effort, warm-down, and done! Total time - one hour maxium.

With all the skiing and the steady diet of higher intensity indoor cycling efforts over the winter, I found that I could jump back on the bike in the spring ( mid to late March) and ride up-wards of 100K at a decent pace. I had not really lost all that much despite a low volume of cycling for nearly 4 months.

Today, for triathletes and road cyclists, indoor riding is all the rage. Some still do the solo-thing in their basement pain-caves and dungeons, but they can get very sophisticated these days wth all the training tools and software at the modern athletes disposal.

What seems to be even more popular are group training, with trainers either in ad hoc places (see picture above in a local church hall) or at more sophisticated and dedicated indoor training venues, built out specifically for this purpose, often with dedicated trainers by Computrainer, or other suppliers all hooked up, so that everyone can monitor wattage or other metrics and even, "race" one another!

Knowing what we know now about training with power, these indoor training sessions, away from the distractions and variables of the open road, can be very beneficial for triathletes and cyclists. Training loads and sessions can be very specific. The group environment can help as well. With a great group and a good ride leader ( A roll my wonderful wife Paolina Allan has fallen in love with - in another life she must have been a drill-Sargent!) people can be encouraged along, to levels of effort that, may not have been achievable training on their own, on the open road. In fact, it's not unheard of for some really dedicated folk to be more fit in the spring, coming off a winter of super focused indoor bike training, than later on in the year after logging more outdoor miles!

Of course, for me, personally, nothing beats the open road, and the wind in my face. However, I've learned to move my loathing of indoor training, to not quite love, but something that I will put up with for a few months, so that I can maintain, those gains from all the riding done in the great outdoors in spring/summer/fall. I've even attended a few group-sessions over the last couple of winters and, they have been fun - I can see the attraction. We are social animals. Getting together with like minded people to work hard a sweat for a couple of hours, can be "fun"!

My routine is still more or less the same as years ago. A few higher intensity sessions each week on the trainer, mixed in with some time on the rollers as well. Rarely more than an hour at a stretch. My inputs are not power or heart-rate, but some good music. That's all I need to keep me motivated. There is even a web site for that - check out Velo-Beats. Great tunes for riding indoors. The goal - as it was back then, be ready to hit the open road in the spring, ready to ride!

How's your indoor cycling going?

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